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Geography of the Nordics - Statistics & Facts

The five Nordic countries Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden are located in Northern Europe, but vary greatly in their geographical nature. Denmark, bordering Germany, is mostly flat, its highest point only reaching 170 meters above sea level. This makes it one of the countries with the lowest average elevation in the world. Meanwhile, both Norway, Iceland, and Sweden have mountains higher than 2,000 meters. Iceland is known for its geological phenomena such as geysers and volcanoes, and Europe's largest glacier is found here. The island is located where the Eurasian and North American continental plates meet, which are drifting away from each other, meaning that new land is emerging between the two plates.

Sweden covers the largest land area of the five countries, and it also has the largest population. However, the island of Greenland, which is the largest in the world, is a part of the Kingdom of Denmark, but is usually not included when the area of Denmark is measured. The far smaller Faroe Islands, located in the Atlantic Ocean, are also a part of the Danish Kingdom. Furthermore, the archipelago of Svalbard in the Arctic Ocean is formally under Norwegian administration, but with a special jurisdiction. For instance, it is not a part of the Schengen Agreement or the European Economic Area (EEA).

Lakes, coastlines, and fjords

Finland is often known as the land of a thousand lakes, but the largest lake in the Nordic countries is found in Sweden. With over 5,500 square kilometers, Vänern is, by far, the largest lake in Sweden and it is also the third largest lake in Europe. All five countries have major coastlines, meaning that the sea plays an important role in forming both the economy and society of the Nordics. Norway has the longest coastline of the five with 25,000 kilometers, making it the country with the eighth longest coastline worldwide. However, if the islands are included, Norway's total coastline is approximately 59,000 kilometers, which would make it the second longest coastline on the planet. Furthermore, Norway's spectacular fjords attract hundreds of thousands of tourists each year, but are also well suited for special research projects which require deep waters and a short distance to land.

Islands and climate

As all five Nordic countries have major coastlines, all have islands of importance (or, as in Iceland's case, the country itself is an island). Most notably, large parts of Denmark consist of islands. For instance, the Capital Copenhagen is located on the country's largest island Zealand, which has a total size of over 7,000 square kilometers. Moreover, the northern part of the Jutland peninsula is separated from the rest of it by a fjord that runs straight through the peninsula. Denmark's major islands are connected via bridges or ferries, but most of the smaller islands remain uninhabited. Meanwhile, the island of Åland in the Baltic Sea obtains a special position. It belongs to Finland, but enjoys a high degree of autonomy, and the official language is Swedish, not Finnish.

Looking at the climate in the Nordic countries, it is generally mild compared to other countries at the same latitude because of the Gulf Stream. For instance, the average temperature in the Norwegian coastal city of Bergen in February 2018 was 0.9 degrees Celsius, whereas it was minus 8.9 degrees Celsius in the Region of Lapland in Northern Finland the same month in 2020.

Interesting statistics

In the following 7 chapters, you will quickly find the 34 most important statistics relating to "Geography of the Nordics".

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