Average Height in the Nordics (Data & Graphs)

Last Updated on Categorized as Facts
hero height nordics

The average height of both males and females in the Nordic countries (Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland) are all among the tallest 20 countries in the world (or top 10%), with Nordics on average reaching over 180 cm / 5 ft 10⅞ in (men) and 167 cm / 5 ft 5¾ in (women), according to an extensive 2020 summary of 2181 studies published by a team headed by Dr. Martinez-Rodriguez in The Lancet.

Data: Rodriguez-Martinez 2020

This is the biggest dataset mapping human height that scientists have compiled so far, and it shows that Danes are the 4th tallest people in the world, followed by the Icelandic in 6th, the Swedes in 12th, Norwegians in 13th, and finally the Finns in 17th place.

This makes the Nordic people the second tallest in the world, just under the Baltics which is the region with the tallest average height for men and women in the world.

Let’s take a more detailed look at how the Nordic people—both male and female—stack up against each other and the world when it comes to height:

1

Average Height of Men and Women in the Nordic Countries

Average height in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, and Iceland compared to the rest of the world
CountryFemale avg. heightMale avg. heightGlobal rank
🇩🇰 Denmark169 cm / 5 ft 6 in182 cm / 5 ft 11½ in4th
🇮🇸 Iceland168 cm / 5 ft 6⅛ in181 cm / 5 ft 11¼ in6th
🇸🇪 Sweden167 cm / 5 ft 5¾ in180 cm / 5 ft 10⅞ in12th
🇳🇴 Norway166 cm / 5 ft 5⅜ in180 cm / 5 ft 10⅞ in13th
🇫🇮 Finland166 cm / 5 ft 5⅜ in180 cm / 5 ft 10⅞in17th
Data: Rodriguez-Martinez 2020

The Danish men and women are the tallest people in the Nordics, with the average male Dane reaching 182 cm / (5 ft 12 in), and the average female 169 cm (5 ft 6 in). For the rest of the Nordics, Icelandics 181 cm / 5’11¼”, and finally the Swedes, Norwegians, and Finns at 180 cm / 5’10⅞”.

Here’s the rest of the top 50 tallest countries in the world:

Data: Rodriguez-Martinez 2020

2

Average Height in the Nordics Compared to Other Regions

Average height of the Nordic region as a whole compared to other regions in the world

Let’s also look at how Nordic people as a whole compare to people from other regions of the world in height:

RankRegionFemale weighted avg. heightMale weighted avg. height
1stBaltics167.54 cm / 5 ft 5¾ in180.44 cm / 5 ft 10⅞ in
2ndNordics167.03 cm / 5 ft 5¾ in180.44 cm / 5 ft 10⅞ in
3rdCentral Europe165.72 cm / 5 ft 4⅞ in179.70 cm / 5 ft 10½ in
4thBenelux + France165.10 cm / 5 ft 4⅞ in179.21 cm / 5 ft 10½ in
5thBritish Isles164.00 cm / 5 ft 4½ in178.07 cm / 5 ft 10⅛ in
6thSoutheastern Europe164.88 cm / 5 ft 4½ in177.57 cm / 5 ft 9¾ in
7thUS + Canada163.21 cm / 5 ft 4¼ in177.10 cm / 5 ft 9¾ in
8thSouthern Europe162.88 cm / 5 ft 3¾ in176.58 cm / 5 ft 9¼ in
9thSouthwestern Europe162.64 cm / 5 ft 3¾ in176.57 cm / 5 ft 9¼ in
Data: Rodriguez-Martinez 2020. Central Europe: Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland. Southeastern Europe: Balkan Peninsula minus Greece. Southern Europe: Italy, Greece. Southwestern Europe: Spain, Portugal.

To get these results, I added up the individual country data and calculated a weighted average for each region (i.e. an average adjusted for the population of each country within the region), enabling us to see that the Nordic and Baltic men are the tallest in the world by region.

As the Baltic ladies are slightly taller (0.5 cm / 0.2 in) than their Nordic sisters, the Baltics narrowly takes the prize as tallest region in the World in front of the Nordics.

It should also be added that the countries around the Dinaric Alps in the Western Balkans would place in the top if S.E. Europe had been split up into smaller sub-regions, as these countries are among the tallest in the world.

3

Why are Nordic People So Tall Globally Speaking?

What influences average height according to science

Europeans in general are thought to be taller on average primarily due to a generally improved diet starting in the mid-1800s according to Professor Lars Werdelin (Swedish Museum of Natural History), and specifically the availability of nutritious school meals more recently according to Dr. Rodriguez Martinez (Imperial College in London).

It should be noted that human length, in general, is believed to be determined by a mixture of nature (genes) and nurture (diet), much like every other human trait.

So while a healthy diet has a big impact on human height, there are also regions of the world that are believed to have had a taller or shorter average height historically speaking due to primarily genetic reasons—such as the short Pygmee people of central Africa, and the tall Dinka people of South Sudan.

The Dinka people have recently been observed to have lost much of their tall stature though, due to—you guessed it—undernutrition, indicating that a healthy diet is the more important factor in determining human height.


Sources:

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)31859-6/fulltext

https://www.bbc.com/news/health-54828544

Similar Posts:
Unleash your inner Scandinavian

Want to stay in touch with the Nordics?

Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest Nordic resources, insights, tips, hidden gems, and much more.

By subscribing, you agree to get emails from Nordic Perspective. We respect your privacy and you can unsubscribe any time.

By Karl Andersson

As a native Swede with a Finnish mother, Karl identifies as both Nordic and Scandinavian. He left Sweden at 19 to explore the world, and stayed abroad for almost 8 years—during which he backpacked, worked every job there was, earned a degree from UC Berkeley, and met the future mother of his children. He ultimately returned to his native Malmö with his love, where they now have 3 Swedish-American boys eager to explore the world.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.