The Nordic countries, sometimes also the Nordic region, comprise a region in Northern Europe consisting of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden and their associated territories (in particular, Greenland). In English usage, Scandinavia is sometimes used in an extended sense that is synonymous with the Nordic countries.
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. The Nordic countries have a combined population of about 24 million.
The term “Nordic Countries” is derived from the French term Pays Nordiques as an equivalent of the local terms Norden (Scandinavian languages), Pohjola / Pohjoismaat (Finnish language) and Norðurlönd (Icelandic and Faroese languages) with the meaning of “The North(ern lands)”.
In English usage, the term Scandinavia is sometimes used as a synonym for the Nordic countries. From the 1850s, Scandinavia came to include, politically and culturally, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Geographically the Scandinavian peninsula includes mainland Sweden and mainland Norway, and also a part of Finland, while the Jutland Peninsula includes mainland Denmark and a small part of Germany (Denmark proper has not included any territory on the Scandinavian Peninsula since 1658). The Faroe Islands and Iceland are “Scandinavian” in the sense that they were settled by Scandinavians and speak Scandinavian languages, but geographically they are not part of Scandinavia. Finland was once part of Sweden, and has been significantly influenced by Sweden, and Swedish is spoken there by a minority, but it is not geographically part of Scandinavia either nor is Finnish related to the Scandinavian languages. Greenland was settled by Danes, is currently part of the Danish realm, and Danish is spoken there by some, but geographically it is part of North America.