Northern Europe is a loosely defined geographical region in Europe. Narrower definitions may describe Northern Europe as being roughly north of the southern coast of the Baltic Sea, which is about 54°N, or may be based on other geographical factors such as climate and ecology. A broader definition would include the area of Europe north of the Alps (but excluding Eastern Europe).
Historically, when Europe was dominated by the Roman Empire, everything not near the Mediterranean region was termed Northern European, including southern Germany, all of the Low Countries, and Austria. This meaning is still used today in some contexts, for example, discussions of the Northern Renaissance.
Northern Europe might be defined roughly to include some or all of the following areas: British Isles, Fennoscandia, the peninsula of Jutland, the Baltic plain that lies to the east and the many islands that lie offshore from mainland Northern Europe and the main European continent. In some cases, Greenland is also included.
The area is partly mountainous, including the northern volcanic islands of Iceland and Jan Mayen, and the mountainous western seaboard, Scotland and Scandinavia, and also often includes part of the large plain east of the Baltic sea.
The entire region’s climate is at least mildly affected by the Gulf Stream. From the west climates vary from maritime and maritime subarctic climates. In the north and central climates are generally subarctic or Arctic and to the east climates are mostly subarctic and temperate/continental.
Just as both climate and relief are variable across the region, so too is vegetation, with sparse tundra in the north and high mountains, boreal forest on the north-eastern and central regions temperate coniferous forests (formerly of which a majority was in the Scottish Highlands and south west Norway) and temperate broadleaf forests growing in the south, west and temperate east.
Various definitions of Northern Europe often include the Nordic countries, and may also include some or all of the Baltic states, the British Isles, northern Germany, northern Belarus and northwest Russia.
CIA World Factbook
In the CIA World Factbook, the description of each country includes information about “Location” under the heading “Geography”, where the country is classified into a region. The following countries are included in their classification “Northern Europe”:
as well as the dependent areas
EuroVoc is a multilingual thesaurus maintained by the Publications Office of the European Union, giving definitions of terms for official use. In the definition of “Northern Europe”, the following countries are included:
as well as the dependent area
In this classification, the UK and Ireland are included in Western Europe.
Countries in Northern Europe generally have developed economies and some of the highest standards of living in the world. They often score highly on surveys measuring quality of life, such as the Human Development Index. Aside from the United Kingdom, they generally have a small population relative to their size, most of whom live in cities. Most peoples living in Northern Europe are traditionally Protestant Christians, although many are non-practicing. There are also growing numbers of non-religious people and people of other religions, especially Muslims, due to immigration. In the United Kingdom, there are also significant numbers of Indian religions such as Hindus and Sikhs, due to the large South Asian diaspora. The quality of education in much of Northern Europe is rated highly in international rankings, with Estonia and Finland topping the list among the OECD countries in Europe. The Hansa group in the European Union comprises most of the Northern European states.
Nordic countries (orange and red) and Scandinavian countries (red)
The Nordic countries, or the Nordics, are a geographical and cultural region in Northern Europe and the North Atlantic, where they are most commonly known as Norden (literally “the North”). The term includes Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, as well as the Faroe Islands and Greenland, which are both part of the Kingdom of Denmark. The Åland Islands is a part of the Republic of Finland; Jan Mayen and the archipelago of Svalbard, which belong to the Kingdom of Norway, are also included. Bouvet Island is sometimes not considered a part of the Nordic countries due to its geographical location. Several regions in Europe such as the Northern Isles of Scotland share cultural or ethnic ties with the Nordic nations, but are not considered to be part of the Nordic countries. Scandinavians, who comprise over three quarters of the region’s population, are the largest group, followed by Finns, who comprise the majority in Finland; other ethnic groups are the Greenlandic Inuit, the Sámi people, and recent immigrants and their descendants. The native languages Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Icelandic, and Faroese are all North Germanic languages rooted in Old Norse. Native non-Germanic languages are Finnish, Greenlandic languages and several Sámi languages. The main religion is Lutheran Christianity.
The Nordic countries have much in common in their way of life, history, religion and social structure. The Nordic countries have a long history of political unions and other close relations, but do not form a singular entity today. The Scandinavist movement sought to unite Denmark, Norway and Sweden into one country in the 19th century. With the independence of Finland in the early 20th century, and Iceland in the mid 20th century, this movement expanded into the modern organised Nordic cooperation which includes the Nordic Council and the Nordic Council of Ministers. The Helsinki Treaty is the political agreement that sets the framework for Nordic cooperation in the Nordic Council and the Nordic Council of Ministers. Especially in English, Scandinavia is sometimes used as a synonym for the Nordic countries, but that term more properly refers to the three monarchies of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Geologically, the Scandinavian Peninsula comprises the mainland of Norway and Sweden as well as the northernmost part of Finland.
|Region||EEZ & TW
|Denmark||105 989||42 506||149 083|
|Faroe Islands||260 995||1 399||262 394|
|Greenland||2 184 254||2 166 086||4 350 340|
|Total||2 551 238||2 210 579||4 761 817|
The Nordic countries have a combined area of around 3.5 million square kilometres and their geography is extremely varied. The area is so vast that it covers five time zones. To the east the region borders Russia, and on the west the Canadian coastline can be seen from Greenland on a clear day. Even excluding Greenland and the Norwegian islands of Svalbard and Jan Mayen, the remaining part of the Nordic countries covers around 1.3 million square kilometres. This is about the same area as France, Germany and Italy together. To the south, the countries neighbor the Baltic states, Poland, Germany and the United Kingdom, while to the north there is the Arctic Ocean.
Notable natural features of the Nordic countries include the Norwegian fjords, the Archipelago Sea between Finland and Sweden, the extensive volcanic and geothermal activity of Iceland, and Greenland, which is the largest island in the world. The southernmost point of the Nordic countries is Gedser, on the island of Falster in Denmark. The northernmost point is Kaffeklubben Island in Greenland, which is also the northernmost point of land on Earth. The largest cities and capitals of the Nordic countries are situated on the southern parts of the region, with the exception of Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland. Helsinki, Oslo and Stockholm are all close to the same latitude as the southernmost point of Greenland, Egger Island (Itilleq): about 60°N.
All Nordic countries, including the autonomous territories of Faroe and Åland Islands, have a similar flag design, all based on the Dannebrog, the Danish flag. They display an off-centre cross with the intersection closer to the hoist, the “Nordic cross“. Greenland and Sápmi have adopted flags without the Nordic cross, but they both feature a circle which is placed off-centre, similar to the cross.
Read more here at Wikipedia
Kalmar Union, circa 1400