Nordic countries

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The Nordic countries make up a region in Northern Europe and the North Atlantic which consists of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden and their associated territories which include the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Svalbard and Åland. Scandinavia is sometimes used as a synonym for the Nordic countries,[1] although within the Nordic countries the terms are considered distinct.

The region's five nation-states and three autonomous regions share much common history as well as common traits in their respective societies, such as political systems and the Nordic model. Politically, Nordic countries do not form a separate entity, but they co-operate in the Nordic Council. The Nordic countries have a combined population of approximately 25 million spread over a land area of 3.5 million km² (Greenland accounts for around 60% of the total area).

Although the area is linguistically heterogeneous, with three unrelated language groups, the common linguistic heritage is one of the factors making up the Nordic identity. The continental North Germanic languagesDanish, Norwegian and Swedish – share a degree of mutual intelligibility with each other. These languages are taught in school throughout the Nordic countries; Swedish, for example, is a mandatory subject in Finnish schools. Besides these and the insular North Germanic languages Faroese and Icelandic, all belonging to the Indo-European languages, there are the Baltic-Finnic and Sami branches of the Uralic languages, spoken in Finland respectively northern Norway, Sweden and Finland, and Greenlandic, an Eskimo-Aleut language, spoken in Greenland.

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