From Academic Kids

The Kingdom of Sweden (Swedish: Konungariket Sverige Template:Audio) is a Nordic country in Scandinavia, in Northern Europe. It is bordered by Norway on the west, Finland on the northeast, the Skagerrak Strait and the Kattegat Strait on the southwest, and the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Bothnia on the east. Sweden has a low population density in all but its metropolitan areas, with most of the inland consisting of large peaceful forests and mountainous wilderness.

The official list of Swedish monarchs starts about a 1000 years ago, about as long as Sweden has been Christian. After the allegedly notorious Vikings, Sweden spent a couple of centuries in battles with its neighbouring countries Denmark from the 12th century – 1710, and Norway in the 16th and 17th century. In the 17th and 18th centuries the Realm of Sweden was through warfare extended to a Great Power of twice its size – subsequently lost within a century. Since 1816, Sweden has been at peace, adopting a policy of armed neutrality.

Sweden was one of the poorest countries in Europe in the 19th century, and shaped by a dogmatic Protestantism, until its natural assets – timber, iron ore, grains – allowed it to fund a social democratic welfare state in the early 20th century. The country is today defined by liberal tendencies and a strong national quest for equality.

Konungariket Sverige
Flag of Sweden Coat of Arms of Sweden
(Flag) (Coat of Arms)
Motto: none1
Anthem: Du gamla, Du fria
(Swedish: "Thou Ancient, Thou Free")
Location of Sweden
Capital Stockholm
Template:Coor dm
Largest city Stockholm
Official languages Swedish (de facto) 2
Government Constitutional monarchy,
Carl XVI Gustaf
Göran Persson
10th - 13th century
 • Total
 • Water (%)
449,964 km² (54th)
 • 2004 est.
 • 2002 census
 • Density
9,006,405 (84th)
8,940,788 (est.)
20/km² (155th)
 • Total
 • Per capita
2005 estimate
$267 billion (34th)
$29,544 (13th)
Currency Swedish krona (SEK)
Time zone
 • Summer (DST)
Internet TLD .se
Calling code +46
1 För Sverige i tiden (English: For Sweden; with the times) is adopted by Carl XVI Gustaf as his personal motto in his role as Swedish monarch.

2 See #language.



Main article: History of Sweden


Sweden was inhabited by hunters and gatherers during the Stone Age (6000 BC4000 BC), following the recession of the last ice age – the Weichsel glaciation. The region developed rather slowly compared to southern Europe; while the Romans wrote poetry, Scandinavia had just entered the Iron Age.

Sweden was first mentioned in the 1st century, by Roman historian Tacitus, who wrote that the Suiones lived out in the sea and were powerful in both arms and ships. After that, the sources are scarce.

Sweden as a name originated in a so-called "back-formation" from the plural form Swedes (Old English Sweoðeod, Swedish Svear), the people of the Suiones. This referred to the inhabitants of Svealand primarily around lake Mälaren; towns of Stockholm, Sigtuna and Birka. The southern parts were on the other hand inhabited by Geats (Götar) in Götaland.

During the Scandinavian Viking culture of the 9th and 10th century, the Swedes primarily went east, to Balticum, Russia and the Black Sea, and by lakes of Russia down to southern Europe. The Kievan Rus', from which Russia takes its name, traces its heritage to the Swedes.

Middle Ages

With the Christianization in the 12th century, the country was consolidated, with its center at the water-ways of the northern Baltic and the Gulf of Finland. Like the rest of Europe it was in the 14th century struck by the Black Death (the Plague), with all the effect. But Sweden's expansion into the northern wilderness of Laplandia, the Scandinavian peninsula, and present-day Finland continued; the country today known as Finland was a part of Sweden from 1362 until 1809.

In 1389, the three countries of Norway, Denmark and Sweden were united in the Kalmar Union under a single monarch. After several wars and disputes between the nations, the King Gustav I of Sweden (Vasa) ultimately broke free in 1521 and established a nation state, considered the Foundation of modern Sweden, and shortly thereafter carrying through a Protestant Reformation. Gustav Vasa is the closest to a Father of the Nation the Swedes know.

A major power

The 17th century saw the rise of Sweden as one of the great powers in Europe, due to successful participation, initiated by King Gustav II Adolph, in the Thirty Years' War. Mighty as it was, it crumbled in the 18th century with Imperial Russia taking the reins of northern Europe in the Great Northern War, and finally in 1809 when the Grand Duchy of Finland was created out of the eastern half of Sweden.

The Campaign against Norway, 1814, led to the Treaty of Kiel, whereby Norway was forced into a union with Sweden that wasn't dissolved until 1905. But the campaign also signified the last of the Swedish wars and its 200 years of peace are arguably unique in the world today.

Modern history

The 19th century saw a significant population increase, generally attributed to the three factors of peace, vaccination and potatoes, doubling the population from 1750 to 1850. Many people on the countryside, the home for the majority, found themselves out of work, leading to poverty and alcoholism. Therefore a massive emigration to mainly the U.S occurred 1850-1910. However, as the Industrial revolution in Sweden progressed during the century, people gradually began moving into the Swedish cities and factory work, where they organized in Socialistic unions. A threatening Socialist revolution was avoided in 1917, following the re-introduction of Parliamentarism, and the country was democratized.

Recent history

In the 20th century, Sweden remained neutral during World War I and World War II and continued to stay non-aligned during the Cold War – still today not being a member of any military alliance. Following the second World War, Sweden made use of its natural resources and undemolished state, making it possible to expand its industry to supply the rebuilding of Europe, leading to Sweden being one of the richest countries in the world by 1960. As other economies were re-established, Sweden was surpassed in the 1970's, but still ranks among the top nations concerning well being of its inhabitants.


Main articles: Politics of Sweden

Sweden has been a monarchy for almost a millennium, with its taxation controlled by the Riksdag (parliament). It consisted of four chambers, made up by representatives from the 4 categories peasants, nobility, clerics and townsmen, until 1866 when Sweden became a Constitutional monarchy with a bicameral parliament. Its First Chamber is indirectly elected by local governments, and the Second Chamber directly elected in national elections every four years.

Missing image
The Riksdag in Stockholm

Legislative power was shared between king and parliament until 1975. In 1971 the Riksdag became unicameral. Constitutionally, the 349-member Riksdag holds supreme authority in Sweden, and its acts are not subject to judicial review. However, acts of the parliament must at every level be made inapplicable if they obviously are against constitutional laws. Legislation may be initiated by the Cabinet or by members of Parliament. Members are elected on the basis of proportional representation for a four-year term. The Constitution of Sweden can be altered by the Riksdag, which requires a supermajority and confirmation after the following general elections. Sweden has three other constitutional laws: the Act of Royal Succession, the Freedom of Press Act and the Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression.

Executive power was shared between the King and a noble Privy Council until 1680, followed by the King's autocratic rule initiated by the common estates of the Parliament. As a reaction to the failed Great Northern War, Parliamentarism was introduced in 1719, followed by three different flavours of Constitutional Monarchy in 1772, 1789 and 1809, the latter granting several civil liberties. The monarch remains as the formal, but merely symbolic head of state with ceremonial duties.

Social Democracy has played a dominant political role since 1917, after Reformists had confirmed their strength and the Revolutionaries left the party. Social Democratic influence over society and government is often described as Hegemony. After 1956, the Cabinets have been dominated by the Social Democrats. It is considered the reason for the Swedish post-war welfare state.

Welfare state

Swedes benefit from an extensive social welfare system, whereby the government provides for childcare, maternity and paternity leave, a ceiling on health care costs, retirement pensions, and sick leave. Parents are entitled to a total of 480 days paid leave between birth and the child's eighth birthday, with 30 days reserved specifically for each parent, in effect providing the father with a so called "daddy-month". And a ceiling on health care costs makes it easier for Swedish workers to take time off for medical reasons.


Main article: Education in Sweden

As part of its social welfare system, Sweden provides an extensive childcare system that guarantees a place for all young children from 1-5 years old in a public day-care facility. Between ages 6-16, children attend compulsory comprehensive school. After completing the ninth grade, 90% continue with a three year upper secondary school leading to either an exam in a technical profession, or the qualifications for further studies at a Högskola or University of Sweden.


Main article: Geography of Sweden

Missing image
A map of Sweden with largest cities and lakes
Missing image
Image from Lappland in the north
Missing image
Image from Scania in the south

Sweden enjoys a mostly temperate climate despite its northern latitude, mainly due to the Gulf Stream. In the south of Sweden leaf-bearing trees are prolific, in the north pines and hardy birches dominate the landscape. In the mountains of northern Sweden a sub-arctic climate predominates. North of the Arctic Circle, the sun never sets during the summer, and in the winter night is unending.

East of Sweden is the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Bothnia, providing a long coastline, and mellowing the climate further yet. To the west is the Scandinavian mountain chain, a range that separates Sweden from Norway.

The southern part of the country is chiefly agricultural, with forests covering a larger percentage of the land the further north one goes. Population density is also higher in southern Sweden, with centers being in the valley of lake Mälaren and the Öresund region.

Gotland and Öland are the two largest Islands of Sweden.


Main article: Counties of Sweden

Sweden is divided into 21 counties or län. In each county there is a County Administrative Board or länsstyrelse which is appointed by the Government. In each county there is also a separate County Council or landsting, which is the municipal representation appointed by the county electorate. Each county further divides into a number of municipalities or kommuner, making a total of 290 municipalities, in 2004. There are also older historical divisions of the Swedish Realm, primarily into provinces and lands.


Main article: Economy of Sweden

The Swedish Krona, depicting King
The Swedish Krona, depicting King Carl XVI Gustav

Aided by peace and neutrality for the whole of the 20th century, Sweden has achieved an enviable standard of living under a mixed system of high-tech capitalism and extensive welfare benefits. It has a modern distribution system, excellent internal and external communications, and a skilled labour force. Timber, hydropower, and iron ore constitute the resource base of an economy heavily oriented toward foreign trade.

Privately-owned firms account for about 90% of industrial output, of which the engineering sector accounts for 50% of output and exports. This is one of the reasons why Sweden's Per Capita Income is so high. Agriculture accounts for only 2% of GDP and 2% of the jobs. The government's commitment to fiscal discipline resulted in a substantial budgetary surplus in 2001, which was cut by more than half in 2002, due to the global economic slowdown, revenue declines, and spending increases. The Swedish Riksbank is focusing on price stability with its inflation target of 2%. Growth is expected to reach 3.5% in 2004, assuming a continued moderate global recovery. However, open unemployment has steadily increased since 2001 and stood at 5.5% as of March 2005, although there are a great many more persons of working age without a job. The communications and transportation systems of Sweden are important components of the infrastructure.


Main article: Demographics of Sweden

Sweden has one of the world's highest life expectancies. As of approximately August 12, 2004, the total population of Sweden for the first time exceeded 9,000,000, according to Statistics Sweden.

The country is inhabited by some 17,000 indigenous Samis. Also some 50,000 of the ethnic Finns of Sweden consist an indigenous minority, although many more of the Sweden Finns descend from 20th century immigrants.

The Swedish nation has been transformed from a nation of emigration ending after World War I to a nation of immigration from World War II and on. Currently, almost 12% of the residents are born abroad, and about one fifth of Sweden's population are either immigrants or the children of immigrants. The largest immigrant groups are from Finland, the former Yugoslavia, Iran, Norway, Denmark, and Poland, in that order. This reflects the inter-Nordic migrations, earlier periods of labor immigration, and later decades of refugee and family immigration.

Missing image
A typical 19th, early 20th century farmer's house on the rural countryside

Soviet intervention against the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and the 1968 Czechoslovakian liberalization resulted in the first surges of intellectual political refugees. Some American deserters from the Vietnam War also found refuge among the Swedes, who in international politics took a clear stand against what they typically viewed as imperialism executed by both the Soviet Union and the United States of America. After the 1973 coup in Chile, and the following military dictatorships in Chile and other South American countries, political refugees came to dominate the image of immigration to Sweden, including refugees from Iran, Iraq and Palestine.


Main article: Swedish language

Swedish is a Germanic language, related to Danish and Norwegian, but different from them in pronunciation and orthography. Like the U.S., Sweden has no official language, but the Swedish language has held a de facto status as such. The dominating language has always been Swedish and there has never been a political issue about making it an official language. However, with the recognition of five minority languages of Sweden on April 1, 2000, the issue of whether Swedish should be declared official language has been raised.

Most Swedes, especially those under 50, have no difficulty in understanding and speaking English due to the globalisation. Many pupils have also learnt an additional language in school; often German.


Main article: Culture of Sweden

The most successful Swedish popular music artist are ABBA, Roxette, The Cardigans, Ace of Base and guitarist Yngwie J. Malmsteen. In underground circles, Sweden is known for a large number of death metal and black metal acts such as Bathory, Opeth, Dark Tranquility, Naglfar, In Flames and Vintersorg.

The best known internationally opera singers are the 19th century soprano Jenny Lind and the 20th century tenor Jussi Björling, who had great success abroad. Also sopranos Christina Nilsson Birgit Nilsson, and tenorss Nicolai Gedda, baritone Håkan Hagegård and the contemporary mezzo-soprano Anne-Sofie von Otter are worth mentioning.

Swedish 20th century culture is noted by pioneering works in the early days of cinema, with Mauritz Stiller and Victor Sjöström. In the 50's – 80's, the filmmakers Ingmar Bergman and Bo Widerberg received Academy Awardss, and actresseses Greta Garbo, Zarah Leander, Ingrid Bergman and Anita Ekberg made careers abroad. More recently, the films of Lukas Moodysson have gotten international recognition.

Swedish authors of worldwide recognition include Carolus Linnaeus, August Strindberg, Selma Lagerlöf, Vilhelm Moberg and Astrid Lindgren.

Many well-known inventions and discoveries, historical and modern, were made by Swedes. The most notable figures are Alfred Nobel, Anders Celsius, Carl Wilhelm Scheele, Lars Magnus Ericsson, Svante Arrhenius and Anders Jonas Ångström.

Swedes are among the greatest consumers of newspapers in the world and every town is served by a local rag. The country's main quality dailies are Svenska Dagbladet and Dagens Nyheter, but the most popular are the evening tabloids Aftonbladet and Expressen. The free international morning paper, Metro International, was originally founded in Stockholm, Sweden.

Related topics:


Sport activites are a national movement with half of the population actively participating. The two main spectator sports are soccer and ice hockey. Some notable soccer stars of Sweden include Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrik Larsson and Fredrik Ljungberg, while some famous Swedish hockey players include Peter Forsberg, Mats Sundin, Niklas Lidström, Börje Salming and Pelle Lindbergh.

Second to soccer, Horse sports have the highest number of practitioners, mostly confined to the female population. Thereafter follow golf, track and field, and the team sports of handball, floorball, basketball and in northern parts bandy. American sports such as baseball and American football are also practiced but have no widespread popularity.

Successful tennis players include former world No. 1's Björn Borg, Mats Wilander and Stefan Edberg; in skiing sports, Ingemar Stenmark, Pernilla Wiberg and Anja Pärson have all had dominating periods in alpine skiing, and Gunde Svan and Thomas Wassberg ranked among the greatest cross country skiers.

Other famous Swedish athletes include the Heavy Weight Boxing Champion Ingemar Johansson, golfer Annika Sörenstam, former five times World table tennis Champion Jan-Ove Waldner and the World Speedway Champion Tony Rickardsson.

In schools, on meadows and in parks, the game brännboll, a sport similar to baseball, is commonly played for fun. Other leisure sports are the historical game of kubb and boules among the older generation.


Before the 11th century, the heathen religion was devoted to Ásatrú, which meant worshipping of the Aesir gods with a centre at the Temple at Uppsala. With the Christianisation in the 11th century the laws of the country were shaped and worshipping of other deities forbidden. After the Protestant Reformation in the 1530's, the Church and State became united and the State (including the King) was allowed to tell people what to believe. Not until a globalisation in the late 18th century, it became allowed for believers of other faiths, including Judaism and Catholicism, to live and work in Sweden. The 19th century saw other Christian denominations, such as the Episcopalian Church; and towards the end of the century Socialism began attracting attention, leading to people distancing themselves from Church rituals such as baptism. With the 20th century a personal belief became possible, including leaving the Church of Sweden to join any other religion, but not until the 1970's was it formally allowed to stand outside of all religious communities. Today about 78% of Swedes belong to the Church of Sweden, but the number is decreasing with about one percentage point every year, and church sermons are scarsely attended.Template:Ref However, a majority of Swedes claim to believe in "something" – a higher being of some kind. Also of significanse are the about 100,000 muslim believers. Template:Ref


Main article: Holidays in Sweden

Apart from traditional Protestantic Christian holidays, Sweden also celebrates some unique holidays, some of a a pre-christian tradition. They include Midsummer, celebrating the summer solstice; Walpurgis Night on April 30 lightning bonfires; May 1st is a business free day and dedicated to Socialistic demonstrations; and December 13th, the day of Saint Lucy the lightgiver. Apart from these there are also official flag day observances and a Namesdays in Sweden calendar.

Miscellaneous topics

International rankings

  • CIA World Factbook - GDP (http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/rankorder/2004rank.html) - PPP per capita
    • 2004: 26th of 232 countries [1] (http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/docs/notesanddefs.html)
  • Save the Children: State of the World's Mothers (2004) Report (http://www.savethechildren.org/mothers/report_2004/images/pdf/SOWM_2004_final.pdf) (pdf-format)
    • Mothers' index rank: 1st of 119 countries
    • Womens' index rank: 1st of 119 countries
    • Childrens' index rank: 10th of 119 countries
    • Infant mortality rate: lowest
    • % women with seats in the national government: 50% (highest)
  • UN Human Development Index (2004)
    • 2nd of 177 countries
  • World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report [2] (http://www.weforum.org/pdf/Gcr/Growth_Competitiveness_Index_2003_Comparisons) (2004)
    • 3rd of 104 countries



External links

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Dependencies: Akrotiri and Dhekelia2 | Faroe Islands | Gibraltar | Guernsey | Jan Mayen | Jersey | Isle of Man | Svalbard
1. Country partly in Asia. 2. Usually assigned to Asia geographically, but often considered European for cultural and historical reasons.

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