Cities in SWEDEN


Geography and Landscape


The kingdom of Sweden (officially: Konungariket Sverige) is the largest country in the Scandinavian peninsula. Sweden borders Norway in the west and north. Sweden borders Finland in the northeast. In the southwest, Sweden has a coastline of more than 14,000 kilometers along the Gulf of Bothnia, the Baltic Sea, the Sound, the Kattegat and the Skagerrak. Sweden also includes the larger islands of Gotland and Öland. Sweden is a very elongated country. The northernmost point is Frederiksröset, which lies above the Arctic Circle: the southernmost point is Smygehuk opposite Germany's Baltic Sea coast.

Sweden:Satellite photoSweden:Satellite photoPhoto: Public domain

The area of wasteland in Sweden is 31%, including more than 96,000 lakes. 58% of the soil is covered with forests and the cultivated land covers 11%. The longest river is Klarälv-Götaälv, 720 km long. Sweden's highest mountain, the Kebnekaise, is located in Norrland and is over 2100 meters high.


The final design of Sweden's landscape came about through the ice ages. The land ice cover had a thickness of 2000 to 4000 m and covered the entire country. The sliding ice polished the bottom, the land was flattened, some harder knobs were ground into so-called hump rocks. In addition, deposition of moraine material took place. Kilometers long and sometimes 100 m high ridges of sand and gravel formed under the ice. After the great pressure of the inland ice disappeared, the land was gradually lifted. As a result, old coastlines were greatly lifted. Even today there is lifting, which in the north is 100 cm per century and at Stockholm 45 cm, while on the south coast no more lifting is measurable. The Swedish coast therefore consists of thousands of small islands and rocky points, which protrude just above water. These skerries are almost completely bare on the west coast, but mostly wooded along the east coast.

Kebnekaise, Sweden's highest mountainKebnekaise, Sweden's highest mountainPhoto: Alexander Vujadinovic CC 4.0 Internationano changes

Sweden is divided into three major landscapes: Norrland in the north, Svealand in the middle and Götaland in the south.

Norrland is mountainous with endless forests and many rivers and lakes. Norrland covers almost two-thirds of Sweden's total area.

Svealand in central Sweden has a more open and friendly landscape. Behind a razor belt lies the capital Stockholm on the east coast. Around Stockholm it is overgrown with dense forests. Further inland are open plains where the Swedes have focused on arable farming for thousands of years. However, the fertile fields are alternated with dense forests and swampy plateaus.

Götaland in the south has a very varied landscape with flourishing agricultural areas and beech forests in the southernmost province of Skåne. Furthermore, there are extensive forests on stony ground, hardly suitable for agriculture. The west coast is flat with sometimes long sandy beaches. Furthermore, a skating coast with many islands and inlets. Here are also the large lakes Vänern and Vättern. Vänern is the third largest lake in Europe.

Climate and Weather

Sweden, just like neighboring Norway, has to deal with the influence of the Warm Gulf Stream. For example, the average annual temperature is considerably higher in regions such as Northern Russia, Alaska and Greenland, which are on the same latitude. Central Sweden has a continental climate with warm dry summers and cold winters. The cause is the mountain range in Norway where the cloud fields rise quickly and it often rains. The result is that it is much drier and sunnier behind that mountain range. In the north (Lapland) and the eastern areas along the Gulf of Bothnia it can get very cold. The Gulf of Bothnia can even freeze over completely. Temperatures of ± -35 °C occur in Lapland.

Snow SwedenSnow SwedenPhoto: Holger.Ellgaard CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

In the northern mountain areas there is an average of about two meters of snow that can remain for up to seven months. In Stockholm, the snow remains for about three months.

The south has a pronounced maritime climate as a result of the Warm Gulf Stream and there is therefore more rain than in the rest of Sweden. When snow falls, it does not often stay there. The ports also remain free of ice. The south has four to five summer months, the middle three to four and the north one to three. From north to south there are large differences in the average temperature, especially in winter. In January e.g. The average temperature in Lapland is -14 °C and can fall to more than -35 °C. On the south coast it is then on average -1 °C. Precipitation is unevenly distributed across the country. The west coast between Malmo and the Norwegian border receives the most rain, ± 700 mm per year. Eastern Sweden only has 300-400 mm per year.

As in Norway and Finland, two special phenomena can be observed in Sweden: the midnight sun and the northern lights.

Midnight sun SwedenMidnight sun SwedenPhoto: Pavel Shyshkouski CC 4.0 International no changes

The midnight sun is high on the list of places of interest for many travelers. The further you go in the direction of the North Pole in summer, the higher and longer the sun shines in succession. The Arctic Circle, which runs through northern Sweden, is the latitude at which the sun remains just above the horizon on the night of June 21-22. The midnight sun is visible even in more southern parts of Sweden. In the middle of summer, people can still read the newspaper on the street at night without much trouble. Conversely, the sun on the Arctic Circle naturally remains below the horizon in winter and the Arctic night prevails on the North Pole. With heavy clouds there is of course much less of this natural phenomenon to be seen.

Northern lights SwedenNorthern lights SwedenPhoto: US embassy Sweden CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

The northern lights or polar lights can be seen on clear, cold winter nights. From sunspots electrical particles are ejected towards the earth that are pushed by the magnetic field around the earth to the higher layers of the air, where they start to glow. There are then beautiful shades of color, in curves and rays. The most beautiful part is the Northern Lights crown, when all those arches and rays seem to hang like a crown above the pole.

Plants and Animals


Woods SwedenWoods SwedenPhoto: Arto Kemppainen in the public domain

Sweden is about half covered with forests, mainly pine, spruce and larch. In the south the beech predominates in the woods. The oak is still found as far as Central Sweden. Further north still the birch and in the most northern regions the dwarf birch. The tree line drops from 900 to 1000 m above sea level in Dalarna to about 500 m above sea level at the border between Swedish and Norwegian Lapland.

Poppies SwedenPoppies SwedenPhoto: Per Olav Wiberg CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

In summer practically the entire country is covered with flowers, especially poppies, cornflowers, daisies and all kinds of wild flowers. About 2000 plant species occur in Sweden. In many places the feast is blown; blueberries and raspberries are common in the wild. On the islands of Öland and Gotland you will find special vegetation. This is due to the limestone soil that retains the sun's heat well. For example, peach, mulberry and walnut grow in sheltered places. About thirty types of orchids are also very special.


Moose SwedenMoose SwedenPhoto: Dickelbers CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

The moose occurs in large numbers in swampy, wooded areas. Large herds of reindeer belonging to Lapland families roam in Lapland. Rare animals are the brown bear, wolf, lynx and wolverine. In central and southern Sweden there are quite a lot of small game such as martens, weasels and foxes. Snowshoe hares, arctic foxes and lemmings live in the north. Sweden has more than 300 bird species. All kinds of gulls, ducks and terns live on the seashore. Harriers, grebes and teal live near the lakes. In the woods capercaillie, black grouse, woodpeckers and owls occur. Common birds of prey are eagles, falcons, owls, buzzards and sparrowhawks. Woodpeckers, bullfinches, ravens and hooded crows live in the coniferous forests.

European Crane SwedenEuropean Crane SwedenPhoto: Harry geurts CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Sweden is very important as a breeding ground for many bird species of the north; of these, the European crane is undoubtedly the most striking. Swedish rivers and lakes are bursting with fish. In the northern waters a lot of perch, pike, salmon and trout. Along the coasts tuna, herring, mackerel, cod and strömming (Baltic herring). There are also three types of snakes (including the adder) and three types of lizards in Sweden.

A large number of national parks and reserves are spread across the country; the most famous is the Abisko National Park located in Lapland.



Rock paintings SwedenRock paintings SwedenPhoto: Olof Ekström CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

About 9000 BC, people first appeared in southern Sweden, hunter-gatherers, belonging to culture groups from Denmark. Among other things, axes and other tools from reindeer antlers, elaborately carved harpoons and tips of reindeer antlers or bone have been found. After that, Northern Sweden was colonized both from the east (Finland) and from the west (the Norwegian coast). Around 4000 BC these cultures were supplanted by the emergence of the earliest peasant culture, part of the Western European funnelbeaker culture. Under the this influence, megalithic burial vaults were built in southern and eastern Sweden. During the early Bronze Age (c. 1800 BC), many reliefs and rock paintings were made in Central and South Sweden. The images usually consist of men, animals, ships, farming tools, axes and other weapons. The Bronze Age begins in Sweden with the import of bronze objects from Central Europe. A private bronze industry soon developed. In the transition from Bronze to Iron Age burial under boat-shaped monuments was common along the Baltic coast.

Middle Ages

Territories and voyages of the Vikings, SwedenTerritories and voyages of the Vikings, SwedenPhoto: Bogdangiusca CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

In the Viking Age (800-1050), the inhabitants of the southern part of present-day Sweden moved west with the Danes and Norwegians. The inhabitants of eastern Sweden moved southward along the great rivers in Russia to the Black and Caspian Seas. Gotland and the town of Birka were important trading posts in Sweden. In 900, the Swedish Vikings conquered the Danish trading center in Schleswig, Hedeby. The Christianization of Sweden proceeded slowly. Sweden was not officially part of the Roman Catholic Church until 1103. Erik IX the Saint founded a new dynasty around 1150. This dynasty was succeeded by the Folkunger. Their power for a long time prevented resistance from nobles and clergy. One of them, Magnus, was deposed from the throne in 1364 and the Mecklenburger Albert was elected king. When he too seemed to gain a lot of influence, the Dano-Norwegian queen Margaret was called to the rescue, who defeated Albert in 1389 and was made queen under strict conditions. At the Union of Kalmar (1397) her succession was arranged and Norway, Sweden and Denmark were also legally brought under one king.

At the end of the Middle Ages, the lower classes, especially the peasants, opposed the union and the king, Erik of Pomerania. The higher positions sometimes followed hesitantly. A Reichstag in 1435 proclaimed the people's leader Engelbrechtsson as governor, who was killed by Magnus the following year. A number of fellow citizens now elevated Karel Knutsson Bonde to governor, later to King Charles VIII, who reigned for three short periods. When his power threatened to become too great, the nobility and clergy turned to Christian I of Denmark. After the death of Charles VIII (1470), Sten Sture and his relatives acted successively as government officials. The older Sten defeated the Danish king Christian I in 1471, the younger Sten Sture was killed in 1520 against Christian II. This was now supreme in Sweden and with him a majority of nobility and clergy. The execution, on Nov. 8. 1520 in Stockholm, on the orders of Christian II, of a hundred clergy and nobles and their servants (the so-called Stockholm massacre) sparked a revolt. It was led by Gustav Wasa, a young nobleman who was supported by the farmers of Dalecarlia. The Reichstag proclaimed him king in 1523.

New History

Gustav Wasa SwedenGustav Wasa SwedenPhoto: Holger.Ellgaard CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Gustav has made a lot of opposition in making Sweden a well-governed and defensible country. Creating a skilled bureaucracy and a ready army cost a lot of money and the creditors, especially the Hanseatic League, insisted on repayment. Gustav Vasa reigned until 1560; Sweden's tendencies to expand towards the countries surrounding the Baltic Sea threatened to lead to an alliance between Denmark and Poland. Due to Danish ownership in Schonen, Sweden was virtually cut off from the open sea. A relative standstill came under the rule of Gustav's sons Erik XIV (1560-1568) and Johan III (1569-1592). The latter tried to restore Catholicism. Under Charles IX (1604-1611) the first attempts were made to conquer the Baltic Sea countries, but these failed. Under the rule of his son, Gustav II Adolphus, Sweden's great expansion of power began. He conquered the land between Riga and the Gulf of Finland and invaded the German lands. At the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, Sweden acquired the dioceses of Bremen and Verden and Western Pomerania. At the peace in 1658, with Denmark, in addition to the four coastal landscapes also Trondheim and Bornholm. Then Sweden was at the height of its power for a short time.

The most important domestic events during the 'Greatness Age' (1611-1718) were the formation of the 'form of government' in 1634 and the abdication of Gustav II Adolphus' daughter and successor Christina on behalf of Charles X Gustavus. This form of government had already been planned during the lifetime of Gustav II, but was not implemented by Oxenstierna until after his death: the principal departments were to be administered by colleges, the chiefs of which sat in the Council of the Reich appointed by the king. Also of great significance was the 'reduction' accepted by the Reichstag at the suggestion of Charles XI in 1680: the income and wealth of the Crown, considerable since the secularization, had been reduced both by the war costs and by the wastefulness of Queen Christina and mainly belonged to the nobility. A commission had been given the task of compelling the nobles, after investigation, to return the property which was ipso jure to the Crown, a measure which aroused bitterness especially in Poland and the overseas territories. The Great Northern War (1700-1718), at the time of Charles XII, ended Sweden's position as a great power. After his death and the debacles of 1720 and 1721, the Reichstag limited the king's power, increased the influence of the parliament, which in future would compose the Reich Council. Charles's successors were no major monarchs. An attempt by Adolf Frederik to strengthen the royal authority failed ingloriously. Two parties were alternately in charge during this 'freedom struggle' (1719-1772).

Map of Scandinavia 1730Map of Scandinavia 1730Photo: Public domain

Around 1770, there seemed to be a danger that Russia, as in Poland, might intervene in Swedish internal affairs and would like to undermine the country's independence. The new King Gustav III, in consultation with the French government, ventured a 'coup d'état' on August 12, 1772, strengthening the royal authority and good relations with the traditional ally. Throughout his reign, the king faced opposition, especially among the nobility, who committed treason during a brief conflict with Russia (1788-1790) and conspired in 1792, led by Anckarström, and at the masked ball in the Stockholm opera committed a deadly attack on the monarch. During the wars of coalition Gustav IV remained English-minded; after the Peace of Tilsit, the English took possession of the Danish fleet, but made no attempt to support the Swedes in repelling an expected attack by France's allies, Denmark and Russia. Finland was occupied in 1808. As a result, once again, the nobility forged a conspiracy against the inept Gustav IV. Adlersparre advanced to Stockholm. Adlercreutz took the king prisoner. The Diet declared him fallen from the throne and proclaimed his uncle Charles XIII king, also established a new 'form of government', which considerably limited the princely power to the benefit of parliament. When the Augustenburg Duke Christiaan August, appointed as successor of the childless King Charles XIII, died suddenly in 1810, a successor was found in Paris in the person of Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, maréchal de France, for whose skills proved in the last war too as administrator people in Sweden were greatly admired. The new heir to the throne, also regent for his adoptive father, sided with Russia and the anti-French coalition in 1812. He was promised that in the coming peace he would obtain Norway in exchange for Finland. This was effected when the Norwegian Storting elected the Swedish king Charles XIII as king of Norway in 1814. At the Congress of Vienna, Sweden lost Swedish Pomerania to Prussia. The areas conquered in the 17th century were thus largely lost.

House Bernadotte

Charles XIV Johan of SwedenCharles XIV Johan of SwedenPhoto: Public domain

In 1818 the House of Bernadotte came to the Swedish throne with Charles XIV Johan. The history of Sweden was uneventful in the time of the princes of this House. Sweden's power was no longer sufficient for conflicts with Russia. Relations with Denmark became increasingly friendly in the 19th century. During the Crimean War, Sweden and Norway remained neutral. In the interior, in general, the same questions demanded solutions as in other countries, especially in the political field the question of whether the composition of the Reichstag at that time should be changed in four positions. The liberal minister De Geer brought about a 'Reform' in 1865, under which the Swedish parliament, as elsewhere in the future, would consist of two chambers, elected partly directly by the voters from the whole people, partly indirectly by the representatives of the individual regions.

Under the reign of Oscar II (1872-1907), political relations in Sweden radicalized. Since 1889, social democracy also began to emerge, cooperating with the radicals in the struggle for universal suffrage. The introduction of a protective system in 1887 worsened relations with Norway. This eventually led to the secession in 1905, which was peaceful under the influence of peaceful currents in Sweden. Under Gustav V (1907-1950) universal suffrage for the House of Representatives was established. In 1914 a conflict arose between the king and the liberal cabinet over the defense of the country, in which the ministry had to give way as a result of a peasant march to Stockholm. In the First World War, Sweden remained neutral; King Gustav established a collaboration with the other, equally neutral Scandinavian countries. After socialists had already joined the government in 1917, Sweden got its first socialist cabinet in 1920 under K.H. Branting. The Social Democratic Party was from now on the strongest party and has been in government almost continuously since 1932.

During the Second World War, Sweden was neutral again. After the Russian raid on Finland, many wanted to come to Finland's aid. When Norway was occupied by the Germans, Sweden was forced to allow the passage of Germans through Swedish territory. This conflict with neutrality did not end until mid-1943. After the war, Tage Erlander took over the reins. Under his rule, Sweden became a member of the United Nations, of the Council of Europe, and of the Organization for European Economic Co-operation (later OECD). Sweden did not join the European Communities, but the European Free Trade Association. His neutrality policy also did not fit in with NATO membership.

Newest time

Olof Palme, SwedenOlof Palme, SwedenPhoto: Rob Bogaerts / Anefo in the public domain

On the domestic front, the social democratic government, led by Olof Palme since 1969, increasingly strived for social equality and progress. In September 1973 King Gustav VI Adolph died.

He was succeeded by his grandson Charles XVI Gustav, who no longer had any power due to an amendment to the constitution and fulfilled a purely representative function. In the same year 44 years of social democratic rule came to an end. The Center Party, the Liberal People's Party and the Conservatives formed a new government. In October 1978, the government fell on the issue of nuclear energy. After a broad social discussion, a popular referendum on nuclear energy policy was held on 23 March 1980. The opponents of nuclear energy lost it to the proponents. In 1981, the Conservatives left the government coalition over disagreements over a tax reform. After the elections in September 1982, the Social Democrats led by Olof Palme regained their old position. Palme has acted internationally as a lawyer for Third World countries and as one of the foremost advocates of global disarmament. After the murder of Palme (February 18, 1986) a more pragmatic course was followed. There was also a change in Sweden's traditional foreign neutrality policy. In July 1991, Sweden applied for membership of the EC, making it clear that it wished to participate in the building of a political European Union.

Parliamentary elections in 1991 brought a victory for the Conservatives. Carl Bildt became prime minister of a civil-conservative coalition cabinet. He pursued a rigorous austerity policy to get the slumped Swedish economy back on track. The privatization of state-owned companies was also announced. On 1 Jan. 1995 Sweden joined the EU.

GNP grew in 1995 thanks to an increase in exports of almost 4%. Unemployment remained high: officially it was around 7%, but including participants in job creation and retraining projects, more than 13% of the labor force was out of work.

Persson, who succeeded Carlsson as leader of the Social Democratic Workers' Party, as Minister of Finance had drastically reduced the budget deficit by, among other things, cutting benefits and increasing taxes.

Eugene de Kock, a former leader of a South African death squad, claimed during a trial in South Africa that a division of the South African intelligence service was responsible for the murder of former Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme in Feb 1986.

21 century

Anna Lindh SwedenAnna Lindh SwedenPhoto: Vesa Lindqvist/Matti Hurme - CC 2.5 no changes made

The Social Democratic Party has been in power, alone or in coalition form, during the periods 1932-1976 and 1982-1991 and from 1994. Parliamentary elections were again held in September 2002, with the Social Democratic Party being the main winner with 40% of the vote and. As during the previous government period, the party relies on two tolerant partners on the left, namely the Greens and the Left party. The opposition consists of the Moderates (Conservatives), Liberals, Centrists and Christian Democrats.

On September 14, 2003, the referendum was held on whether Sweden should introduce the Euro as legal tender. The population ultimately voted 56% against the abolition of the crown. The referendum was overshadowed by the brutal murder of the Secretary of State, Anna Lindh. She, like Prime Minister Persson, was a stated supporter of the introduction of the Euro and led the campaign.

The murder of Anna Lindh shocked Sweden's mostly relaxed political climate. But it also brought back the memory of 1986 when the then Prime Minister Olof Palme was shot on the street while walking. Anna Lindh was succeeded by Latvian-born former Justice Minister Laila Freivalds.

At the beginning of 2005, Sweden was hit by two bad events. The tsunami on Boxing Day in Southeast Asia hit Sweden very hard. In January of a population of 9 million, 52 were dead and 637 were missing. The Secretary of State, Laila Freivalds, is accused of having responded too late. She has publicly apologized and indicated that the ministry should be better equipped for these kinds of calamities. A National Crisis Commission is established. In January, the south of Sweden was also seriously affected by a very heavy storm. Many fallen trees (entire forests have been swept away) have led to large-scale and long-term electricity outages.

Parliamentary elections in Sweden took place on Sunday 17 September 2006. The election campaign was short and dominated by discussions about unemployment (high by Swedish standards, but average by European standards), taxation, health care and education. The polls showed that it would be a neck-and-neck race between the left bloc (Social Democrats, Environmental Party and Socialists) and the right-wing alliance (Conservatives (moderates), Liberals, Christian Democrats and the Center Party). It was a narrow victory for the latter. This is a remarkable result given that since 1932 it has only happened twice before that the Social Democrats have lost the elections (in 1976 and 1991). Moreover, the right-wing parties have never before come to power in a period of economic prosperity. In November 2008, Sweden ratifies the Lisbon Treaty. In February 2009, the government broke its policy of not building nuclear power plants. In July 2009, Sweden becomes president of the EU. In parliamentary elections in September 2010, Prime Minister Fredrik Rheinfeldt's center-right coalition just missed a majority. In October he will form a broad minority government. In December, car manufacturer Saab, an icon of the Swedish industry, is declared bankrupt. In February 2012, Crown Princess Victoria gives birth to a daughter. Princess Estelle is the second in the line of succession to the throne. In June 2013, Princess Madeleine, the youngest daughter of the Swedish king, gets married in Stockholm with great interest. In April 2014, Sweden announced an increase in the defense budget due to the unrest in Ukraine and developments in Russia.

Stegan Lofven, SwedenStegan Lofven, SwedenPhoto: Robvissers 1966 CC 4.0 International no changes

In October 2014, Stefan Lofven becomes the new prime minister and forms a center-left minority government. In the years 2015 to 2017, Sweden faces the refugee crisis and the rise of right-wing anti-immigration parties. In elections in 2018, the result is not clear, but Lofven will become prime minister again in January 2019. In 2020, Sweden will have to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. Unlike most European countries, Sweden does not opt for a total lockdown.


Swedes celebrate midsummerSwedes celebrate midsummerPhoto: Bent Nyman CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

Sweden has 9,960,487 million inhabitants in 2017.

The Swedish population is among the most characteristic representatives of the Nordic race, the characteristics of which are: tall slender stature, narrow skull, blond hair and blue eyes. Relatively very little mixing with other subraces has occurred in Sweden. The number of foreigners increased sharply during and after the Second World War, reaching almost 2 million in 2014. Finns are the largest group historically. Relatively many refugees from war zones have been admitted to Sweden.

Sweden is one of the most sparsely populated countries in Europe, but there are large regional differences in population density. The average population density per km2 is about 22, but in the far north of the country the density is 3 inhabitants per km2 and in the urban area around Stockholm more than 250 inhabitants per km2. More than a third of the total population lives in the urban areas of Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö. About 87% of the population lives in an urbanized area. Cities in the north hardly ever have more than 20,000 inhabitants.

The average life expectancy is 82.1 years, men 80.2 and women 84.2 years. (2017)

The only significant indigenous minority is formed by the approximately 15,000 Sami (Lappen) in the north, who differ from the other Swedes in terms of physical characteristics as well as in language and culture.

The Samen (Lappen) have lived in the north of Sweden since prehistoric times. Only 10-15% of the Sami are still living in the traditional way. Some together are reindeer keepers. Most, however, make a living from forestry, agriculture and fishing.


Swedish KeybordSwedish KeybordPhoto: StuartBrady CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Swedish belongs to the North German language branch and is spoken by almost all Swedes. Finnish is the main language in Northern Sweden, and the Sami also have their own language. German and Finnish were widely used in the 16th and 17th centuries. In the mid-17th century, French expressions were added as a result of immigration flows. After the Second World War, English replaced these languages as a second language. Tourists can therefore go to Sweden with English and also German. In addition to the regular letters, the Swedish alphabet also has å, ä and ö. In dictionary or phrasebook, these letters come after the z. The dots are important for pronunciation.


Uppsala catedral, swedenUppsala catedral, SwedenPhoto: Szilas in the public domain

The Swedish people were Christianized around the year 1000. The Roman Catholic Church established an archdiocese in Uppsala in 1164 and six dioceses in other places. The Reichstag broke off contacts with Rome in 1527 and the Evangelish Lutheran Church has been the state church in Sweden ever since. When one of the parents is a member of the Church, all Newborn Swedes automatically become members of the Swedish State Church. Until 1781 Catholicism was strictly forbidden; The Pope appointed vicars there from 1783, until in 1953 the Vicariate of Sweden was converted into the Diocese of Stockholm. The Lutheran pastors are also civil registrars; they marry, register births and deaths. In 1958 it was decided to admit women to the priesthood as well. The church includes the Archdiocese of Uppsala and twelve dioceses, with a total of 2,565 parishes. The bishops are appointed by the government.

About 89% of the Swedes are Lutherans (of which about 30% are non-practicing), 2% are Roman Catholic, 1% are members of some Pentecostal group, and 3% are Liberal Churches. Furthermore, the Russian Orthodox Church and the Muslims form large communities. Dual membership, of the Church of Sweden and of one of the small denominations, is common. Although weekly church attendance is low, in 1980 more than three-quarters of all children were still baptized; 94% of all funerals were ecclesiastical. In 1993 there were about 16,000 Jews in Sweden.


State structure

Parliametnsbuilding SwedenParliamentsbuilding SwedenPhoto: Trolvag CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Sweden is a constitutional monarchy. The 1809 constitution, last amended in 1975, stipulates that the cabinet and parliament (Riksdagen) are responsible for the country's administration. The prime minister is appointed by parliament. The king has no political authority and has a symbolic, representative function. Legislative power rests with the Diet.

The ministries are generally small and consist of no more than 100 people. They are only concerned with drawing up general policies. The actual executive and management work is carried out by the administrative bodies (ämbetsverk), headed by a director-general for six years, assisted by a board of directors comprising representatives of various social groups. These bodies occupy an independent position vis-à-vis the ministries and the members of the cabinet and can also submit (legislative) proposals to the cabinet themselves. The Reichstag consists of one chamber with 349 members, who are elected every four years. There is universal suffrage for Swedish citizens aged 18 and over. There is a 4% electoral threshold for the parties taking part in the elections. Since 1976, immigrants have had the right to vote in municipal and provincial councils if they have been registered in the population register for three years.

Since 1922, Sweden has had the consultative referendum on important general topics.

Administrative division

The country is divided into 21 districts (län), headed by a governor (landshövding), who is appointed by the Cabinet and who is chairman of the district administration. The country is divided into 286 municipalities. The city council is elected for three years. Mayors are unknown in Sweden. Instead, a chairman is elected for the one-year term. For the current political situation see chapter history.


University of Gothenburg in SwedenUniversity of Gothenburg in SwedenPhoto: Medullaoblongata Projekt CC 4.0 International no changes made

Sweden has had compulsory education since 1842. Primary education now takes nine years, from about 7 to 16 years. In 1962 the nine-year primary school was finally introduced. Almost all schools are run by the local government, although there are also private schools. It is remarkable that students only receive grades from group eight. In addition, the teaching of English as a foreign language starts in the third or fourth year. After primary education, almost all Swedes attend some form of secondary education. Some then prepare for university studies, others combine theory and practice to learn a profession. The learning pathways at university and college take approximately four years.

All forms of public education, including higher education, are free of charge. Sweden has six universities; in addition three with limited training opportunities. The oldest university is that of Uppsala (1477).

Sweden has many forms of adult education that have a long tradition in Sweden. The oldest is the folk high school (since 1865). There are also voluntary evening and day courses, retraining and further training courses for the unemployed, written education and, as far as universities are concerned, distance learning in the sparsely populated areas.

Nobel Prize

Nobel prize medal, SwedenNobel prize medal, SwedenPhoto: Erik Lindberg CC 3.0 no changes made

Swedish science institutes have been awarding Nobel Prizes to scientists around the world since 1901. The awards are named after the Swede Alfred Nobel, who at the end of the nineteenth century built up enormous capital with the manufacture of explosive substances. In 1867 Nobel invented dynamite. Prices are paid from the interest on this capital.



Stockholm business center of SwedenStockholm business center of SwedenPhoto: Brorsson CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Sweden has developed over the last hundred years from a relatively poor agricultural country to a modern industrialized society. Sweden is now one of the wealthiest countries in the world, with high incomes and good social security.

Sweden has a free market economy in which private business plays the largest role. Almost 90% of the companies are privately owned. The state participates in economic life through a number of state-owned enterprises and participation in the capital of a number of private enterprises. Especially after the Second World War, from which Sweden emerged through its neutrality with an intact production apparatus, the economy experienced rapid growth. At the same time, this meant a radical change in the social structure. For example, to meet the high demand for labor, foreigners had to be recruited on a large scale.

The economic crisis also hit Sweden in the 1980s. This led to rising inflation, a growing budget deficit, devaluations of the Crown and growing labor unrest despite a low unemployment rate (on average between 1 and 3%). Another problem has been the continued growth in government spending, especially on social services. The government proposed a hefty austerity policy of tax cuts and government spending cuts to get out of trouble.

In the 21st century, Sweden is still a very prosperous country. In September 2003, Swedish voters rejected entry to the Euro over fear of losing the policy's sovereignty. The economy is increasingly focused on foreign trade. Private companies provide the vast majority of industrial production, with the engineering sector accounting for about 50% of production and exports. Despite strong finances and the underlying good structure, the Swedish economy slid into recession in the third quarter of 2008 and continued to contract in 2009 due to worsening world conditions and reduced demand and exports. Increased commodity exports and a recovery in the profitability of the banking sector brought the economy up in 2010, but growth slowed in 2013 (0.9%), reflecting the continued economic weakness in the EU, the Sweden's largest export market. In 2017, growth was 2.1% and GDP per capita was $ 51,200.

Agriculture, livestock, forestry and fishing

Agriculture SwedenAgriculture SwedenPhoto: W carter in the public domain

Agriculture is highly influenced by natural factors. The northern location affects the length of the growing season, and soil and relief affect the surface that can be used for agriculture. In the 19th century, three quarters of the working population was still employed in agriculture; less than 2% in 2017 (including fisheries and forestry). The number of agricultural businesses has also fallen. The remaining companies have generally become much larger. Swedish farms are mainly family-owned and the land belongs to those who work it. The cooperative system, for sales, purchasing and credit provision, is strongly developed. Three quarters of agricultural production is further processed or sold through cooperative organizations. About 7.5% of the land can be used economically. However, they succeed in meeting 80% of the domestic demand. Many crops are grown in the south, such as all kinds of grains, sugar beets and beans. In central Sweden, grain is mainly grown and fodder crops are grown further north.

Cattle breeding takes place in the south, the narrow coastal plain along the Gulf of Bothnia and along the river valleys. Livestock farming mainly focuses on keeping cattle for slaughter and dairy production; in addition, pigs, poultry and sheep are kept.

About 62% of the surface is covered with forest; the wood forms the basis for the important wood, pulp and paper industries. Almost half of the stock suitable for exploitation consists of spruce. Especially in the north it is the only economic activity. Sweden is the largest wood producer in Western Europe. A few large companies together own about half of the forest area.

The importance of fishing to the economy has steadily declined since the 1960s. There are still about 3000 professional fishermen. Half of the fish catch consists of cod and herring. Most fishing companies are small and focus on inshore fishing. Major fisheries in the Atlantic Ocean are also carried out from the west coast. Leisure fishing is important on inland waters.


Volvo factory in Olofström, SwedenVolvo factory in Olofström, SwedenPhoto: Bulver in the public domain

Since the beginning of the 20th century, industry has become increasingly important as an economic sector. It employs 12% of the working population and contributes 33% to the Gross National Product (2017). The metalworking and electrical engineering industry is the most important sector, including the automotive and shipbuilding industry and the manufacture of household appliances. The second major industrial sector is the wood processing and paper industries (20% of the industrial contribution to GDP), followed by the steel and iron industries. The petrochemical industry is of increasing importance. The main industrial centers are located in central Sweden and on the south coast.

Mining and Power Supply

Iron mine Kiirunavaara, SwedenIron mine Kiirunavaara, SwedenPhoto: Public domain

Sweden is rich in mineral resources. The main mining product is iron ore, which is mined in the north in Lapland. The Kiruna mine is the most important, mainly because of the high iron content in the ore. Sweden has about 1% of the world's iron ore stock.

Copper, lead, zinc and small amounts of gold and silver are also mined. Arsenic is also found in large quantities and the largest reserves of lead are in Sweden. There are important uranium deposits in Västergötland (southern Sweden), where about 80% of total European supplies are located. There is a small stock of coal that is exploited on a small scale.

The energy consumption in Sweden is very high due to the climate, the high standard of living, the great distances and the relatively low energy prices.

The main domestic source of energy supply is hydropower, which covers 44% of the energy requirement. In addition, nuclear energy is an important energy source (30%). The remainder (26%) of the energy is supplied by oil and coal-fired power stations. There has been an extensive discussion in the second half of the 1970s and after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986 regarding the expansion of the number of nuclear power plants. This has led to a decision from the beginning of the 21st century to reduce the share of nuclear energy and eventually to phase it out in Sweden.


Export SwedenExport SwedenPhoto: R. Haussmann, Cesar Hidalgo, CC 3.0 no changes made

The Swedish economy is largely dependent on foreign trade, both for imports and exports. The trade balance has been positive since 1983. After the Second World War, there was a significant shift from exports of raw materials to those of high-tech products. The main export products are: electrical equipment, transport equipment, telecommunication equipment, paper pulp, wood, paper, textiles, pottery and furniture. The main customers are: Germany, England, the United States, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and Norway. The total value of exports was $ 165.5 billion in 2017.

Imports are: foodstuffs, petroleum, iron and steel. The main suppliers are: Germany, the Netherlands, the United States, Great Britain, Finland, Denmark, Russia and Norway. The total value of the imports was $ 153.2 billion in 2017.

Membership of the EC and the agreement between the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) were important for the Swedish economy.


SAS plane takes off from Stockholm Airport, SwedenSAS plane takes off from Stockholm Airport, SwedenPhoto: Brorsson CC 3.0 Unported no changes made

Sweden has a well-maintained and extensive road network, especially in the south and center. The main connections to the sparsely populated north are formed by two railway lines and a motorway. Car transport is the most important means of passenger and goods transport. Despite the closure of unprofitable lines, Sweden still has one of the largest rail networks in Europe (total length 9930 km). The railway lines are especially important for freight transport.

The electrification of the network will continue, especially to connect to the European rail network. Flash trains running inland. An extensive network of canals has been constructed for inland navigation, important for the transport of ores, oil and coal. Sweden is an important country in ocean shipping. Gothenburg, Hälsingborg, Malmö and Stockholm are the main seaports.

Sweden participates with Norway and Denmark in the Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS), which also handles domestic air traffic in Sweden. International airports are located at Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö.

Holidays and Sightseeing

Stockholm SwedenStockholm SwedenPhoto: Benoît Derrier CC 2.0 Generic no changes made

The cultural center of Sweden is of course Stockholm, with nearby Drottningholm Castle with an 18th century theater. Cities worth seeing are Malmö, Gothenburg, Hälsingborg and Visby, with a well-preserved city wall with thirteen towers.

Nyköping Castle, SwedenNyköping Castle, SwedenPhoto: Arild Vågen CC 4.0 International no changes made

Västeräs and Nyköping have medieval castles. The castles of Norrköping, Halmstad and Kristianstad, which are often built in (Dutch) Renaissance style, date from the Vasa era (16th and early 17th century). Mölndal owns a wooden castle, in its current form, dating from 1796. Skokloster near Sigtuna was converted into what is now the largest private castle in Sweden, with a well-known collection of weapons and gobelin. Linköping has the largest cathedral in Sweden, Uppsala a gothic cathedral with royal burial chambers, Lund a well-known Romanesque cathedral, Södertälje a church from the 11th century and Visby a 13th century church and sixteen church ruins. In Ludvika and Kiruna there are wooden churches, the last in the shape of a Lappish farm. In Kristianstad there is a church in the Dutch Renaissance style. Among the preserved parts of medieval monasteries is the 12th-century church in Varnhem. Old timber construction can still be found in Linköping (town hall, 17th century), Skara and Eskilstuna. In the Dalarna region - Sweden's arts and crafts center - there are many wooden, red-painted farms.

Abisko Nationalpark, SwedenAbisko Nationalpark, SwedenPhoto: Netha Hussain in the public domain

Folk art is still practiced in Hälsingland, including spinning, weaving, wickerwork, wood and bone carving. The Hälsinge-Hambo is well-known, a large folk dance group (maximum 1000 couples), which performs in many places in July. Most prehistoric remains, including petroglyphs and chamber tombs, can be found at Tanum. Jokkmokk is the center of the Lappen. The 393 km long 'Kungsleden' (King's path), a walking route straight through Lapland, starts at the winter sports center Abisko. The Abiskojokk Canyon, in the national park of the same name, is well known. There are museums dedicated to the Lappen in various places, including in Jokkmokk, Luleå and Umeå. There is a glass museum in Orrefors and a wood museum in Jönköping. In addition to Stockholm, there are museums concerning history, culture and / or nature in, among others, Gothenburg, Hälsingborg, Kalmar, Kärlskrona and Malmö. A well-known bird sanctuary is located at Kalmar, while Borås has a beautifully landscaped zoo. Ystad and Båstad are well-known seaside resorts. The Baltic Sea islands of Gotland and Öland are popular for tourists due to their mild climate and subtropical vegetation.

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Best, J. / Zweden

Carlsson, B. / Zweden

Danse, W. / Zweden

Europese Unie
Europees Platform voor het Nederlandse Onderwijs

Meesters, G. / Zweden

CIA - World Factbook

BBC - Country Profiles

Last updated December 2021
Copyright: Team Landenweb