The Scandinavian States and Finland: A Political and Economic Survey

The Scandinavian States and Finland: A Political and Economic Survey

The Scandinavian States and Finland: A Political and Economic Survey

The Scandinavian States and Finland: A Political and Economic Survey

Excerpt

The five northern States of Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland, which together represent the widest connotation of the somewhat loose epithet Scandinavia, are often treated as more of a unity than in fact they are. Their close association throughout history has imprinted on them all the pattern of a common, or at least related, culture. They have similar political institutions. Finland excepted, racial and linguistic affinities also provide a close link. But in many matters of fundamental importance the interests and outlook of these countries are divergent and even opposed.

This is largely due to their geographical situation. If Iceland is omitted, the remaining four countries form a block which stretches from the Danish-German border in the south -- about the same latitude as the English Border country -- to North Cape, which is as far north as northern Alaska. It is bounded in the west by the slanting coast of Norway and in the east by the Russo-Finnish frontier, which is as far east as Istanbul. Three of the countries -- Denmark, Sweden, and Finland -- are united by the Baltic. But Norway's main concern is with the Atlantic and the West. The other three States look more to their land than to their sea frontier. Denmark is strategically an extension of the North German plain and Finland of the Russian sub-continent to the shores of the Baltic. Sweden, surrounded by her Scandinavian neighbours or the sea on all sides, is a Baltic Power, which yet must have outlets to the West through the Skagerrak or Norwegian ports.

Such geographical differences impose differences of policy which prove hard to reconcile. They have also brought different experiences of war, occupation, and neutrality which tend to confirm each country in its attitude towards the possibility of such events recurring. For the Scandinavian States can no longer consider themselves in a peaceful backwater, unaffected by the swift stream of events which bears others remorselesly along.

These northern countries have for so long set the example, and shown the advantages, of neutrality that their earlier history of violent fighting both among themselves and against . . .

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