Is Finland Part of Scandinavia?

For those who don’t live in Northern Europe, it can be challenging to understand the geographical intricacies of the land.

Moreover, it leaves people with many questions about Scandinavian countries and where Finland comes into the picture.

Finland isn’t part of Scandinavia, neither politically nor geographically. Instead, Finland is considered a Nordic country, not a Scandinavian one.

But, of course, this doesn’t stop people from erroneously lumping it in with Scandinavia on occasion.

This article will explain which three countries are actually ‘Scandinavian’ and why Finland isn’t one of them.

It’ll also cover whether Finland allies itself with the Scandinavian countries and how visiting Finland differs from visiting one of the other Nordic countries. 

Also, Why Are Scandinavians So Big? to learn more.

What Are the Scandinavian Countries?

These countries geographically make up the area of Scandinavia. However, some argue that other nearby countries also deserve the Scandinavian designation.

In fact, authorities have argued for the inclusion of Finland and Iceland without much luck. [1]

The Scandinavian Peninsula includes Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. Though, it may be confusing to some why the peninsula includes Denmark.

Unlike the two other countries in this peninsula, Denmark does not connect via land as the only country it borders now is Germany, to the South. 

So, why do people consider Denmark a Scandinavian country when it doesn’t share a border with the remaining countries? Well, Denmark used to share a border with Sweden.

Much of what is now southern Sweden once belonged to Denmark until The Dano-Swedish War.

After this, Denmark no longer shared a border with Sweden but remained part of Scandinavia. 

Also, Why Are Scandinavians Attractive? to learn more.

Finland map
Why are Iceland and Finland not Scandinavian? See below

Why Aren’t Iceland and Finland Considered Scandinavian?

Given its proximity to the other Scandinavian countries, it may seem strange that countries like Finland and Iceland aren’t a part of Scandinavia.

People can easily group these countries together because they are so close, but they aren’t part of the Scandinavian Peninsula, so they aren’t considered Scandinavian countries. 

While they are different geographically, Finland shares some parts of its culture with Scandinavia and is even on the Swedish border.

In fact, all Nordic and Scandinavian countries share elements of the same heritage and culture.

So, despite not being Scandinavian, both Iceland and Finland share many things with Sweden, Denmark, and Norway. 

Scandinavian vs. Nordic

There is much confusion about the differences between Scandinavian and Nordic, as people tend to throw either word around without caring about its accuracy.

While they have some similarities, they are still entirely different. 

It’s important to understand that Nordic is a blanket statement that encompasses the Scandinavian countries.

For example, one could refer to any of the following countries as Nordic: 

  • Finland
  • Sweden
  • Iceland
  • Norway
  • Denmark

All five are Nordic; however, neither Iceland nor Finland is Scandinavian. Since the terms are specific to certain areas, people use them interchangeably, often making mistakes. [2]

That’s why there is so much confusion surrounding whether or not Finland is part of Scandinavia.

Therefore, the distinction between the two terms is vital in understanding the geography of Northern Europe. 

Finland and Nordic Culture

Geography isn’t the only thing that keeps Finland apart from the other Scandinavian countries. Culturally speaking, there are some other vast differences between Scandinavia and Finland. 

The first thing that sets Finland apart is the language spoken.

Unsurprisingly, the primary language in Finland is Finnish.

However, unlike other languages in the Nordic countries, Finnish isn’t a Scandinavian language.

It’s in a family all of its own, though it is considered Nordic. [3]

Additionally, each of the five Nordic countries has its own individualistic loyalties. This means that every country takes care of itself before the group.

This doesn’t mean they have continuous hostility, but these countries fend for themselves.

That is a massive part of Nordic culture and a minimalizing hierarchy in favor of everyone speaking up for themselves. 

But individuality shouldn’t fool people into thinking these countries are vastly different.

Finland has very similar political ideations to the Scandinavian countries despite not being in the same geographical category.

This similarity is another thing that confuses many people when discussing the Scandinavian Peninsula and why Finland is not part of it.

Also, What Do Scandinavians Think of Germans? to learn more.

Finnish flag
Do Finland and Scandinavian countries get along? See below

Are Finland and Scandinavia Allies?

Even though they aren’t under the same geographical umbrella, Finland gets along well with its neighboring, Scandinavian countries.

Finland was a part of Sweden for many years before it gained full independence from Russia in 1917. 

Since then, Finland and Sweden have maintained a high political relationship, with Finnish and Swedish being Finland’s primary and official languages.

So, Finland has a lot of respect for their Scandinavian neighbors despite not being part of their label. 

This mutual respect isn’t just between Finland and Sweden. Rather, Finland maintains amicable relations with each of the Nordic countries.

They share many common values and ideas. However, one shouldn’t visit these countries expecting to experience the same thing. 

How Is Visiting Finland Different From Visiting Scandinavian Countries?

The first main difference between Finland and its nearby Nordic countries is the language.

Finnish isn’t very similar to Swedish as it has a different origin.

Though, there will be those in Finland who speak Swedish.

However, the difference between the two languages is vast and would make communicating challenging for people who only understand one. 

Visitors will find many significant differences between Finland and nearby countries.

For example, people in Sweden tend to be more outgoing, democratic, and inclusive.

Meanwhile, the Finnish tend to be more conservative and held back.

Of course, this is a generalization, and there will be outliers in each situation. 

The key takeaway from this example is that each country has different types of leadership.

This means that visitors should expect different types of personalities wherever they travel.

Visitors may be welcomed warmly in Sweden, whereas they may feel less welcome in Finland because of the independent nature of the people there. 

Of course, this doesn’t make Swedish people good and Finnish people bad.

It is just a difference in the culture and expectations of people who reside there.

Visitors can find these differences in these countries or even in individual cities. 

So, visitors can set their expectations for each country but should always understand that they may have different experiences depending on who they meet along the way.

Potential visitors considering a trip to Finland should check out the article “What Is There to Do in Finland?” for details on what the country has to offer. 

Also, What Do Scandinavians Think of the British? to learn more.

[1] Source
[2] Source
[3] Source

Christian Christensen

Christian started Scandinavia Facts to explore his family heritage, raise awareness of one of his academic interests as a professor, and civilly promote the region. Please see the About page for details.

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