Barneblad: Norway’s Nordic Neighbors

A monthly feature to share with kids and grandkids

Nordic Neighbors

The Nordic countries from left to right:
Greenland, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Svalbard, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, & Finland

Brought to you by Lori Ann Reinhall

This issue is all about travel, and this week’s Barneblad takes you to Norway’s Nordic neighbors, countries that share both geography and history. Enjoy your journey as we explore new lands together!


Nordic Neighbors - Sweden

The flag of Sweden

Sweden is Norway’s closest neighbor with a long border to the east, and the two countries have much in common. A Norwegian can understand the Swedish language quite well, and overall their way of life is very similar.

About 1 1/2 times the size of Norway, Sweden has nearly twice as many people. There are many factories in Sweden, one of the most modern countries in the world.

Sweden has long had a king and queen, and for some time, Norway was under Swedish rule. They parted as friends, but there can still be some sibling rivalry all in good fun. Today, Sweden is ruled by its people, and just as in Norway, the royal family serves as official representatives.

Stockholm is the capital of Sweden.


Nordic Neighbors - Finland

The flag of Finland

Finland is slightly larger than Norway, both in terms of size and people. It is a land of forests and lakes, a beautiful and rugged landscape. It too, is a modern country, with very good schools and jobs.

At one time, Finland was under Swedish rule, and then under Russian rule. Today, it is strongly independent, with a president as head of state.

As in Norway and Sweden, the Sámi people live in the north. They speak their own language, but the main language of Finland is Finnish. It is very different from Norwegian and, in fact, cannot be understood by speakers of any other language. Swedish is spoken on the island of Åland, going back to former times.

Helsinki is the capital of Finland.


Nordic Neighbors - Denmark

The flag of Denmark

Denmark is the oldest kingdom in Europe. Like Norway and Sweden, it is now ruled by the people, and the queen serves in a symbolic role.

Once very powerful, Denmark ruled Norway for many years. The Danish language is closely related to Norwegian; in fact, the written language in Norway was a form of Danish for many years.

Denmark is small in size—about 1/10 of Norway—but even so, more people live there. Like its neighbors, it is a very modern country.

Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark.


Norwegian Neighbors - Norway

The flag of Norway

Made up of islands of ice and snow in the Atlantic Ocean, Svalbard is a territory of Norway. With its Arctic climate, it is the land of the polar bear. Fewer than 3,000 people live in Svalbard, which is about 1/5 the size of Norway and, in fact,  there are more bears than people!

Each year, Svalbard welcomes many tourists, who come to see the beautiful natural surroundings.

Longyearbyen is the capital of Svalbard.

The Faroe Islands

Nordic Neighbors - the Faroe Islands

The flag of the Faroe Islands

The Faroe Islands are a Danish territory in the North Sea. About 50,000 people live there on the tiny isolated islands.

The Faroese language is very old; like Icelandic it is much like what the Vikings spoke 1,000 years ago. Many people still make their living from fishing, and whaling is an important tradition for the people of the Faroe Islands.

Tórshavn (which means “Thor’s Harbor”) is the capital of the Faroe Islands.


Nordic Neighbors - Iceland

The flag of Iceland

Iceland was settled by the Vikings about 1,100 years ago. It is an island about 1/3 the size of Norway. A land mass of volcanic rock with many volcanos still active, it is called the “land of ice and fire.”

While its language has stayed much the same for centuries, today Iceland is a modern country with a lively cultural scene. The landscape is beautiful, and tourists come from all over the world to visit.

Reykjavík is the capital of Iceland.


Nordic Neighbors - Greenland

The flag of Greenland

Farther to the west from Iceland is the island of Greenland, a territory of Denmark.

About seven times the size of Norway, most of Greenland is covered with ice. Fewer than 60,000 people live there, mostly Eskimos who fish and live off the land.

Nuuk is the capital of Greenland.

God tur! Happy travels!

To learn more about Norwegian geography, see

This article originally appeared in the January 25, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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Lori Ann Reinhall

Lori Ann Reinhall, editor-in-chief of The Norwegian American, is a multilingual journalist and cultural ambassador based in Seattle. She is the president of the Seattle-Bergen Sister City Association, and she serves on the boards of several Nordic organizations.