Printer Friendly

Chapter 7 Geography and tourism in Northern Europe.


* Northern Europe has a high-latitude location aid rugged physical geography.

* Population canters are concentrated along the region's southern margins.

* Northern Europe is relatively isolated.

* The Lutheran religion predominates in Northern Europe.

* Northern Europe has a homogenous population with few minorities.

* Individual countries have high standards of living.

* The lingua franca fate region is English.

* The population is highly urbanized highly skilled, and highly educated.


* The major attractions are scenic and outdoor sport related.

* The character of the travel industry varies greatly from country to country

* Tourism is less important to the economies of these countries then to the rest of Europe.

* Fewer tourist visit Nathan Europe than other regions of Europe.

* Most visitors stay only for short periods of time.


Capitals of Northern Europe

Fjords of Norway (Bergen to Trondheim)

Bergen to Oslo, Norway

Jutland Denmark

Tuku to Helsinki Finland

Lake Country (Finland)


Odense, Denmark

Malmo, Sweden

Goteborg to Stockholm Sweden






Hanseatic League


Lingua Franca


Maritime Influence

Midnight Sun







Welfare State


Northern Europe, Figure 7-1, occupies a position in Europe comparable to that of Alaska in North America. Its southern point, the border of Germany and Denmark, is situated in the same latitude as the southern tip of the Alaskan Panhandle (55 degrees North). The northernmost point of continental Europe at the North Cape in Norway is at the same latitude as Point Barrow, Alaska (71 degrees North). The distance from the eastern extremity of Finland to the western extremity of Iceland is a great as from the Alaskan Panhandle to the outermost islands of the Aleutian Chain. Northern Europe is nearly 90 percent as large as Alaska.

Northern Europe is one of the wealthiest regions of the world, which is remarkable given the marginal environment that has limited the agricultural base of the individual countries. The region is also referred to as Scandinavia. Anciently it was the name of the country of the Norsemen. Today the region encompasses Denmark, Norway, and Sweden and is sometimes expanded to include Finland and Iceland. All five countries jointly market tourism under the Scandinavian Tourist Board.


Humanitarianism, social concern, cooperation, and planning are the key elements in the political systems created in the region. The people and governments have been guided by the belief that every citizen has the right to low-cost health services, higher education, decent housing, productive jobs, and a clean environment. The people of Northern Europe have built a society that enables them to live as well or better than any region of the world, and the degree and nature of government involvement in residents' lives have led some to classify the countries as "welfare states."

Culturally, there is a strong similarity among the residents of Northern Europe. Historically, it was the last area of Europe to be free of glaciation and the last to receive human settlement. More than 80 percent of the people are nominally members of the Lutheran Church, and with the exception of Finland, the languages are Germanic in origin. Finnish is a Uralic language, closely related to Estonian and distantly related to Hungarian, but the Finns are also predominantly Lutheran. English is the lingua franca of the region. (Lingua franca refers to the use of a second language that can be spoken and understood by many peoples in regions although they speak other languages at home.) The populations of the countries of Northern Europe are small, with Sweden's 8.7 million being the largest and the 230,000 of Iceland being the smallest. The growth rates in all of the nations are very low, with all under 0.2 percent per year. Literacy rates are nearly 100 percent, and per capita incomes rival those of all industrial nations and are exceeded only by a few oil-rich countries of the Middle East.

The Northern European nations are on the periphery of Europe both geographically and in terms of tourism. The region receives the fewest tourists of the four major regions of Europe, Figure 7-2.

There are a number of common cultural and physical geographical elements in these northern countries. Most have more of their own residents travel as tourists than they have nonresident tourist visitors. The three largest countries--Norway, Sweden, and Finland--have their major population centers in the south. With the exception of Iceland, proximity to the European core has led to air pollution from the industries of Europe causing problems for lakes, streams, and forests.




Northern Europe is a region of peninsulas and islands, each separated from the others by bays or inlets of varying widths or open sea, Figure 7-3. The dominant physical feature of Northern Europe is its peninsular nature. Norway, Figure 7-4, and Sweden comprise the Scandinavian peninsula, and Denmark occupies most of the Jutland peninsula. The second characteristic of the physical geography is its insularity (of or relating to an island or by extension to isolated conditions similar to an island). Major islands include Iceland and the Faeroes in the North Atlantic, Spitsbergen and Jan Mayen in the Arctic, the Danish archipelago (a group of islands), the Swedish islands of Gotland and Oland in the Baltic, and the Aland archipelago at the entrance to the Gulf of Bothnia. As a result of its peninsular and insular character, Northern Europe is relatively isolated from the rest of Europe. This isolation has played an important part in the historical and cultural development of the region and in large part explains the distinct regional consciousness of the residents of Northern Europe.



The important landform feature is the northern mountainous area composed of a core of relatively low mountains with elevations ranging from 1,000 feet to a maximum of 8,100 feet in the south of Norway at Mount Galdhoppigen.

These old mountains were covered by huge continental glaciers, and they are less rugged than the Alpine mountain systems of central Europe. The high-latitude location combines with the altitude of the northern mountains to make them some of the most sparsely settled areas of Europe, essentially uninhabited except for logging activities, mining, hunting, and other activities associated with isolated settlements.

Glaciation of the northwest highlands added many of the distinctive features to the present Scandinavian landscape that are important to tourism. Erosive glaciation formed a variety of distinctive landforms, including cirques, arretes, U-shaped valleys, hanging valleys, fjords, and rounded, polished, and striated rock. Glacial features such as moraines, sand and gravel outwash plains, kettles, drumlins, and eskers are seen on the landscape. The most important of these to tourism are the fjords. Fjords are simply old river channels that were deepened and widened by glaciers flowing out of the mountains and into the oceans. After the ice melted, these were flooded by the sea, creating narrow deep bays. Many of the fjords have been scoured by the ice to depths of more than 3,600 feet (1,107 meters). Bordered by steep slopes and extensive forests, agriculture and settlements are concentrated where glaciers left narrow drift plains. Population is concentrated at the head of the fjords at such places as Aurland and Flam where the deposits of drift have been enlarged by rivers building deltas into the fjord.

South and east of the mountainous core of the Scandinavian Peninsula are the valleys of the Norwegian East Country and of the Inner Northland of Sweden with relatively broad and open plains. In the southern lowlands of Sweden, a small zone of high-lands of undulating hills occurs, with elevations reaching about 1,000 feet.

Finland is basically a glaciated plain, with eskers, deltas, ground and terminal moraines, and lakes. One of the most distinctive areas of Finland is the lake plateau (or Salpanselka), where more than 60,000 lakes cover almost a quarter of the area. The mountainous region in the north of Finland is an extension of the northwest highlands of Norway and Sweden. Denmark is part of the North European Plain and its related glaciated landscapes.

Iceland, Europe's most westerly country, is a basaltic rock island that emerges above the surface of the waters of the North Atlantic. Three-quarters of Iceland is barren and treeless. It is rugged, mountainous terrain, largely covered by glaciers. Vulcanism is still common, with volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and numerous hot springs, making Iceland one of the most active volcanic regions of the world. Volcanic activity occasionally occurs beneath one of the glaciers, resulting in the spectacular and destructive phenomenon, glacier-burst. Hot springs are found in virtually every part of the island. Many boil over periodically, sending great columns of super-heated water and steam into the air. Iceland is an island of mountains, fjords, rivers, waterfalls, green valleys, high plateaus, volcanoes, glaciers, geysers, and hot springs. Agriculture is severely restricted, and fishing is the basis for the largest export item. The rugged landscape, described by some as a "moonscape," provided training for the United States space program.


Because of maritime influence on the islands and peninsula of Northern Europe, the marine west coast climate prevails in Denmark and along the coastal margins of Sweden, Iceland, Norway, and islands as far north as the Arctic Circle. The weather is not as cold as the location would suggest, with even the islands north of the Arctic Circle affected by the relatively milder water temperature, reflecting the influence of the North Atlantic Drift. The northern location does dictate cool summers. Temperatures average near or above freezing during most winters and into the mid-60s during the summer. Precipitation, the bulk of which falls as rain, totals between 20 and 30 inches per year.

In northern Scandinavia there is tundra climate across the north of Norway. The mountainous core of the Scandinavian Peninsula and northern Finland have subarctic climates, Figure 7-5, while the inland plain areas of Finland, Sweden, and Norway have a humid continental, cool summer climate. The humid continental climate has winter temperatures below zero and summer temperatures similar to the marine west coast. The greater part of eastern Norway, Sweden, and Finland receive between 20 and 30 inches of precipitation a year, with maximum rainfall in the summer. Southern Sweden and southern Finland have a humid continental, warm summer climate. They have a hot, humid summer with maximum temperatures reaching the eighties during the daytime, and winters with subzero temperatures and permanent snow cover.

Because of insularity, both the Faeroes and Iceland have maritime climates. In the Faeroes, winter temperatures rarely dip to the freezing point, and summer temperatures seldom rise above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. About 60 inches of precipitation are received each year, the maximum in winter and almost all in the form of rain. Because of the North Atlantic Drift, the south and west coasts of Iceland have a milder and wetter climate than the northern and eastern coasts. Winter temperatures in the southwest seldom average below freezing, but in the north and east they normally drop into the low twenties. Snow is more common and longer lasting in the north and east regions. Precipitation averages between 30 and 60 inches a year in the south and west. Over most of the northern half of Iceland, it usually amounts to less than 20 inches.


The high-latitude location of the region causes an additional physical geographic phenomenon that affects both the region's inhabitants and tourism, the twenty-four hours of daylight in the summer. North of the Arctic Circle, the sun does not set for twenty-four hours at a time because of the tilt of the earth. This phenomenon is called the "Midnight Sun" and is an important tourist attraction. In the winter, of course, there are an equal number of days without the sun rising. Even south of the Arctic Circle in northern Europe, the summer night is only a few hours long.


The similarities of economic, geographic, cultural, and historic development among countries in this region are also found in their tourism. The four major countries (Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland) have a similar tourism profile: outdoor activity; high season in summer due to cold, dark winters and cool summers; a relatively small number of tourists compared with other European countries; the heavy use of the automobile by international tourists; a relatively short stay; the lack of overall importance of tourism to their economies; and more individual tourists and tourist itineraries. Cruises have become popular in this region and one of the major factors in the growth in the number of visitors. While the countries share some common tourism elements, there is also considerable variety in attractions from country to country. Peak numbers of tourists occur in the summer months in all the Scandinavian countries (Figure 7-6).




Capital: Copenhagen

Government: Constitutional Monarchy

Size: 16,633 square miles (about twice the size of Massachusetts)

Language: Danish, Faroese, Greenlandic, and a small Germanic minority

Ethnic Division: Scandinavian, Eskimo, Faroese, German

Religion: 91% Evangelical Lutheran, 2% Protestant and Roman Catholic, 7% other.

Tourist Season: April thru October

Peak Visitor Season: July and August

Currency: Kroner (Dkr)

Population: 5.4 million (2001)

Entry: Visas are not required for stays of less than ninety days in
Scandinavia. Passports are required.

Transportation: Direct flights are available between Copenhagen and
a number of North American and European cities. There are excellent
rail and ferry linkages to other major European centers. Copenhagen
serves as a hub for train service into the other Scandinavian
countries and western Europe. Public transportation in Copenhagen
is excellent by bus, suburban train, and taxi service. The Danish
government hopes to have its Kastrup Airport at Copenhagen become
one of the major international airports in Europe and an
intercontinental gateway, particularly for Northern Europe, similar
to Heathrow at London or Schiphol at Amsterdam.

Shopping: Common items include Danish jewelry, furniture, wooden
carving boards, salad bowls, and utensils. Also gold, silver,
stainless steel flatware, ceramics, glass-ware, toys, and Danish
cheese are popular items.


The Danes are a Gothic-Germanic people who have inhabited Denmark
since prehistoric times. Danish is the official language with a
small German-speaking minority along the border with Germany.
English is widely spoken and understood. Ninety-two percent of the
people are Evangelical Lutheran; however, most are cultural
Lutherans, limiting church participation to baptism, confirmation
of family or friends, and major holidays, such as Easter and
Christmas. The Danes are a friendly and informal people.

Cultural Hints:

* A handshake is the most common greeting.

* Eye contact is important.

* Politeness is important.

* Cover your mouth when yawning.

* Danes do not use hand gestures in conversation.

* Eating and food:

In restaurants, the service charge is usually included in the bill.

Call a waiter by raising the hand and index finger.

Don't get up from dining until the host or hostess does.

Typical food includes cheese, pork roast, fish, beans, Brussels
sprouts, potatoes, fresh vegetables, and soup. A common breakfast
in hotels is a smorgasbord of cheese, fruits, and pastries.

Physical Characteristics

Denmark occupies a peninsula and 406 islands north of the Federal Republic of Germany. Denmark consists of flat-to-rolling terrain. The climate is temperate, with mild winters and cool summers and strong prevailing westerly winds.

Tourism Characteristics

Tourism to Denmark increased only slightly in the last decade, but Denmark has the second largest tourism receipts of the northern European countries. Tourism to Denmark is highly regional in origin, with Germany, Sweden, and Norway responsible for 63 percent of the bed nights (Figure 7-7). Sweden is the dominant market, accounting for 28 percent of the bed nights in Denmark. The United States accounts for slightly less than 4 percent of Denmark's visitors. Tourists from Anglo-America are quite comfortable in Denmark as most of the population can speak the English language. There are a significant number of Americans who have Danish ancestors, in part accounting for the American tourists to the country. A large celebration, the Ribild Fourth of July celebration, takes place each year in recognition of America's independence. A site on Ribild Hills on the northern tip of the Jutland moor was dedicated in 1912 as a national park. In the park stands the Lincoln Memorial Cabin, built of logs from the original thirteen states, and the Immigrant Museum, devoted to mementos of Danish immigration to the United States. The tourist season is quite seasonal. The summer months are the most popular, accounting for more than half of all visitors.


Tourist Destinations and Attractions

Tourist attractions in Denmark are overwhelmingly cultural and historical, reflecting the lack of any individual outstanding physical feature. Most of Denmark's islands are small with very few inhabitants. The country can be divided into three regions in terms of tourism.


Copenhagen, the capital, is one of Europe's most attractive cities (Figure 7-8). Located on the island of Zealand, the largest Danish island and a short ferry ride to the coast of Sweden, Copenhagen was founded in the twelfth century and today is home for a quarter of Denmark's five million inhabitants. Tivoli Gardens, the inspiration for most theme parks, is in the center of town. One block from the train station of Copenhagen, Tivoli is one of the most beautiful theme parks in the world. Surrounding a lake are fountains, amusement rides and games, food establishments of all types and sizes, and theaters where concerts, plays, pantomime, skits, and acrobatic shows occur throughout the day. Copenhagen is a lovely city for dining, shopping, nightclubbing, and sightseeing. The major shopping street is alive with strollers, impromptu entertainment, and Danish ambiance.

The middle of Old Copenhagen is composed of a maze of pedestrian shopping streets offering shops of every conceivable type for every taste. One of the most charming and picturesque areas is the Nyhavn (New Haven) district. It was built along a canal with tall row houses that now express the Danish style of architectural design, handsomely painted in rich tones of blues and yellows. Nyhavn was originally sailors' quarters, but today consists of a jungle of bars, cafes, restaurants, and the home where Hans Christian Andersen wrote his first fairy tales. Boat tours leave the area to visit the harbor and attractions along the canals of Copenhagen.


There are a number of museums, such as the Glyptotek Art Museum, the Permanent Contemporary Crafts Exhibit, the National Museum (history), Christiansborg Palace with its collection of rare documents in the Royal Library (including pre-Columbian Viking logs of transatlantic voyages), the Royal Theater (1500), the Royal Museum of Fine Art, and the Citadel. "Langelinie Promenade" along the harbor is where the most photographed mermaid in the world, the Little Mermaid, sits, Figure 7-9. It is such an important figure that her head was once severed and held for ransom. The ransom was not paid, and the head was recast and reattached to the statue.

Copenhagen's architectural beauty is expressed in the four identical mansions in Amalienborg Palace Square. The Royal House of Glucksborg has always resided here, and the Royal Guard with their striking tall bearskin caps are impressive. The changing of the guard brings tourists and residents to the square. Rosenborg Castle is a beautiful Renaissance palace that is now a museum housing fine tapestries and royal possessions, including the Danish crown jewels. Surrounding the castle, the Kongens Have (the King's gardens) features beautiful flowers, majestic trees, and walks lined with sculptures.


Many of the morning activities center on the square opposite the Stock Exchange where many vendors have their colorful booths. The Fish Market is the place to watch the daily catch being sold by fishermen's wives. Across the canal, from which many canal and harbor tours depart, is Thorvaldsen's Museum, which contains a large collection of his work.

Outside of Copenhagen and Zealand

North of Copenhagen is a Deer Park near which is the royal hunting lodge of Eremithagen with a fine view over the Sound to Sweden. A large number of old Danish farms, windmills, and historical houses from all over the country have been assembled at Sorgenfri.

Some twenty-five miles north of Copenhagen in the heart of the Grib Forest lies Hillerod. The Frederiksborg Castle, Figure 7-10, a fairy-tale castle dating back to 1560, is the main attraction of Hillerod. Near Hillerod is the Ebleholt Abbey from the Middle Ages. Northeast of Hillerod is the Fredensborg Palace, the summer residence of the Danish Royal Family, which was built in Italian style in the early eighteenth century. Further north is Helsingor, a busy port and a major crossing point to Sweden. Kronborg Castle in Helsingor was built in the late sixteenth century and is famous as the setting of Shakespeare's Hamlet. Helsingor is one of the best preserved towns in Denmark, and its old section illustrates the old buildings and narrow streets of bygone years. Near the North Zealand fishing ports of Hornbaek, Gilleleje, and Tisvildeleje, there are extensive beaches and pinewoods, which have excellent bathing facilities for the visitor.

West of Copenhagen is Roskilde, one of Denmark's ancient leading cities. The twelfth-century cathedral is compared to Westminster Abbey and is the burial place for more than thirty-eight Danish kings and queens. The Viking Ship Museum has on display five Viking ships, found in Roskilde Fjord.

South of Copenhagen on the island of Amager is the old fishing port of Dragor, which has an old-world charm. From Dragor, tourists visit the bird sanctuaries on the island of Saltholm. Odense, the birthplace of Hans Christian Andersen, is on the nearby island of Funen. A museum with Andersen's books, letters, drawings, and personal belongings is located at Odense. The island of Funen has the greatest concentration of manor houses and castles in Denmark. Egeskov Castle is one of Europe's best-preserved Renaissance castles, built on oak piles that have been driven down into the lake.


The Peninsula of Jutland has miles of broad white sandy beaches that attract many campers from Germany, Sweden, and Norway. Extending out from Aarhus, Denmark's second largest city and seaport, is a series of beaches, lakes, and picturesque small villages and towns. Old Town in Aarhus has narrow cobblestone streets and an open-air museum illustrating life in the sixteenth century. Along the eastern coast of the Jutland Peninsula are jagged fjords, tree-studded slopes, and rolling meadows, with heather moors and fertile fields. The medieval town of Ribe, where storks nest on the roofs of attractive old houses, is located in the moors. Founded in A.D. 948, Ribe is Denmark's oldest town. The peninsula has numerous small museums in most of the small towns. These museums house Viking relics and depict Viking life. The south islands of Fano, Aero, Samso, and Bornholm offer glimpses of Danish village and rural life.



Physical Characteristics

Finland's landscape is not as rugged as the neighboring countries of Sweden and Norway. Relatively flat, the country's rolling hills nearly exceed 1,500-foot elevation. The mountains in the northwest corner on the Norwegian border, however, are about 5,000 feet above sea level.

Even though Finland extends far north, the climate is moderated by the influence of the North Atlantic Drift, the Baltic Sea, and more than 60,000 lakes. However, it is cold in the winter, and its high latitude does create short summers.

Tourism Characteristics

Finland's tourist arrivals have been increasing over the past few years (Figure 7-11). In the past, Finland received few tourists because of its relative remoteness from the prime European markets, higher airfare from America, and its short summer. Finland is second only to Iceland in lowest length of stay in Northern Europe. However, with the breakup of the former Soviet Union, Finland now benefits from its location as an origin point for tours (particularly cruises) to Russia, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Tourism numbers to Finland doubled in the 1990s.



Capital: Helsinki

Government: Republic

Size: 130,558 square miles (slightly smaller than Montana)

Language: 93.5% Finnish, 6.3% Swedish, some Lapp and Russian minorities

Ethnic Division: Finn, Swede, Lapp, Gypsies, Tatar

Religion: 89% Evangelical Lutheran, 1% Greek Orthodox, 1% other, 9% none

Tourist Season: May through September

Peak Tourist Season: June (14%), July (17%), and August (16%)

Currency: Finnmarks (FIM) and Euro

Population: 5.2 million (2001)

Entry: Visas are not required for stays up to ninety days in
Finland. Passports are required.

Transportation: There is international air service to Helsinki from
North America and other European countries. Trains and ferries
connect Finland, via Sweden and Denmark, with the rest of western
Europe or east to Russia and the Baltics. Finland has excellent
domestic air, rail, and highway networks. Public transportation is
excellent by bus, train, and subway (Helsinki).

Shopping: Items include furniture, jewelry, leather goods, furs,
toys, glassware, ceramics, textiles, foods such as crisp-bread,
herring, cheese, and liquor.


The majority of the population is Finnish. It is thought their
original home was in what is now west-central Siberia. As the Finns
moved into the area they pushed the Lapps into the more remote
northern regions. Finland has a small minority of Lapps and some
Gypsies. The Finnish language, which over 93 percent speak, is a
Finno-Ugric member of the Uralic language family and not
Indo-European. Lappish is spoken by a minority of Lapps. Swedish
and English are widely understood. Over 90 percent of the
population belongs to the Evangelical Lutheran Church, but weekly
church attendance is very low. The small minority of Eastern
Orthodox results from Finland's past ties to the Russian Empire.

Cultural Hints:

* A handshake is a common greeting even with children.

* Punctuality is important.

* Do not eat food while walking on the streets.

* Eye contact is important.

* Do not cross your legs at the ankles.

* Do not talk with your hands in your pockets.

* Do not fold your arms while talking. It is considered arrogant.

* Eating and food:

Avoid eating anything with your fingers.

The check is given and paid at the table.

Eat small portions and everything on the plate.

Typical foods include fish, seafood, salmon, wild game, reindeer,
vegetables, potatoes, cheese, wild berries, milk, and rye bread.
Smorgasbords are common in hotels and restaurants, especially for

Finland does benefit from a special relationship with Russia. A former possession of the Russian Empire, Helsinki has long been a business center for EastWest trade and is home to a number of international organizations. This location and relationship is seen in the origin of Finland's visitors. The three major markets for Finland are Sweden, Germany, and Russia. Together, they account for 46 percent of tourists to Finland. The other two major markets are the United Kingdom with a little over 6 percent of visitors and the United States with 5 percent. The United States is the only significant market for Finland outside of Europe.

Summer seasonality of visits is the norm, in part reflecting the large number of Germans and Swedes who come to camp.

Tourism Destinations and Attractions

Finland's major attractions can be divided into four regions.


Helsinki, the capital, was founded in 1550 by King Gustaf Vasa when Finland was still united with Sweden. The city was completely rebuilt after the Great Fire in 1808. It has a very Scandinavian architectural style with many parks. More than 30 percent of its area has been retained as open space. Helsinki is one of the smaller capitals of the world but has been the site of the Olympic games. The places of interest begin with the old center around the Senate Square, much of which is in a neoclassic style, forming a homogeneous and attractive whole, Figure 7-12. It serves as an example of planned, single-style harmony on a large scale.

Other places to visit within Helsinki include the Art Museum of the Ateneum, with its comprehensive collection of Finnish paintings; Kansallisteatteri, the Finnish National Theater; the Morning Market Square at Kauppatori, with its colorful array of flower and fruit stalls and handicrafts booths; the Mannerheim Museum; the Observatory Hill Park, which provides an excellent view of the harbor and waterfront; the Parliament Building; and the Finnish National Museum, which has a section devoted to the FinnoUgric culture. Helsinki also has a unique church that is built into a rock and has an impressive interior. Carved from a rock outcrop, the pantheon-like interior is enhanced by the rugged granite walls and the copper-plated cupola. Seurasaari Island is an open-air museum illustrating the original farm and manor buildings from early history, with folk dancing and folk music performances in the summer. Nearby is Tapiola, the forerunner of planned communities.



Turku is Finland's oldest city, dating from the fourteenth century. It is the southwestern gateway to the country. Formerly the administrative and cultural capital of the country, old Turku has a well-preserved medieval cathedral and castle. There are a number of museums of interest, including the Handicraft Museum, which is a block of houses that survived the 1827 fire, and Sibelius Museum, which has a collection of musical instruments. Turku contains over twenty old shops from the medieval period.

Lake Country

Tampere, second in size only to Helsinki, is on the headland between Nasijarvi and Phhajarvi lakes. It is a good location for excursions into the countryside by motorboat for hiking and camping. From Tampere and Aulanko north and east, the country is dominated by lakes and magnificent scenery. The area is popular for chalet and camping holidays combined with watersports on Finland's many lakes and rivers. In the eastern part of the lake district, Savonlinna is one of Finland's most popular tourist destinations for all tourists (domestic and international). The Olavinlinna Opera, established in 1475 on a small island near the center of Savonlinna, is the stage for the Savonlinna Opera Festival each July. It is the biggest cultural event in Finland, attracting over 100,000 visitors. About 15 miles from Savonlinna is what the Finns claim is the world's largest wooden church.


Visits to the North Pole center around the towns of Rovaniemi on the Arctic Circle and Kemijarvi, north of the Arctic Circle. Both have winter sports centers and facilities. The emphasis at Rovaniemi are the Lapps, winter sports, and the lumber industry. Near Rovaniemi is the reported home of Father Claus, the original inspiration for the American Santa Claus.


Physical Characteristics

The terrain is flat or rolling in south and central Sweden and along the Gulf of Bothnia to the north. Mountains stretch along much of the frontier with Norway Forest covering 50% and lakes covering 9% of Sweden. Like other Scandinavian countries, Sweden has a more moderate climate than its northern location would indicate. The warming influence of the North Atlantic Drift makes the climate similar to Northern New England rather than Alaska, which is at the same latitude. Small steamers and pleasure craft can traverse between Stockholm and Goteborg via lakes, rivers, and the Gota Canal. This has become a popular tourist route for those spending larger periods in Sweden. The rivers crossing Sweden have lost their significance for transport but remain important for defense and hydroelectric power generation.


Capital: Stockholm

Government: Constitutional Monarchy

Size: 173,780 square miles (about the size of California)

Language: Swedish, with Lapp and Finnish-speaking minorities

Ethnic Division: Homogeneous Caucasian with small Lappish minority. 12% foreign-born or first-generation immigrants

(Finns, Yugoslavs, Danes, Norwegians, and Greeks)

Religion: 93.5% Evangelical Lutheran, 1% Roman Catholic, 5.5% other

Tourist Season: May to September

Peak Tourist Seasons: July (39%) and August (22.5%)

Currency: Swedish Krona (SEK)

Population: 8.9 million (2001)

Entry: Visas are not required for stays up to three months.
Passports are required.

Transportation: International airlines connect North America,
Europe, and other countries with Stockholm and Goteborg. There is
excellent connection by rail and road to other countries. Sweden is
part of the Eurail system. The longest road and rail bridge in
Europe (the Oresund Bridge) between Copenhagen, Denmark, and Malmo,
Sweden, was completed in 1999, which will increase visitors to
Sweden. Public transportation is excellent by train, bus, subway,
and streetcars.

Shopping: Common items include Swedish glass and ceramics,
handwoven textiles, wood carvings, antiques, reindeer-skin
products, and tableware.


Sweden has one of the world's highest life expectancies and one of
the lowest birthrates. Over 85 percent of the people are ethnic
Swedes. The country's ethnic and linguistic minorities include
17,000 Lapps (Sami) and 50,000 indigenous Finnish speakers in the
north as well as over 700,000 immigrants, mostly from the Nordic
countries, Yugoslavia, Turkey, and Iran. Non-Swedes account for
about 12 percent of the population. The Sami live in the north and
traditionally herd reindeer for a living.

Swedish is a Germanic language related to Danish, Norwegian, and
Icelandic. The Sami speak their own language, and the large Finnish
minority speaks Finnish. English is understood by many throughout
the country. Most Swedes belong to the Evangelical Lutheran Church,
but most rarely attend church services. There has been a growth in
Muslims and Jews due to recent immigration.

Cultural Hints:

* A firm handshake is common at greeting and departure.

* Eye contact is important.

* Do not break into lines.

* Do not put your hands into your pockets when talking.

* Swedes recognize most of the popular gestures.

* Eating and food:

Hands should be kept above the table.

Toasting is common in Sweden.

When finished eating, place utensils side by side on your plate.

Typical foods include meat, fish, cheese, vegetables, fruits,
seafood, yogurt, and potatoes. The smorgasbord is a common
breakfast in hotels, providing many of these items.

Tourism Characteristics

Sweden has a large deficit in tourism trade balances, with its citizens spending much more money out of the country on tourism than is brought in by visitors. Sweden had a good growth rate in tourism during the 1980s and 1990s (Figure 7-13).

Tourism to Sweden is highly regional. Germany and Norway account for 45 percent (25 and 20 percent, respectively) of the total bed nights in Sweden. The United States accounts for under 5 percent of the total bed nights. Less than 14 percent of Sweden's visitors are from outside of Europe and North America, and no one country dominates.


Tourist Destinations and Attractions

There are three general tourist regions: Stockholm and the Central Region; the South, centered on Malmo; and the North.

Stockholm and the Central Region

Stockholm, the capital of the old kingdom of Sweden, is built on a group of islands in Lake Malaren and Saltsjon, part of the Baltic Sea (Figure 7-14). Founded in the early thirteenth century, it has grown into a modern metropolis incorporating the islands and spreading out over the mainland. The most-visited tourist area is the Gamla Sta'n (Old Town), which has quaint, narrow cobblestone streets and old houses. The Royal Palace is on the same island. Across from Gamla Sta'n are Skansen, an open-air museum of Swedish life and culture; a number of other museums and art galleries; park lands; and the seventeenth-century warship Vasa, a symbol of Sweden's former sea might. Boat excursions take visitors to the magnificent eighteenth-century palace of Drottningholm or through the Swedish Archipelago. To the north is the medieval city of Uppsala, with its old university, cathedral, and burial mounds of Viking kings. Uppsala is the seat of the archbishop and the leading university town of Sweden. Near Stockholm on the northern shore of Lake Malaren is Sigtuna, the oldest town in Sweden. It was founded by Sweden's first Christian king, Olof Skotkonung, and for one hundred fifty years it was the country's capital. There are ancient towns, quiet villages, farms, large lakes, forests, and many castles and manors throughout the area.


The South, including Skane and the Lake Country

Skane is the chateau country of Sweden. There are many castles and manor houses, some of which are open to the public. Glimmingehus and Torup are among the oldest castles. They are thick-walled medieval fortresses. This area is the most fertile area in Sweden. Beautiful farms with half-timbered homes and ancient towns can be seen throughout the countryside. North of Skane in Smaland, the land is not as fertile or productive. It has rocky soil and dense forests. On the coast of Smaland, the medieval castle at Kalmar is one of Scandinavia's most impressive. The area is filled with meadows, windmills, ancient forts, and Viking burial sites.

To the west, the lake country centers on Lake Vanern and the Gota Canal, which connects the Baltic in the east to Lake Vanern in the west, making it possible to travel by boat from Goteborg to Stockholm. It is an attractive area with castles and scenic countryside of narrow valleys, forests, lakes, and waterfalls. On the coast is Goteborg, Sweden's second-largest city and hub of the west coast. Three of the most popular attractions at Goteborg are Liseberg (Sweden's largest and most famous amusement park, particularly noted for its floral displays), an excellent maritime museum, and an aquarium.

The North

The area northwest of Stockholm to the Norwegian border is characterized by the wooded hills and valleys of Varmland and Dalarna. Jamtland and Lapland contain one of Europe's few remaining wilderness areas, a sportsman's paradise providing varied outdoor activities.



Capital: Oslo

Government: Constitutional Monarchy

Size: 149,158 square miles (near the size of New Mexico)

Language: Norwegian; small Lapp and Finnish-speaking minorities

Ethnic Division: Germanic (Nordic, Alpine, and Baltic) and minority of 20,000 Lapps

Religion: 88% Evangelical Lutheran, 4% other Protestant and Roman Catholic, 3% none

Tourist Season: May to September

Peak Tourist Seasons: June (15%), July (21%), August (18%)

Currency: Norwegian Kroners (NKR)

Population: 4.5 million (2001)

Entry: Visas are not required for visits up to three months.
Passports are required.

Transportation: International air service provides access to Oslo
from North American and European cities. Rail connections through
Sweden and Denmark connect Norway with Western Europe. It is part
of the Eurail system. Ferry service from Bergen and Stavanger
connect to Newcastle, England. Other ferries connect along the west
coast to Western Europe. Major cities have excellent public

Shopping: Common items include arts and handicrafts such as
silverware, handblown glass, carved wood, pewter, ceramics,
knitwear, and furniture.


Norwegians are predominantly Germanic. There is a minority of Lapps
(Sami), who live mostly in the north. Norwegian is the official
language. There are two forms, Bokmal, or "book language," which is
used in most writing and spoken by the majority of people, and
Nynorsk, a rural dialect. The Lapps speak Sami and learn Norwegian
as a second language. English is widely understood and spoken.
Norway is in the top rank of nations in number of books printed per
capita, even though Norwegian is one of the world's smallest
language groups. The Evangelical Lutheran Church is a state church,
and over 85 percent of the population are members.

Cultural Hints:

* A firm, brief handshake is a common greeting.

* There is little personal touching except among relatives.

* Do not speak in a loud voice.

* Most popular gestures are understood.

* Cover your mouth when yawning.

* Courtesy and good behavior are important.

* Eating and food:

Don't start eating until the host does.

A service fee is usually included in the bill, but a small tip is

Typical food includes seafood, particularly salmon, meat, potatoes,
cheese, yogurt, vegetables, soup, and cod. Some specialties are
fish balls, smoked salmon, cod, cabbage and mutton, and sheep's
head. The smorgasbord is common in most hotels, serving a variety
of the foods listed.

Physical Characteristics

Norway's terrain is glaciated with mostly high plateaus and rugged mountains broken by fertile valleys. There are scattered plains. The coastline has numerous islands and is deeply indented by fjords. Arctic tundra is found in the north. The climate is temperate along the coast as it is modified by the Gulf Stream, while winter temperatures in the interior are extremely cold. Spring and summer are moderately warm, with maximum temperatures reaching about 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Tourism Characteristics

Norway has the largest tourist industry and had the second-greatest rate of growth in the 1990s of the Northern European countries (Figure 7-15). The discovery of oil in the North Sea allowed the government to develop its tourism infrastructure in a steady manner. The largest markets are Denmark, Germany, and Sweden. They account for 17, 20, and 14 percent, respectively, of the bed nights in Norway. The United States accounts for 7 percent of the visitors. A large number of Norwegians migrated to the United States in the late 1800s and early 1900s. This cultural tie between the United States and Norway combines with the environmental attractions in Norway to attract travel from the United States to Norway. Ecotourism is important to Norwegians, and over one-third of the families own or share a cabin in the mountains or by the sea.


Tourist Destinations and Attractions

Norway is known as fjord country. No country in the world evokes the mental image of deep valleys and spectacular coastal and lake views as does Norway. The three major tourist regions are Oslo, Bergen and the Fjords, and Trondheim and the Land of the Midnight Sun.

Oslo and Southern Norway

Oslo, the capital, is over nine hundred years old. Oslo's climate is tempered by the waters of the fjord and surrounding lakes. Winter sports are evident even in Oslo itself, with the Holmenkollen ski jump overlooking the city and a ski museum as a part of the city's winter complex. Across the harbor on the Bygdoy Peninsula are a number of attractions. The Folk Museum has over one hundred fifty buildings and houses from various parts of Norway and from various eras. The Folk Museum hosts folk-dancing and craft demonstrations in the summer. It also contains a collection of author Henrik Ibsen's works. Also on the peninsula are museums housing Viking ships and Kon-Tiki, the raft on which Thor Heyerdahl floated from Latin America to the Polynesian Islands in the 1950s to prove that the people in the two areas were related. The Arctic polar exploration ship, the Fram, sailed by Nansen and Amundsen seeking the North Pole, is also found here.

Much activity centers on the harbor area for short excursions to the local fjord and downtown sites of the fourteenth-century Akershus Fortress, the Town Hall with its famous murals, Frogner Park with an outstanding collection of granite statues by Gustdav Vigeland, and other art museums (Figure 7-16). There has been extensive development around the harbor, where a large shopping complex is a major focal point.

The surrounding area has old towns, scenic countryside with red barns, old fortresses and churches, lakes, and relics of Norway's past. North of Oslo at Lillehammer is the site of the 1994 Winter Olympic games.

Bergen and the Fjord Country

Bergen, the former Hanseatic League city of the Middle Ages, is the second-largest city in Norway in the heart of the fjord country, Figure 7-17. (The Hanseatic League, of German origin, was a mercantile association of towns that was founded during the medieval time period by wealthy merchants to control maritime commerce and trade originating in the Baltic and North Seas.) Many excursions can be undertaken from Bergen to the fjords, both north and south. Along the waterfront are the old buildings, museums, old homes, and shops of the Hanseatic port. Near Bergen is the home of the composer Edvard Grieg.


Throughout the fjord country, spectacular natural scenery and panoramas combine with fishing villages to create stunning vistas. Hardangerfjord south of Bergen is the most striking. Sognefjord, north of Bergen, is the world's longest and deepest fjord. The Hardangervidda plateau, Europe's largest mountain plateau, is the home of the largest herd of wild reindeer in Europe. A most interesting combination of train, bus, and ferry rides, the Voss-Stalheim-Flam Myrdal route that branches off from the Bergen-to-Oslo route ranks high in scenic panoramas. The train, in fact, stops so passengers can see and photograph the best possible views of magnificent scenery and roaring waterfalls. Legendary Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne was born at Voss.


South of Bergen, Stavanger is an attractive fishing city that emphasizes its historical role as a fishing village. Today, Stavanger is a major oil center. Steamers connect the two cities and provide excellent views of the coastal fjords.

Trondheim and the Land of the Midnight Sun

Trondheim is the gateway to the north country and summer trips to the Arctic Circle and North Cape, where the sun never sets between May 14 and the end of July. Trondheim's sights include the famous Nidaros Cathedral (English Gothic style), the royal residence Stiftsgarden, and the Bishop's Palace, a relic of Trondheim's medieval glory. The countryside is beautiful, offering an excellent location for those interested in winter sports.


Physical Characteristics

Nearly 80 percent of Iceland's land area is composed of glaciers, lakes, and mountainous lava. The terrain is essentially a plateau interspersed with mountain peaks and icefields. The inhabited areas are on the coast, particularly in the southwest. Much of the island's land area is of recent volcanic origin. The climate, influenced by the North Atlantic Drift, has damp, cool summers and mild, but extremely windy winters. In Reykjavik, the average temperature is 52 degrees in July and 30 degrees in January.


Capital: Reykjavik

Government: Republic

Size: 39,769 square miles (about the size of Virginia)

Language: Icelandic

Ethnic Division: Mixture of descendants of Norwegians and Celts

Religions: 95% Evangelical Lutheran, 3% Other Protestant and Roman Catholic, 2% no affiliation

Tourist Season: May to September

Peak Tourist Season: July and August

Currency: Kronur

Population: 0.3 million (2001)

Entry: Visas are not required for stays up to three months.
Passports are required.

Transportation: There is international air service from Chicago and
New York and Luxembourg to Reykjavik, the capital. Iceland Air uses
it as a stopover en route to Europe and the United States. There
are no railroads or streetcars in Iceland. Public transportation is
by bus and taxi.


Icelanders are descendants of Norwegian settlers and Celts from the
British Isles. The official language, Icelandic, is close to the
old Norse language and has remained relatively unchanged since the
twelfth century, making it more similar to ancient Norwegian than
modern Norwegian. The state church is the Evangelical Lutheran
Church or other Lutheran churches. There are a few other Protestant
and Roman Catholic congregations.

Cultural Hints:

* A handshake is a common greeting.

* Names in a phone book are alphabetized by the first given name.
It is necessary also to know the last name.

* After dinner, shake hands with the host.

* Icelanders use very few hand gestures when talking.

* Smoking is prohibited in public buildings.

* Do not eat on the street.

* Eating and food:

A service charge is included in the bill.

Icelanders do not tip.

Typical foods include fish (cod, haddock, halibut, plaice, herring,
salmon, and trout), lamb, and dairy products. Specialties are
smoked mutton, yogurt, and potatoes.

Tourism Characteristics

Iceland has the least number of visitors in Northern Europe. Its insular location is a major factor in its small number of visitors. Iceland had the largest percentage growth in tourism of Northern European countries in the 1990s. The number of visitors doubled, but this was only an additional 120,000 visitors. Iceland's income resulting from tourism is low, as the per capita expenditure on tourism is the lowest in the Northern European countries.

The tourist industry is highly dependent upon North America and Europe. The two regions account for over 92 percent of the visitors to Iceland (Figure 7-18). Germany and the United States represent the largest individual markets for Iceland, accounting for about 16 percent of its visitors. Northern European countries account for 27 percent, with Denmark, Sweden, and Norway each contributing 9 percent of Iceland's tourists.

Tourism Destinations and Attractions

Reykjavik, the capital, was founded over 1,100 years ago. It has an international airport and receives the most visitors. It also is home of almost half of all the population. Attractions in Reykjavik include the Old Town near the harbor, the University, the National Museum and Art Gallery, Nordic House, a center for Nordic Studies, the Einar Jonsson Museum, the Asgrim Jonsson Museum, the home of Asmundur Sveinsson, and the Folk Museum at Arbaer.


Iceland's proudest cultural achievement is its literary contributions. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, Icelandic writers recorded Eddic and Akaldic poetry portraying many of the legends, religious beliefs, and ideas of the pre-Christian Nordic-Germanic people, thereby preserving much of the heritage. These Sagas, almost all of which were written between 1180 and 1300, remain Iceland's best-known literary accomplishments. The Sagas present views of Nordic life and times up to 1100, and they have no counterpart anywhere in the Nordic world. The twentieth-century artist and modern sculptor Asmundur Sveinsson (1893-1982) drew his inspiration from Icelandic folklore and the Sagas.

A short distance from Reykjavik is the national park Thingvellir, where the world's first parliament convened. Also, the region has a unique open plain between tall lava walls and Iceland's largest lake. There are also many fishing villages and towns along the coast. The landscape consists of glaciers, swift rivers, mountain peaks, flower-strewn grasslands, and birchwoods.

All through the islands, hot springs and volcanoes provide spectacular sights. Two of the most famous are Gullfoss, known as the "Golden Waterfall," and Geysir, a spouting hot spring. Gullfoss is a waterfall that plummets two hundred feet into a deep gorge, creating rainbows. Geysir and other geysers erupt frequently.



In Bergen, we begin our Norwegian itinerary with a visit to the
fish market. Then we proceed to the base of the cable rail cars to
the top of Mount Flojen and enjoy a spectacular view of the city.
Later this morning, we begin our walking tour of old Bergen. A
highlight of our tour will be a visit to the Hanseatic Museum.

This afternoon, we travel north by train into the heart of fjord
country, passing magnificent scenery on the way to Voss. We
transfer to motorcoach on our way to the Stalheim Hotel, which
offers some breathtaking views overlooking the Neryadal Valley.
Enjoy a leisurely stroll prior to this evening's dinner. The
Stalheim Hotel is renowned for its superb cuisine. A special treat
is in store as you retire to your rooms: one of Norway's most
spectacular views is visible from your room.


This morning, we descend by motorcoach along the hairpin road to
Gudvangen for our mini-cruise on the majestic Sognefjord, queen of
the fjords. We arrive in the village of Flam and walk to our lodge,
which is only four minutes from the dock. Spend a peaceful
afternoon paddle-boating in the fjord. You may want to watch the
family of goats on the cliffs. Enjoy a tasty Norwegian dinner of


We depart this morning for what is considered the most scenic rail
route in Europe. The Flam train departs for Myrdal. The
300-mile-long track must pass through 200 tunnels and 18 miles of
snow in addition to crossing more than 300 bridges. This road has
21 hairpin bends. The train proceeds slowly for the best possible
views of magnificent scenery. Passengers can get off and walk
closer to an enormous raging waterfall that cascades close to the
train. From Myrdal, we continue on to Oslo, enjoying the glacier

We arrive in Oslo in time to enjoy an evening meal at Ludwick's
Restaurant, where everything is upside down! After dinner, stroll
through the Vigeland Sculpture Park, where unusual statues depict
family life. Retire for a good night's sleep.


This morning, we will take the ferry across the Oslofjord to Bygdoy
Peninsula to see the fascinating Viking Ship and Kon-Tiki museums.
Tour the Norse Folke Museum while on the island. The rest of the
day is free for shopping.


Spend the morning shopping for that special Norwegian sweater or
visiting Frogner Park and the museum. A motorcoach will bring us to
the airport in time to catch our return flight home.


1. Describe the climates of Northern Europe. How do they affect tourism?

2. What geographic features do the countries of Northern Europe have in common?

3. Why do you think Sweden has such a large deficit in its tourism trade payments?

4. Compare Scandinavia with Alaska and explain why the climate is different.

5. Where are the major population centers of Northern Europe? Why are they there?

6. Describe the general characteristics of tourism to Northern Europe.

7. Why does Finland receive so many fewer visitors than the other Scandinavian countries?

8. What are the major tourist regions of Norway?

9. What are the major tourist regions of Denmark?

10. Where are the major tourism markets for the Northern European countries? Why?


1. As a consultant for a large cruise company suggest five cities that the company should include in an itinerary trip to Northern Europe. Name the five cities and indicate why you selected them.

2. If you do not like cold weather, what would you be missing if you did not visit Northern Europe in the winter?

3. Can you suggest some factors that explain why Iceland's major market is the United States?

4. Compare and contrast the different experiences that a tourist would have traveling through Northern Europe by train versus by cruise.

5. In the near future a bridge will be completed between Denmark and Sweden. Which type of tourism will be most affected by the bridge? Why?


Provides tourism information and links to the countries of Europe.
COPYRIGHT 2003 Delmar Learning
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2003 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Publication:Geography of Travel & Tourism, 4th ed.
Geographic Code:4E
Date:Jan 1, 2003
Previous Article:Chapter 6 Geography and tourism in Western Europe.
Next Article:Chapter 8 Geography and tourism in Southern Europe.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2019 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters