About Sweden


Capital and largest city:

Stockholm, 1,622,300 (metro. area), 1,251,900 (city proper)

Other large cities

Göteborg, 506,600; Malmö, 245,300; Uppsala, 127,300

Monetary unit:

Swedish krona

Language

Swedish, small Sami- and Finnish-speaking minorities

Ethnicity/race indigenous population:

Swedes with Finnish and Sami minorities; foreign-born or first-generation immigrants; Finns, Yugoslavs, Danes, Norwegians, Greeks, Turks.
Sweden's nine million people represent a wide mix of ethnicities. Finns are the largest minority. However, there has been an increase in the number of refugees fleeing war zones such as Iraq and the former Yugoslavia. Today, about 11 percent of Swedish residents were born elsewhere

Religions

Lutheran 87%, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Baptist, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist

Geography

Sweden, which occupies the eastern part of the Scandinavian Peninsula, is the fourth-largest country in Europe and slightly larger than California. Sweden is a long, narrow, heavily forested country. The country slopes eastward and southward from the Kjólen Mountains along the Norwegian border, where the peak elevation is Kebnekaise at 6,965 ft (2,123 m) in Lapland. To the south and east are central lowlands and south of them are fertile areas of forest, valley, and plain. Along Sweden's rocky coast, chopped up by bays and inlets, are many islands, the largest of which are Gotland and Öland.

Government

Sweden is a constitutional monarchy and has a parliamentary system of Government.

History

The Swedes have a long history as seafarers--not surprising when you consider that Sweden has a 4,700-mile-long coastline. By 800 A.D., the Vikings (Swedes, Norwegians, and Danes) had begun their explorations. Skillful shipbuilders, they used the stars to navigate, and even traveled as far as Newfoundland, Canada.

Gustav Vasa, elected king in 1523, transformed Sweden into a national state. He made the monarchy and introduced Lutheranism to Sweden and turned the church into a national institution. The kings of the next dynasty, the House of Palatinate, turned Sweden into a great military power in northern Europe between 1658 and 1721.When Gustav III became king in 1771, he encouraged an interest in the arts by founding the Swedish Academy of Literature, Music, Art, and History. The current king, Carl XVI Gustaf, is a descendant of the French marshal Jean Baptiste Bernadotte, elected king in 1810.

The 19th century was a time of industrial development, when Sweden recognized the importance of mining and timber. In 1917, a modern constitutional democracy was created and in 1932 the Social Democrats swept to power. It is still Sweden's strongest political party. Sweden maintained a position of neutrality in both world wars.

Economy

Sweden is known for its high-quality manufactured goods: ships, automobiles, telephones, appliances, and paper products. The Swedish economy is heavily dependent on a highly developed and internationally successful industrial sector, which was established in the early part of the 20th century through companies such as Ericsson, Asea, Astra, Alfa Laval, SKF, Electrolux, Volvo and SAAB, and now includes more recently established companies such as H&M and IKEA. The Swedish welfare system can be described as providing lifetime benefits for all citizens. Salaries are comparable with other industrialized countries and Swedish residents enjoy a very high quality of life, consistently placing Sweden near the top of the United Nations Human Development Index.

Science & Technology

Sweden has become a world leader in two of the technology areas most likely to shape the 21st century: wireless technologies and biotechnology. Sweden has one of the largest biotech industries in Europe. Immunology, neurobiology, molecular biology & genetics, microbiology, biochemistry & biophysics, cell & developmental biology, and applied biotechnology & biophysics, are areas of medicine where Sweden is among the top three nations in the world measured by the number of published scientific papers.

Symbol

In Sweden, horses have always been important and in Nordic mythology, horses were the property of the gods. The carved wooden dalahorse is a fine example of Swedish folk art and this dalahorse is a symbol of Sweden. These wooden horses originated in the Dalarna province of central Sweden, which is known as the folklore district. Most of Sweden's traditional crafts come from this area. Storytelling and folk singing are also ancient traditions.
North of the Arctic Circle is an area with a unique culture. Often referred to as "the Land of the Midnight Sun," it is home to the Sami, a people once called Lapps. They have lived there since prehistoric times, and although many are no longer nomadic, they have retained their own language and customs, and much of their traditional way of life.

Swedes love being outdoors In 1909, Sweden established Europe's first national parks, popular destinations for the fresh-air-loving Swedes. Of the 20 parks, 16 are in Norrland, with its rugged wilderness landscape, lakes, gorges, and glaciers. Festivals provide another opportunity to get outdoors. Some of them date back to the Vikings. Walpurgis Night is of German origin. Its bonfires and merrymaking celebrate the coming of spring.

Food

Traditional Swedish food is usually simple and satisfying, and nowadays also healthy. In the last few decades immigrants from all over the world have enriched food culture with a host of exciting dishes. Midsummer is perhaps the Swedish greatest festival. This is one occasion where the smörgåsbord is served. Swedish smorgasbord means something like "open sandwich” consists of a number of small dishes, from which you can take your pick - a number of herring dishes, meatballs served with boiled or fried potatoes and onions baked in cream, eggs and so on. If you want to taste some Swedish homely fare you can try pea soup with pork and pancakes for dessert. You can also try kåldolmar, or stuffed cabbage rolls, a dish brought home by King Charles XII (Karl XII) after an involuntary residence in Turkey, nearly three hundred years ago.
If you are here in August you might get invited to a crayfish party. Christmas and Easter have their own traditional dishes. There are also special days during the year for waffles and cream buns with almond paste (semlor).