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Kingdom of Sweden

Konungariket Sverige
{{{coat_alt}}}
Coat of arms
Motto: (Royal) "För Sverige i tiden
"For Sweden – With the Times" 
Anthem: Du gamla, du fria
Thou ancient, thou free

Royal anthemKungssången
The Song of the King
Location of  Sweden  (dark green)– on the European continent  (green & dark grey)– in the European Union  (green)  —  [Legend]
Location of  Sweden  (dark green)

– on the European continent  (green & dark grey)
– in the European Union  (green)  —  [Legend]

Capital
and largest city
Stockholm
Official languages Swedish
Ethnic groups

90.8% Swedes
~3% Finns and Finnish is recognized as a minority language.
~1% other Nordics

~5,2% other (2011)
Demonym(s) Swedish or Swedes
Government Constitutional monarchy,
Unitary parliamentary representative democracy
• Monarch
King Carl XVI Gustaf
• Prime Minister
Stefan Löfven (SDP)
• Speaker of
the riksdag
Per Westerberg (M)
Legislature Riksdag
Consolidation 
Middle Ages
Area
• Total
449,964 km2 (173,732 sq mi) (57th)
• Water (%)
8.7
Population
• 2012 census
9,514,406
• Density
20.6/km2 (53.4/sq mi) (195th)
GDP (PPP) 2011 estimate
• Total
$381.719 billion
• Per capita
$40,393
GDP (nominal) 2011 estimate
• Total
$538.237 billion
• Per capita
$56,956
Gini (2005) 23
low
HDI (2010) Increase 0.885
very high · 9th
Currency Swedish krona (SEK)
Time zone UTC+1 (CET)
• Summer (DST)
UTC+2 (CEST)
Date format yyyy-mm-dd
Driving side right
Calling code 46
ISO 3166 code SE
Internet TLD .se

Sweden (Swedish: Sverige) is a Nordic country in the part of Europe called Scandinavia. Its neighbors are Finland and Norway. Sweden is also connected to Denmark in the south by a bridge. It is a developed country. It is famous for its welfare state. People who live in Sweden are called Swedes.

Sweden's capital city is Stockholm. Sweden is a constitutional monarchy because it has a king, Carl XVI Gustaf, but he does not have any real power. Sweden is a parliamentary state meaning that the government is elected by the parliament which is appointed by the people. The country is democratically ruled by a government headed by an elected prime minister. Stefan Löfven was elected Prime Minister in September 2014. He took office in October 2014.

The population of Sweden is about 9.9 million people.

Sweden has an official majority language, (called svenska in Swedish). Sweden has five official minority languages, Finnish, Yiddish, Sami, Meänkieli and Romani.

Sweden became a member of the European Union on 1 January 1995. It is not a member of the Eurozone. Sweden has not begun to use the euro as currency. This is because the people have voted against this. The currency remains the Swedish krona (Swedish crown).

Sweden has 25 historical provinces (landskap). They are found in three different regions: Norrland in the North, Svealand, the central region, and Götaland in the South.

History

Swedish Empire (1560-1815) en2
The Swedish Empire between 1611 and 1815, absolute peak 1658-60

Sweden has been a country for a thousand years. In the Middle Ages Sweden had the same king as Denmark and Norway. In the early 16th century Sweden got its own king, Gustav Vasa. During the 17th century Sweden was a great power. Sweden had taken Estonia, Latvia and Finland and parts of Norway, Germany and Russia. In the 18th century Sweden became weaker and lost these places. In the early 19th century Sweden's king died without an heir and the Swedish parliament voted for Jean Baptiste Bernadotte as the new king. Bernadotte fought Denmark and made them allow Norway to enter a personal union with Sweden.

This was Sweden's last war and Sweden has not been at war for 200 years. In 1905, the Swedish-Norwegian personal union was dissolved. In many wars, including World War I and the Cold war, the country was neutral, meaning it did not take sides. During World War II, it traded with both the British and the Germans in order to protect its neutrality.

Geography

Vy mot Stora Sjöfallet från Saltoluokta
View of the Stora Sjöfallet National Park

Situated in Northern Europe, Sweden lies west of the Baltic Sea and Gulf of Bothnia, providing a long coastline, and forms the eastern part of the Scandinavian Peninsula. To the west is the Scandinavian mountain chain (Skanderna), a range that separates Sweden from Norway. Finland is located to its north-east. It has maritime borders with Denmark, Germany, Poland, Russia, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, and it is also linked to Denmark (south-west) by the Öresund Bridge. Its border with Norway (1,619 km long) is the longest uninterrupted border within Europe.

Sweden lies between latitudes 55° and 70° N, and mostly between longitudes 11° and 25° E (part of Stora Drammen island is just west of 11°).

Odarslövsvägen–flygbild 06 september 2014
Scania in southern Sweden
Sandön - KMB - 16001000454384
Sandhamn island, Stockholm archipelago

At 449,964 km2 (173,732 sq mi), Sweden is the 55th-largest country in the world, the 4th-largest country entirely in Europe, and the largest in Northern Europe. The lowest elevation in Sweden is in the bay of Lake Hammarsjön, near Kristianstad, at −2.41 m (−7.91 ft) below sea level. The highest point is Kebnekaise at 2,111 m (6,926 ft) above sea level.

Sweden has 25 provinces or landskap, based on culture, geography and history. While these provinces serve no political or administrative purpose, they play an important role in people's self-identity. The provinces are usually grouped together in three large lands, parts, the northern Norrland, the central Svealand and southern Götaland. The sparsely populated Norrland encompasses almost 60% of the country. Sweden also has the Vindelfjällen Nature Reserve, one of the largest protected areas in Europe, totaling 562,772 ha (approx. 5,628 km2).

About 15% of Sweden lies north of the Arctic Circle. Southern Sweden is predominantly agricultural, with increasing forest coverage northward. Around 65% of Sweden's total land area is covered with forests. The highest population density is in the Öresund Region in southern Sweden, along the western coast up to central Bohuslän, and in the valley of lake Mälaren and Stockholm. Gotland and Öland are Sweden's largest islands; Vänern and Vättern are its largest lakes. Vänern is the third largest in Europe, after Lake Ladoga and Lake Onega in Russia. Combined with the third and fourth largest lakes Mälaren and Hjälmaren, these lakes take up a significant part of the southern Sweden's area. Sweden's extensive waterway availability throughout the south was exploited with the building of the Göta Canal in the 19th century, shortening the potential distance between the Baltic Sea south of Norrköping and Gothenburg by using the lake and river network to facilitate the canal.

Climate

Most of Sweden has a temperate climate, despite its northern latitude, with largely four distinct seasons and mild temperatures throughout the year. The winter in the far south is usually weak and is manifested only through some shorter periods with snow and sub-zero temperatures, autumn may well turn into spring there, without a distinct period of winter. 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 combination of the Gulf Stream and the general west wind drift, caused by the direction of planet Earth's rotation. Continental west-coasts (to which all of Scandinavia belongs, as the westernmost part of the Eurasian continent), are notably warmer than continental east-coasts; this can also be seen by comparing e.g. the Canadian cities of Vancouver and Halifax, Nova Scotia with each other, the winter in west coast Vancouver is much milder; also, for example, central and southern Sweden has much milder winters than many parts of Russia, Canada, and the northern United States. Because of Sweden's 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. During July there is not much difference in temperature between the north and south of the country. With the exception of in the mountains, the whole country has a July-average temperature within the range of 15 °C (59 °F) to 17.5 °C (63.5 °F) (a difference of 2.5 degrees Celsius), while the January-average temperatures vary from freezing point down to below −15 °C (5 °F) along the border with Finland (a difference of 15 degrees Celsius)

The highest temperature ever recorded in Sweden was 38 °C (100 °F) in Målilla in 1947, while the coldest temperature ever recorded was −52.6 °C (−62.7 °F) in Vuoggatjålme in 1966. Temperatures expected in Sweden are heavily influenced by the large Fennoscandian landmass, as well as continental Europe and western Russia, which allows hot or cool inland air to be easily transported to Sweden. That, in turn, renders most of Sweden's southern areas having warmer summers than almost everywhere in the nearby British Isles, even matching temperatures found along the continental Atlantic coast as far south as in northern Spain. In winter, however, the same high-pressure systems sometimes put the entire country far below freezing temperatures. There is some maritime moderation from the Atlantic which renders the Swedish continental climate less severe than that of nearby Russia. Even though temperature patterns differ between north and south, the summer climate is surprisingly similar all through the entire country in spite of the large latitudinal differences. This is due to the south's being surrounded by a greater mass of water, with the wider Baltic Sea and the Atlantic air passing over lowland areas from the south-west.

Apart from the ice-free Atlantic bringing marine air into Sweden tempering winters, the mildness is further explained by prevailing low-pressure systems postponing winter, with the long nights often staying above freezing in the south of the country due to the abundant cloud cover. By the time winter finally breaks through, daylight hours rise quickly, ensuring that daytime temperatures soar quickly in spring. With the greater number of clear nights, frosts remain commonplace quite far south as late as April. The cold winters occur when low-pressure systems are weaker. An example is that the coldest ever month (January 1987) in Stockholm was also the sunniest January month on record.

The relative strength of low and high-pressure systems of marine and continental air also define the highly variable summers. When hot continental air hits the country, the long days and short nights frequently bring temperatures up to 30 °C (86 °F) or above even in coastal areas. Nights normally remain cool, especially in inland areas. Coastal areas can see so-called tropical nights above 20 °C (68 °F) occur due to the moderating sea influence during warmer summers. Summers can be cool, especially in the north of the country. Transitional seasons are normally quite extensive and the four-season climate applies to most of Sweden's territory, except in Scania where some years do not record a meteorological winter (see table below) or in the high Lapland mountains where polar microclimates exist.

On average, most of Sweden receives between 500 and 800 mm (20 and 31 in) of precipitation each year, making it considerably drier than the global average. The south-western part of the country receives more precipitation, between 1,000 and 1,200 mm (39 and 47 in), and some mountain areas in the north are estimated to receive up to 2,000 mm (79 in). Despite northerly locations, southern and central Sweden may have almost no snow in some winters. Most of Sweden is located in the rain shadow of the Scandinavian Mountains through Norway and north-west Sweden. The blocking of cool and wet air in summer, as well as the greater landmass, leads to warm and dry summers far north in the country, with quite warm summers at the Bothnia Bay coast at 65 degrees latitude, which is unheard of elsewhere in the world at such northerly coastlines.

Vegetation

See also: Wildlife of Sweden
Sweden Vegetation Zones
Map of Sweden's five major vegetation zones

Sweden has a considerable south to north distance (stretching between the latitudes N 55:20:13 and N 69:03:36) which causes large climatic difference, especially during the winter. The related matter of the length and strength of the four seasons plays a role in which plants that naturally can grow at various places. Sweden is divided in five major vegetation zones. These are:

  • The southern deciduous forest zone
  • The southern coniferous forest zone
  • The northern coniferous forest zone, or the Taiga
  • The alpine-birch zone
  • The bare mountain zone

Please see the map to the right, Vegetation Zones in Sweden.

Southern deciduous forest zone

Also known as the nemoral region, the southern deciduous forest zone is a part of a larger vegetation zone which also includes Denmark and large parts of Central Europe. It has to a rather large degree become agricultural areas, but larger and smaller forests still exist. The region is characterised by a large wealth of trees and shrubs. The beech are the most dominant tree, but oak can also form smaller forests. elm at one time formed forests, but have been heavily reduced due to Dutch Elm disease. Other important trees and shrubs in this zone include hornbeam, elder, hazel, fly honeysuckle, linden (lime), spindle, yew, alder buckthorn, blackthorn, aspen, European rowan, Swedish whitebeam, juniper, European holly, ivy, dogwood, goat willow, larch, bird cherry, wild cherry, maple, ash, alder along creeks, and in sandy soil birch compete with pine. Spruce is not native but between approximately 1870 and 1980, large areas were planted with it. They tend to grow too quickly due to being outside of their native range and large distances between the tree rings cause poor board quality. Later some spruce trees began to die before reaching optimal height, and many more of the coniferous trees were uprooted during cyclones. During the last 40–50 years large areas of former spruce plantings have been replanted with deciduous forest.

Southern coniferous forest zone

Also known as the boreo-nemoral region, the southern coniferous forest zone is delimited by the oak's northern natural limit (limes norrlandicus) and the Spruce's southern natural limit, between the southern deciduous zone and the Taiga farther north. In the southern parts of this zone the coniferous species are found, mainly spruce and pine, mixed with various deciduous trees. Birch grows largely everywhere. The beech's northern boundary crosses this zone. This is however not the case with oak and ash. Although in its natural area, also planted Spruce are common, and such woods are very dense, as the spruces can grow very tight, especially in this vegetation zone's southern areas.

Northern coniferous forest zone, or the Taiga

The northern coniferous forest zone begins north of the natural boundary of the oak. Of deciduous species the birch is the only one of significance. Pine and spruce are dominant, but the forests are slowly but surely more sparsely grown the farther towards the north it gets. In the extreme north is it difficult to state the trees forms true forests at all, due to the large distances between the trees.

Alpine-birch and bare mountain zones

The alpine-birch zone, in the Scandinavian mountains, depending on both latitude and altitude, is an area where only a smaller kind of birch (Betula pubescens or B.tortuosa) can grow. Where this vegetation zone ends, no trees grow at all: the bare mountain zone.

Divisions

Sweden is divided into twenty-one counties. They are Stockholm, Uppsala, Södermanland, Östergötland, Jönköping, Kronoberg, Kalmar, Gotland, Blekinge, Skåne, Halland, Västra Götaland, Värmland, Örebro, Västmanland, Dalarna, Gävleborg, Västernorrland, Jämtland, Västerbotten and Norrbotten.

Religion

Sweden has been Christian for a thousand years. Sweden is traditionally a Protestant country, but it is now one of the least religious countries in the world. 46-85% of all people in Sweden are agnostics or atheists. This means they do not believe in a god. About 6.4 million people in Sweden, that is 67% of all, are members of the Church of Sweden, but only 2% of members go to church often.

Music

ABBA - TopPop 1974 5
The Swedish band ABBA in April 1974, a few days after they won the Eurovision Song Contest

In popular music, ABBA, Roxette, Entombed, At the gates, Dark Tranquillity, Hypocrisy, Grave, Dissection, Avicii, Tove Lo, Watain and Ace of Base have had several hits throughout the years.

Sports

Björn Borg2
Former World No. 1 tennis player Björn Borg

Sweden is a country with many talents in sports, such as soccer player Zlatan Ibrahimović. Sweden has two bronze medals and one silver medal from the World Cup in football (soccer) - 1950, 1958 and 1994. The soccer league in Sweden is called Allsvenskan. Sweden has also performed well in ice hockey along with the USA, Canada, Finland, Russia, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. The men's ice hockey top division in Sweden is called SHL. Sweden has also had several successful table tennis players, including Stellan Bengtsson and Jan-Ove Waldner, as well as alpine skiers like Ingemar Stenmark, Pernilla Wiberg and Anja Pärson, as well as biathlete Magdalena Forsberg and tennis players Björn Borg, Mats Wilander and Stefan Edberg.

Sweden also has great success in cross country skiing, having won several medals in the Olympic games.

Cuisine

Sveriges Nationaldag 2014
The cinnamon rolls originated in Sweden and Denmark.
Knaeckebroed
Swedish knäckebröd (crisp bread)

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. 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, are still an 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.

Images for kids


Sweden Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.