Nation-building and state-building, 1809–1944
in Scandinavian politics today
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This chapter provides a thematic background to the present five nation states and three Home Rule territories, in the Nordic region, using the concepts of nation-building, and state-building. Nation-building in nineteenth-century Finland concentrated on the promotion of the Finnish language, a task facilitated by the non-obstructive stance of the Russian imperial power for the bulk of the second half of the century. The Swedish-speaking Åland islands have long-standing links with Sweden. The officials in Norway were often educated in Copenhagen and were in the employ of the Swedish crown. Similarly, the civil servants in Helsinki were Swedish-not Finnish-speaking and worked for the Russian czar. Iceland was geographically distant from the European cultural mainstream and also, unlike Finland and Norway, physically removed from the imperial power, Denmark. In that respect it had much in common with the Faeroes and Greenland, along with Orkney, Shetland and the Hebrides.

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