The Nordic countries make up a region in Northern Europe and the North Atlantic which consists of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden and their associated territories, the Faroe Islands, Greenland, Svalbard and Åland. In English, "Scandinavia" is sometimes used as a synonym for the Nordic countries (often excluding Greenland), but that term more properly refers only to Denmark, Norway and Sweden.
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 and the Nordic model. Politically, Nordic countries do not form a separate entity, but they co-operate in the Nordic Council. The Nordic countries have a combined population of approximately 25 million spread over a land area of 3.5 million km² (Greenland accounts for around 60% of the total area).
Although the area is linguistically heterogeneous, with three unrelated language groups, the common linguistic heritage is one of the factors making up the Nordic identity. The continental Scandinavian languages – Danish, Norwegian and Swedish – are considered mutually intelligible. These languages are taught in school throughout the Nordic countries; Swedish, for example, is a mandatory subject in Finnish schools, whereas Danish is mandatory in Icelandic, Faroese and Greenlandic schools. Besides these and the insular North Germanic languages Faroese and Icelandic, all belonging to the Indo-European language group, there are the Finnic and Sami branches of the Uralic languages, spoken respectively in northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and Estonia, and Greenlandic, an Eskimo–Aleut language, spoken in Greenland.
Bergen (Norwegian pronunciation: [ˈbærɡən] ( listen)) is a city and municipality in Hordaland on the west coast of Norway. As of 18 April 2013, the municipality had a population of 268,800 and Greater Bergen had a population of 395,200, making Bergen the second-largest city in Norway. The municipality covers an area of 465 square kilometres (180 sq mi) and is located on the peninsula of Bergenshalvøyen. The city centre and northern neighbourhoods are located on Byfjorden and the city is surrounded by mountains, traditionally held to be seven mountains. Many of the extra-municipal suburbs are located on islands. Bergen is the administrative centre of Hordaland and consists of eight boroughs—Arna, Årstad, Åsane, Bergenhus, Fana, Fyllingsdalen, Laksevåg and Ytrebygda.
Trading in Bergen may have started as early as the 1020s, but the city was not incorporated until approximately 1070. It served as Norway's capital in the 13th century, and from the end of the 13th century became a bureau city of the Hanseatic League. Until 1789, Bergen enjoyed exclusive rights to mediate trade between Northern Norway and abroad. The remains of the quays, Bryggen, is a World Heritage Site. The city was hit by numerous fires. The Norwegian School of Economics was founded in 1936 and the University of Bergen in 1946. From 1831 to 1972, Bergen was its own county. In 1972 the municipality absorbed four surrounding municipalities, and at the same time became a part of Hordaland county.