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You might have noticed that when something is written or said about Scandinavia, Iceland is never among those countries. 

It might look odd because Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland (along with the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Åland Islands and Svalbard) are a pretty close family. However, there is a simple explanation for this.

lake in Sweden

What is Scandinavia?

Scandinavia comprises of Denmark, Norway and Sweden which are located on the Scandinavian peninsula. 

The terminology became popular in the 18th century when ideas on common ancestry became popular and the idea that Denmark, Norway and Sweden were intricately linked through history and language. 

The famous fairy tale author H.C. Andersen was one of the people who made the term Scandinavian famous when he wrote a poem in 1839 called “I am Scandinavian.” He was a great supporter of Scandinavianism, which promotes cooperation between the countries on the grounds of shared cultural heritage, mythology and a common language.

Husavík in iceland

Why is Iceland not a part of Scandinavia?

Technically, Iceland is a part of the cultural Scandinavia. Still, more commonly it is only counted to be a part of the Nordic countries, where Faroe Islands, Greenland, Åland Islands and Svalbard are also included.

What does Scandinavia mean?

At the very beginning, it referred to only Scania (Skåne), the southernmost region of Sweden (was originally a part of Denmark). Skåne is believed to be derived from the name of Skaði, a giantess and a goddess. She was associated with hunting, skiing, winter and mountains and married Njörður. Later on, she divorced him and married Óðinn, with whom she had many children. 

lakes in Norway

But will Iceland ever be a part of Scandinavia?

No, at least not geographically. It could be counted as part of it culturally. But Icelanders are pretty content with being a Nordic Country.  Today, it doesn’t matter as much as it maybe did a few decades ago when Iceland was establishing itself as a sovereign, independent nation. Plus, it is really hard driving to Scandinavia from Iceland even in a camper van. Technically, you can take a ferry but if you are in Scandinavia, there is no problem driving between the countries!

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