Once the seat of Vikings and later a major north European power, Denmark has evolved into a modern, prosperous nation that is participating in the general political and economic integration of Europe. However, the country has opted out of parts of the European Union’s Maastricht Treaty, the European monetary system, and issues concerning certain internal affairs.
We visited Copenhagen in 2012 as part of our Scandinavia & Russia trip.
After 7 centuries of German, Danish, Swedish, Polish and Russian rule, Estonia attained independence in 1918. Forcefully annexed into the USSR in 1940, it re-gained independence in 1991 through its Singing Revolution, a non-violent revolution that overthrew an initially violent occupation.
Since the last Russian troops left in 1994, Estonia moved to promote economic and political ties with Western Europe. It is now one of the more-prosperous former communist states, enjoying a high-tech environment, an open and liberal economy and a transparent government system.
We visited Tallinn in 2012 as part of our Scandinavia & Russia trip.
Finland was inhabited when the last ice age ended, approximately 9000 BCE. From the late 13th century, Finland gradually became an integral part of Sweden through the Northern Crusades and the Swedish part-colonization of coastal Finland. In 1809, Finland was incorporated into the Russian Empire as the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland. Following the 1917 Russian Revolution, Finland declared itself independent.
We visited Helsinki in 2012 as part of our Scandinavia & Russia trip.
Archaeological remains confirm that people were living there around the year 871, and for the first few centuries of Icelandic settlement Reykjavík was a large manor farm. Its fortunes steadily waned as other centres of power increased in importance. By the 18th century, the farm of Reykjavík was owned by the king of Denmark (under whose domain Iceland fell at the time). Iceland declared its independence from Denmark in 1944.
We visited Reykjavik and the Golden Circle in 2013 in an attempt to see the Northern Lights in February.
After centuries of Swedish, Polish-Lithuanian and Russian rule, a rule mainly executed by the Baltic German aristocracy, the Republic of Latvia was established on 18 November 1918 when it broke away and declared independence in the aftermath of World War I. At the outset of World War II, beginning with Latvia’s forcible incorporation into the Soviet Union, followed by the invasion and occupation by Nazi Germany in 1941, and the re-occupation by the Soviets in 1944 to form the Latvian SSR for the next 45 years. The peaceful Singing Revolution, started in 1987 and ended with the Declaration on the Restoration of Independence of the Republic of Latvia on 4 May 1990.
We visited Riga and Jurmala in 2016 as part of our northern France, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovenia trip.
For centuries, the southeastern shores of the Baltic Sea were inhabited by various Baltic tribes. In the 1230s, the Lithuanian lands were united by Mindaugas, the King of Lithuania, and the first unified Lithuanian state, the Kingdom of Lithuania, was created on 6 July 1253. During the 14th century, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was the largest country in Europe; present-day Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, and parts of Poland and Russia were the territories of the Grand Duchy.
At the end of World War I, Lithuania gained independence. During World War II, Lithuania was first occupied by the Soviet Union and then by Nazi Germany. Lithuania was part of the Soviet Union until its independence on March 11, 1990.
We visited Vilnius, Siauliai, Klaipeda and Curonian Spit in 2016 as part of our northern France, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovenia trip.
The kingdom was established as a merger of a large number of petty kingdoms. By the traditional count from 872, the kingdom has existed continuously for 1,145 years, and the list of Norwegian monarchs includes over sixty kings and earls. From 1537 to 1814, Norway was a part of the Kingdom of Denmark-Norway, and from 1814 to 1905, it was in a personal union with the Kingdom of Sweden. Norway was neutral during the first World War. Norway remained neutral until April 1940 when the country was invaded and occupied by Germany until the end of World War II.
We visited Oslo, Bergen, and Stavanger in 2012 as part of our Scandinavia & Russia trip.
Germanic peoples have inhabited Sweden since prehistoric times, emerging into history as the Geats (Swedish Götar) and Swedes (Svear) and constituting the sea peoples known as the Norsemen. An independent Swedish state emerged during the early 12th century. After the Black Death in the middle of the 14th century killed about a third of the Scandinavian population, the Hanseatic League threatened Scandinavia’s culture, finances and languages. This led to the forming of the Scandinavian Kalmar Union in 1397, which Sweden left in 1523. When Sweden became involved in the Thirty Years War on the Reformist side, an expansion of its territories began and eventually the Swedish Empire was formed.
We visited Stockholm and Malmo in 2012 as part of our Scandinavia & Russia trip.
See next – Central & Eastern Europe Countries