A century ago, Sweden was one of the lowest-income countries in Europe. Currently, it is the largest Nordic country in Northern Europe, with the world’s highest life expectancy, living standard, and literacy rate.
Kingdom of Sweden
Sweden, officially the Kingdom of Sweden, is a Scandinavian country located in Northern Europe on the Scandinavian Peninsula. It is also one of the biggest Scandinavian countries, with a population of nearly ten million people.
With borders along the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Bothnia, Sweden is bordered by Finland in the east and Norway in the west. Additionally, Sweden shares maritime borders with Denmark, Germany, Poland, Russia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia.
A smaller part of the country also lies in the Arctic Circle. Sweden’s Arctic portion is known as the “land of the midnight sun” because the sun does not set during summer.
With an area that covers 450,295 km², the country is twice the size of Great Britain (Island). Moreover, it is also slightly larger than the US state of California. Most of the population is concentrated in the largest city and capital of the state, Stockholm.
The history of Sweden dates back from 8,000-6,000 BC when the country was populated by people who lived by hunting and fishing and used simple stone tools. Moreover, various tribal, indigenous, and cultural groups can be traced in this brief history of the country.
These include the Sami, an indigenous group of people who inhabited the area for nearly 10,000 years, followed by the Vikings in 800-1050 AD, who carried out large expansionist activities towards the east.
The various provinces of Sweden were absorbed into a single unit in the 13th century. However, in the 14th-century Hanseatic period, the trade in the country grew significantly, especially with German towns.
In 1389, the crowns of Norway, Denmark and Sweden were united under the rule of Danish Queen Margareta, also known as the Kalmar Union, under one monarch. However, the foundations of the Swedish state were laid under Gustav Vasa from 1523 to 1560.
It was under Gustav Vasa that Sweden fought the War of Liberation or Gustav Vasa’s Rebellion or the Swedish War of Succession in 1521. The two-year war was fought against King Christain II, ending the Kalmar Union between Sweden, Norway, and Denmark.
A territorial expansion started when Sweden joined the Protestant side in the Thirty Years’ War. Finally, the Swedish Empire was established, becoming one of the major European powers till the 18th century.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, Swedish possessions outside the Scandinavian Peninsula were steadily lost, culminating in Russia’s acquisition of modern-day Finland in 1809. In 1814, Sweden became a part of the Swedish-Norwegian Union which peacefully dissolved in 1905. Since 1814, Sweden has not actively taken part in any war.
The symbolic meaning of the Swedish Flag
The flag of Sweden consists of a blue background with a yellow Nordic Cross over it. The cross is not a regular cross; instead, it is an asymmetric cross where the crossbar is slightly above the center. Moreover, the Nordic Cross represents Christianity.
Whereas blue and yellow are considered traditional colors of the country. The flag’s colors represent the coat of arms of Sweden of 1442. The golden yellow and medium blue colors have been used in Sweden since King Magnus III’s regal coat of arms in 1275.
Moreover, the color blue on the flag denotes loyalty and truth, while yellow denotes the generosity of people. Flag Day is celebrated every year on the 6th of June.
Geography and Climate
Sweden is a long and narrow country on the map with a vast majority of forests. The country is covered in forests, fertile valleys, plains in the south and east, and lakes in the northwest.
The largest lake in the country is Lake Vanern, whereas the largest island is Gotland. Moreover, the highest point in Sweden is the Kebnekaise at 2,100 meters.
Sweden has the largest number of Islands in the world (267,570), followed by Norway (239,057) and Finland (178,947). The country also has the longest river in Scandanavia, called Klaralven.
The weather in Sweden is not excessively cold despite its northern latitude. Usually, snow falls from January till March. Spring comes late till May, and by June, daylight remains continuous.
As of 2022, Sweden has a population of nearly 10,483,647, comprising four ethnic groups. These include 80% Swedish people, 1.9% Syrian, 1.4 % Iraqi, 1.4% Finnish, and 15% other.
Moreover, 57.6% of the people in Sweden follow the Lutheran religion, whereas 8.9% of people follow other religions, including Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Muslim, Jewish, Baptist, and Buddhist. Religion, followed by the remaining 33.5% population, is either none or unspecified.
Sweden has one official language, several minority languages, and some immigrant languages which people across the country speak. The official language of the country is Swedish, which most inhabitants in the country speak.
However, English is also widely spoken in the country. Many Swedes are multilingual, speaking languages similar to Swedish, such as Danish and Norwegian. There are about 200 minority, indigenous and immigrant languages spoken.
The Minority Language Committee of Sweden formally declared and confirmed the official status of five minority languages in 1999. These include Sami languages, Romani, Yiddish, Meankeili, and Finnish.
Sweden has significant natural resources and many industries, including mining and forestry, steel, paper, and mechanical engineering. These industries stimulate industrial development and significant investments in the country.
Several minerals are found in Sweden, from copper, gold, and iron ore to silver, uranium, zinc, and arsenic. Additionally, lead, tungsten, and feldspar are also found in Sweden. The most significant mining areas include Norrbotten and Skellefte districts, with mining deposits owned by the government.
Politics and Government
Currently, the form of government in the country is a constitutional monarchy. The current government of Sweden was established in 1975 after adopting the 1974 Instrument of Government Act. The government consists of Riksdag (Legislative Body), Prime Minister, and the Cabinet Ministers.
The current Prime Minister of Sweden is Ulf Kristersson. The Chief of Staff is King Carl XVI Gustaf. The current constitution was adopted in 1989 and consisted of four fundamental laws.
These include the Act of Succession (1810), the Freedom of the Press Act (1949), the Instrument of Government (1974), and the Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression (1991). Additionally, a law on Riksdag has a special status but is not regarded as fundamental (1974 Riksdag Act).
As per the local and regional governments, the country is divided into 20 counties at the regional level and 290 municipalities at the local level. The regional government is administered by county councils and oversees sectors such as healthcare and tax levies.
The municipalities are administered by elected councils and oversee several public service sectors, including education, child care, water, transport, infrastructure, and public welfare.
Foreign Policy of Sweden
The foreign policy of Sweden identifies three key priority areas. These include
- Active diplomacy
- Promotion of diplomacy
- Shared responsibility for peace and security.
Other focus areas include climate change, human rights, and multilateral trade systems.
In addition, the foreign policy of Sweden also has a feminist approach, promoting equality between men and women. In October 2014, Sweden became the first country to launch a feminist foreign policy. Moreover, Sweden also actively advocates for women’s participation in the peace and security process. In 2015, Sweden released the Sweden Foreign Service Action Plan for feminist foreign policy 2015-2018.
In August 2018, the government of Sweden also released its feminist foreign policy handbook as a resource material for international work on gender and equality and lessons that could be learned from the first feminist foreign policy country.
Apart from this, an active commitment to the United Nations has been the cornerstone of Swedish foreign policy since the country became a member in 1946. In June 2016, the country was also elected as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for the 2017-2018 term. Sweden joined European Union in 1995.
Sweden became a member of the NATO Partner for Peace in 1994 and an Enhanced Opportunity Partner in 2014. In June 2022, NATO formally invited the country to join the alliance. Since then, several NATO members have signed the accession protocols, including the US, France, and Germany.
Sports Culture in Sweden
Like most European countries, football is the most popular sport in the country and is ranked number one in the popularity level. Additionally, football is also the national sport of the country.
The second most popular sport is soccer, with the most participants, the biggest crowds, and the highest revenue among all sports played in the country. Other popularly played sports include handball, golf, basketball, and gymnastics.
Quick Facts about Sweden
Opportunities in Sweden
The Swedish Employment Service offers support to new people looking for jobs and opportunities. It offers information, advice, and support.
Moreover, another starting point for both job and opportunity seekers is EURES, a European cooperation network of employment services
The EURES portal is run by the European Labor Authority to encourage labor mobility and facilitate the free movement of workers.
In addition, the portal also offers advisors to new people looking for jobs. The Your First EURES Programme also offers financial support when moving to another country for work.
*The research is conducted by the author; TDI does not take responsibility for the errors in the research. This also does not necessarily represent the position of the institution.