General Information

International

General Information

Sweden is a unique country that occupies a long piece of land stretching from north to south. Using the capital city of Stockholm as a boundary, the country can be divided into two distinct areas, one northern and one southern, with different cultures and natural landscapes.

The Skåne Region in Southern Sweden, with its expansive flatlands, is dotted with castles built by the tribal peoples who once lived in the region, still standing today in noble silence. The adjoining region of Smaland is known as the Kingdom of Glass. Rich in spring water used for washing glass and timberland that provides firewood, glasswork factories have been present in Smaland for centuries. In fact, fifteen glassworks still operate there today.

The Dalarna Region is located north of Stockholm and proudly exhibits its honorable ancestral heritage. Superb summer festivals are held there each year. Traveling even further north, vacationers encounter the rolling hills and vast natural scenery of the Lappland Region inside the Arctic Circle. Lappland's mountainous interior is a popular destination for trekking, skiing and a wide range of other activities, and provide visitors with the opportunity to experience the Northern Lights and the Midnight Sun. The settlements once occupied by the region's pioneering people, the Same, are located in Lappland . So, which will it be? The North or the South? The choice is yours.

History

Though it is still unclear exactly how the unification of Sweden came about, King Eric, who ruled during the latter half of the 10th century, is widely recognized as Sweden's first monarch. The monarchy changed hands in a peaceful manner several times after this. However, the ascension to the throne of Albrecht of Northern Germany's House of Mecklenburg in the latter half of the 14 th century led to dissention among the aristocracy. As a result, Sweden joined the Kalmar Union who in turn placed Sweden under the rule of Denmark. Sweden found itself under enormous pressure and the country fell into disarray, threatening the Kalmar Union's very existence.

Battles raged one after another and eventually the Gustaf Wasa Rebellion flared up. The rebels managed to defeat the Danish army and independence was declared in 1523. Although Gustaf I was crowned king, marking the beginning of the Wasa Dynasty, the war with Denmark continued until 1814.

Sweden's golden age arrived in the beginning of the 17 th century under the rule of Gustav II Adolf. Paying attention to both domestic and foreign politics, he established the country as the supreme leader of the Baltic Sea. This power began to abate in the 18th century and after battling France during the Napoleonic Wars, Sweden fell under the rule of Norway.

The 19 th century saw a rise in industrial strength and a return to sovereignty. Sweden became a neutral country on the international scene. Despite feeling a nostalgic and emotional alliance with their German forebears, Sweden maintained her neutrality throughout the First and Second World Wars. Post-war recovery was swift, and Sweden became the most prosperous Northern European nation. She became a member of the European Union, which effectively ended her traditional stance of neutrality.


Geography

Sweden is the largest nation in Scandinavia with a total land mass of 450, 000 square kilometers, and is situated in the center of Scandinavia, occupying the eastern side of the Scandinavian Peninsula . With Finland to the northeast, Norway to the northwest, and Denmark to the southwest, Sweden also has approximately 2, 700km of coastline along the Gulf of Bothnia and the Baltic Sea to the east. Sweden is dotted with approximately 90, 000 lakes and more than half the country is swathed in untouched forestland.


Population

Sweden: Approximately 9.1 million people Stockholm: Approximately 1.91 million people (as of March, 2007)


Language

The official language is Swedish, although most people also speak English.


Religion

88% of the population is Lutheran evangelical Christian, the state religion.


Government

Constitutional monarchy: The head of state is Carl XVI Gustav. General elections are held every four years, and the leader of the main political party is elected prime minister.


Industry

In addition to the automobile industry, centering on Volvo and Saab, and the paper and furniture manufacturing industries that make efficient use of our wealth of timber resources, Sweden is also extremely active in the export of Swedish houses. The glass industry, including such names as Kosta Boda, is also famous.

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