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The SCANDINAVIAN PENINSULA (Swedish : Skandinaviska halvön; Norwegian : Den skandinaviske halvøy; Finnish : Skandinavian niemimaa; Northern Sami : ?; Russian : Скандинавский полуостров, Skandinavsky poluostrov) is a peninsula in Northern Europe , which generally comprises the mainland of Sweden
Sweden
, the mainland of Norway
Norway
(with the exception of a small coastal area bordering Russia), the northwestern area of Finland
Finland
, as well as a narrow area in the west of the Pechengsky District of Russia.

The name of the peninsula is derived from the term Scandinavia
Scandinavia
, the cultural region of Denmark
Denmark
, Norway
Norway
and Sweden
Sweden
. That cultural name is in turn derived from the name of Scania
Scania
, the region at the southern extremity of the peninsula which has during periods been part of Denmark, which is the ancestral home of the Danes , and which is now part of Sweden. The derived term "Scandinavian" also refers to the Germanic peoples
Germanic peoples
who speak North Germanic languages
North Germanic languages
, considered to be a dialect continuum derived from Old Norse
Old Norse
. These modern North Germanic languages found in Scandinavia
Scandinavia
are Danish , Norwegian , and Swedish ; additionally Faroese and Icelandic belong to the same language group, but they are not part of the modern Scandinavian dialect continuum and are not intelligible with the other languages.

The Scandinavian Peninsula
Peninsula
is the largest peninsula of Europe
Europe
, larger than the Balkan , the Iberian and the Italian peninsulas. During the Ice Ages, the sea level of the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
dropped so much that the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
, the Gulf of Bothnia and the Gulf of Finland disappeared, and the countries now surrounding them, including Germany, Poland, the other Baltic countries and Scandinavia, were directly joined by land.

CONTENTS

* 1 Geography * 2 Geology
Geology
* 3 People * 4 Political development * 5 See also * 6 References

GEOGRAPHY

Scandinavian Peninsula
Peninsula
in relation to the larger Fennoscandia
Fennoscandia
.

Arguably the largest peninsula in Europe, the Scandinavian Peninsula is approximately 1,850 kilometres (1,150 mi) long with a width varying approximately from 370 to 805 kilometres (230 to 500 miles). The Scandinavian mountain range generally defines the border between Norway
Norway
and Sweden. The peninsula is bordered by several bodies of water including:

* the Barents Sea
Barents Sea
to the north * the Norwegian Sea
Norwegian Sea
to the west * the North Sea
North Sea
and Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
to the south * the Baltic Sea, Kemijoki , Lake Inari
Lake Inari
and Paatsjoki to the east.

Its highest elevation was Glittertinden in Norway
Norway
at 2,470 metres (8,104 feet) above sea level, but since the glacier at its summit partially melted, the highest elevation is at 2,469 metres (8,100 feet) at Galdhøpiggen , also in Norway. These mountains also have the largest glacier on the mainland of Europe, Jostedalsbreen .

About one quarter of the Scandinavian Peninsula
Peninsula
lies north of the Arctic Circle
Arctic Circle
, its northernmost point being at Cape Nordkyn , Norway .

The climate across Scandinavia
Scandinavia
varies from tundra (Köppen : ET) and subarctic (Dfc) in the north, with cool marine west coast climate (Cfc) in northwestern coastal areas reaching just north of Lofoten , to humid continental (Dfb) in the central portion and marine west coast (Cfb) in the south and southwest. The region is rich in timber, iron and copper with the best farmland in southern Sweden. Large petroleum and natural-gas deposits have been found off Norway's coast in the North Sea
North Sea
and the Atlantic Ocean.

Much of the population of the Scandinavian Peninsula
Peninsula
is naturally concentrated in its southern part, which is also its agricultural region. The largest cities of the peninsula are Stockholm
Stockholm
, Sweden; Oslo
Oslo
, Norway; Gothenburg
Gothenburg
, Sweden; Malmö
Malmö
, Sweden
Sweden
and Bergen
Bergen
, Norway, in that order.

GEOLOGY

Relief map of the Scandinavian Peninsula
Peninsula

The Scandinavian Peninsula
Peninsula
occupies part of the Baltic Shield
Baltic Shield
, a stable and large crust segment formed of very old, crystalline metamorphic rocks . Most of the soil covering this substrate was scraped by glaciers during the Ice Ages of antiquity, especially in northern Scandinavia, where the Baltic Shield
Baltic Shield
is closest to the surface of the land. As a consequence of this scouring, the elevation of the land and the cool-to-cold climate , a relatively small percentage of its land is arable .

The glaciation during the Ice Ages also deepened many of the river valleys, which were invaded by the sea when the ice melted, creating the noteworthy fjords of Norway. In the southern part of the peninsula, the glaciers deposited vast numbers of terminal moraines , configuring a very chaotic landscape. These terminal moraines covered all of what is now Denmark.

Although the Baltic Shield
Baltic Shield
is mostly geologically stable and hence resistant to the influences of other neighbouring tectonic formations, the weight of nearly four kilometres of ice during the Ice Ages caused all of the Scandinavian terrain to sink. When the ice sheet disappeared, the shield rose again, a tendency that continues to this day at a rate of about one metre per century. Conversely, the southern part has tended to sink to compensate, causing flooding of the Low Countries
Low Countries
and Denmark.

The crystalline substrate of the land and absence of soil in many places have exposed mineral deposits of metal ores , such as those of iron , copper , nickel , zinc , silver and gold . The very most valuable of these have been the deposits of iron ore in northwestern Sweden. In the 19th century these deposits prompted the building of a railway from northwestern Sweden
Sweden
to the Norwegian seaport of Narvik
Narvik
so that the iron ore could be exported by ship to places like southern Sweden, Germany
Germany
, Great Britain and Belgium
Belgium
for smelting into iron and steel . This railway is in a region of Norway
Norway
and Sweden
Sweden
that otherwise does not have any railways because of the very rugged terrain, mountains and fjords of that part of Scandinavia.

PEOPLE

The first recorded human presence in the southern area of the peninsula and Denmark
Denmark
dates from 12,000 years ago. As the ice sheets from the glaciation retreated, the climate allowed a tundra biome that attracted reindeer hunters. The climate warmed up gradually, favouring the growth of evergreen trees first and then deciduous forest which brought animals like aurochs . Groups of hunter-fisher-gatherers started to inhabit the area from the Mesolithic (8200 BC), up to the advent of agriculture in the Neolithic
Neolithic
(3200 BC).

The northern and central part of the peninsula is partially inhabited by the Sami , often referred to as "Lapps" or "Laplanders," who began to arrive several thousand years after the Scandinavian Peninsula
Peninsula
had already been inhabited in the south. In the earliest recorded periods they occupied the arctic and subarctic regions as well as the central part of the peninsula as far south as Dalarna , Sweden. They speak the Sami language , a non- Indo-European language of the Uralic family which is related to Finnish and Estonian . The first inhabitants of the peninsula were the Norwegians on the west coast of Norway, the Danes in what is now southern and western Sweden
Sweden
and southeastern Norway, the Svear in the region around Mälaren
Mälaren
as well as a large portion of the present day eastern seacoast of Sweden
Sweden
and the Geats in Västergötland and Östergötland
Östergötland
. These peoples spoke closely related dialects of an Indo-European language, Old Norse
Old Norse
. Although political boundaries have shifted, descendants of these peoples still are the dominant populations in the peninsula in the early 21st century.

POLITICAL DEVELOPMENT

The Union between Sweden
Sweden
and Norway
Norway
political borders in 1888 Main article: Union between Sweden
Sweden
and Norway
Norway

Although the Nordic countries
Nordic countries
look back on more than 1,000 years of history as distinct political entities, the international boundaries came late and emerged gradually. It was not until the middle of the 17th century that Sweden
Sweden
had a secure outlet on the Kattegat
Kattegat
and control of the south Baltic coast. The Swedish and Norwegian boundaries were finally agreed and marked out in 1751. The Finnish-Norwegian border on the peninsula was established after extensive negotiation in 1809, and the common Norwegian-Russian districts were not partitioned until 1826. Even then the borders were still fluid, with Finland
Finland
gaining access to the Barents Sea
Barents Sea
in 1920, but ceding this territory to Russia in 1944.

Denmark, Sweden
Sweden
and the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
dominated the political relationships on the Scandinavian Peninsula
Peninsula
for centuries, with Iceland
Iceland
, Finland
Finland
and Norway
Norway
only gaining their full independence during the 20th century. The Kingdom of Norway
Norway
– long held in personal union by Denmark
Denmark
– fell to Sweden
Sweden
after the Napoleonic Wars and only attained full independence in 1905. Having been an autonomous grand duchy within the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
since 1809, Finland
Finland
declared independence during the Soviet revolution of Russia in 1917. Iceland declared its independence from Denmark
Denmark
in 1944, while Denmark
Denmark
was under the occupation of Nazi Germany
Germany
. Iceland
Iceland
was encouraged to do this by the British and American armed forces that were defending Iceland
Iceland
from Nazi invasion.

The Wehrmacht
Wehrmacht
invaded Norway
Norway
in 1940 and the German Army occupied all of Norway
Norway
until May 1945. With the acquiescence of the Kingdom of Sweden
Sweden
, German troops moved from northern Norway, across northern Sweden, into Finland, which had become an ally of Nazi Germany. Then, in the spring of 1941, the German Army and the Finnish Army invaded the Soviet Union together. The Republic of Finland
Finland
had a grievance against the Soviet Union because the Red Army
Red Army
had invaded southeastern Finland
Finland
in the Winter War
Winter War
(1939–40) and had taken a large area of territory away from Finland.

Sweden
Sweden
remained a neutral country during the First World War
First World War
, Second World War , the Korean War
Korean War
and the Cold War
Cold War
, and it continues its neutral policies as of 2013.

In 1945, Norway, Denmark
Denmark
and Iceland
Iceland
were founding members of the United Nations
United Nations
. Sweden
Sweden
joined the U.N. soon after. Finland
Finland
joined during the 1950s. The first Secretary General of the United Nations
United Nations
, Trygve Lie , was a Norwegian citizen. The second Secretary General of the United Nations, Dag Hammarskjöld
Dag Hammarskjöld
, was a Swedish citizen. Thus the people of the Scandinavian Peninsula
Peninsula
had a strong influence in international affairs during the 20th century.

In 1949, Norway, Denmark
Denmark
and Iceland
Iceland
became founding members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation for their defence against Germany, the Soviet Union and all other potential invaders, and these three countries remain members as of 2011.

Sweden
Sweden
and Finland
Finland
joined the European Union
European Union
in 1995. Norway, however, remains outside the Union.

SEE ALSO

* Fennoscandia
Fennoscandia

*

A satellite view of the Scandinavian Peninsula
Peninsula
*

Scandinavian Peninsula
Peninsula
in winter (19 February 2003)

REFERENCES

* ^ Haugen, Einar (1976). The Scandinavian Languages: An Introduction to Their History. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 1976. * ^ Helle, Knut (2003). "Introduction". The Cambridge History of Scandinavia. Ed. E. I. Kouri et al. Cambridge University Press, 2003. ISBN 0-521-47299-7 . p. XXII. "The name Scandinavia
Scandinavia
was used by classical authors in the first centuries of the Christian era to identify Skåne and the mainland further north which they believed to be an island." * ^ Olwig, Kenneth R. "Introduction: The Nature of Cultural Heritage, and the Culture of Natural Heritage—Northern Perspectives on a Contested Patrimony". International Journal of Heritage Studies, Vol. 11, No. 1, March 2005, p. 3: The very name 'Scandinavia' is of cultural origin, since it derives from the Scanians or Scandians (the Latinized spelling of "Skåninger"), a people who long ago lent their name to all of Scandinavia, perhaps because they lived centrally, at the southern tip of the peninsula." * ^ Østergård, Uffe (1997). "The Geopolitics of Nordic Identity – From Composite States to Nation States". The Cultural Construction of Norden. Øystein Sørensen and Bo Stråth (eds.), Oslo: Scandinavian University Press 1997, 25-71. * ^ Glossary of American climate terminology in terms of Köppens classification * ^ Hobbs, Joseph J. and Salter, Christopher L.Essentials Of World Regional Geography,p. 108.Thomson Brooks/Cole.2005.ISBN 0-534-46600-1 * ^ A B Ostergren, Robert C., Rice, John G. The Europeans. Guilford Press. 2004.ISBN 0-89862-272-7 * ^ Tilley, Christopher Y. Ethnography of the Neolithic: Early Prehistoric Societies in Southern Scandinavia, p. 9, Cambridge University Press. 2003. ISBN 0-521-56821-8 * ^ Sawyer, Bridget and Peter (1993). Medieval Scandinavia: from conversion to Reformation, circa 800-1500. University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 0-8166-1738-4 . * ^ Sømme, Axel (Ed.) (1961). The Geography of Norden. Oslo: Den Norske nasjonalkommittee for geographi. CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link )

Coordinates : 63°00′N 14°00′E / 63.000°N 14.000°E

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