Category Archives: Sweden

Scotland and Scandinavia superimposed

On a normal map it’s difficult to see how far north Scotland is compared to Scandinavia.

To illustrate it better, I generated two Google maps of the same latitudes, just 15 degrees apart, and then superimposed them in the Gimp.

You can see the result on the right (click on it for a larger version). It’s clear that all the cities of Scotland are on the same latitude as Denmark and southern Sweden, whereas only the far north of Scotland is as far north as southern Norway.

Aberdeen is on a similar latitude as Aalborg or Varberg, Dundee is like Viborg, Glasgow is like Horsens, and the southernmost bit of Scotland is almost exactly as far south as Gedser in Denmark.

A future hut heaven?

There’s an interesting article in The Herald describing how a charity is planning to build a thousand huts in Scotland.

It’s interesting, because despite Scotland’s similarity to the Scandinavian countries, the hut culture is entirely different (or rather, it’s non-existent): “In Norway more than half the population has access to a [hut]. [The proportion is] one in 12 Swedes, one in 18 Finns and one in 33 Danes. […] However, in Scotland 10 years ago a study showed there were just 700 holiday huts […] for a population of five million.”

Norway might be a difficult act to follow, but I can’t help thinking that building 1000 huts is a very small step if the deficit is about half a million!

It’s a good idea, though. The Scottish countryside is amazing, but most of the population is bottled up within the central belt. Wee huts around the lochs would be a welcome sight.

Update: It’s worth comparing the statistics about the person-to-hut ratio with the person-per-km² figures illustrated in my blog posting about wee gardens.

Not too small

When ordinary Scottish voters are asked whether they’d vote yes or no to Scottish independence, one frequent response is that Scotland is too small to be independent.

I really don’t understand how anybody can believe this. Surely it must be a consequence of living in a big country and being used to comparing yourself with Germany and France.

In reality, Scotland has a very average size for an independent country in northern Europe. Have a look at the graph on the left, which shows the population sizes of various northern European contries (it’s Scotland in blue).

Of course Scotland won’t have the same influence as England, but similar countries such as Denmark, Norway and Ireland typically feel they have plenty of influence.

I definitely don’t know of a popular movement in any country the size of Scotland that advocates joining a bigger neighbour because their country is too small to remain independent. Even very similar countries with a long shared history, such as Denmark and Norway, never seriously discuss becoming one country again.

Is the Scandinavian model restricted to Scandinavia?

Swedish Guard
Originally uploaded by Brendan Plant

Charlemagne is quoting Johan Norberg for wondering whether the Swedish model is restricted to Sweden: “If countries don’t already have a tradition of an efficient, non-corrupt bureaucracy with an impressive work ethic a larger government only means more abuse of power and more waste of money. I often try to convince Americans, no, more government in the US would not get you a big version of Sweden, it would get you a big version of the US Postal Service.

It’s an interesting point, and I think it’s at least partly true.

I do think Sweden in this context can be replaced by a much larger area, at the very least Scandinavia and parts of Germany, but living in Scotland, I can see that many things are just not working because of different attitudes.

For instance, buses are regularly late, but people just shrug their shoulders and use their car the next time. In Denmark, people would be very upset and it would eventually become a priority for the government to sort out.