What Countries Did the Vikings Invade?

Oli Scarff/Getty Images News/Getty Images

During the Viking Age, between the seventh and 11th centuries, Norse traders, raiders and colonists established a presence in countries as far apart as modern-day Canada and Iran. The Vikings emerged mostly from coastal communities in Norway, Denmark and Sweden to explore, and eventually settle in, most European and Mediterranean countries. They established colonies in North America and maintained a presence in Greenland that lasted nearly 500 years.

Countries closest to the Vikings’ homeland were the most vulnerable to raids and efforts at colonization. Britain, Ireland, France and Russia were frequent targets of Viking attacks, as well as being the Norsemen’s main trading partners. Norse settlers founded dynasties in Normandy, England and Russia. Even the Mediterranean island of Sicily came under Norse rule. Norse settlers followed Eric the Red, and his son, Leif, to Greenland and North America, which they called Vinland. Norse settlements that date to the Viking Age have been excavated across Russia and the Caspian Sea basin. At the southern edge of the Caspian Sea, a number of Norse settlements are known to have existed in what would later become Iran. Much of the Black Sea coast was also colonized by the Norse, including the Crimea and territories in the modern nation of Turkey.