Kingdom of Sweden


Swedish, small Sami- and Finnish-speaking minorities

English widely spoken


Lutheran 87% and other Christian denominations, also Muslim, Jewish and Buddhist minorities

Political System

Constitutional monarchy


Swedish Krona

Geographical Information

Capital: Stockholm ; 21 counties.

Northern Europe, between Norway and Finland.

Climate: temperate in south with cold cloudy winters and cool summers; subarctic in north.

Mostly flat or rolling lowlands, mountains in west; northern 60% of country is sparsely populated and covered in forest and rivers. 7000 km of coastline cut by fjords. 100,000 lakes.

Typical Food and drinks

Fish usually poached or fried in lard, pickled herring are very popular and potatoes are indispensible. Potatoes are used to produce aquavit.

Alcohol is sold only in the state monopoly outlets (Systembolaget)

Holidays and Festivals

National holiday: Flag Day, 6 June

Midsummer Day: Saturday between June 20 and 26.

Lucia Festival (13 December)

Walpurgis Night (30 April)

May Day (1 May)

Most Christian holidays: Easter, Christmas Day, Boxing Day.

Summer school holidays from mid-June to mid-August.

The general industrial holiday is in the month of July.


Viking age began in 9th century accumulating vast wealth and power. Christianity established in 11th century. Union of Kalmar with Norway and Denmark in 1397. Swedish rebellion under Gustaf Vasa, crowned in 1532, and began powerful centralised nation-state. Sweden took over control of much of Finland and the Baltic States. 1809 revolt against monarchy. Establishment of a constitution dividing power between king and parliament. In 1814 military forced union with Norway. 1.2 million Swedes (20% of population) migrated to America in late 19th and early 20th centuries

An armed neutrality was preserved in both World Wars. Social Democrats introduced the welfare state in 1932 and continued till 1970s. Economic pressures caused loss of support for the Social Democrats particularly after the assassination of Prime Minister Olaf Palmer in 1991. Sweden’s long-successful economic formula of a capitalist system with substantial welfare elements was challenged in the 1990s by high unemployment, rising maintenance costs, and a declining position in world markets. Sweden joined the EU in 1995. The introduction of the euro was rejected in 1990 and also in a referendum in 2003

Art and culture

Literature: August Strindberg, Astrid Lindgren (children’s books), Vilhelm Moberg, Carl Michael Bellmann

Science: Alfred Nobel (the Nobel Prizes) and Carl von Linne

Music Abba

Dos and don´ts for visiting the country

Don’t drink any alcohol if you plan to drive—this law is strictly enforced, as are the speed limits. Drive with headlights on.

Tipping is generally not necessary.

Population and

% of foreign population /minorities

Population 8.8 million

Indigenous population: Swedes 90%, Fins 3% and Sami 0.15%.

Foreign-born first-generation immigrants: Finns, Yugoslavs, Danes, Norwegians, Greeks, Turks.

Aliens total 530,000. Largest group comes from the Nordic countries, followed by Asians, Africans, S. Americans, and N. Americans.

Main Integration Problems

Large scale immigration to Sweden after World War 11 because of labour shortages. Since 1970s mainly political refugees.

A generous refugee policy; second largest number of asylum seekers in Europe. A multicultural approach has led to ethnic enclaves in cities and small towns.

High density immigrant populations in suburbs of big cities.

1990s reaction against immigration policy with rising competition for jobs. Xenophobia and discrimination from employers and general population.

No racist political parties in Sweden and anti-discrimination legislation passed in 1986.


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Latest update of this page: 2005-07-15 
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