Scandinavia

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Scandinavian flagsScandinavia

Scandinavia is a historical and cultural-linguistic region in Northern Europe characterized by a common ethno-cultural Germanic heritage and related languages that includes the three kingdoms of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Modern Norway and Sweden proper are situated on the Scandinavian peninsula whereas modern Denmark is situated on the Danish islands and Jutland. The term Scandinavia is usually used as a cultural term, but in English usage, it is occasionally confused with the purely geographical term Scandinavian Peninsula, which took its name from the cultural-linguistic concept. The name Scandinavia historically referred vaguely to Scania. The terms Scandinavia and Scandinavian entered usage in the 18th century as terms for the three Scandinavian countries, their peoples and associated language and culture, being introduced by the early linguistic and cultural Scandinavist movement. Sometimes the term Scandinavia is also taken to include Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and Finland, on account of their historical association with the Scandinavian countries. Such usage, however, may be considered inaccurate in the area itself, where the term instead refers to this broader group.

 

 

Scandinavian languages

 

The Danish, Norwegian and Swedish languages form a dialect continuum and are known as the Scandinavian languages – all of which are considered mutually intelligible with one another. Faroese and Icelandic, sometimes referred to as insular Scandinavian languages, are only intelligible with continental Scandinavian languages to a very limited extent. Finnish and Sami languages are related to each other, as well as to Hungarian, Estonian and several minority languages spoken in Western Russia, but are entirely unrelated to the Scandinavian languages. They do, however, include several words that have been adopted during the history from the neighboring languages, just as Swedish, spoken in Finland today, has borrowed from Finnish.

The vast majority of the human population of Scandinavia are Scandinavians, descended from several (North) Germanic tribes who originally inhabited the southern part of Scandinavia and what is now northern Germany, who spoke a Germanic language that evolved into Old Norse and who were known as Norsemen in the Early Middle Ages.