How are Scandinavian countries so prosperous despite not engaging in external colonialism ?

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How are Scandinavian countries so prosperous despite not engaging in external colonialism ?

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Anonymous 0 Comments

Strong social cohesion, social rules that turn against corruption, long-term political and social stability, strong work ethics (and in the case of Sweden and Denmark: also quite a bit of colonialism…)

Anonymous 0 Comments


England: Danish colony.

Greenland: Danish colony. Contested by Norway wanting it as their colony.

U.S. Virgin Islands: Danish colony.

Northern France: Danish colony.

Norway: Danish colony. And later, Swedish colony.

Iceland: Danish colony. At the time, large parts of Sweden and Norway were part of Denmark.

Part of Ghana: Danish colony.

At various points in history.

Edit to clarify: and this is very much not a complete list. The first recorded instance of a king of Denmark losing a battle was in 550, iirc.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Good access to natural resources, trade, investment into its people, and so on. They have the means for supporting its own people and economies, but also manage high political stability, social welfare, and lower social inequality than say, the US (speaking as an American).

Though last I checked they’re not free from colonialism per say, just not the core nation of many of the big colonial names. 

Anonymous 0 Comments

Norway has lots of petroleum and a tiny population. Denmark is highly skilled and again small population. Sweden has a high tech engineering industry which has a global market, again, tiny population.

Quite protective about immigration. Always interesting to talk to Swedes and get their reaction to some of their government policies over the past 20-15 years.

Anonymous 0 Comments

High quality people and good policy. Colonialism isn’t necessary for wealth, and in many attempted cases it cost the colonizer more than they received in return. (Serves them right.) Early Scandianivian societies adopted good policies – in part because the harsh winter made it very costly to have bad ones – that fostered social cohesion combined with reliable rights. This allowed trade to flourish, and as long as you have a reasonable method for spreading the gains from trade, you’ll be fine.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The spent the better part of a milenia looting Europe and parts of Asia. That had lasting effects.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Because colonialism doesn’t make societies wealthy by definition and certainly isn’t a necessary element to prosperity. If anything, colonies end up as net-losses for the powers that ‘own’ them in the long term. Scandinavian societies are prosperous today due to early industrialisation, large amounts of natural resources (including land) compared to their (highly skilled and educated) relatively small populations.

Anonymous 0 Comments

I just watched a good interview about this:

Anonymous 0 Comments


What Scandinavians did goes beyond colonialism. Also they have small populations and had great planning when it came to development.

Anonymous 0 Comments

As mentioned, there is some colonialism, but not to the same degree as many other european nations. Also it seemed that there was a shift away from colonialism earlier than others. I’m not an expert, but I think it was realized that colonies are more trouble than it is worth. Some people mention Norway in the same breath, but fail to recognized that Norway was deep into poverty until they became an oil exporter.

Sweden also has pretty good natural resources.

Denmark does not, unless you count farmland.

So I think the succes story of this group of countries are not due to colonialism and resources only. I think a big part of it has been carried by investments in education. A well educated populus will be better positioned to develop a good government (compared to other resource rich nations that have gone down less prosporous paths). A well educated population will be better positioned to transition in order to keep up with the times – for example a succesful transition from a manufacturing economy to a service economy requires a highly educated population.

Honestly – some of it is luck – but a significant part is that education has been a top priority in this region for about a century. That has made a huge difference.

Also – the scandinavian countries went through world war 2 relatively unscathed. Denmark and Norway were invaded but didn’t put up much of a fight. Sweden succesfully remained a neutral actor.

So there are a lot of factors at play here. It isn’t just one thing. Probably a bit much for an actual 5 year old to understand, but perhaps a 10 year old would get it.