Nordic v Scandinavian

The difference between the Nordics and Scandinavia confuses many people.

The difference between the Nordics and Scandinavia is surprisingly simple, yet the terms are frequently used interchangeably when speaking of the region.

Scandinavia is a geographic label, similar to the British Isles, and covers the territory of Norway, Denmark and Sweden who as well as their cultural and geographical closeness speak three closely-related languages.

On the other hand the term ‘Nordic’ covers the aforementioned Scandinavian countries in addition to Iceland Finland, which both speak languages that are extremely different from those of the Scandinavian peninsula.

The term Nordic has also sometimes included Estonia, however there is significant debate as to whether or not Estonia is a Nordic or Baltic country.

In reality few English-speakers are aware of the difference between Nordic and Scandinavia, similar to how few probably understand the exact difference between Great Britain and the United Kingdom (I only found out the difference around the time of the debate around Scotland’s independence).

For example there is a cafe in London known as ‘Scandinavian Kitchen’ that also includes wares and dishes from Finland and which wrote a blog post on ‘useful Scandinavian words’ that included Finnish.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *