The name Scandinavia evokes images of Vikings, the midnight sun, blue water, and redcheeked maidens. The five nations of Northern Europe Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland collectively call themselves Scandinavia. Tourist-wise they market themselves as a group. Norway, Sweden, and Denmark together own and operate Scandinavian Airlines and parcel out management positions among the three countries, careful to avoid enmities, for the three have a history of rivalry and war. Norway was once a part of Denmark and its royal family was originally Danish. Iceland has its own Icelandic Air; Finland has Finnair. For North Americans Copenhagen is the major gateway.

An aerial view of spa city, Savonlinna, in the heart of Finland’s Eastern lake district, shows the contrast between the city’s modern architecture and medieval Olavinlinna Castle (see in the foreground) on an island of its own. Each summer, grand opera is presented during two weeks in the courtyard of the fifteenth century castle, which seats three thousand music lovers at each performance.

To keep Scandinavia in perspective remember that the entire population of Sweden, the largest in population, is about the same as that of New York City. Denmark, the smallest, most southerly, lowest lying and most fragmented of the Scandinavian countries, is also one of the most interesting, especially for those who like sailing, biking, and eating. It has the most visitors. Without a doubt Copenhagen is the most interesting of the Scandinavian cities. Like Norway, Denmark has lakes that were once fjords but that are now closed to the sea by beaches. Other fjords form natural harbors, the solace of sailors. Denmark has a Five-thousand-mile coastline.

Denmark, located at the mouth of the Baltic Sea, consists of Jutland, a peninsula, and about five hundred islands, one hundred of them inhabited. Jutland occupies about 70 percent of the country. The straits between the islands connect the Baltic and the North Seas.


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