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Human intelligence exercises a decisive influence on the ecological balance of the landscape, to store knowledge and to organise the use of natural resources. This chapter starts by considering some of the main physical characteristics of the Scandinavian landscape throughout the millennia that have passed since the Quaternary glaciations. A number of physical processes were responsible not only for the geological construction of the Scandinavian landscape but also for the later changes that took place. The soils in Scandinavia consist mainly of relatively coarse glacial deposits, which have generally proved difficult to cultivate. In the last 5,000 years, shore displacement around the Baltic has mainly been caused by land uplift. However, the Norwegian Sea has not undergone such drastic changes. The chapter also deals with the climatic changes, coastal landscapes, and the vegetation zones and animal life in the Scandinavian region.
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