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Scandinavian colonialism is a subdivision within broader colonial studies that discusses the role of Scandinavian nations in achieving economic benefits from outside of their own cultural sphere. The field ranges from studying the Sami in relation to the Norwegian, Swedish and Finnish states, to activities of the Danish-Norwegian and Swedish Empire in Africa and on Caribbean islands such as St. Thomas and Saint-Barthélemy.
Some consider Norse Vikings to be the first Europeans to create colonies in the Americas. The arrival of Leif Ericson, of Iceland, in the Americas occurred 500 years before Christopher Columbus, and it was unintentional, as it was said that his ship was blown off-course on the way to Greenland. Ericson established settlements in Vinland, now modern day Newfoundland, Canada in the year 999 c. Ericson’s father, Erik the Red, was one of the first Europeans to establish colonies in Greenland. Iceland was considered the first European country to create colonies in North America and Greenland.
Greenland did not colonize, however, it was colonized by many different Scandinavian countries. Leif Ericson of Iceland was one of the most famous of the settlers of Greenland, and brought Christianity to the country. Greenland was also later colonized by Denmark and Norway.
The colonial holdings of Norway were seen mainly through Greenland, and the Viking expansion. While the main explorer of this time was Leif Ericson, Norway also used exploring vessels to trade with local North-Americans for fur, lumber, and living supplies.
Sweden had colonies in the Americas, and in Africa. However, they were not able to hold onto them due to revolts, and political purchases. Overall, the Swedish impact on the new world was not as influential as the British, Spanish, and Portuguese; however they retained political, cultural, and economic influence over many colonies. Swedish colonies in Africa include: Fort Christiansborg/Fort Frederiksborg (1652-1658), Fort Batenstein (1649-1656), Fort Witsen, (1653-1658), and Carolusberg (1650-1663). Swedish countries in the America’s include: Guadeloupe (1813–1814), Saint-Barthélemy (1784–1878), New Sweden (1638–1655), and Tobago (1733). The colony of New Sweden can be seen as an example of Swedish colonization. Now called Delaware, New Sweden stood to make a considerable profit due to tobacco growth.
The Danes colonized many areas including holdings in Africa, the Americas, the Atlantic, and Asia. The medieval Norwegians colonized much of The Atlantic, including Iceland, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands, which were later inherited as colonies by the united kingdom of Denmark-Norway. However, both of these nations gradually gained independence and are now fully sovereign within the Danish Empire. In addition, Denmark also colonized parts of "The Americas", including the Danish West Indies, which was purchased by the United States in 1916, and is now a part of the modern-day U.S. Virgin Islands. Denmark also had trading posts along the gold coast of Africa and India, starting in the early 17th century, but these were sold to the United Kingdom in the mid 19th century
Some American universities offer courses concerning the developing field.
- Danish colonial empire
- Isak Dinesen
- Swedish Empire
- Swedish slave trade
- First Finnish Settlement in America: 1638
- First Maps of Delaware, a Swedish Colony in North America
- Scandinavian Colonialism and the Rise of Modernity: Small Time Agents in a Global Arena
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