SWEDEN

Date of establishment: 1523

Brief history:

9th Century: The beginning of the formation of the Swedish kingdom, characterized by the consolidation of smaller kingdoms.

1523: Gustav I Vasa becomes the first king of modern Sweden, marking the end of the Kalmar Union and establishing Sweden as an independent nation.

1611-1648: Sweden participates in the Thirty Years’ War, emerging as a major European power under the leadership of King Gustavus Adolphus.

1655-1660: Sweden fights in the Second Northern War (often referred to in Sweden as the Swedish Deluge), which includes conflicts with Poland, Russia, Brandenburg, and Denmark-Norway.

1700-1721: The Great Northern War between Sweden and a coalition led by Russia, resulting in Sweden’s decline as a major power and the rise of the Russian Empire.

1809: Sweden loses Finland to the Russian Empire under the Treaty of Fredrikshamn, not the Treaty of Vienna.

1814: Sweden gains Norway through the Treaty of Kiel, leading to a personal union that lasts until Norway’s independence in 1905.

1905: Norway gains independence from Sweden, peacefully dissolving the union.

20th Century: Sweden maintains a policy of neutrality during both World War I and World War II, avoiding direct involvement in the conflicts.

1995: Sweden joins the European Union, deepening its integration with Europe while maintaining its policy of military non-alignment.

2022: Sweden applies for NATO membership, a significant shift from its longstanding policy of neutrality in response to the changing security landscape in Europe, particularly due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

2024: Sweden becomes a member of NATO

 

International abbreviation: S

 

Currency: Swedish krona (SEK)

The official currency of Sweden is the krona (plural: kronor), abbreviated as SEK and symbolized as “kr”. The krona is divided into smaller units called öre, although due to inflation, the öre is no longer used in cash transactions since 2010. As of the latest issuance, Swedish coins are available in denominations of 1 krona, 2 kronor, and 5 kronor. The 10 kronor coin is also in circulation. Swedish banknotes come in denominations of 20 kronor, 50 kronor, 100 kronor, 200 kronor, 500 kronor, and 1000 kronor.

 

Internet domain: .se

 

Dialing code: +46

 

Time zone: GMT+1

 

Geography:

Sweden is known for its vast forests, which cover about 63% of the country’s territory. Additionally, Sweden is home to many lakes, with the largest being Lake Vänern and the second-largest being Lake Vättern.

To the west lies the Scandinavian Mountain Range, known as the Skanderna, which extends along the border between Sweden and Norway, particularly through the northern part of the country.

The Swedish coastline is diverse, featuring numerous bays, inlets, and islands. The Stockholm Archipelago is a well-known example of picturesque islands near the capital city, with about 30,000 islands and islets.

The landscape in Sweden includes various types of terrain such as wetlands, forests, agricultural areas, and mountainous regions. Southern Sweden, known as Götaland, is characterized by fertile plains and agricultural land, while central Sweden, called Svealand, has a mix of forested and agricultural areas. Northern Sweden, known as Norrland, is more rugged and less populated, with extensive forests, mountains, and large rivers.

The northern part of Sweden, including areas within the Arctic Circle, experiences phenomena such as the midnight sun (polar day) in summer and polar night in winter, where the sun does not set or rise for extended periods, respectively. This region also includes parts of Swedish Lapland, which is known for its unique natural beauty and cultural heritage of the indigenous Sami people.

 

Highest peak: Kebnekaise at 2 097 meters (6 880 feet) above sea level.

Kebnekaise is located in the Scandinavian Mountain Range and is part of the Kebnekaise Massif. The mountain has two main peaks: the southern peak, mostly covered in glaciers, and the slightly lower northern peak.

 

Climate:

The southern and central parts of the country, such as the Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö regions, have a temperate climate with four distinct seasons. Winters are cold but relatively mild compared to the north, with average temperatures in winter (December to February) ranging from -1°C to 3°C (30°F to 37°F). Summers are warm, with average temperatures around 20°C (68°F) in July, which is the warmest month. Daytime temperatures can occasionally reach up to 25°C to 30°C (77°F to 86°F).

The northern part of Sweden, especially areas within the Arctic Circle, experiences a subarctic climate. Winters here are extremely cold and long, with average temperatures in winter (December to February) ranging from -10°C to -20°C (14°F to -4°F). In the coldest areas, temperatures can drop even lower. During the winter months, some areas within the Arctic Circle experience polar nights when the sun does not rise for several weeks. Summers in the north are short but can be pleasant, with average temperatures in summer (June to August) ranging from 10°C to 15°C (50°F to 59°F), with the warmest month being July. During the polar day, the sun remains above the horizon for 24 hours, providing continuous daylight.

 

Fauna and Flora:

Forests make up a significant part of the Swedish landscape, covering about 63% of the country’s area. Common tree species include pine, spruce, and birch. In southern and central Sweden, deciduous trees such as beech, oak, and maple can also be found, alongside birch.

During summer, many meadows and fields are adorned with flowers. Typical flowers include heather, which is widespread in open areas, as well as wildflowers like cowslips, anemones, and various species of orchids.

Elks (moose) are typical animals of Swedish nature and are found throughout the country, although they are particularly associated with the forests of central and northern Sweden. They are a symbol of Swedish wilderness. Sweden also has populations of other large mammals, including brown bears, which are mainly found in the northern and central mountainous and forested areas. Wolves have started to appear in some regions, particularly in central Sweden, as part of a natural recolonization process. Other notable large mammals include lynx and wolverines.

Due to its numerous lakes and rivers, fishing is a popular activity. Typical fish species include salmon, pike, trout, and perch. The extensive coastline also provides opportunities for sea fishing, with species such as cod and herring.

The Swedish skies are filled with various bird species. Raptors like hawks, eagles, and owls are common, particularly in forested and mountainous regions. Numerous waterfowl species, such as swans, geese, and ducks, are found in lakes, rivers, and coastal areas. Sweden is also a critical stopover and breeding ground for migratory birds, including cranes and Arctic terns.

The Swedish skies are filled with various bird species, including raptors like hawks and eagles, as well as numerous waterfowl.

 

Agriculture:

In the southeastern and southwestern parts of Sweden, where the climate is milder, crops such as cereals (including wheat, barley, oats, and rye), potatoes, vegetables, and fruits are cultivated. This region, particularly Skåne in the south, is known as the breadbasket of Sweden due to its fertile soil and favorable growing conditions. These areas also have the highest concentration of farm animals, including dairy cattle, pigs, and poultry.

In the central and northern parts of Sweden, where the climate is harsher and the growing season is shorter, agriculture is less prevalent. Here, the focus is more on growing pasture plants for livestock and maintaining dairy and beef cattle farms. The northern and mountainous regions rely heavily on reindeer husbandry, which is traditionally practiced by the indigenous Sami people. Agriculture in these areas is more susceptible to seasonal limitations and often relies on supplementary activities such as forestry and tourism.

 

Natural resource extraction:

For a long time, Sweden has been one of the world’s leading producers of iron ore. The historical significance of iron ore mining, particularly in the northern regions such as Kiruna and Malmberget, laid the foundation for the development of heavy industry and the steel industry in the country.

Forests constitute a significant part of the Swedish landscape, covering about 63% of the country. This makes timber extraction and the wood-processing industry vital components of the Swedish economy. Sweden is one of the world’s largest exporters of paper, pulp, and sawn wood products.

In addition to iron ore, Sweden mines other valuable minerals and metals, including copper, zinc, lead, gold, and silver. The country is also known for its significant production of industrial minerals such as feldspar, limestone, and quartz. Some mining activities are closely connected to the metallurgy and metalworking industries, which are integral to Sweden’s industrial sector.

 

Industry:

Sweden is known for producing high-quality industrial machinery, equipment, and tools. The country has a robust engineering sector, with companies like Sandvik and Atlas Copco leading in the production of mining and construction equipment.

Sweden has a rich history in telecommunications and IT. Ericsson, one of the world’s leading providers of telecommunications equipment and services, is a prominent Swedish company. However, Nokia Networks, often associated with Finland, does not have its roots in Sweden.

The automotive industry plays a vital role in Sweden’s economy. Sweden is the home of Volvo, which manufactures cars, trucks, and construction equipment, and Scania, a significant producer of heavy trucks and buses. These companies are renowned for their commitment to safety, quality, and innovation.

With a growing focus on sustainability, renewable energy sources, and energy efficiency, Sweden has made significant advancements in wind energy, hydroelectric power, and biomass. Sweden is a leader in the development and implementation of renewable energy technologies. The country has an extensive network of hydropower plants that provide a substantial portion of its electricity. Sweden also has a well-developed market for wind energy, with numerous wind farms across the country, and has invested heavily in biomass energy, using forest residues and other organic materials to produce heat and power.

 

Services and other economic sectors: information technology, science, research, education, healthcare, telecommunications, banking and insurance, services, trade, road, maritime and aviation transport, and tourism

 

Natural and historical attractions:

Northern Sweden offers a unique opportunity to observe the Northern Lights (aurora borealis) during the winter months, which is an unforgettable experience for many tourists.

Modern architecture is also a significant attraction. For example, the “Turning Torso” in Malmö is a tower known for its distinctive and unusual construction.

Sweden attracts tourists seeking tranquility and a connection with nature. Many people come to explore Swedish national parks, waterfalls, and beautiful beaches.

The country offers stunning landscapes with expansive forests, thousands of lakes, fjords, and mountainous terrains. Tourists come here for trekking, fishing, cycling, and winter sports.

 

 

Form of Government: Constitutional monarchy

The head of state is the Swedish king, currently King Carl XVI Gustaf. The role of the king is largely symbolic and representative, with limited political influence.

Real political power lies with the Swedish parliament, known as the Riksdag. The government is led by the Prime Minister, who is appointed by the Speaker of the Riksdag and then confirmed by the Riksdag, not by the king. The Prime Minister becomes the head of government. The Prime Minister and the government are accountable to the parliament, and the composition of the government depends on the results of the Riksdag elections.

The Riksdag is a unicameral parliament consisting of 349 members. Riksdag elections are held every four years. The parliament has the authority to pass laws, scrutinize the government’s activities, and decide on the state budget.

The Swedish political landscape is diverse and includes various political parties. The most prominent ones include the Social Democrats, the Moderate Party (Conservative Party), the Centre Party, the Sweden Democrats, the Left Party, the Liberal Party, the Christian Democrats, and the Green Party.

Under regional self-governance, Sweden has a system of municipalities (kommuner) and county councils (landsting) responsible for areas such as education, healthcare, and infrastructure. There are 290 municipalities and 21 county councils, with elected councils that make decisions on local and regional matters.

The judicial system in Sweden is independent of the legislative and executive branches. It is composed of the Supreme Court (Högsta domstolen) and the Supreme Administrative Court (Högsta förvaltningsdomstolen) at the highest level, followed by courts of appeal (hovrätter) and district courts (tingsrätter) for general legal matters, and administrative courts of appeal (kammarrätter) and administrative courts (förvaltningsrätter) for administrative issues. Judges are appointed by the government but are expected to act impartially and independently. The legal system is based on both written laws and precedents set by higher courts.

 

Capital city: Stockholm

Stockholm is situated on the eastern coast of Sweden, on several islands and peninsulas in the Baltic Sea. The city is built on 14 islands and islets connected by over 50 bridges, giving Stockholm its characteristic waterfront appearance.

Stockholm is known for its historical landmarks, beautiful islands, and vibrant modern culture. Gamla stan (Old Town) is one of the largest and best-preserved medieval city centers in Europe, featuring narrow, winding cobblestone streets and colorful buildings. Notable attractions in Stockholm include the Royal Palace, one of the largest palaces in Europe, and the Vasa Museum, which houses the well-preserved 17th-century warship Vasa. The ABBA Museum, the Nobel Prize Museum, and the Skansen open-air museum are other popular destinations.

The name “Stockholm” is believed to derive from the words “stock” (log) and “holm” (islet), reflecting the city’s origins as a fortified settlement on a small island.

In addition to its historical architecture, Stockholm boasts modern structures. Stockholm’s modern architecture includes the Ericsson Globe, a large spherical building used for sports and entertainment events, and the contemporary design of buildings in areas like Hammarby Sjöstad, a district known for its eco-friendly design and urban development.

Stockholm is also known for its cultural scene, with numerous theaters, galleries, and music venues. The city hosts several annual events and festivals, such as the Stockholm International Film Festival and the Stockholm Jazz Festival. The city is also a hub for technology and innovation, often referred to as the “Unicorn Factory” due to the high number of billion-dollar tech startups originating there.

The city has a population of about 975 000.

 

Area: 450 295 km2 (173 860 square miles)

 

Population: 10 550 000 (2022 estimate)

The official language of Sweden is Swedish. Swedes speak Swedish as their native language, and a majority of them also have a high proficiency in English, which is widely taught in schools and used in business and higher education.

Sweden has historically been known as a Protestant country, with the Church of Sweden, a Lutheran denomination, being the dominant religion. However, Sweden is highly secular, and today, many Swedes are non-religious or identify with various other religions.

A significant majority of the population lives in urban areas, with the largest concentrations in and around the major cities of Stockholm, Gothenburg, and Malmö. About 87% of the population resides in urban areas, reflecting a trend towards urbanization. Rural areas, especially in the northern parts of the country, are sparsely populated.

Additionally, Sweden has a diverse population with a significant number of immigrants and people of foreign background, contributing to the multicultural fabric of Swedish society. This diversity is especially noticeable in urban centers where various cultural communities coexist.

 

UNESCO World Heritage Sites: 15

 

  1. Royal Domain of Drottningholm (1991) – One of the most significant royal residences in Sweden, located about 11 kilometers west of Stockholm. It includes the Drottningholm Palace, the Palace Theatre, the Chinese Pavilion, and the surrounding park.
  2. Birka and Hovgården (1993) – Birka, on the island of Björkö, and Hovgården on the neighboring island of Adelsö, were important Viking Age sites, with Birka being a significant trading center and Hovgården a royal estate.
  3. Engelsberg Ironworks (1993) – Located in Västmanland, Engelsberg Ironworks is one of the best-preserved industrial complexes of its kind, dating back to the 17th century and showcasing the technology of the Industrial Revolution.
  4. Rock Carvings in Tanum (1994) – Located in Bohuslän, the Tanum rock carvings feature thousands of images carved into the rock during the Bronze Age, depicting daily life, religious rituals, and mythological scenes.
  5. Skogskyrkogården (1994) – A significant cemetery in the southern part of Stockholm, designed by architects Gunnar Asplund and Sigurd Lewerentz, blending natural and architectural elements in a serene forest setting.
  6. Hanseatic Town of Visby (1995) – Located on the island of Gotland, Visby is one of the best-preserved medieval cities in Scandinavia, with a well-preserved city wall, medieval church ruins, and a notable cathedral dedicated to Saint Mary.
  7. Church Town of Gammelstad, Luleå (1996) – A historic church town that developed around a 15th-century stone church. It features over 400 wooden houses used by parishioners who traveled from far distances for religious services and markets.
  8. Laponian Area (1996) – A vast area in northern Sweden, including parts of Lapland, which is one of the largest continuous natural areas in Europe and home to the indigenous Sámi people who practice traditional reindeer herding.
  9. Naval Port of Karlskrona (1998) – An important naval base and military city founded in the late 17th century, showcasing naval architecture and urban planning from that era.
  10. Agricultural Landscape of Southern Öland (2000) – The southern part of the island of Öland, known for its unique agricultural practices and landscape shaped by centuries of human activity, with traces of prehistoric, medieval, and modern land use.
  11. High Coast / Kvarken Archipelago (2000/2006) – A combined World Heritage Site shared with Finland, featuring dramatic post-glacial rebound landscapes. The High Coast is located in Sweden, while the Kvarken Archipelago is in Finland.
  12. Mining Area of the Great Copper Mountain in Falun (2001) – The Falun Mine, a major copper-producing site from the 13th to the 20th century, played a significant role in Sweden’s economy and technological development.
  13. Grimeton Radio Station, Varberg (2004) – An early 20th-century longwave transatlantic radio station, illustrating the development of telecommunications technology.
  14. Struve Geodetic Arc (2005) – A chain of triangulation points stretching from Hammerfest in Norway to the Black Sea, used in the 19th century to measure the size and shape of the Earth. Sweden has six of these points.
  15. Decorated Farmhouses of Hälsingland (2012) – Seven large, ornately decorated wooden farmhouses in the province of Hälsingland, showcasing the traditional craftsmanship and rural culture of the region.

 

National parks: 30

 

  1. Vadvetjåkka National Park
  2. Abisko National Park
  3. Stora Sjöfallet National Park
  4. Padjelanta National Park
  5. Sarek National Park
  6. Muddus National Park
  7. Pieljekaise National Park
  8. Haparanda Archipelago National Park
  9. Björnlandet National Park
  10. Skuleskogen National Park
  11. Sonfjället National Park
  12. Töfsingdalen National Park
  13. Fulufjället National Park
  14. Hamra National Park
  15. Färnebofjärden National Park
  16. Ängsö National Park
  17. Garphyttan National Park
  18. Tyresta National Park
  19. Tresticklan National Park
  20. Djurö National Park
  21. Tiveden National Park
  22. Norra Kvill National Park
  23. Store Mosse National Park
  24. Blå Jungfrun National Park
  25. Söderåsen National Park
  26. Dalby Söderskog National Park
  27. Stenshuvud National Park
  28. Gotska Sandön National Park
  29. Kosterhavet National Park
  30. Åsnen National Park