Difference between revisions of "Scania"
Revision as of 20:22, 19 May 2013
Scania (Swedish: Skåne, ) is the southernmost province in Sweden, and part of the Götaland region. It is known for its rich agricultural fields, its old history, long beaches, Danish heritage and a remarkable local accent.
For much of Scania's history, it was part of Denmark, and retains many aspects of Danish culture to this day. The countryside is filled with ruins and graves dating back to the Bronze Age, when the society of this region was organized into various tribes. Later, Scania was home to the Vikings, great warriors who explored the lands of the Atlantic Ocean, conquered much of France, and traded as far as the Byzantine Empire. For some 500 years, Scania was the focal point of the struggle between Sweden and Denmark for control of the southern portion of what is now Sweden. Control of the region was crucial to both countries, as Denmark, by controlling both sides of the Oresund Strait, was able to control access to the Baltic Sea and charge hefty fees, which made up a major portion of its income until the 19th century. The Swedish crown resented the power of its neighbor and sought to control Scania itself.
Although Sweden gained control of Scania in 1658, this was not the end of hostilities between the two countries. In 1660, the nations went to war once again, and as a result, Bornholm, which had become property of the Swedish crown, was returned to Denmark, establishing the present border between the two countries. Scania was placed under the control of a Governor-General, based in Malmo, and the process of fully integrating the new territory into the Kingdom of Sweden began. In 1666, as part of this process, the University of Lund was founded. Lund remains one of Sweden's most prestigious universities. In 1676, Sweden was once again at war with Denmark. The fighting devastated Scania, which was temporarily returned to Denmark. The Treaty of Lund, in 1679, returned Scania to Sweden.
On May 9, 1719, Scania was finally fully integrated as a part of Sweden and split into two counties, Malmohus County and Kristianstad County. By 1863, the two counties had half a million people, and in 1970, the population reached the one-million mark. It was not until 1997 that Malmohus and Kristianstad Counties were amalgamated into a single, united Skane County, the administrative arrangement which remains to this day. 2000 marked a turning point in the region's history when the Oresund Bridge opened, connecting Malmo with Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark. After centuries of fighting, the two nations were united at last.
With an area of 10,939 square kilometers (4,224 square miles), Scania forms the southernmost portion of Sweden. Unlike some of the other regions of Sweden, the Scanian landscape is not mountainous. With the exception of the lake-rich and densely forested northern parts (Göinge), the rolling hills in the north-west (the Bjäre and Kulla peninsulas) and the beech-wood clad areas extending from the slopes of the horsts, a sizeable portion of Scania's terrain consists of plains. Stretching from the north-western to the south-eastern parts of Scania is a belt of deciduous forests following the Linderödsåsen ridge and previously marking the border between Malmöhus County and Kristianstad County. The much denser fir forests—so typical of the greater part of Sweden—are only found in the north-eastern Göinge parts of Scania along the border with the forest dominated province of Småland. At some places, like f.i. north of Malmö, the terrain is almost entirely flat, but more common is a slightly sloping profile.
Summer is the best time to visit Scania, with warm, mild weather. Even in the winter, snow has become relatively uncommon, and the region is the mildest in Sweden.
Sweden is a homogeneous nation, and Scania is not particularly diverse, especially in the countryside. Malmo, however, is a large, young, and diverse city. Approximately half the population is under the age of 35, and the city has the highest proportion of Muslims in Scandinavia, as well as the highest proportion of individuals with migrant background in Sweden. Iraq, Denmark, and the former Yugoslavia are the largest sources of immigrant groups in Malmo.
The university town of Lund also has a very youthful population, with much of the city's culture based around the University of Lund. Many of the resort towns along the coast are popular travel destinations, and many Swedes from cities in the north have vacation cottages, known as stugor, in Scania, including some of the nation's wealthiest and most powerful individuals.
To foreigners, the people of Scania, like most Swedes, may seem reserved, even cold. Culturally, Swedes are not very affectionate with strangers. However, many Swedes are very friendly and helpful. The people of Scania love the warmth and natural beauty of their home.
If you're a beginner Swedish speaker and don't speak it really well, do not by any means practice your Swedish here, since the local accent is very hard to understand, particularly outside of the larger cities, often even for native Swedish speakers. This accent, characterized by its numerous diphtongs, can be traced back to the ancient local language Scanian, which has largely been replaced by Standard Swedish with the accent, albeit with some old Scanian words still in use. If you do try to speak Swedish anyway, ask them to write the answer, as the written language is the same.
The good news is that English is spoken by nearly everyone, including most of the elderly.
Scania is connected to Germany, Denmark and Poland by car ferry.
National trains (SJ) from Stockholm and Gothenburg should be booked 30+ days in advance for best prices. Regional trains (Öresundståg) from the Danish east coast (Elsinore, Copenhagen and Kastrup airport) cross the Öresunds bridge to Malmö and continue either up the Swedish west coast (via Lund, Landskrona, Helsingborg, Ängelholm, Halmstad) and terminating in Gothenburg, or to the east coast (via Lund, Hässleholm, Växjö) terminating in Kalmar.
Skånetrafiken  provides comprehensive rail and bus service in the region. During Summer Skånetrafiken offer a special Summer travel card ("Sommarkortet") for limitless travel on all Skånetrafiken buses and trains in Scania (June 15-August 15th). The price for this card, 595 SEK (available at customer centres) has increased quite a bit over the last two Summers, but is still a good deal if you plan on traveling the region for a while. One card lets you bring one child under age 7, and two cards allow five people (maximum two over 20 years), so extra good value for families.
WARNING! Cash is not accepted on Skånetrafiken buses and trains! Credit card can be used on regional buses and in ticket machines at train stations. For city buses you'll need a Jojo card  or use text message ticket (prepaid Swedish SIM cards are available from 50 SEK).
The flat terrain and limited distance allow Skåne to be explored on bicycle.
In all of Sweden Scania is most known for the culinary arts. Malmö offers a wide selection of restaurants and Helsingborg is widely considered the culinary capital of Sweden, while the region of Österlen has alot to offer in the way of food. A local southern specialty is Spettekaka, a dry egg and sugar based dessert that is a must try for anyone visiting the region.