- Politically, the region is made up of Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, and their dependencies. Iceland retained ties to the Danish crown until 1944. The nations bear many culturally similarities, with the Lutheran confession as official religion. Scandinavian languages - Swedish, Norwegian, Icelandic, and Danish -belong to the Germanic group that, with exception of Icelandic, could be mutually understood by its practitioners. Finnish, on the other hand, belongs to the Finnish-Ugrian group and so does the language of the Samí minority, living in northern Scandinavia and the Kola Peninsula.Between 1839 and 1850, the pan-Scandinavian movement was influential among Scandinavian intellectuals. It was partly a result of increased focus on the common history and heritage of the Scandinavian peoples, but it was also derived from the increasing pressure from outside great powers, most notably Russia and Prussia. It came up short, however, in confrontation with the realities of politics and the growing nationalism of each country.For Scandinavia, the Napoleonic Wars were the final chapter of more than 800 years of struggle for regional hegemony. For the latter 500 years, the Danish and Swedish Kings were the main contestants; the former had sided with defeated France, the latter with the victors. Yet from 1814 to 1914, Scandinavia was little affected by the squabbles among the great powers. Instead, the region saw a period of growth of civic society, democracy, and modernization. In Finland, Sweden, and Norway, forestry had always been a major export; in the latter two, mining also contributed economically. Norway, and Denmark’s dependency, Iceland, also had rich fisheries. Denmark enjoyed an export-oriented farming sector, shifting from grain to dairy and meat preserves in the 1870s. The first railroads were laid down in the 1850s, and railroad networks expanded in Scandinavia from the mid-nineteenth century. From 1870, industry was expanding, applying the latest technologies, using local raw material such as ore and wood pulp, and in Norway and Sweden, benefiting from development of hydroelectric power. Industrialization also created a new, urban working class, which grew into a significant social and political force at the turn of the century. Norway also had a signifi-cant merchant fleet, which grew from the eighth to the third largest during the nineteenth century.By the 1814 Kiel peace treaty, Norway passed from Danish to Swedish rule. Norway had brought Iceland, the Faeroe Islands and Greenland into the union with Denmark in 1380, but these possessions remained with the latter. The Norwegian constitution of 1814 was one of the most democratic of its time, and its adaptation was enabled by the absence of any Norwegian nobility. It was under constant attack from the ruling Swedish King, however, until the mid-nineteenth century, when the Norwegian Parliament took to the offensive leading to independence in 1905. Parliamentary government was also introduced in 1884.Finland was lost by Sweden to Russia in 1809, and became a Grand Duchy directly under the tsar. Tsar Alexander I (1777–1825) gave Finland extensive autonomy. While Norway’s independence developed gradually, Finland experienced repression under Russian Tsars Alexander III (1845–1894) and Nicholas II (1868–1917). Finland gained full independence as a consequence of the 1917 Russian Revolution and a bloody civil war lasting through 1918.Both Sweden and Denmark entered the period as absolute monarchies and with a landed aristocracy that hampered development of democratic institutions. Reforms began in the mid-nineteenth century, but parliamentarism was not established before World War I. Universal suffrage was also obtained by both sexes in Finland in 1906, Norway in 1913, Denmark and Iceland in 1918, and Sweden in 1921.See also <
>; < >.FURTHER READING:Andersson, Ingvar. A History of Sweden. Translated by Carolyn Hannay. London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1956;Jones, Gwyn. Denmark: A Modern History. London: Croom Helm, 1986.FRODE LINDGJERDET
Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.