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by Diego Balmaceda

A peek into Scandinavia's origin

The name Scandinavia originally referred to the former Danish, now Swedish, region of Scania. Scandinavia and Scandinavian entered usage in the late 18th century, being introduced by the early linguistic and cultural Scandinavist movement. The majority of the population of Scandinavia are descended from  several North Germanic tribes who originally inhabited the southern part  of Scandinavia and spoke a Germanic language that evolved into Old Norse. Icelanders and the Faroese are to a significant extent descended from the Norse and are therefore  often seen as Scandinavian. Finland is mainly populated by Finns, with a minority of approximately 5% of Swedish speakers. A small minority of Sami people live in the extreme north of Scandinavia. The Danish, Norwegian and Swedish languages form a dialect continuum and are known as the Scandinavian languages—all of which are considered mutually intelligible with one another. Faroese and Icelandic,  sometimes referred to as insular Scandinavian languages, are  intelligible in continental Scandinavian languages only to a limited  extent. Finnish and Meänkieli are closely related to each other and more distantly to the Sami languages, but are entirely unrelated to the Scandinavian languages. Apart from these, German, Yiddish and Romani are recognized minority languages in parts of Scandinavia.

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