Sweden Facts

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Population: 9,860,460  For more visit Worldmeters

Official Languages: Swedish

Area: 450,295 km²

Sweden,  About this sound listen (help·info)), officially the Kingdom of Sweden (Swedish: About this sound Konungariket Sverige (help·info)), is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. It borders Norway to the west and Finland to the east, and is connected to Denmark in the southwest by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund. At 450,295 square kilometres (173,860 sq mi), Sweden is the third-largest country in the European Union by area, with a total population of over 9.8 million. Sweden consequently has a low population density of 21 inhabitants per square kilometre (54/sq mi), with the highest concentration in the southern half of the country. Approximately 85% of the population lives in urban areas. Germanic peoples have inhabited Sweden since prehistoric times, emerging into history as the Geats/Götar and Swedes/Svear and constituting the sea peoples known as the Norsemen. Southern Sweden is predominantly agricultural, while the north is heavily forested. Sweden is part of the geographical area of Fennoscandia. The climate is in general very mild for its northerly latitude due to significant maritime influence, that in spite of this still retains warm continental summers. Today, Sweden is a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy, with a monarch as head of state. The capital city is Stockholm, which is also the most populous city in the country. Legislative power is vested in the 349-member unicameral Riksdag. Executive power is exercised by the government chaired by the prime minister. Sweden is a unitary state, currently divided into 21 counties and 290 municipalities. Sweden emerged as an independent and unified country during the Middle Ages. In the 17th century, it expanded its territories to form the Swedish Empire, which became one of the great powers of Europe until the early 18th century. Swedish territories outside the Scandinavian Peninsula were gradually lost during the 18th and 19th centuries, ending with the annexation of present-day Finland by Russia in 1809. The last war in which Sweden was directly involved was in 1814, when Norway was militarily forced into personal union. Since then, Sweden has been at peace, maintaining an official policy of neutrality in foreign affairs. The union with Norway was peacefully dissolved in 1905, leading to Sweden’s current borders. Though Sweden was formally neutral through both world wars, Sweden engaged in humanitarian efforts, such as taking in refugees from German-occupied Europe. After the end of the Cold War, Sweden joined the European Union on 1 January 1995, but declined NATO membership, as well as Eurozone membership following a referendum. It is also a member of the United Nations, the Nordic Council, Council of Europe, the World Trade Organization and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Sweden maintains a Nordic social welfare system that provides universal health care and tertiary education for its citizens. It has the world’s eighth-highest per capital income and ranks highly in numerous metrics of national performance, including quality of life, health, education, protection of civil liberties, economic competitiveness, equality, prosperity and human development.

Currency: Swedish krona

 

Cuisine

Swedish cuisine, like that of the other Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Norway and Finland), was traditionally simple. Fish (particularly herring), meat, potatoes and dairy products played prominent roles. Spices were sparse. Famous preparations include Swedish meatballs, traditionally served with gravy, boiled potatoes and lingonberry jam; pancakes; lutfisk; and the smörgåsbord, or lavish buffet. Akvavit is a popular alcoholic distilled beverage, and the drinking of snaps is of cultural importance. The traditional flat and dry crisp bread has developed into several contemporary variants. Regionally important foods are the surströmming (a fermented fish) in northern Sweden and eel in Scania in southern Sweden. Swedish traditional dishes, some of which are many hundreds of years old, others perhaps a century or less, are still a very important part of Swedish everyday meals, in spite of the fact that modern-day Swedish cuisine adopts many international dishes. In August, at the traditional feast known as crayfish party, kräftskiva, Swedes eat large amounts of crayfish boiled with dill.

 

Culture


Sweden has many authors of worldwide recognition including August Strindberg, Astrid Lindgren, and Nobel Prize winners Selma Lagerlöf and Harry Martinson. In total seven Nobel Prizes in Literature have been awarded to Swedes. The nation’s most well-known artists are painters such as Carl Larsson and Anders Zorn, and the sculptors Tobias Sergel and Carl Milles. Swedish 20th-century culture is noted by pioneering works in the early days of cinema, with Mauritz Stiller and Victor Sjöström. In the 1920s–1980s, the filmmaker Ingmar Bergman and actors Greta Garbo and Ingrid Bergman became internationally noted people within cinema. More recently, the films of Lukas Moodysson and Lasse Hallström have received international recognition. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s Sweden was seen as an international leader in what is now referred to as the “sexual revolution”, with gender equality having particularly been promoted. At the present time, the number of single people is one of the highest in the world. The early Swedish film I Am Curious (Yellow) (1967) reflected a liberal view of sexuality, including scenes of love making that caught international attention, and introduced the concept of the “Swedish sin” that had been introduced earlier in the US with Ingmar Bergman’s Summer with Monika. The image of “hot love and cold people” emerged. Sexual liberalism was seen as part of modernisation process that by breaking down traditional borders would lead to the emancipation of natural forces and desires. Sweden has also become very liberal towards homosexuality, as is reflected in the popular acceptance of films such as Show Me Love, which is about two young lesbians in the small Swedish town of Åmål. Since 1 May 2009, Sweden repealed its “registered partnership” laws and fully replaced them with gender-neutral marriage, Sweden also offers domestic partnerships for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. Cohabitation (sammanboende) by couples of all ages, including teenagers as well as elderly couples, is widespread. Recently, Sweden is experiencing a baby boom.

 

Economy


The economy of Sweden is a developed export-oriented economy aided by timber, hydropower, and iron ore. These constitute the resource base of an economy oriented toward foreign trade. The main industries include motor vehicles, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, industrial machines, precision equipment, chemical goods, home goods and appliances, forestry, iron, and steel. Traditionally a modern agricultural economy that employed over half the domestic workforce, today Sweden further develops engineering, mine, steel, and pulp industries that are competitive internationally, as evidenced by companies like Ericsson, ASEA/ABB, SKF, Alfa Laval, AGA, and Dyno Nobel. Sweden is a competitive mixed economy featuring a generous universal welfare state financed through relatively high income taxes that ensures that income is distributed across the entire society, a model sometimes called the Nordic model. Approximately 90% of all resources and companies are privately owned, with a minority of 5% owned by the state and another 5% operating as either consumer or producer cooperatives. Because Sweden as a neutral country did not actively participate in World War II, it did not have to rebuild its economic base, banking system, and country as a whole, as did many other European countries. Sweden has achieved a high standard of living under a mixed system of high-tech capitalism and extensive welfare benefits. Sweden has the second highest total tax revenue behind Denmark, as a share of the country’s income. As of 2012, total tax revenue was 44.2% of GDP, down from 48.3% in 2006. The National Institute of Economic research predicts GDP growth of 1.8%, 3.1% and 3.4% in 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively. A comparison of upcoming economic growth rates of EU countries revealed that the Baltic states, Poland, and Slovakia are the only countries that are expected to keep comparable or higher growth rates.

 

Government

The Government of the Kingdom of Sweden (Swedish: Konungariket Sveriges regering) is the national cabinet and the supreme executive authority in Sweden. The short-form name Regeringen (“the Government”) is used both in the Fundamental Laws of the Realm and in the vernacular, while the long-form is only used in international treaties. The Government operates as a collegial body with collective responsibility and consists of the Prime Minister—appointed and dismissed by the Speaker of the Riksdag (following an actual vote in the Riksdag before an appointment can be made)—and other cabinet ministers (Swedish: Statsråd), appointed and dismissed at the sole discretion of the Prime Minister. The Government is responsible for its actions to the Riksdag. Following the adoption of the 1974 Instrument of Government on 1 January 1975—the Government in its present constitutional form was constituted—and in consequence thereof the Swedish Monarch is no longer vested any nominal executive powers at all with respect to the governance of the Realm, but continues to serve as a strictly ceremonial head of state.

 

 

Health

Healthcare in Sweden is similar in quality to other developed nations. Sweden ranks in the top five countries with respect to low infant mortality. It also ranks high in life expectancy and in safe drinking water. A person seeking care first contacts a clinic for a doctor’s appointment, and may then be referred to a specialist by the clinic physician, who may in turn recommend either in-patient or out-patient treatment, or an elective care option. The health care is governed by the 21 landsting of Sweden and is mainly funded by taxes, with nominal fees for patients.

 

 

Language

The official language of Sweden is Swedish, a North Germanic language, related and very similar to Danish and Norwegian, but differing in pronunciation and orthography. Norwegians have little difficulty understanding Swedish, and Danes can also understand it, with slightly more difficulty than the Norwegians. The same goes for standard Swedish speakers, who find it far easier to understand Norwegian than Danish. The dialects spoken in Scania, the southernmost part of the country, are influenced by Danish because the region traditionally was a part of Denmark and is nowadays situated closely to it. Sweden Finns are Sweden’s largest linguistic minority, comprising about 5% of Sweden’s population, and Finnish is recognized as a minority language. With a large influx of native speakers of Arabic in latter years, the prevalence of native Arab speakers is likely more widespread than actual usage of Finnish. The actual number is unknown, since no official statistics are kept. Along with Finnish, four other minority languages are also recognized: Meänkieli, Sami, Romani and Yiddish. Swedish became Sweden’s official language on 1 July 2009, when a new language law was implemented. The issue of whether Swedish should be declared the official language has been raised in the past, and the Riksdag voted on the matter in 2005, but the proposal narrowly failed. In varying degrees, depending largely on frequency of interaction with English, a majority of Swedes, especially those born after World War II, understand and speak English owing to trade links, the popularity of overseas travel, a strong Anglo-American influence and the tradition of subtitling rather than dubbing foreign television shows and films, and the relative similarity of the two languages which makes learning English easier. In a 2005 survey by Eurobarometer, 89% of Swedes reported the ability to speak English. English became a compulsory subject for secondary school students studying natural sciences as early as 1849, and has been a compulsory subject for all Swedish students since the late 1940s. Depending on the local school authorities, English is currently a compulsory subject between first grade and ninth grade, with all students continuing in secondary school studying English for at least another year. Most students also study one and sometimes two additional languages. These include (but are not limited to) German, French and Spanish. Some Danish and Norwegian is at times also taught as part of Swedish courses for native speakers. Because of the extensive mutual intelligibility between the three continental Scandinavian languages Swedish speakers often use their native language when visiting or living in Norway or Denmark.

 

Sports

Sport is considered a national pastime in Sweden, and about half of the population actively takes part in sports activities. The most important all-embracing organisations for sports in Sweden are the Swedish Sports Confederation, and the Swedish Olympic Committee. In total over 2 million people (about 20% of the total population) are members of a sports club. The sports with most participants are football, equestrian sports, handball, golf, gymnastics and athletics, while the sports with the largest number of television spectators are football, ice hockey, handball, bandy, golf, motor sport (especially speedway) and athletics. Ice hockey and football are the main sports. Winter sports are also popular, both in the number of participants and in spectators, while floorball gained large popularity in the 1990s amongst participants, spectators really grew in the last 5 years to outnumber other team sports among’st the spectators. Other popular sports include bandy, basketball, orienteering, tennis and table tennis. Except for basketball, the American sports have not gained much popularity, although American football and baseball are practiced. Popular recreational sports and activities include brännboll (popular in schools), boule, kubb, skiing, swimming, gymnastics, walking, running, cycling, dancing, singing and hunting.

Transport


Sweden has 162,707 km (101,101 mi) of paved road and 1,428 km (887 mi) of expressways. Motorways run through Sweden, Denmark and over the Øresund Bridge to Stockholm, Gothenburg, Uppsala and Uddevalla. The system of motorways is still under construction and a new motorway from Uppsala to Gävle was finished on 17 October 2007. Sweden had left-hand traffic (Vänstertrafik in Swedish) from approximately 1736 and continued to do so well into the 20th century. Voters rejected right-hand traffic in 1955, but after the Riksdag passed legislation in 1963 changeover took place in 1967, known in Swedish as Dagen H. The Stockholm metro is the only subway system in Sweden and serves the city of Stockholm via 100 stations. The rail transport market is privatised, but while there are many privately owned enterprises, many operators are still owned by state. The counties have financing, ticket and marketing responsibility for local trains. For other trains the operators handle tickets and marketing themselves. Operators include SJ, Veolia Transport, DSB, Green Cargo, Tågkompaniet and Inlandsbanan. Most of the railways are owned and operated by Trafikverket. Most tram nets were closed in 1967, as Sweden changed from left-side to right-side driving, but they survived in Norrköping and Gothenburg.strong> Stockholm Central Station. The largest airports include Stockholm–Arlanda Airport (16.1 million passengers in 2009) 40 km (25 mi) north of Stockholm, Göteborg–Landvetter Airport (4.3 million passengers in 2008), and Stockholm–Skavsta Airport (2.0 million passengers). Sweden hosts the two largest port companies in Scandinavia, Port of Göteborg AB (Gothenburg) and the transnational company Copenhagen Malmö Port AB. The most used airport for a large part of Southern Sweden is Kastrup or Copenhagen Airport which is located only 12 minutes by train from the closest Swedish railway station, Hyllie. Copenhagen Airport also is the largest international airport in Scandinavia and Finland. Sweden has also car ferry connections to several neighbouring countries. For instance to Finland from both the Stockholm area across Sea of Åland to Turku, Mariehamn and Helsinki and from Umeå across Kvarken to Vaasa, Estonia across the Baltic Sea, Latvia and to Poland also across the Baltic Sea both between Karlskrona and Gdynia as well as and from both Ystad and Trelleborg to Świnoujście. The most importaint ferry routes from Sweden is however the routes to Denmark and Germany. From Trelleborg goes three different routes with four lines to Germany. The Trelleborg – Sassnitz line started as a steam ferry route for trains in the 19th Century, and today’s ferries still carries the trains of the Malmö to Berlin line during the summer. The route Trelleborg to Rostock is served by two shipping lines. The Trelleborg harbour is the most busy in Sweden when it comes to number of transpored weight with lorries Ferries to Travemünde also departures from Trelleborg but also from Malmö. The latter line doesn’t just cross the Baltic Sea, but also the southern part of Øresund. To Germany also typical long “Lorries only (or mainly)” sails between Nynäshamn and Gdańsk as well as between Gothenburg and Kiel, the route goes across Kattegat and the Danish strait Great Belt. From Gothenburg ferries also departure to Frederikshavn and the Danish peninsula Jutland, by crossing the Kattegat. Despite the opening of the fixed link to Denmark, known as the Øresund Bridge, the busiest ferry route from any Swedish is still the HH Ferry route between Helsingborg and Helsingør where ferries departures more than seventy times in each direction every day. During daytime a ferry departs every 15 minutes. Ferries have previously also sailed to the United Kingdom from Gothenburg. (British destinations have been Immingham, Harwich and Newcastle.) Sweden has two domestic ferry lines with large vessels, both connecting Gotland with the mainland. The lines leave from Visby harbour on the island, and the ferries sail to either Oskarshamn or Nynäshamn. A smaller car ferry connects the island of Ven in Øresund with Landskrona.

 

Weather

Most of Sweden has a temperate climate, despite its northern latitude, with four distinct seasons and mild temperatures throughout the year. The country can be divided into three types of climate: the southernmost part has an oceanic climate, the central part has a humid continental climate and the northernmost part has a subarctic climate. However, Sweden is much warmer and drier than other places at a similar latitude, and even somewhat farther south, mainly because of the Gulf Stream. For example, central and southern Sweden has much milder winters than many parts of Russia, Canada, and the northern United States. Because of its high latitude, the length of daylight varies greatly. North of the Arctic Circle, the sun never sets for part of each summer, and it never rises for part of each winter. In the capital, Stockholm, daylight lasts for more than 18 hours in late June but only around 6 hours in late December. Sweden receives between 1,100 and 1,900 hours of sunshine annually.

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