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Scandinavian Flags
The flags of the Scandinavian countries, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands, are all based on the Crusader's Cross. In each case the upright part of the cross is closer to the hoist than to the free end of the flag. Each of the flags uses a combination of the colors white, red, blue, and gold. All of the flags have their origin in the Dannebrog, the "Danish cloth" which goes back to the 13th century.
DenmarkThe Åland Islands or Åland is an autonomous, demilitarised, region of Finland that consists of an archipelago lying at the entrance to the Gulf of Bothnia in the Baltic Sea. Åland is the smallest of the three Nordic autonomous territories with a population of 28,000. One third of the population lives in the capital, Mariehamn. The official language is Swedish.

The autonomous status of the islands was affirmed by a decision made by the League of Nations in 1921. It was reaffirmed within the treaty admitting Finland to the European Union. Åland is politically neutral and entirely demilitarised, and residents are exempt from conscription to the Finnish Defence Forces.

The archipelago is largely made up of coastal rock slopes and moorland, and has large areas of pine forests. Only about nine per cent of Åland is arable land.

Denmark is not only the oldest kingdom in the world today, it also has the world's oldest flags in continuous use, the Dannebrog, red with a white cross. Dannebrog literally translated means "Danish cloth." As the oldest flag in Scandinavia, the Dannebrog provided the pattern for the other Scandinavian flags. According to legend, in 1219 King Valdemar II had a vision in which he saw a white cross in the blood-red sky as he went into the Battle of Lyndanisse against the Livonians, turning defeat into victory for the Danish crusaders. The cross was originally square, but the flag has been extended horizontally, and the upright arm of the cross has been moved closer to the hoist.

Throughout its early history, Denmark had many contacts with the outside world, but with the beginning of the Viking Age, c. 800 AD, the country really became part of European history. The Danes became most notorious as the Vikings who plundered churches and monasteries.

Faroe IslandsFaroe Islands - The Faroe Islands were one of the last territories on the planet to be discovered and populated. The first settlers are said to have been Irish monks who arrived in the year 700 and something, there are no signs of people having lived here before that so the birds had it to themselves. Norsemen arrived in the early 800's. For the first 200 years or so Faroes was a free country but it then came under foreign power - first Norway and then Denmark.

During the Second World War, when the Germans occupied Denmark, Faroes helped feed Britain by sailing there with fish; they sailed under the new Faroese flag, which the British officially recognized. There had been a strong movement for independence for many years and in 1946 a referendum was held and the majority chose independence. This caused concern in Denmark and the Danish government dissolved the Parliament. A new Parliament was elected in which there was not a majority for independence. In 1948 the Danish Parliament passed the Home Rule Act making Faroes a self-governing state inside the Danish Kingdom. The Act recognized the Faroese flag and the Faroese language.

The Faroese flag, which was first officially recognized during the 2nd World War, now appears to be heading towards being recognized as the flag of a sovereign nation.

FinnlandFinnland - Finnish heraldry dates to the 16th century. Battle flags were displayed on equal basis with the Swedish armed forces during this period. When Finland became a grant duchy under Russia, it was allowed the privilege of flying its own flag, similar to the present day flag of a blue cross on a white background. The present standard was adopted in 1918 after Finland's independence from Russia. The blue signifies the sky and lakes of Finland
and the white, a blanket of snow.

During the age of the Vikings the Finns became exposed to both eastern and western influences. Vikings from Sweden used the Aland Islands (colonized by Swedes in the 6th century ad) as a base for their journeys of pillage and trade into Russia as far south as the Black Sea. Although they did not actually participate in these Viking expeditions, the Finns benefited by the growing contact and the establishment of trading colonies in their country by merchants from Sweden and Gotland.

GreenlandGreenland - In the 10th the Thule culture arrived in Greenland. The Thule were relatively sophisticated, responsible for introducing those two Greenland icons, the qajaq (kayak) and the dogsled, and it was probably these two inventions that saved them from going the same way as the hapless tribes before them. The Thule are direct descendants of the modern-day Greenlandic Inuit.

Greenland did not have sustained contact with Europeans again until Eric the Red, the legendary Viking, used it as a home-away-from-home during his years of exile. It was Eric the Red who called the country Greenland but the naming proved to be more lyrical than factual; most of the time Greenland was anything but.

Norway annexed the country in 1261, but lost its claim on Greenland in 1605, when Denmark sent an expedition to claim the country in the king's name. In 1979 the Danist parliament granted Greenland home rule, and in 1998 the right to full, uncontested independence, if they want it.

The large white part in the flag symbolizes the ice cap and our fjords are represented by the red part in the circle. The white part of the circle symbolizes the ice bergs and the pack ice, and the large red part in the flag represents the ocean. The flag is called Erfalasorput (meaning "our flag"), but because it's red and white colors are the same as is also the Danish flag, the Dannebrog, it is called Aappalaaroq "the red", a term often applied to the the Danish national flag.

IcelandIceland - The modern Icelandic flag came into existence in 1915. For Icelanders it is like a vision of their country's landscape. Of the three colors of the flag, the deep blue signifies the ocean, the red the fire and the white the ice. The cross symbolizes the Christian faith, which the Nordic people have shared over a millennium. In the sign of the cross, the colors of the Icelandic flag united in a harmonious triad.

Vikings from Norway began to settle in Iceland in the 870s. The first settlers were led by chiefs who wanted more land or hoped to escape the growing power of the king in Norway. Except for a few Irish monks, who soon left, no one lived in Iceland before the Vikings. They created a new nation, which has lasted to the present. Unlike any other country, Viking Iceland was a kind of republic. There was no king. Laws were passed by a national assembly, the Althing - sometimes called the world's first parliament - which met at Thingvellir. It had an elected president. He had to know all the laws by heart, as they were not written down until 1119. The Althing was also a place for exchanging news and goods.

NorwayNorway - The Norwegian flag, first approved for use by merchant ships in 1821, became the national flag in 1898. The red field bears a blue cross super-imposed on a broader white cross. The cross reflects Christian tradition, which began in Norway about the time the Viking period ended. Norway was united with Denmark for more than 400 years under the Danish flag, then transferred to Sweden at the end of the Napoleonic wars. Norwegians had several grievances, one of which was that they had no flag. In 1821, they decided to have their own flag.

In 1015 Olav Haraldsson (Also known as Olav the Stout and Olav the Saint) left Normandy to return to Norway. He stopped in London, where he traded his longships for two knarrs, and in the early autumn, with 220 hand-picked men on board his two ships, he headed for Norway. Four of the people on board were bishops of the English Church. Olav was 20 years old.

Olav came home to a country split up and ruled by chieftains and local petty kings, but parts of the country were also ruled by the King of Sweden and Denmark. A couple of years and a few battles later, Olav was king of all Norway.

SwedenSweden - The Swedish flag is a yellow cross on a light blue field. There are many reasons for the Swedish flag being blue and yellow. They are the outstanding colors in the northern land. The flowers, the lakes, yellow cornfields against the blue of a summer's sky and the blue eyes and blonde hair of the girls. There are the same today as when the flag was first raised above Swedish soil.

While the Vikings from Norway and Denmark went hunting for new land in the west and southwest, the Vikings from present-day Sweden usually went east and south-east. While the Danes and the Norwegians usually conquered and colonized, the Swedes traded (although they were well armed and certainly knew how to fight) and didn't seek to establish kingdoms and colonies.

Swedish Vikings travelled much farther east than any other European people. The Swedish Vikings even travelled as far as Jerusalem (or Jorsalir as they called it), the Caspian sea, and Baghdad (they called it Särkland). Hundreds of Swedes travelled to the eastern Roman city Constantinople (or Miklagård). Many of them returned rich from their combined trading/plundering expeditions.

There are more ancient English coins found in Sweden than there are in England, and over 90% of all the coins found in Europe from Baghdad and surroundings have been found in Sweden (Gotland to be precise).

CanadaCanada - Canada’s flag is easily recognizable, with a stylized red maple leaf in the center, the design arose based on a strong sense of Canadian history. The combination of red and white first appeared in the General Service Medal issued by Queen Victoria. Red and white were subsequently proclaimed Canada's national colours by King George V in 1921. The single red maple leaf on a white field evolved as Canada's emblem over the years. It has been worn by all Canadian Olympic athletes since 1904.The official National Flag of Canada did not come into being until almost 100 years after the Dominion was created in 1867, raised for the first time at noon, February 15, 1965.

Viking's first had contact with North America (Vinland) in the 10th Century. Vinland, southernmost of three North American coastal areas described in Icelandic Sagas by Norse explorers, was said to be rich in grapes, timber, and a self-sown "wheat". Archaeological investigations in the 1960's at L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland discovered proof of an early 11th century AD Norse settlement, defining both a Viking outpost in Canada, and contact with North American natives called "Skraelings."

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