Scandinavia--Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and Finland--is blessed with five distinct, yet related, cultures.

Learn about the stories behind the legends, about the countries, and most of all about the people.


"We sailed our ships to any shore that offered the best hope of booty; we feared no fellow on earth..."
Saga of Arrow-Odd

What is Gjetost?
A town in Sweden.
Brown goat cheese.
The word for "hello" in

Roasted fish.
The word for ghost in

Correct answer?
OSLO - Norway

Clustered around the head of the 68-mile-long Oslofjord, Oslo is probably the most spacious city in the world. Its 175-square-mile metropolitan area consists of over 75 percent forests and five percent water. Its fine deep harbor, Pipervika, stretches into the heart of the city and from it leave ferries to Denmark and Germany.

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Feature: Stavanger
Featured City: Oslo
Food: The Great NordicDiet
          Swedish Semla
          Norwegian Cuisine
          Canned Sardines
History: The Round Tower
Arts:   Vigeland Park, Oslo
          Georg Jensen
People: Henrik Ibsen    
News: Happiest Countries          

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Georg Jensen:
Silversmith Extraordinaire

by Bob Brooke

George Jensen, known for his fine designs in silver, brought the artistry of Scandinavian design to the public eye throughout the world.

Born in 1866, Jensen was the son of a knife grinder in Raadvad, a town north of Copenhagen. He began his training in goldsmithing as an apprentice at the age of 14 with Guldsmed Andersen, a firm which closed in 1884. This freed Jensen to enroll in sculpture courses at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. Graduating in 1892, he began exhibiting his clay sculptures. And though the exhibitions proved successful, he discovered that making a living as a fine artist would be hard, so he turned to the applied arts to support himself. He began his career as a modeler at the Bing & Grøndahl porcelain factory and in 1898 opened a small pottery workshop he founded with Christian Petersen. Though their work soon became popular, sales weren’t strong enough to support Jensen and his two small sons. A devoted family man, Jensen eventually had eight children by four wives, three of whom died of illnesses.

He returned from a two-year traveling scholarship to Paris and Rome in 1900, determined to create useful objects. Jensen began working on his own designs during a period of creative activity in Denmark known as the skonvirke, meaning artistic endeavors, style, inspired by the Arts and Crafts Movement in England and the Art Nouveau Movement in France.

The Georg Jensen silversmithy is still flourishing because the founder and the artistic directors who followed him were always open to changing styles. A signature style of the firm is based on Functionalism, named after the "form follows function" philosophy of Walter Gropius' Bauhaus of the Twenties, who favored unembellished, clean lines for utilitarian objects. This was better suited to mass-production than the classic handcrafted Jensen techniques.

In 1901, Jensen gave up working in pottery and began working as a silversmith and designer with Mogens Ballin. By 1904, he had decided to open his own silversmith shop in Copenhagen.

Jensen's apprenticeship metalwork, plus his education in sculpture allowed him to become an artist craftsman. Soon, the public recognized the beauty, sophistication, and fine quality of his Art Nouveau creations, and he was on the road to success. Business was so good that Jensen expanded his operations and by the end of the 1920s, Jensen had opened retail outlets in Stockholm, London, Paris, Berlin, and New York.

Though Jensen favored the Art Nouveau style, he encouraged his designers to follow throuigh on their own ideas as long as they adhered to the artistry and excellence in craftmanship that he had striven for in his own work. And although Jensen died in 1935, his ideals have given the work produced by his workshops the reputation they deserve.

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Every year about 95 000 people die in Sweden and, according to the law, everyone must be buried. There must be room for everyone in the cemeteries, therefore the future needs of space have to be predicted. Because of this funerals must be part of the planning process.

Read more about Swedish burials

News from Norway
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from Finnish News Agency STT
News from Iceland
from The Iceland Review
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In the early Middle Ages, driven by famine at home and the promise of wealth to be had in other lands, the Vikings set out from Scandinavia to conquer parts of England, Ireland, France, Russia, and even Turkey. Bolstered by their successes, the Vikings pushed westward, eventually crossing the North Atlantic and founding settlements in Iceland, Greenland, and Newfoundland in Canada.
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