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.

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"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 Scandinavia's largest city?
Helsinki
Stockholm
Copenhagen
Oslo
Stavanger

Correct answer?
COPENHAGEN
Denmark

København, known to the rest of the world as Copenhagen, wonderful Copenhagen, became the capital of Denmark in 1415, but several of its fine old buildings date from the reign of King Christian IV, from the late 16th to the mid-17th century.

Read more

Feature: Elsinore Castle
Food: Lefse, Almond Bread
         Iceland's Hearty Fare
History: The Round Tower
Arts:   Scandinavian Pewter
          Georg Jensen
People: Hans Christian
Andersen
     
News: Happiest Countries
          Bella Sky Hotel

Greenland—Western Outpost of Scandinavia
by Bob Brooke

continued...


The Danish-Norwegian king became annoyed with Dutch claims in Greenland. So in 1666 the Danes added the Greenland symbol, the polar bear, to the Danish royal coat of arms as a reminder to others to keep out. The Norwegian Hans Povelsen Egede named Royal Missionary, and backed by a Bergen trading company, established the first new settlement in 1721.

Trade rivalries and conflicts over fishing led to the declaration of a royal monopoly on trade in 1776. The purpose of the monopoly was to assure the interests of the Greenlanders in culture and trade, and many commissions and self-sacrificing administrators have done their best. Greenlanders have themselves participated in local and district advisory councils. Schools and churches and hospitals have been established. But the people remained poor. Many in both Greenland and in Denmark criticized the monopoly and the rigidity of controls as stifling to development.

By the mid- 20th century, the Danes abandoned the whole monopolistic system. They adopted free trade practices with Greenland and invited Danish investment. In 1953 Greenland ceased to be a colony and became an integral part of the Danish kingdom. This stimulated economic and political reorientation to some extent by the impact of United States soldiers and others in Greenland. Also, the climate began to moderate and the seal population, which had made possible a self-contained economy, began to decrease. The increase of cod fishing and sheep raising both required a world market. This changed basis of Greenland’s economy has been accompanied by a doubling of the population in less than 25 years.

Disputes and complications concerning sovereignty over Greenland have continued. The people of Greenland rejected the Norwegian claim in 1933. The United States, when it purchased the Danish West Indies in 1917, renounced claims to the territory discovered in the north by Admiral Perry. Then came World War II and the German occupation of Denmark. One year after that occupation, April 9, 1941, the Danish Minister in Washington, Henrik Kauffmann, signed an agreement with the U.S. Secretary of State which established a wartime protectorate over Greenland by the U.S. and permitted the U.S. to establish military and meteorological bases. But the U.S. reasserted that Denmark remained sovereign over all Greenland.

Greenland’s Importance
The importance of this vast ice-covered island is largely strategic. Most of the native products are of no outside significance, not even the furs are important in world trade, though the residents dress in fox or bearskin trousers, eat the meat, use skins for boats, and in general live from animals. They mine coal but only for-local consumption. In 1948, the discovery of uranium in East Greenland was reported. For some years the only important export was cryolite from the mine at Ivigtut, but that, too, has ceased.

Strategically, the island has a double importance. In the first place, the enormous field of ice is a powerful influence on the winds and weather of the North Atlantic, and therefore on northern and western Europe. A number of scientific expeditions, primarily Danish and American, have sought to explore the mysteries of weather. During World War II the Germans did their best to establish a meteorological post. In the second place Greenland, like Iceland, is on the Great Circle air route between America and Europe and lies along the pathway of a potential Arctic submarine route. Thus, Greenland is in the strategic center of conceivable Arctic warfare.

Greenland, therefore, is more than an island of ice, it plays a necessary part in the world’s existence.

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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
from Aftenposten
News from Denmark
from Denmark.dk
News from Sweden
from the SR International 
News from Finland
from Finnish News Agency STT
News from Iceland
from The Iceland Review
All news is in English
.

THE VIKINGS:
THE NORTH ATLANTIC SAGA

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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To read more articles by Bob Brooke, visit his Web site.

 
 

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