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Dark lands: the grim truth behind the 'Scandinavian miracle'

Stashed in: politics, Europe, International Incidents, Iceland, Nordic!, Sociology

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Nothing like a good old-fashioned neighborly takedown to get the juices pumping! Be sure to also read the Nordic responses for the full story.

Thank you for debunking the Nordic countries of their reputation for being all good.

For the past few years the world has been in thrall to all things Nordic (for which purpose we must of course add Iceland and Finland to the Viking nations of Denmark, Norway and Sweden). "The Sweet Danish Life: Copenhagen: Cool, Creative, Carefree," simpered National Geographic; "The Nordic Countries: The Next Supermodel", boomed the Economist; "Copenhagen really is wonderful for so many reasons," gushed the Guardian.

Whether it is Denmark's happiness, its restaurants, or TV dramas; Sweden's gender equality, crime novels and retail giants; Finland's schools; Norway's oil wealth and weird songs about foxes; or Iceland's bounce-back from the financial abyss, we have an insatiable appetite for positive Nordic news stories. After decades dreaming of life among olive trees and vineyards, these days for some reason, we Brits are now projecting our need for the existence of an earthly paradise northwards.


Take the Danes, for instance. True, they claim to be the happiest people in the world, but why no mention of the fact they are second only to Iceland when it comes to consuming anti- depressants? And Sweden? If, as a headline in this paper once claimed, it is "the most successful society the world has ever seen", why aren't more of you dreaming of "a little place" in Umeå?

I like the description of Iceland in particular.

We need not detain ourselves here too long. Only 320,000 – it would appear rather greedy and irresponsible – people cling to this breathtaking, yet borderline uninhabitable rock in the North Atlantic. Further attention will only encourage them.

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