The Nordic countries of Europe have many common traits. They are small countries in Northern Europe, they have been Lutheran since the Reformation, and they had, for centuries, a strong landholding peasantry but a weak aristocracy. They developed a comprehensive welfare state after the Second World War, and they are more sceptical about European integration than people from other countries in Western Europe. Despite attempts to create a Nordic union and the existence of a Nordic Council, their joint Nordic orientation has been subordinated to the national interests of the individual Nordic countries. They are clear-cut nation states with a nationalism that is not fierce, but represents a kind of official, controlled and uniform national spirit. With respect to parliamentary politics and social policy the main features of the countries have been called the Nordic Model. The model still exists, but rests on shakier ground than before.
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