Sweden is the fourth largest country in Europe; it is a bit larger than California and about twice the size of Great Britain. It is 977 miles long and covers 173, 732 square miles. The country covers the eastern side of the Scandinavian Peninsula. Sweden has Norway at the west and on the East the Baltic Sea surrounds it. The weather varies from one end to another because the country is so long. The south is usually warm and the north is usually cold. The warm waters of the North Atlantic Drift, the ocean current that sweeps the Atlantic, affect the Swedish climate. If it weren't for these warm waters agriculture will not grow so far North. The northern climate is much different than that of the south. In far North the average temperature in February is 7F and in the south 30F. During the winter northern Sweden is frosty, and cold between December and March. One seventh of Sweden is located in the North Arctic Circle, and because of that it is called the Land of the Midnight Sun. This is because the sun never sets for several weeks in June and July and on the other hand the sun never rises for several weeks in December. Fifteen thousands of years ago, Sweden was full of glaciers. When the glaciers melted a ridge of mountains stayed along the center of Scandinavia. Sweden and Norway share these mountains. The highest peaks in Sweden are about 6900 feet tall.
The highest peak is Mount kebnekaise which is 6926 ft. Skiers, climbers, hikers and fisherman find the north a perfect place for sports. Sweden is mostly a logging country. Sweden is only a short distance from the North Sea. There are 4700 miles of coastline. Sweden has few fjords but it does have thousands of tiny islands offshore. There are many rivers of Sweden, none very large but they contribute to the country's economy. The largest lakes are those in the Swedish lowland, the largest lake is the Varen lake with 2141 square miles. This lake is mostly used for transportation and for recreation. Sweden has five major vegetation regions, the alpine, the birch forest, the northern coniferous forests, the south coniferous forests and the beech forest region. Only about 9 percent of the country is arable land and the best fields are located in southern Sweden. Southern Sweden is called Skane. Throughout the ages lots of rich people built big castles and got the nickname of the chateaux country. There are more than 200 hundred fortified castles many of these are restored and are open to the public. Every province in Sweden has its own customs and local customs. There is a great deal of heavy industry in central Sweden. Sweden is full of thick forests but only 17 percent of Sweden's population live in these forests. There are many important cities in Sweden but Stockholm is the capital and also the most important city in Sweden.
SOCIETY AND CULTURE
Most urban Swedish people live in apartments of four or more rooms. Most families own a summerhouse in another part of the country. Alcoholic beverages are common in Sweden. Swedes are proud of their cultural heritage. Educational facilities in Sweden are extensive; all children must attend school from the age of 7 to 16. Most children attend schools that are ruled by the government and because of that they are free. Sweden has 7 state universities. The arts are important in Swedish life, Swedish like the theater, films, literature, painting and music. The working conditions of Swedish performers are often better than in other countries. There are lots of Swedish actors and these are paid more than in other countries and they have summer vacations and insurance. Education in Sweden is becoming a boom, 65 percent of the people stay in school after compulsory school. There are two terms per year and 9 compulsory years. All children must begin school at the age of seven for nine years. The Swedish system emphasizes foreign languages. This is why the TV keeps the programs in original version with subtitles (also because it is expensive to hire people to double the movie in Swedish. Swedish love to play sports, soccer is the most
popular sport in summer but during winter, skiing is the most
famous sport. Swedish like to keep fit, they jog and they hike. There are about 186 newspapers in Sweden; many have to do with a political party. There are about 7000 of nationalized railroads. Ships also are used as transportation within the canals.
Sweden is a constitutional monarchy, this means that although it has a king, Carl XVI Gustaf, he doesn't do much and a president rules the government. The king is the head of state and has only ceremonial powers; this is like the Spanish king Juan Carlos I. Sweden has a parliament called the Riksdag. The party that gets more votes gets more seats in the Riksdag. The Riksdag was first used in the tribal courts and the election of the king during the Viking times. The Riksdag must approve all bills and it also directs the Bank of Sweden. Sweden has had a ruler since the year 980 this was Eric the Victorious. After him, 7 dynasties ruled, the Stenkil, the Sverker, Folkung, the Vasa, the Palatinate, Holstein and the one today, the Bernadotte. Sweden is divided in 278 municipalities and 24 counties. Each county has a governor appointed by the central government. These counties are mainly concerned with health and education. These counties are subdivided into rural and urban districts. There are 349 members who serve for three-year terms. There are 5 major parties and several minor ones, the major party is the Social Democratic Party. Every Swedish citizen over 18 can vote in elections. There is also a cabinet in which there is one Prime Minister and 17 ministers.
Sweden has played an important part in the United Nations in peacekeeping operations in Africa. In 1991 Sweden applied to join
the European Communities. The Swedish constitution was written in 1809 and revised in 1866. A new version of the constitution was adopted in 1974. The flag is deep blue with a yellow cross. The Swedish national song is called “Du Gamla, Du Fria.” The coat of arms of Sweden is three gold crowns on blue. The country has an army, a navy, an Air force and all men with ages from 18-47 must serve 17.5 months in the military and take refresher courses every 4 years. In case of a nuclear attack, major cities have an underground shelters that when not used also serve for garages. (colliers encyclopedia)
Sweden has an urban industrialized economy based on extensive forests, rich iron-ore deposits, and abundant waterpower resources. More than 90 percent of Swedish industry is privately owned, but the government also distributes some land to people. Sweden enjoys one of the world's highest standards of living; the country has experienced a serious crisis since 1991.
The principal natural resources of Sweden are fertile farmland and forests that cover about two-thirds of the country. Also, Sweden has large deposits of iron and other minerals it also has abundant sources of waterpower for the production of electricity.
Most of Sweden's cultivated land is in the south. In the rest of the country, the soil is not good or the land is full of rocks. Sweden is nearly self-sufficient in agricultural products although only 7 percent of the land is cultivated. Agriculture is intensively developed in the southern lowlands, especially in the fertile plains of Skåne.
Swedish farms vary in size from large estates to small farms. In recent years, many small farms have been combined into larger units. Most agricultural production is for an owns consumption. The major crops are wheat, barley, oats, potatoes, rye, and sugar beets. The country has 1.8 million cattle, 2.4 million hogs, 470,000 sheep, and 11.2 million poultry. Sweden is also a leading producer of fur. The currency is the Krona. (Sweden)
Most Swedes belong to the Evangelical Lutheran Church, which is the state church in Sweden. Swedish citizens are born under the state church unless the family says not to. Most children are baptized and confirmed also most marriages take place in church. The king must be Lutheran and he is officially the head of the church. The minister of education is also the minister for ecclesiastical affairs. Women have been accepted into the ministry of state church since 1958. Sweden is divided into 13 Lutheran dioceses; a bishop heads each one. The largest other Protestant denominations in Sweden is the Pentecostal Movement, the Mission Covenant Church, the Salvation Army, Örebro Missionary Society, the Baptist Union of Sweden, Swedish Alliance Missionary Society, and Holiness Mission. Members of the Roman Catholic Church numbered like 155,000. There are about 200,000 Muslims and 16,000 Jews in the country.
About 14,000 years ago, some of the ice covering what is now Sweden started melting. Evidence has been found that there was human life in Sweden by 9000 BCE. The inhabitants were generally hunters and fishers, about 550-800 CE Sweden's inhabitants settled and became a primarily agricultural society. Then, for the next 250 years, they went through a period of expansion (the "Viking Age. The Viking's' activities consisted of trading, plundering and making temporary settlements.
In about the year 1000, the provinces of Sweden combined to form one country. In was around this time, too, that Sweden became Christianized, although the pagan Nordic religion was still around for another century or so.
Sweden continued expanding and had taken over Finland during the 12th and 13th centuries. In 1389, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden united under the Danish Queen Margarita. This union broke up in 1521, and then Swedes rebelled.
After that, Gustav Vasa was elected king. For the next 140 years, or so, Sweden battled, taking over all kinds of places in the Baltic, and by the end was considered a major power in northern Europe. Then, Russia took over Finland. So now Sweden, while being a great country, cannot be said to be a "dominating" country. (Colliers)
Stockholm is the biggest city in Sweden. It is built on top of 14 islands that are connected by small channels. It is also called “North Venice.” It is a city full of gardens and plazas. In Stockholm you have to see the Gamla Stad (the Old City) this is a labyrinth of medieval streets and calm plazas in the middle of the city. You must also see the Royal Palace, especially at noon were there is guard change. If you want to see Stockholm like a bird, just go up the tower of Kaknastornet. Then, visit the Stadshuset or the city hall. Here you can visit the room in which the Nobel prizes are given.
The people who are interested in art can go see the National Museum of the Arts (Nationalmuseet.) A tourist can't leave Stockholm without visiting the Vasa Museum. The Vasa Museum is Scandinavia's most visited museum. The Museum was inaugurated in 1990. In the large shiphall stands the warship Vasa - the only remaining, intact 17th century ship in the world. Surrounding the ship are several permanent exhibitions, cinemas, a shop and a restaurant. The Vasa Ship is 69 meters long and the with is 11.7 meters. Also, you can visit the ice hotel. This is 200 km north of the Arctic Circle and it is a hotel completely made with ice. You can visit Sweden by yourself or you can also get some guided tours. For example, you can see the city by boat. (www.cityguide.se)
Comparing Sweden and the US
SWEDEN UNITED STATES
56 people/sq. Mile
6.33 deaths /1,000
Pop. Doubling time
Per Capita GDP
(CIA World Factbook)
Hintz, Martin. Enchantment of the World Sweden, Canada, Regensteiner Publishing Eneterprises, 1985, pp.7-20,41-50,113
Stryker McGuire, “Shining Stockholm”, Newsweek, pp.52-59, Frebuary 7, 2000
_______,”Sweden”, Colliers Encyclopedia,
Digital Future, City Guide Sweden, http://www.cityguide.se, 25th April/00
Virtual Countries Inc, Sweden.com, http://www.sweden.com, 25th April/00
CIA's Directorate of Intelligence, Sweden, http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/sw.html and http://www.odci.gov/cia/publications/factbook/us.html, January 1 1999.
The Other Cities of Sweden, Malmö and Gothenburg
Malmö is the third of Sweden's towns in size and has a population of 255,000 people. A short boat trip takes you to Copenhagen, Bornholm or Lübeck. Malmö is interesting when it comes to architecture. In Malmo one finds the oldest half-timbered house in the city "Thottska huset" built in 1558, and many other historically interesting buildings. The St Petri church from the 13th century has a retable that is one of the largest ones in Europe. This is a great place to visit when hungry, since there are plenty of restaurants and pubs here. Malmö is often called "the city of parks" because the city is full of gardens.
Gothenburg has a wonderful archipelago consisting of some 100 islands and there are many boats and cruises that will take you there. One of the most well known islands is Vinga. The city surroundings have interesting sights to look at at, along the river Göta älv there are lots of gems, for example Lödöse. Some 100,000 archeological discoveries have been made here. You can go for a journey with the sightseeing boat Paddan, which takes you down the old moat, along the canals and around the harbor. Many tour boats depart from Lilla Bommen in central Gothenburg during the summertime.
|Enviado por:||Familia Delas Sarriera|