Scandinavia is a collective term for five countries in northern Europe: Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Finland. The first four have strong historical and cultural links, and speak very similar languages.
Their political histories were also varied. Scandinavia was the home of the Vikings, who conquered large parts of England and settled or traded as far afield as Russia and Sicily.
In modern times, Norway belonged to Denmark until 1814, and was then ruled by the King of Sweden until 1905. Finland belonged to Sweden until 1807 and then to Russia until 1917. Iceland was ruled by Denmark until 1945.
The Scandinavian countries had small populations and were relatively poor before the 20th century.
Denmark had fertile land and developed livestock and dairy farming, while Sweden developed a small but significant engineering industry.
Norway, with its long coastline and poor soil, was particularly dependent on the sea. Fishing became more important than farming, while Norwegian shipowners built up a huge merchant fleet - one of the world's largest - in the 19th century.
Scandinavian timber ships had been coming to London for centuries. The trade was already established long before the Great Fire of London in 1666. The subsequent rebuilding of the City created a huge demand for timber.
With the closure of the Surrey Commercial Docks, imports of timber, timber products and paper from Scandinavia switched to Tilbury. These are carried in containers where possible, but most timber is still handled in the conventional way.