Is Finland Part of Scandinavia? (Simple Explanation)

The English-speaking world is very prone to include Finland when referring to Scandinavia, but that doesn’t seem to be the local preference. So what’s the deal: Is Finland part of Scandinavia or not?

Finland is generally not considered part of the Scandinavian region or the Scandinavian people (Sweden, Denmark, and Norway). However, the broader Scandinavian definition commonly used in the US and UK usually considers Finland, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands part of Scandinavia as well.

Furthermore, a sizable part of northwestern Finland is technically part of the Scandinavian peninsula, stretching west and bordering both Norway and Sweden.

Finland has also been part of both Sweden and a Scandinavian union (the Kalmar Union), so the Scandinavian ties are still strong to Finland, although sometimes with a bad connotation.

Finland is a Nordic Country with Baltic Finnic Heritage

Finland is formally part of the Nordic region; bound politically, culturally, and financially to Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Iceland. The Finnish people are, however, of the Baltic Finnic ethnic group, which actually makes Estonia the Finns closest relatives.

As the Finns are considered to be part of the Baltic Finnic ethnic group they are not considered either Scandinavian, Baltic, or Slavic. There is, however, a sub-group of some 450 000 Sweden Finns whose heritage and ethnicity would be considered Scandinavian, and parts of northern Finland are located on the Scandinavian peninsula.

Is Finland Similar to Scandinavia?

The Finns might not share the Scandinavian origin story, but are today very similar to the Scandinavian countries politically and culturally.

The country has very strong political, financial, and cultural ties to the larger Nordic region, and to Sweden (Scandinavia’s largest country) especially.

Some parts of the Finnish coast have also been found to have shared the same culture group as the Scandinavian countries during the bronze age. This Nordic Bronze Age Culture were the forefathers of the Norse (Vikings), so there are some Scandinavian links in Finland historically speaking.

Formally speaking, Finland has signed a unique defense cooperation treaty with the two Scandinavian countries Sweden and Norway called NORDEFCO, meant to improve cooperation between the three most Northern Nordic countries against, for example, a looming Russian threat.

Finnish culture might have been influenced by the Scandinavians over the years and be very closely knit today, but the Finnish language is not even close to the Scandinavian languages. It is part of the Uralic language group (more examples include Estonian and Hungarian), as opposed to the Indo-European language group the Scandinavians are part of.

If you’re interested in learning more about where the Finns came from and how, I have written an article where I go in-depth on Finnish heritage and the origin of the Finns.

Despite strong Nordic ties, Finland also has very close ties to the Baltics in general and Estonia in particular, both historically and linguistically speaking.

The two countries share a lot of common history, and Finnish and Estonian are part of the same language group (the Finnic or Balto-Finnic languages), which is very distant from the rest of the Nordic languages (as they are Indo-European languages in the Germanic language family they are not even remotely related to the Finnic languages in the Uralic language family).

Does Finland Have a Scandinavian Cross Flag?

The Finnish flag is called Siniristilippu, “the Blue Cross Flag”, and features a blue so-called Nordic cross on top of a white background.

The white background is supposed to symbolize the white winter snow, and the blue is linked to the nickname “Land of the Thousand Lakes” (symbolizing the blue lakes).


More sources

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.

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