The Kingdom of Sweden (Swedish: 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 forests and mountainous wilderness.Template:Infobox Country After the Viking high culture had passed, Sweden spent a couple of centuries fighting with its neighbouring countries Denmark (from the 12th century – 1710), and Norway (in the 16th and 17th century). In the 17th and 18th centuries Sweden extended its territory through warfare and became a Great Power, twice its current size – which extended territory it subsequently lost within a century. Since 1814, Sweden has been at peace, adopting a policy of keeping free of alliances.
Sweden was one of the poorest countries in Europe in the 19th century, shaped by heavy alcohol consumption and dogmatic Protestantism, until improved transportation and communication allowed it to utilize natural assets from different parts of the country, most notably timber and iron ore, which allowed the creation of a welfare state in the early 20th century. Today, the country is defined by liberal tendencies and a strong national quest for equality, and usually ranks among the top nations in the UN Human Development Index.
- 1 History
- 2 Politics
- 3 Economy
- 4 Geography
- 5 Demographics
- 6 Culture
- 7 Sports
- 8 Religion
- 9 Miscellaneous topics
- 10 International rankings
- 11 References
- 12 Notes
- 13 External links
- Main article: History of Sweden
For details, see: Prehistoric Sweden
Soon after the recession of the last ice age, Sweden became populated by hunters and gatherers, during the Stone Age (6000 BC – 4000 BC). 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 tribe lived out in the sea and were powerful in both arms and ships. This referred to the inhabitants of eastern Sweden: Svealand, primarily around lake Mälaren; towns of Stockholm, Sigtuna, and Birka. From this tribe, Sweden derived its name. The southern parts, on the other hand, were inhabited by Geats (Götar) in the Götaland territory. Little is known for certain about that time, but chronicles based on Norse sagas and the Beowulf epos go back about 2,000 years.
During the Viking Age of the 9th and 10th century, Swedish vikings travelled east setting its mark on the Baltic countries, Russia and the Black Sea, and further through the rivers of Russia down south to Konstantinopel and southern Europe.
With the Christianization in the 12th century, the country became consolidated, with its centre at the water-ways of the northern Baltic and the Gulf of Finland. In the 14th century Sweden, like the rest of Europe, was struck by the Black Death (the Plague), with all its effect.
During the middle ages, the expansion of Sweden into the northern wilderness of Laplandia, the Scandinavian peninsula, and present-day Finland continued. Finland was a part of Sweden proper from 1362 until 1809.
In 1389, Norway, Denmark and Sweden were united under a single monarch in a treaty known as the Kalmar Union. After several wars and disputes between these nations, King Gustav I of Sweden (House of Vasa) broke free in 1521 and established a nation state, considered the foundation of modern Sweden. Shortly afterwards he rejected Catholicism and led Sweden to the Protestant Reformation. Gustav I is considered to be Sweden's "Father of the Nation". He was the first of the House of Vasa. The House of Vasa also ruled between 1587 and 1668 in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Between 1592 and 1599 Sweden and Poland were ruled in a personal union by Sigismund I Vasa.
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 and by Charles X Gustav of Sweden in the The Deluge of Poland. 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.
After Denmark had been defeated and ceded Norway in the Treaty of Kiel, the Campaign against Norway was fought in 1814, ending with the Convention of Moss, whereby Norway was forced into a union with Sweden that was not 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.
For details, see: Modernization of Sweden
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 in the countryside, home for the majority, found themselves out of work, leading to poverty and alcoholism. Therefore a massive emigration to mainly the United States occurred 1850–1910. However, as the Industrial revolution in Sweden progressed during the century, people gradually began moving into Swedish cities and factory work, where they became involved in Socialistic unions. A threatening Socialist revolution was avoided in 1917, following the re-introduction of Parliamentarism, and the country was democratized.
For details, see: Industrialization of Sweden and Sweden during World War II
In the 20th century, Sweden remained neutral during World War I and World War II, although its neutrality during World War II has been disputed. Sweden 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. During most of the post-war era, the country was ruled by the Swedish Social Democratic Party that established a welfare state, striving for a "well being for all"-policy.
As other economies were re-established, Sweden was surpassed in the 1970s, and had to adjust its politics in the 1990s, but still ranks among the top nations concerning well being of its inhabitants.
- Main article: 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 estates: clerics, nobility, townsmen and peasants, until 1866 when Sweden became a Constitutional monarchy with a bicameral parliament. Its First Chamber was indirectly elected by local governments, and the Second Chamber directly elected in national elections every four years.
Legislative power was (symbolically) 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. Acts of the parliament must be made inapplicable at every level if they are obviously 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. After 1956, the Cabinets have been dominated by the Social Democrats. Only three general elections have given the centre-right bloc enough seats in Parliament to form a government. It is considered the reason for the Swedish post-war welfare state, with a government expenditure of slightly more than 50% of the gross domestic product.
For details, see Nuclear power phase-out#Sweden
After the 1973 oil crisis, the energy politics were determined to become less dependent on the import of petroleum. Since then, energy has been generated mostly from hydropower and nuclear power. Accidents at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station (USA) prompted the Swedish parliament in 1980 after a referendum to decide that no further nuclear power plants should be built and that a nuclear power phase-out should be completed by 2010. As of 2005, the use of renewables amounted to 26 per cent of the energy supply in Sweden, most important being hydropower and biomass. In 1998, electricity from hydropower accounted for 76 TWh and 48 per cent of the country's production of electricity. At the same time, the use of biofuels, peat etc. produced 92TWh.  (PDF file)
In March 2005, an opinion poll with 1027 persons asked, showed 83 per cent support for maintaining or increasing nuclear power . Since then however, reports about radioactive leakages at a nuclear waste store in Forsmark, Sweden, have been published .
- Main article: Economy of Sweden
The standard of living has become enviably high under this social democratic system. It features 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.
The engineering sector accounts for 50% of output and exports. The public and the trade unions controled pension funds, non-profit organizations and the reserve funds of the trade-unions owns more than 50% of Sweden capital. 80% of the workforce is organized through the trade-unions. The public sector accounts for 53% of the GDP. Trade unions have the right to elect two representatives to the board in all Swedish companies with more than 25 employees. 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 6.5% as of August 2005. Counting everyone who neither studies full-time or has employment, the percentage is around 14% (peaking at 20% in the summer months) . Sweden is known for having an even distribution of income. Sweden's communication and transportation systems are important components of the infrastructure.
- For details, see Social welfare in Sweden
The government provides for childcare, maternity and paternity leave, a ceiling on health care costs, free education (all levels), retirement pensions, free dental care up to 20 years of age and sick leave. Parents are entitled to a total of 480 days paid leave between birth and the child's eighth birthday, with 60 days reserved specifically for each parent, in effect providing the father with a so called "daddy-month". In addition, the ceiling on health care costs makes it easier, relative to other nations, for Swedish workers to take time off for medical reasons.
The Swedish welfare system remains generous, but a recession in the 1990s forced an introduction of a number of reforms, such as education vouchers in 1992 and decentralisation of some types of healthcare services to municipal control. 
The welfare state requires high taxes, but the population is generally affirmative of this. Sweden has a two step progresive tax scale with a municipal income tax of about 30% and a high income state tax of about 50% that kicks in when you earn more than about 500 000 SEK. In addition, a national MOMS tax of 25% is added to everything bought by private citizens including food. The population's support can be measured by checking the ruling party: with a left wing government, the population is supportive , while a government led by the opposing Moderate Party usually signifies a disapprovement with those politics.
- 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 sometimes to an exam in a technical profession and always to the qualifications for further studies at a Högskola or University of Sweden.
- Main article: Geography of Sweden
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 for part of each summer, and in the winter, night is unending for a corresponding period.
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 centres being in the valley of lake Mälaren and the Öresund region.
For details, see: Counties of Sweden
Sweden is divided into 21 counties or län. They are Stockholm County, Uppsala County, Södermanland County, Östergötland County, Jönköping County, Kronoberg County, Kalmar County, Gotland County, Blekinge County, Skåne County, Halland County, Västra Götaland County, Värmland County, Örebro County, Västmanland County, Dalarna County, Gävleborg County, Västernorrland County, Jämtland County, Västerbotten County and Norrbotten County.
Each has 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 Sweden, primarily into provinces and lands.
Detailed list at List of municipalities of Sweden by population.
For details, see: Demographics of Sweden
The country's population includes some 17,000 indigenous Samis. Some 50,000 of the ethnic Finns of Sweden also constitute an indigenous minority, although many more of the Sweden Finns descend from 20th century immigrants.
Sweden has been transformed from a nation of emigration ending after World War I to a nation of immigration from World War II onwards. 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, Iraq and then other Nordic Countries, in that order. This reflects the inter-Nordic migrations, earlier periods of labour immigration, and later decades of refugee and family immigration.
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.
- For details, see: Swedish language
Swedish is a Germanic language, related to Danish and Norwegian, but differing 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 (being Finnish, Meänkieli, Samic, Romani and Jiddish) on April 1, 2000, the issue of whether Swedish should be declared the official language has been raised.
Most Swedes, especially those under 50, have no difficulty understanding and speaking English, thanks to trade links, the popularity of overseas travel, and the tradition of subtitling rather than dubbing foreign television programmes and films. English is usually taught from the fourth grade of school. Many students also take additional languages; often French, German or Spanish.
- Main article: Culture of Sweden
Many well-known inventions and discoveries, historical and modern, were made by Swedes. Some notable figures are Alfred Nobel, Anders Celsius, Baltzar von Platen, Carl Wilhelm Scheele, Jöns Jakob Berzelius, John Ericsson, Anders Jonas Ångström, Lars Magnus Ericsson, Svante Arrhenius, Arvid Carlsson, Håkan Lans.
Swedish 20th century culture is noted by pioneering works in the early days of cinema, with Mauritz Stiller and Victor Sjöström. In the 1920s–1980s, the filmmakers Ingmar Bergman and Bo Widerberg received Academy Awards, and actresses Greta Garbo, Zarah Leander, Ingrid Bergman and Anita Ekberg made careers abroad. More recently, the films of Lukas Moodysson have received international recognition.
- For details, see: Music of Sweden
The best-known 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 tenors Nicolai Gedda, baritone Håkan Hagegård and the contemporary mezzo-soprano Anne-Sofie von Otter are worth mentioning.
The most successful Swedish popular music artists are ABBA, Europe, Roxette, Ace of Base, Army of Lovers, The Cardigans, and guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen. A number of bands with less emphasis on pop music have come out of the country in recent years, including Blindside, The Sounds, The Hives, Refused, Millencolin, The (International) Noise Conspiracy, Sahara Hotnights, The Hellacopters, The Soundtrack of Our Lives, Kent, Infinite Mass, and Looptroop. In underground circles, Sweden is known for a large number of death metal and black metal acts such as Bathory, Meshuggah, The Haunted, Opeth, Naglfar and In Flames. Sweden is also responsible for the Swechno scene, offering a distinct house and techno sound.
- For details, see: Media in Sweden
Swedes are among the greatest consumers of newspapers in the world, and every town is served by a local paper. The country's main quality dailies are Dagens Nyheter (centrist), Svenska Dagbladet (right-wing) and Göteborgs-Posten (centrist), main popular dailies are the evening tabloids Aftonbladet (left-wing) and Expressen (centrist).
The television industry consisted solely of the public service company Sveriges Television and its two channels until 1987, when the first commercial channel, TV3, was started. Today, there are three freely available channels, although most apartment complexes at a low fee provide additional 8-10 channels. It is for this reason that many Swedes pay for Satellite Television. It provides much greater selection, and there is no cable TV infrastructure.
- For details, see: Holidays in Sweden
Apart from traditional Protestant Christian holidays, Sweden also celebrates some unique holidays, some of a pre-christian tradition. They include Midsummer, celebrating the summer solstice; Walpurgis Night on April 30 lighting bonfires; Labour Day on May 1st is a business free day and dedicated to Socialistic demonstrations; and December 13th, the day of Saint Lucia the lightgiver. June 6 is National Day of Sweden. Furthermore, there are official flag day observances and a Namesdays in Sweden calendar.
- Main article: Sport in Sweden
Sport activities 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 Markus Näslund, Peter Forsberg, Mats Sundin, Daniel Alfredsson, Niklas Lidström, Börje Salming and Pelle Lindbergh.
Second to soccer, Horse sports have the highest number of practitioners, mostly women. 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 practised 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, as have Sixten Jernberg, Gunde Svan and Thomas Wassberg in cross country skiing. In ski jumping, Jan Boklöv revolutionised the sport with his new technique, the V-style.
A number of Swedes have been internationally successful in athletics. In the 1940s runner Gunder Hägg dominated middle distance. In recent years, stars include high jumpers such as the European record holder Patrik Sjöberg, Kajsa Bergqvist, and Athens Olympic gold medallist Stefan Holm. Two other Swedish athletes won gold medals in the 2004 Olympic Games: heptathlete Carolina Klüft and triple jumper Christian Olsson.
Other famous Swedish athletes include the heavyweight 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.
- Main article: Church of Sweden
Before the 11th century, people of Sweden adhered to Norse mythology, worshipping Æsir gods, with its centre at the Temple in Uppsala. With Christianisation in the 11th century, the laws of the country were changed, forbidding worship of other deities.
After the Protestant Reformation in the 1530s the Church and State were united, abolishing the authority of the Roman Catholic bishops, and in the long run allowing only Lutheranism to prevail. This was not a process completed until the Uppsala Synod 1593. During the era following the Reformation period, usually known as the period of Lutheran Orthodoxy, in the 17th century, small groups of non-Lutherans, especially Calvinist Dutchmen and Walloons who played a significant role in trade and industry, were quietly tolerated as long as they kept a low religious profile.
Not until liberalisation in the late 18th century, were believers of other faiths, including Judaism and Catholicism, allowed to openly live and work in Sweden, although it remained illegal until 1860 for Lutheran Swedes to convert to another religion. The 19th century saw other Christian denominations, such as the Episcopal Church; and towards the end of the century secularism began attracting attention, leading people to distance themselves from Church rituals such as baptism. Leaving the Church of Sweden became legal with the so-called dissenter law of 1860, but only under the provision of entering another denomination. The right to stand outside any religious denomination was established in the Law on Freedom of Religion in 1951. Today about 78% of Swedes belong to the Church of Sweden, but the number is decreasing by about one percent every year, and church services are sparsely attended (hovering in the single digit percentages of the population) - despite this, a majority of Swedes claim to believe in a higher Deity. Also of significance are the about 100,000 Muslims in Sweden.
- Allemansrätten (Right of public access to the wilderness)
- Catholic Church of Sweden
- Communications in Sweden
- Ethnic Swedes
- Government agencies in Sweden
- Foreign relations of Sweden
- List of Sweden-related topics
- Swedish Armed Forces
- Non-governmental organizations in Sweden
- Reporters without borders World-wide Press Freedom Index 2002: Rank 11 out of 139 countries
- Swedish Royal Academies
- Tourism in Sweden
- Sweden Summary Amnesty Report 2005
- CIA World Factbook - GDP - PPP per capita
- Save the Children: State of the World's Mothers (2004) Report (PDF file)
- 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  (2004)
- 3rd of 104 countries
- ^ For instance expressed thus: As regards social evils generally, however, the low, though undoubtedly improving, standard of Sweden has had one of its chief reasons in the national intemperance. article Sweden in the Online 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica. (
- ^ The difference between "open unemployment" and "real unemployment" has been a politically disputed question since long in Sweden. Many unemployed are automatically enrolled in Work guidance projects, serving little purpose except keeping them busy, and officially discounting them as unemployed. Figures in the article are calculated based on information from the Moderate Party website  (In Swedish ).
- ^ Church of Sweden, Members 1978-2004, PDF document
- ^ Swedish Muslim Association
- Visit Sweden - The Official Travel and Tourism Site
- SWEDEN.SE - The Official Gateway to Sweden
- The Local - Sweden's news in English, commercial
- Radio Sweden (in English) Public service
- The Swedish Government - Official site
- Study in Sweden - Prospective Students Guide to Sweden
af:Swede als:Schweden ang:Swēoland ar:سويد an:Suezia ast:Suecia bg:Швеция zh-min-nan:Sverige be:Швэцыя bs:Švedska ca:Suècia cv:Швеци cs:Švédsko cy:Sweden da:Sverige de:Schweden et:Rootsi el:Σουηδία es:Suecia eo:Svedio eu:Suedia fa:سوئد fo:Svøríki fr:Suède fy:Sweden ga:An tSualainn gl:Suecia - Sverige got:𐍃𐍅𐌴𐌰𐍂𐌴𐌹𐌺𐌹 ko:스웨덴 ht:Syèd hr:Švedska io:Suedia id:Swedia ia:Svedia ie:Svedia is:Svíþjóð it:Svezia he:שבדיה ka:შვეცია csb:Szwedzkô kw:Swedherwyk la:Suecia lv:Zviedrija lt:Švedija li:Zwaede hu:Svédország mk:Шведска ms:Sweden na:Sweden nl:Zweden nds:Sweden ja:スウェーデン no:Sverige nn:Sverige os:Швеци pl:Szwecja pt:Suécia ro:Suedia ru:Швеция se:Ruoŧŧa sco:Swaden sq:Suedia scn:Svezzia simple:Sweden sk:Švédsko sl:Švedska sr:Шведска fi:Ruotsi sv:Sverige tl:Sweden th:ประเทศสวีเดน vi:Thụy Điển tr:İsveç uk:Швеція yi:שװעד zh:瑞典 fiu-vro:Roodsi