At 3,425,804 square kilometres (1,322,710 sq mi), the combined area of the Nordic countries would form the 7th-largest nation in the world. Uninhabitable icecaps and glaciers comprise about half of this area, mostly in Greenland. In January 2013, the region had a population of around 26 million people. The Nordic countries cluster near the top in numerous metrics of national performance, including education, economic competitiveness, civil liberties, quality of life and human development. With only four language groups, the common linguistic heterogeneous heritage is one of the factors making up the Nordic identity. The languages of Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Icelandic, and Faroese are all rooted in Old Norse and Danish, Norwegian and Swedish are considered mutually intelligible. These three dominating languages are taught in schools throughout the Nordic region. For example, Swedish is a mandatory subject in Finnish schools, since Finland by law is a bilingual country. Danish is mandatory in Faroese and Greenlandic schools, as these insular states are a part of the Danish Realm (Rigsfællesskabet). Iceland also teaches Danish, since Iceland too was a part of the Danish Realm until 1918. Beside these and the insular Scandinavian languages Faroese and Icelandic, which are also North Germanic languages, there are the Finnic and Sami branches of the Uralic languages, spoken in Finland and in northern Norway, Sweden and Finland, respectively; and Greenlandic, an Eskimo–Aleut language, spoken in Greenland. All the Nordic countries have a North Germanic official language, commonly called a Nordic language in the Nordic countries. The working languages of the Nordic region's two political bodies are Danish, Norwegian and Swedish.
Each of the Nordic countries has its own economic and social models, sometimes with large differences from its neighbours, but to varying degrees the Nordic countries share the Nordic model of economy and social structure: market economy is combined with strong labour unions and a universalist welfare sector financed by heavy taxes. There is a high degree of income redistribution and little social unrest and these include support for said "universalist" welfare state aimed specifically at enhancing individual autonomy and promoting social mobility; a corporatist system involving a tripartite arrangement where representatives of labor and employers negotiate wages and labor market policy mediated by the government; and a commitment to widespread private ownership, free markets and free trade. According to sociologist Lane Kenworthy, in the context of the Nordic model "social democracy" refers to a set of policies for promoting economic security and opportunity within the framework of capitalism rather than a system to replace capitalism.
The Nordic countries consists of historical territories of the Scandinavian countries, areas that share a common history and culture with Scandinavia. It is meant usually to refer to this larger group, since the term Scandinavia is narrower and sometimes ambiguous. The Nordic countries are generally considered to refer to Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, including their associated territories (Greenland, the Faroe Islands and the Åland Islands).
The term is derived indirectly from the local term Norden, used in the Scandinavian languages, which literally means "The North(ern lands)". Unlike "the Nordic countries", the term Norden is in the singular. The demonym is nordbo, literally meaning "northern dweller".
Nordic countries (orange and red) and Scandinavian monarchies (red)