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Fishing vessel Copenhagen

Fishing vessel Copenhagen, originally uploaded by ccgd.

I’m back and fro to Copenhagen a fair bit these days – the EU’s Northern Periphery Programme (NPP) is based there – although Denmark is not part of the Northern Periphery area bizarrely enough.

This photo is looking down from a meeting room in the building which houses the NPP office. It’s a fantastic conversion of a 18th Century warehouse, all old beams, wooden floors and best of modern Scandinavian design.

Copenhagen is very central for the Northern bits of Finland, Sweden, Norway, Scotland (the Highlands and Islands), the Faroes, Iceland, the North and west of Ireland, and Greenland, and the NPP office are co-located with the Faroese, Icelandic and Greenland embassies.

The NPP countries are quite a combination, a real mix of economies, governmental structures and scale. Scotland, Finland, Sweden etc are all similar sizes, at 5 to 8 million folk or so, and when you look at the bits that are eligible for the programme, they tend to be around half a million people. Then the scale gets interesting. The Faeroes are the same size as Shetland, with around 20,000 people. Iceland – that dramatic micro country that I’m increasingly smitten with – is a fully fledged nation with a population smaller than Highland Council.

And then we get to Greenland. An enormous land mass (well ice mass I suppose) with less than 60,000 people. I’m not sure if it’s a nation, a country, a dependant territory, or some other strange constitutional theorem that defines how a place and its people are viewed, yet with the same population as Easter Ross.

I discovered yesterday that its second largest town has a population of under 6,000, an airport, a large harbour, but is not connected by road to anywhere else.

Makes you think hard on how to define remoteness and connectivity, as well as making you realise there is always someone who is a more remote than you.

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