Why is Finland not considered part of Scandinavia?

Answered by Michael Wilson

Finland is not considered part of Scandinavia due to several reasons, including its geographical location, language, and ethnic background. While Finland is located in Northern Europe, like the Scandinavian countries, it is not situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula. The Scandinavian Peninsula is formed by Norway and Sweden, with a small portion of northwestern Finland extending onto it. This geographical distinction separates Finland from the rest of Scandinavia.

Language also plays a significant role in differentiating Finland from the Scandinavian countries. Finnish is not a Scandinavian language; rather, it belongs to the Finno-Ugric language family, which is distinct from the Germanic languages spoken in Scandinavia. The Finnish language has more in common with Estonian and Hungarian than with Swedish or Danish. This linguistic difference further sets Finland apart from the Scandinavian countries.

Ethnically, Finns are also distinct from Scandinavians. While there is some cultural and historical overlap between Finland and the Scandinavian countries, the majority of Finns are not of Scandinavian descent. Finns are primarily of Finno-Ugric origin, with genetic similarities to other Baltic and Eastern European populations. In contrast, Scandinavians are predominantly of Germanic origin.

Historically, Finland was a part of the Swedish Kingdom from the late Middle Ages until the early 19th century. During this time, Swedish influence shaped Finnish culture, language, and governance. However, Finland’s history also includes periods of Russian rule, most notably as an autonomous Grand Duchy within the Russian Empire from 1809 to 1917. This historical connection to Sweden and Russia further distinguishes Finland from the Scandinavian countries.

Despite these differences, Finland shares some cultural similarities with Scandinavia, such as the predominance of Lutheranism in religious practices and a welfare state model of governance. Additionally, Finland has close economic, political, and cultural ties with its Scandinavian neighbors. The Nordic Council, which promotes cooperation among the Nordic countries, includes Finland alongside Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden.

While Finland shares some cultural and historical ties with Scandinavia, it is not considered part of the Scandinavian region. Geographically, Finland is not located on the Scandinavian Peninsula, and linguistically and ethnically, Finns are distinct from Scandinavians. However, Finland maintains close relations with the Scandinavian countries and participates in Nordic cooperation.