Photo's of Sweden
Västra Götaland County
Coat of Arms Sweden
Sweden officially the Kingdom of Sweden, is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden has land borders with Norway to the west and Finland to the Northeast, and it is connected to Denmark by the Öresund Bridge in the south.
At 450,000 km2 (173,746 sq mi), Sweden is the third largest country in the European Union in terms of area, and it has a total population of over 9.2 million. Sweden has a low population density of 20 people per km² (52 per square mile), but with a considerably higher density in the southern half of the country. About 85% of the population live in urban areas, and it is expected that these numbers will gradually rise as a part of the ongoing urbanization. Sweden's capital is Stockholm, which is also the largest city in the country (population of 1.3 million in the urban area and with 2 million in the metropolitan area). The second and third largest cities are Gothenburg and Malmö.
Sweden is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of government and a highly developed economy. It ranks first in the world in The Economist's Democracy Index and 7th in the United Nation's Human Development Index. Sweden has been a member of the European Union since 1 January 1995 and is a member of the OECD.
Sweden emerged as an independent and unified country during the Middle Ages. In the 17th century the country expanded its territories to form the Swedish empire. Most of the conquered territories outside the Scandinavian Peninsula were lost during the 18th and 19th centuries. The eastern half of Sweden, present-day Finland, was lost to Russia in 1809. The last war in which Sweden was directly involved was in 1814, when Sweden by military means forced Norway into a personal union with Sweden, a union which lasted until 1905. Since then, Sweden has been at peace, adopting a non-aligned foreign policy in peacetime and neutrality in wartime.
Runestones at Aspa
The modern name Sweden is derived through back-formation from Old English Sweoðeod, which meant ‘people of the Swedes’ (Old Norse Svíþjóð, Latin Suetidi). This word is derived from Sweon/Sweonas (Old Norse Sviar, Latin Suiones). The Swedish name Sverige literally means ‘Kingdom of the Swedes’, excluding the Geats in Götaland.
Variations of the name Sweden are used in most languages, with the exception of Danish and Norwegian using Sverige and the more notable exception of some Finno-Ugric languages where Ruotsi (Finnish) and Rootsi (Estonian) are used, names commonly considered etymologically related to the English name for Russia, referring to the people, Rus', originally from the coastal areas of Uppland-Roslagen.
The etymology of Swedes, and thus Sweden, is generally not agreed upon, but may derive from Proto-Germanic Swihoniz meaning ‘one's own’, referring to one's own Germanic tribe.
Farming and animal husbandry, along with monumental burial, polished flint axes and decorated pottery, arrived from the Continent with the Funnel-beaker Culture in c. 4,000 BC. Sweden's southern third was part of the stock-keeping and agricultural Nordic Bronze Age Culture's area, most of it being peripheral to the culture's Danish centre. The period began in c. 1,700 BC with the start of bronze imports from Europe. Copper mining was never tried locally during this period, and Scandinavia has no tin deposits, so all metal had to be imported. It was largely cast into local designs on arrival.
The Nordic Bronze Age was entirely pre-urban, with people living in hamlets and on farmsteads with single-story wooden long-houses.
In the absence of any Roman occupation, Sweden's Iron Age is reckoned up to the introduction of stone architecture and monastic orders about 1100. Much of the period is proto-historical, that is, there are written sources but most are of low credibility. The scraps of written matter are either much later than the period in question, written in distant areas, or, while local and coeval, extremely brief.
The climate took a turn for the worse, forcing farmers to keep cattle indoors over the winters, leading to an annual build-up of manure that could now for the first time be used systematically for soil improvement.
A Roman attempt to move the Imperial border forward from the Rhine to the Elbe was aborted in AD 9 when Germans under Roman-trained leadership defeated the legions of Varus by ambush in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. About this time, there was a major shift in the material culture of Scandinavia, reflecting increased contact with the Romans.
Starting in the 2nd century, much of southern Sweden's agricultural land was parcelled out with low stone walls. They divided the land into permanent infields and meadows for winter fodder on one side of the wall, and wooded outland where the cattle was grazed on the other side. This principle of landscape organization survived into the 19th century. The Roman Period also saw the first large-scale expansion of agricultural settlement up the Baltic coast of the country's northern two thirds.
Sweden enters proto-history with the Germania of Tacitus in AD 98. In Germania 44, 45 he mentions the Swedes (Suiones) as a powerful tribe (distinguished not merely for their arms and men, but for their powerful fleets) with ships that had a prow in both ends (longships). Which kings (kuningaz) ruled these Suiones is unknown, but Norse mythology presents a long line of legendary and semi-legendary kings going back to the last centuries BC. As for literacy in Sweden itself, the runic script was invented among the south Scandinavian elite in the 2nd century, but all that has come down to the present from the Roman Period is curt inscriptions on artifacts, mainly of male names, demonstrating that the people of south Scandinavia spoke Proto-Norse at the time, a language ancestral to Swedish and other North Germanic languages.
In the 6th century Jordanes named two tribes he calls the Suehans and the Suetidi who lived in Scandza. These two names are both considered to refer to the same tribe. The Suehans, he says, has very fine horses just as the ‘Thyringi’ tribe (alia vero gens ibi moratur Suehans, quae velud Thyringi equis utuntur eximiis). Snorri Sturluson wrote that the contemporary Swedish king Adils (Eadgils) had the finest horses of his days. The Suehans were the suppliers of black fox skins for the Roman market. Then Jordanes names the Suetidi which is considered to be the Latin form of Svitjod. He writes that the Suetidi are the tallest of men together with the Dani who were of the same stock. Later he mentions other Scandinavian tribes for being of the same height.
Viking and Middle ages
The Swedish Viking Age lasted roughly between the eighth and eleventh centuries. During this period, it is believed that the Swedes expanded from eastern Sweden and incorporated the Geats to the south. It is believed that Swedish Vikings and Gutar mainly travelled east and south, going to Finland, the Baltic countries, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine the Black Sea and further as far as Baghdad. Their routes passed through the Dnieper down south to Constantinople (Byzantine Empire) (present-day Istanbul, Turkey) on which they did numerous raids. The Byzantine Emperor Theophilos noticed their great skills in war, and invited them to serve as his personal bodyguard, known as the varangian guard. The Swedish Vikings, called ‘Rus’ are also believed to be the founding fathers of Kievan Rus. The Arabic traveller ‘Ibn Fadlan’ described these Vikings as following:
I have seen the Rus as they came on their merchant journeys and encamped by the Itil. I have never seen more perfect physical specimens, tall as date palms, blond and ruddy; they wear neither tunics nor caftans, but the men wear a garment which covers one side of the body and leaves a hand free. Each man has an axe, a sword, and a knife, and keeps each by him at all times. The swords are broad and grooved, of Frankish sort.
The adventures of these Swedish Vikings are commemorated on many runestones in Sweden, such as the Greece Runestones and the Varangian Runestones. There was also considerable participation in expeditions westwards, which are commorated on stones such as the England Runestones. The last major Swedish Viking expedition appears to have been the ill-fated expedition of Ingvar the Far-Travelled to Serkland, the region south-east of the Caspian Sea. Its members are commemorated on the Ingvar Runestones, none of which mentions any survivor. What happened to the crew is unknown, but it is believed that they died of sickness.
It is not known when and how the kingdom of Sweden was born, but the list of Swedish monarchs is drawn from the first kings who ruled Svealand (Sweden) and Götaland (Gothia) as one with Erik the Victorious. Sweden and Gothia were two separate nations long before that. It is not known how long they existed, Beowulf described semi-legendary Swedish-Geatish wars in the 6th century.
During the early stages of the Scandinavian Viking Age, Ystad in Scania and Paviken on Gotland, in present-day Sweden, were flourishing trade centers. Remains of what is believed to have been a large market have been found in Ystad dating from 600–700 AD. In Paviken, an important center of trade in the Baltic region during the ninth and tenth century, remains have been found of a large Viking Age harbour with shipbuilding yards and handicraft industries. Between 800 and 1000, trade brought an abundance of silver to Gotland and according to some scholars, the Gotlanders of this era hoarded more silver than the rest of the population of Scandinavia combined.
St. Ansgar introduced Christianity in 829, but the new religion did not begin to fully replace paganism until the twelfth century. During the 11th century, Christianity became the most prevalent religion, and from the year 1050 Sweden is counted as a Christian nation. The period between 1100 and 1400 was characterized by internal power struggles and competition among the Nordic kingdoms. Swedish kings also began to expand the Swedish-controlled territory in Finland, creating conflicts with the Rus which now no longer had any connection with Sweden.
In the 14th century, Sweden was struck by the Black Death (bubonic plague). During this period the Swedish cities also began to acquire greater rights and were strongly influenced by German merchants of the Hanseatic League, active especially at Visby. In 1319, Sweden and Norway were united under King Magnus Eriksson and in 1397 Queen Margaret I of Denmark effected the personal union of Sweden, Norway, and Denmark through the Kalmar Union. However, Margaret’s successors, whose rule was also centred in Denmark, were unable to control the Swedish nobility. Real power was held for long periods by regents (notably those of the Sture family) chosen by the Swedish parliament. King Christian II of Denmark, who asserted his claim to Sweden by force of arms, ordered a massacre in 1520 of Swedish nobles at Stockholm. This came to be known as the ‘Stockholm blood bath’ and stirred the Swedish nobility to new resistance and, on 6 June (now Sweden's national holiday) in 1523, they made Gustav Vasa their king. This is sometimes considered as the foundation of modern Sweden. Shortly afterwards he rejected Catholicism and led Sweden into the Protestant Reformation. Gustav Vasa is considered to be Sweden's ‘Father of the Nation’.
During the 17th century Sweden emerged as a European Great Power. Before the emergence of the Swedish Empire, Sweden was a very poor, scarcely populated, barely known of country in northern Europe with no significant power or reputation. Sweden rose to European power during the tenure of king Gustavus Adolphus, thanks to territories seized from Russia and Poland-Lithuania and the Thirty Years' War. These military victories made Sweden the continental leader of Protestantism until the Empire's collapse in 1721.
Gustav Adolphus' war against the Holy Roman Empire had a high cost; during the Thirty Years' War, a third of the population of the Holy Roman Empire died, and the Holy Roman Empire lost its position as the mightiest country in Europe. Sweden managed to conquer approximately 50 percent of the Holy Roman states. Gustav Adolphus planned to become the new Holy Roman Emperor over a united Scandinavia and the Holy Roman states; however, after his death in 1632 at the Battle of Lützen, this plan was scrapped. After the Battle of Nördlingen, Sweden's only military disaster, the pro-Sweden feeling among the German states was severely injured. These German provinces excluded themselves from Swedish power one by one, leaving Sweden with only a couple of northern German provinces: Swedish Pomerania, Bremen-Verden and Wismar.
In the middle of the 17th century Sweden was the third largest country in Europe by land area, only superseded by Russia and Spain. Sweden reached its largest territorial extent under the rule of Charles X (1622–1660) after the treaty of Roskilde in 1658. The foundation of Sweden's success during this period is credited to Gustav I's major changes on the Swedish economy in the mid-1500s, and his introduction of Protestantism. The 17th century saw Sweden engaged in many wars, for example with the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth with both sides competing for territories of today's Baltic states, with the disastrous Battle of Kircholm being one of the highlights.
This period also saw the Deluge - the Swedish invasion of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. After more than half a century of almost constant warfare, the Swedish economy had deteriorated. It would become the lifetime task of Charles' son, Charles XI (1655–1697), to rebuild the economy and refit the army. His legacy to his son, the coming ruler of Sweden Charles XII, was one of the finest arsenals in the world, a large standing army and a great fleet. Sweden's largest threat at this time, Russia, had a larger army but was far behind in both equipment and training.
After the Battle of Narva in 1700, one of the first battles of the Great Northern War, the Russian army was so severely decimated that Sweden had an open chance to invade Russia. However, Charles did not pursue the Russian army - instead turning against Poland-Lithuania and defeating the Polish king Augustus II and his Saxon allies at the Battle of Kliszow in 1702. This gave the Russian Tsar time to rebuild and modernize his army. After the success of invading Poland Charles decided to make an invasion attempt of Russia which ended in a decisive Russian victory at the Battle of Poltava in 1709. After a long march exposed to cossack raids, the Russian Tsar Peter the Great's scorched-earth techniques and the cold Russian climate, the Swedes stood weakened with a shattered morale, and enormously outnumbered against the Russian army at Poltava. The defeat meant the beginning of the end for the Swedish empire.
Charles XII attempted to invade Norway 1716; however, he was shot dead at Fredriksten fortress in 1718. The Swedes weren't militarily defeated at Fredriksten, but the whole structure and organization of the Norwegian campaign fell apart with the King's death and the army withdrew. Forced to cede large areas of land in the Treaty of Nystad in 1721, Sweden also lost its place as an empire and as the dominant state on the Baltic Sea. With Sweden's lost influence, Russia emerged as an empire and became one of Europe's dominant nations.
In the 18th century, Sweden did not have enough resources to maintain its territories outside Scandinavia and most of them were lost, culminating with the 1809 loss of eastern Sweden to Russia which became the semi-autonomous Duchy of Finland in Imperial Russia.
In interest of reestablishing Swedish dominance in the Baltic, Sweden allied itself against its traditional ally and benefactor, France, in the Napoleonic Wars. Sweden's role in the Battle of Leipzig gave it the authority to force Denmark-Norway, an ally of France, to cede Norway to the King of Sweden on 14 January 1814 in exchange for northern German provinces, at the Treaty of Kiel. The Norwegian attempts to keep their status as a sovereign state were rejected by the Swedish king, Charles XIII. He launched a military campaign against Norway on July 27, 1814, ending in the Convention of Moss, which forced Norway into a personal union with Sweden under the Swedish crown, which was not dissolved until 1905. The 1814 campaign was the last war in which Sweden participated as a combatant. Swedish troops, however, have participated in war many times since.
Despite the slow rate of industrialization into the 19th century, many important changes were taking place in the agrarian economy due to innovations and the large population growth. These innovations included government-sponsored programs of enclosure, aggressive exploitation of agricultural lands, and the introduction of new crops such as the potato. Due also to the fact that the Swedish peasantry had never been enserfed as elsewhere in Europe, the Swedish farming culture began to take on a critical role in the Swedish political process, which has continued through modern times with modern Agrarian party (now called the Centre Party). Between 1870 and 1914, Sweden began developing the industrialized economy that exists today.
Strong grassroots movements sprung up in Sweden during the latter half of the nineteenth century (trade unions, temperance groups, and independent religious groups), creating a strong foundation of democratic principles. In 1889 The Swedish Social Democratic Party was founded. These movements precipitated Sweden's migration into a modern parliamentary democracy, achieved by the time of World War I. As the Industrial Revolution progressed during the twentieth century, people gradually began moving into cities to work in factories, and became involved in socialist unions. A socialist revolution was avoided in 1917, following the re-introduction of parliamentarism, and the country was democratized.
Sweden publicly claimed to be a neutral country and the image was forcefully maintained, but unofficially Sweden's leadership had strong ties with the United States. In the early 1960s Sweden and the United States agreed to deploy nuclear submarines off the Swedish west coast. In the same year Sweden made a defense pact with the United States. Knowledge of this alliance was kept secret from the Swedish public until 1994.
Following the war, Sweden took advantage of an intact industrial base, social stability and its natural resources to expand its industry to supply the rebuilding of Europe. Sweden was part of the Marshall Plan and participated in the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). During most of the post-war era, the country was governed by the Swedish Social Democratic Party (in Swedish: Socialdemokraterna). Social democrats imposed corporatist policies: favoring big capitalist corporations and big unions, especially Swedish Trade Union Confederation, affiliated with Social Democrats. The amount of bureaucrats rose from normal levels in the 1960s to very high levels by the 1980s. Sweden was open to trade and pursued internationally competitive manufacturing sector. Growth was good until 1970s.
Sweden, like countries around the globe, entered a period of economic decline and upheaval, following the oil embargoes of 1973–74 and 1978–79. In the 1980s pillars of Swedish industry were massively restructured. Shipbuilding was discontinued, wood pulp was integrated into modernized paper production, the steel industry was concentrated and specialized, and mechanical engineering was robotized.
Between 1970 and 1990 the overall tax burden rose by over ten percentage points and the growth was very low compared to most other countries in Western Europe. The marginal income tax for workers reached over 80%. Eventually government spent over half of the country's gross domestic product. Sweden steadily declined from its perennial top five GDP per capita ranking. Since the late 1970s, Sweden's economic policies were increasingly questioned by economists and Ministry of Finance officials.
During the Cold War, Europe's non-aligned Western countries, except the Republic of Ireland, had considered membership unwise, as the EU predecessor, the European Community, had been strongly associated with NATO countries. Following the end of the Cold War, however, Sweden, Austria and Finland joined, though in Sweden's case without adopting the euro. Sweden remains non-aligned militarily, although it participates in some joint military exercises with NATO and some other countries, in addition to extensive cooperation with other European countries in the area of defence technology and defence industry. Among others, Swedish companies export weapons that are used by the American military in Iraq. Sweden also has a long history of participating in international military operations, including most recently, Afghanistan, where Swedish troops are under NATO command, and in EU sponsored peacekeeping operations in UN protectorate Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Cyprus.
Map of Sweden
Geography and climate
Sweden is surrounded by Norway (west), Finland (northeast), the Skagerrak, Kattegat and Öresund straits (southwest) and the Baltic Sea (east). It has maritime borders with Denmark, Germany, Poland, Russia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, and it is also linked to Denmark (southwest) by the Öresund Bridge. At 449,964 km2 (173,732 sq mi), Sweden is the 55th largest country in the world. It is the 5th largest in Europe, and the largest in Northern Europe. The land area is slightly larger than the U.S. state of California, or equal to Uzbekistan with a population in 2008 of over 9.2 million people.
The lowest elevation in Sweden is in the bay of Lake Hammarsjön, near Kristianstad at −2.41 m (−7.91 ft) below sea level. The highest point is Kebnekaise at 2,111 m (6,926 ft) above sea level.
Sweden has 25 provinces or landskap (landscapes), based on culture, geography and history; Bohuslän, Blekinge, Dalarna, Dalsland, Gotland, Gästrikland, Halland, Hälsingland, Härjedalen, Jämtland, Lapland, Medelpad, Norrbotten, Närke, Skåne, Småland, Södermanland, Uppland, Värmland, Västmanland, Västerbotten, Västergötland, Ångermanland, Öland and Östergötland. While these provinces serve no political or administrative purpose, they play an important role for people's self-identification. The provinces are usually grouped together in three large lands, parts, the northern Norrland, the central Svealand and southern Götaland. The sparsely populated Norrland encompasses almost 60% of the country.
About 15% of Sweden lies north of the Arctic Circle. Southern Sweden is predominantly agricultural, with increasing forest coverage northward. The highest population density is in the Öresund region in southern Sweden, and in the valley of lake Mälaren near to Stockholm. Gotland and Öland are Sweden's largest islands; Vänern and Vättern are Sweden's largest lakes. The lake Vänern is the largest lake in Northern Europe and the third largest in all Europe, after Lake Ladoga and Lake Onega in Russia.
Temperatures vary greatly from north to south. Southern and central parts of the country have warm summers and cold winters, with average high temperatures of 20 to 25°C (68–77°F) and lows of 12 to 15°C (53–59°F) in the summer, and average temperatures of −4 to 2°C (25–36°F) in the winter, while the northern part of the country has shorter, cooler summers and longer, colder and snowier winters, with temperatures that often drop below freezing from September through May. Occasional heatwaves can occur a few times each year, and temperatures above 25 °C (77 °F) occur on many days during the summer, sometimes even in the north. The highest temperature ever recorded in Sweden was 38 °C (100.4 °F) in Målilla in 1947, while the coldest temperature ever recorded was −52.6°C (−63.7°F) in Vuoggatjålme in 1966.
On average, most of Sweden receives between 500 and 800 mm (20 and 31 in) of precipitation each year, making it considerably drier than the global average. The southwestern part of the country receives more precipitation, between 1000 and 1200 mm (39 and 47 in), and some mountain areas in the north are estimated to receive up to 2000 mm (79 in). Snowfall mainly occurs from December through March in Southern Sweden, from November through April in central Sweden, and from October through May in Northern Sweden. Despite its northernly locations, southern and central Sweden tends to be virtually free of snow.
Average high and low temperatures in various cities in Sweden (°C)
Administration and politics
Counties and municipalities
Each county further divides into a number of municipalities or kommuner, with a total of 290 municipalities in 2004. Municipal government in Sweden is similar to city commission government and cabinet-style council government. A legislative municipal assembly (kommunfullmäktige) of between 31 and 101 members (always an uneven number) is elected from party-list proportional representation at municipal elections, held every four years in conjunction with the national parliamentary elections.
The municipalities are also divided into a total of 2,512 parishes, or församlingar (2000). These have traditionally been a subdivision of the Church of Sweden, but still have importance as districts for census and elections.
There are also older historical divisions, primarily the twenty-five provinces and three lands, which still retain cultural significance. The Swedish government is investigating the possibilities of merging the current 21 counties into circa 9 larger regions along the lines of the current riksområden used for statistical purposes. If approved, these would come into effect around 2015.
Earlier kings, for which no reliable historical sources exist, can be read about in mythical kings of Sweden and semi-legendary kings of Sweden. Many of these kings are only mentioned in various saga and blend with Norse mythology.
The title Sveriges och Götes Konung was last used for Gustaf I of Sweden, after which the title became ‘King of Sweden, of the Goths and of the Wends’ (Sveriges, Götes och Vendes Konung) in official documentation. Up until the beginning of the 1920s, all laws in Sweden were introduced with the words, ‘We, the king of Sweden, of the Goths and Wends’. This title was used up until 1973. The present King of Sweden, Carl XVI Gustaf, was the first monarch officially proclaimed ‘King of Sweden’ (Sveriges Konung) with no additional peoples mentioned in his title.
The term Riksdag was used for the first time in the 1540s, although the first meeting where representatives of different social groups were called to discuss and determine affairs affecting the country as a whole took place as early as 1435, in the town of Arboga. During the assemblies of 1527 and 1544, under King Gustav Vasa, representatives of all four estates of the realm (clergy, nobility, townsmen and peasants) were called on to participate for the first time. The monarchy became hereditary in 1544.
Executive power was historically 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, a parliamentary system 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.
The Riksdag of the Estates consisted of two chambers. In 1866 Sweden became a constitutional monarchy with a bicameral parliament, with the First Chamber indirectly elected by local governments, and the Second Chamber directly elected in national elections every four years. In 1971 the Riksdag became unicameral. Legislative power was (symbolically) shared between king and parliament until 1975. Swedish taxation is controlled by the Riksdag (parliament).
Modern political system
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 simple but absolute majority and two decisions with general elections in between. Sweden has three other constitutional laws: the Act of Royal Succession, the Freedom of Press Act and the Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression.
The Swedish Social Democratic Party has played a leading political role since 1917, after Reformists had confirmed their strength and the revolutionaries left the party. After 1932, the cabinets have been dominated by the Social Democrats. Only four general elections (1976, 1979, 1991 and 2006) have given the centre-right bloc enough seats in Parliament to form a government. However, poor economic performance since the beginning of the 1970s, and especially the crisis at the beginning of the 1990s, have forced Sweden to reform its political system to become more like other European countries. In the 2006 general election the Moderate Party, allied with the Centre Party, Liberal People's Party, and the Christian Democrats, with a common political platform, won a majority of the votes. Together they have formed a majority government under the leadership of the Moderate party's leader Fredrik Reinfeldt. The next elections will be held in September 2010.
Election turnout in Sweden has always been high by international comparison, although it has declined in recent decades, and is currently around 80% (80.11 in general election of 2002, 81.99 in general election of 2006). Swedish politicians enjoyed a high degree of confidence from the citizens in the 1960s but it has since declined steadily and has a markedly lower level of trust than its Scandinavian neighbours.
Some Swedish political figures that have become known worldwide include Raoul Wallenberg, Folke Bernadotte, former Secretary General of the United Nations Dag Hammarskjöld, former Prime Minister Olof Palme, former Prime Minister and Foreign minister Carl Bildt, former President of the General Assembly of the United Nations Jan Eliasson, and former International Atomic Energy Agency Iraq inspector Hans Blix.
Sweden is currently leading the EU in statistics measuring equality in the political system and equality in the education system. The Global Gender Gap Report 2006 ranked Sweden as the number one country in terms of gender equality.
Gudrun Schyman founded the first Swedish feminist party, the Feminist Initiative party, commonly referred to simply as F!, in 2005. Ms. magazine quoted Schyman's view of Sweden's reputation for progressive initiatives: ‘In Sweden there’s a gap between words and reality.... Internationally a lot of people look upon Sweden as equality paradise, but that is not the truth – and now things are actually going backwards.’
Law, law enforcement and judicial system
Law enforcement in Sweden is carried out by several government entities. The Swedish Police Service is a Government agency concerned with police matters. The National Task Force is a national SWAT unit within the National Criminal Investigation Department. Swedish Security Service's responsibilities are counter-espionage, anti-terrorist activities, protection of the constitution and protection of sensitive objects and people.
According to a victimization survey of 1,201 residents in 2005, Sweden has above average crime rates compared to other EU countries. Sweden has high or above average levels of assaults, sexual assaults, hate crimes, and consumer fraud. Sweden has low levels of burglary, car theft and drug problems. Bribe seeking is rare.
Sweden's doctrine of neutrality is often traced back to the 19th century as the country has not participated in any war since the end of the Swedish campaign against Norway in 1814. During World War II Sweden joined neither the allied nor axis powers. This has sometimes been disputed since in effect Sweden allowed in select cases the Nazi regime to use its railroad system to transport troops and goods, especially iron ore from mines in northern Sweden, which was vital to the German war machine.
During the early Cold War era, Sweden combined its policy of non-alignment with a low profile in international affairs, although it also pursued a security policy based on strong national defence to deter attack. At the same time, the country maintained relatively close informal connections with the Western bloc, especially in the realm of intelligence exchange. In 1952, a Swedish DC-3 was shot down over the Baltic Sea by a Soviet MiG-15 jet fighter. Later investigations revealed that the plane was actually gathering information for NATO. Another plane, a Catalina search and rescue plane, was sent out a few days later and shot down by the Soviets as well. Olof Palme, the former prime minister of Sweden, visited Cuba during the 1970s and showed his support for Cuba in his speech.
Beginning in the late 1960s, Sweden for a period attempted to play a more significant and independent role in international relations. This involved significant activity in international peace efforts, especially through the United Nations, and in support to the Third World. Since the assassination of Olof Palme in 1986 and the end of the Cold War, this has been significantly toned down, although Sweden remains comparatively active in peace keeping missions and maintains a generous foreign aid budget.
In 1981 a Soviet Whiskey class submarine ran aground close to the Swedish naval base at Karlskrona in the southern part of the country. It has never been clearly established whether the submarine ended up on the shoals through a navigational mistake or if it was a matter of espionage against Swedish military potential. The incident triggered a diplomatic crisis between Sweden and the Soviet Union.
Since 1995 Sweden has been a member of the European Union, and as a consequence of a new world security situation the country's foreign policy doctrine has been partly modified, with Sweden playing a more active role in European security co-operation.
Until the end of the Cold War, nearly all males reaching the age of military service were conscripted. In recent years, the number of conscripted males has shrunk dramatically, while the number of female volunteers has increased slightly. Recruitment has generally shifted towards finding the most motivated recruits, rather than solely those otherwise most fit for service. All soldiers serving abroad must by law be volunteers. In 1975 the total number of conscripts was 45,000. By 2003 it was down to 15,000. After the Defence Proposition of 2004, the number of troops in training will decrease even more to between 5,000 and 10,000 each year. The need to recruit only the soldiers later prepared to volunteer for international service will be emphasized. The total forces gathered would consist of about 60,000 men. This could be compared with the 80s before the fall of the Soviet Union, when Sweden could gather up to 1,000,000 men.
Swedish units have taken part in peacekeeping operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cyprus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Liberia, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Chad.
Currently, one of the most important tasks for the Swedish Armed Forces has been to form a Swedish-led EU Battle Group to which Norway, Finland, Ireland and Estonia will also contribute. The Nordic Battle Group (NBG) had a 10-day deployment readiness during the first half of 2008 and, although Swedish led, had its Operational Headquarters (OHQ) in Northwood, outside London.
The 20 largest (by turnover in 2007) companies registered in Sweden are Volvo, Ericsson, Vattenfall, Skanska, Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB, Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget, Electrolux, Volvo Personvagnar, TeliaSonera, Sandvik, Scania, ICA, Hennes & Mauritz, Nordea, Preem, Atlas Copco, Securitas, Nordstjernan, and SKF. Sweden's industry is overwhelmingly in private control; unlike some other industrialized Western countries, such as Austria and Italy, publicly owned enterprises were always of minor importance.
IKEA was born in Sweden and is controlled in Almhult and the Netherlands.
Some 4.5 million residents are working, out of which around a third with tertiary education. GDP per hour worked is the world's 9th highest at 31 USD in 2006, compared to 22 USD in Spain and 35 USD in United States. According to OECD, deregulation, globalization, and technology sector growth have been key productivity drivers. GDP per hour worked is growing 2½ per cent a year for the economy as a whole and trade-terms-balanced productivity growth 2%. Sweden is a world leader in privatized pensions and pension funding problems are relatively small compared to many other Western European countries. The Swedish labor market has become more flexible, but it still has some widely acknowledged problems. The typical worker receives 40% of his income after the tax wedge. The slowly declining overall taxation, 51.1% of GDP in 2007, is still nearly double of that in the United States or Ireland. State and municipal bureaucrats amount to a third of Swedish workforce, multiple times the proportion in many other countries. Overall, GDP growth has been fast since reforms in the early 1990s, especially in manufacturing.
The World Economic Forum 2008 competitiveness index ranks Sweden 4th most competitive, behind Denmark. The Index of Economic Freedom 2008 ranks Sweden the 27th most free out of 162 countries, or 14th out of 41 European countries, Sweden ranked 9th in the IMD Competitiveness Yearbook 2008, scoring high in private sector efficiency. According to the book, The Flight of the Creative Class, by the U.S. economist, Professor Richard Florida of the University of Toronto, Sweden is ranked as having the best creativity in Europe for business and is predicted to become a talent magnet for the world’s most purposeful workers. The book compiled an index to measure the kind of creativity it claims is most useful to business - talent, technology and tolerance.
Swedes have rejected the euro in a popular vote and Sweden maintains its own currency, the Swedish krona (SEK). The Swedish Riksbank - founded in 1668 and thus making it the oldest central bank in the world - is currently focusing on price stability with its inflation target of 2%. According to the Economic Survey of Sweden 2007 by the OECD, the average inflation in Sweden has been one of the lowest among European countries since the mid-1990s, largely because of deregulation and quick utilization of globalization.
The largest trade flows are with Germany, the United States, Norway, the United Kingdom, Denmark, and Finland.
Infrastructure: Energy and Transport
On the other hand, Sweden has proposed ban gasoline fossil fuel-driven vehicles by 2025.
The 1973 oil crisis strengthened Sweden's commitment to decrease dependence on imported fossil fuels. Since then, electricity has been generated mostly from hydropower and nuclear power. The use of nuclear power has been limited, however. Among other things, the accident of Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station (USA) prompted the Swedish parliament to ban new nuclear plants. In March 2005, an opinion poll showed that 83% supported maintaining or increasing nuclear power. Politicians have made announcements about oil phase-out in Sweden, decrease of nuclear power, and multi-billion dollar investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency. The country has for many years pursued a strategy of indirect taxation as an instrument of environmental policy, including energy taxes in general and carbon dioxide taxes in particular.
Sweden has 162,707 km paved road and 1,428 km of expressways. Motorways run through Sweden, Denmark and over the Öresund Bridge to Stockholm, Gothenburg, Uppsala and Uddevalla. The system of motorways is still under construction and a new motorway from Uppsala to Gävle was finished on October 17, 2007. Sweden had left-hand traffic (Vänstertrafik in Swedish) from approximately 1736 and continued to do so well into the 20th century. Voters rejected right-hand traffic in 1955, but after the Riksdag passed legislation in 1963 changeover took place in 1967, known in Swedish as Dagen H.
The rail transport market is privatized, but while there are many privately owned enterprises, many operators are still owned by state or municipalities. Operators include SJ, Veolia Transportation, Connex, Green Cargo, Tågkompaniet, Inlandsbanan, and a number of regional companies. Most of the railways are owned and operated by Banverket.
The largest airports include Stockholm-Arlanda Airport (17.91 million passengers in 2007) 40 km north of Stockholm, Gothenburg-Landvetter Airport (4.3 million passengers in 2006), and Stockholm-Skavsta Airport (2.0 million passengers). Sweden hosts the two largest port companies in Scandinavia, Port of Göteborg AB (Gothenburg) and the transnational company Copenhagen Malmö Port AB.
Sweden started to move away from this model in the 1980s, and according to the OECD and to McKinsey, Sweden has recently been relatively fast in liberalization compared to countries such as France. Deregulation-induced competition helped Sweden to halt the economic decline and restore strong growth rates in the 2000s. The current Swedish government is continuing the trend to pursue moderate reforms. Growth has been higher than in many other EU-15 countries.
Sweden even adopted market-oriented agricultural policies in 1990. Since the 1930s, the agricultural sector had been controlled by an ‘iron triangle’ of special interest farming organizations, politicians, and bureaucrats. This coalition formed a top-down administration that controlled prices and restricted competition, consequently hurting consumers. In the 1980s, a group of economists managed to get agricultural policy on the public agenda. Two prominent publications, The Political Economy of the Food Sector: The Case of Sweden and War Preparedness or Protectionism?, fueled the debate. An alliance with the Ministry of Finance and public choice analysis exposed the ‘iron triangle’. In June 1990, the Parliament voted for a new agricultural policy marking a significant shift to a freer price system coordinated by competition. As a result, food prices fell somewhat. However, the liberalizations soon became moot because EU agricultural controls supervened.’
Since the late 1960s, Sweden has had the highest tax quota (as percentage of GDP) in the industrialized world, although today the gap has narrowed and Denmark has surpassed Sweden as the most heavily taxed country among developed countries. Sweden has a two step progressive tax scale with a municipal income tax of about 30% and an additional high-income state tax of 20–25% when a salary exceeds roughly 320,000 SEK per year. The employing company pays an additional 32% of an ‘employer's fee.’ In addition, a national VAT of 25% is added to many things bought by private citizens, with the exception of food (12% VAT), transportation, and books (6% VAT). Certain items are subject to additional taxes, e.g. electricity, petrol/diesel and alcoholic beverages. As of 2007, total tax revenue was 47.8% of GDP, the second highest tax burden among developed countries, down from 49.1% 2006. Inverted tax wedge - the amount going to the service worker's wallet - is approximately 15% compared to 10% in Belgium, 30% in Ireland and 50% in United States. Public sector spending amounts to 53% of the GDP. State and municipal employees total around a third of the workforce, much more than in most Western countries. Only Denmark has a larger bureaucracy (38% of Danish workforce). Spending on transfers is also high.
Eighty percent of the workforce is organized through the trade-unions which have the right to elect two representatives to the board in all Swedish companies with more than 25 employees. Sweden have a relative high amount of sick leaves per worker in OECD: the average worker loses 24 days due to sickness. In December 2008 the number employed in age group 16-64 was 75.0%. The employment tendency was very strong in 2007. The positive trend continued during the first half of 2008, but the rate of increase slackened. According to SCB the unemployment rate in December 2008 was at 6.4%.
There are a number of different universities and colleges in Sweden, the oldest and largest of which are situated in Uppsala, Lund, Gothenburg and Stockholm. Only a few countries such as Canada, the United States and Japan have higher levels of tertiary education degree holders. Along with several other European countries, the government also subsidises tuition of international students pursuing a degree at Swedish institutions, although there has been talk of this being changed.
Of the 2007 population 13.4% (1.23 million) were born abroad. This reflects the inter-Nordic migrations, earlier periods of labour immigration, and later decades of refugee and family immigration. Sweden has been transformed from a nation of emigration ending after World War I to a nation of immigration from World War II onwards. In 2007, immigration reached its highest level since records began with 99,485 people moving to Sweden.
The largest immigrant groups living in Sweden as of 2007 consists of people born in Finland, followed by people born in the Former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Poland, Iran, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Turkey, Chile, Lebanon, Thailand, Somalia, the United Kingdom, Syria, China and the United States. In the last decade most immigrants have come from Iraq, Poland, Thailand, Somalia and China.
Immigration from the Nordic countries reached a peak of more than 40,000 per year in 1969–70 when the new immigration rules introduced in 1967 had made it more difficult for immigrants from outside the Nordic region to settle in Sweden for labour market policy reasons. Immigration by refugees and immigrating relatives of refugees from outside the Nordic region increased drastically during the late 1980s, with many of the immigrants arriving from Asia and America, especially from Iran and Chile. During the 1990s and onwards another large immigrant group came from former Yugoslavia and the Middle East. On December 15, 2008 new labour immigration rules came into effect making it easier to immigrate from outside of the European Union for labour market reasons. Most labour market immigrants so far are IT specialists and engineers from India, China and the US.
In varying degrees, depending largely on frequency of interaction with English, a majority of Swedes, especially those born after World War II, understand and speak English thanks to trade links, the popularity of overseas travel, a strong Anglo-American influence and the tradition of subtitling rather than dubbing foreign television shows and films. English became a compulsory subject for secondary school students studying natural sciences as early as 1849, and has been a compulsory subject for all Swedish students since the late 1940s. Depending on the local school authorities, English is currently a compulsory subject between first grade and ninth grade, with all students continuing in secondary school studying English for at least another year. Most students also study one and sometimes two additional languages. These include (but are not limited to) German, French and Spanish. Some Danish and Norwegian is at times also taught as part of the Swedish course for native speakers.
After the Protestant Reformation in the 1530s, a change significantly affected by Martin Luther's Swedish associate Olaus Petri, the Church and state were separated and the authority of Roman Catholic bishops abolished, allowing Lutheranism to prevail. This process was completed by the Uppsala Synod of 1593. During the era following the Reformation, usually known as the period of Lutheran Orthodoxy, small groups of non-Lutherans, especially Calvinist Dutchmen, the Moravian Church and Walloons or French Huguenots from Belgium, played a significant role in trade and industry, and were quietly tolerated as long as they kept a low religious profile. The Sami originally had their own shamanistic religion, but they were converted to Lutheranism by Swedish missionaries in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Not until liberalization in the late 18th century, however, were believers of other faiths, including Judaism and Roman Catholicism, allowed to openly live and work in Sweden, and it remained illegal until 1860 for Lutheran Swedes to convert to another religion. The 19th century saw the arrival of various evangelical free churches, and, towards the end of the century secularism, leading many to distance themselves from Church rituals. 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 75% of Swedes belong to the Church of Sweden (Lutheran), but the number is decreasing by about 1% every year, and Church of Sweden services are sparsely attended (hovering in the single digit percentages of the population). The reason for the large number of inactive members is partly that until 1996, children became members automatically at birth if at least one of the parents was a member. Since 1996, all children that are christened become members. Some 275,000 Swedes are today members of various free churches (where congregation attendance is much higher), and, in addition, immigration has meant that there are now some 92,000 Roman Catholics and 100,000 Eastern Orthodox Christians living in Sweden. Because of immigration, Sweden also has a significant Muslim population. Almost half a million are Muslims by tradition, but approximately 5% (25,000) of these actively practise Islam (in the sense of attending Friday prayer and praying five times a day).
Healthcare in Sweden is similar in quality to other developed nations. Sweden ranks in the top five countries with respect to low infant mortality. It also ranks high in life expectancy and in safe drinking water. A person seeking care first contacts a clinic for a doctor's appointment, and may then be referred to a specialist by the clinic physician, who may in turn recommend either in-patient or out-patient treatment, or an elective care option. The health care is governed by the 21 landsting of Sweden and is mainly funded by taxes, with nominal fees for patients. A major criticism of Swedish healthcare is long waiting times before treatment.
Science and technology
Altogether, the public and the private sector in Sweden allocate nearly four per cent of GDP to research & development (R&D), which makes Sweden one of the countries that invest most in R&D in terms of percentage of GDP. The standard of Swedish research is high and Sweden is a world leader in a number of important fields. Sweden tops Europe in comparative statistics both in terms of research investments as a percentage of GDP and in the number of published scientific works per capita.
Though a relatively small country, Sweden has long been at the forefront of research and development. For several decades, the Swedish government, committed to strengthening R&D, has set high priorities on scientific and R&D activities. This strong engagement has helped make Sweden a leading country in terms of innovation.
For many years, Sweden has been a leading player among OECD countries in terms of its investments in and use of advanced technology. In international comparison, Swedish high-technology manufacturing is relatively large in all high-technology segments, and particularly in telecommunications and pharmaceuticals.
Statistics show that during the entire period 1970–2003, the Swedish national innovation system was among the leading countries in the OECD in terms of generating technological inventions, measured as international patenting in relation to population size. The statistics evaluating countries in terms of triadic patenting, i.e. patents assigned in the three patenting areas USA, EU and Japan, were even more outstanding. Only Switzerland reported a higher rate of triadic patenting.
Furthermore, Sweden ranked either as the first or second country publishing the highest number of scientific publications in the fields of medical science, natural science and engineering in 2001. Sweden was world-leading in medical science and second only to Switzerland in natural science and engineering in terms of the number of publications in relation to its population size.
In terms of structure, the Swedish economy is characterized by a large knowledge-intensive and export-oriented manufacturing sector, an increasing, but comparatively small, business service sector, and by international standards, a large public service sector. Large organisations both in manufacturing and services dominate the Swedish economy.
The traditional engineering industry is still a major source of Swedish inventions, but pharmaceuticals, electronics and other high-tech industries are gaining ground. Tetra Pak is an invention for storing liquid foods, invented by Erik Wallenberg. Håkan Lans invented the Automatic Identification System, a worldwide standard for shipping and civil aviation navigation. Losec, an ulcer medicine, was the world's best-selling drug in the 1990s and was developed by AstraZeneca. A large portion of the Swedish economy is to this day based on the export of technical inventions, and many large multinational corporations from Sweden have their origins in the ingenuity of Swedish inventors.
Sweden has a total of 33,523 patents as of 2007, according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and only ten other countries have more patents than Sweden.
Swedish twentieth-century culture is noted by pioneering works in the early days of cinema, with Mauritz Stiller and Victor Sjöström. In the 1920s–1980s, the filmmaker Ingmar Bergman and actors Greta Garbo and Ingrid Bergman became internationally noted people within cinema. More recently, the films of Lukas Moodysson and Lasse Hallström have received international recognition.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s Sweden was seen as an international leader in what is now referred to as the ‘sexual revolution’, with gender equality having particularly been promoted. At the present time, the number of single people is one of the highest in the world. The early Swedish film I Am Curious (Yellow) (1967) reflected a liberal view of sexuality, including scenes of love making that caught international attention, and introduced the concept of the ‘Swedish sin’. Sweden has also become, in recent decades, fairly liberal regarding homosexuality, as is reflected in the popular acceptance of films such as Show Me Love, which is about two young lesbians in the small Swedish town of Åmål. Since 1 May 2009, Sweden repealed its ‘registered partnership’ laws and fully replaced them with gender-neutral marriage, Sweden also offers domestic partnerships for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. Cohabitation (sammanboende) by couples of all ages, including teenagers as well as elderly couples, is widespread although in recent years it has become administratively problematic with regard to proof in claims of ‘spousal’ social security. Recently, Sweden is experiencing a baby boom.
Sweden has a significant folk-music scene, both in the traditional style as well as more modern interpretations which often mix in elements of rock and jazz. Väsen is more of a traditionalist group, using a unique, traditional Swedish instrument called the nyckelharpa while Garmarna, Nordman, and Hedningarna have more modern elements. There is also Saami music, called the joik, which is actually a type of chant which is part of the traditional Saami animistic spirituality but has gained recognition in the international world of folk music. Sweden has a major market for new age and ecologically or environmentally aware music, as well a large portion of pop and rock music having liberal and left-wing political messages.
Sweden also has a prominent choral music tradition, deriving in part from the cultural importance of Swedish folk songs. In fact, out of a population of 9.2 million, it is estimated that five to six hundred thousand people sing in choirs.
Sweden is the third largest music exporter in the world, with over 800 million dollars in 2007 years revenue, surpassed only by the US and the UK. ABBA was one of the first internationally well-known popular music bands from Sweden, and still ranks among the most prominent bands in the world, with about 370 million records sold. With ABBA, Sweden entered into a new era, in which Swedish pop music gained international prominence. There have been many other internationally successful bands since, such as Roxette, Ace of Base, Europe, and The Cardigans to name some of the biggest, and recently there has been a surge of Swedish Indie pop bands such as Mando Diao and Sahara Hotnights.
Sweden has also become known for a large number of heavy metal (mostly death metal and melodic death metal) as well as progressive- and power metal bands. Some examples are HammerFall and Meshuggah. The neoclassical power metal guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen is from Sweden. Sweden has a rather lively jazz scene. During the last sixty years or so it has attained a remarkably high artistic standard, stimulated by domestic as well as external influences and experiences. The Centre for Swedish Folk Music and Jazz Research has published an overview of jazz in Sweden by Lars Westin.
Swedes are among the greatest consumers of newspapers in the world, and nearly every town is served by a local paper. The country's main quality morning papers are Dagens Nyheter (liberal), Göteborgs-Posten (liberal), Svenska Dagbladet (liberal conservative) and Sydsvenska Dagbladet (liberal). The two largest evening tabloids are Aftonbladet (social democratic) and Expressen (liberal). The ad-financed, free international morning paper, Metro International, was originally founded in Stockholm, Sweden. The country's news is reported in English by, among others, The Local (liberal).
The public broadcasting companies held a monopoly on radio and television for a long time in Sweden. Licence funded radio broadcasts started in 1925. A second radio network was started in 1954 and a third opened 1962 in response to pirate radio stations. Non-profit community radio was allowed in 1979 and in 1993 commercial local radio started.
The licence funded television service was officially launched in 1956. A second channel, TV2, was launched in 1969. These two channels (operated by Sveriges Television since the late '70s) held a monopoly until the 1980s when cable and satellite television became available. The first Swedish language satellite service was TV3 which started broadcasting from London in 1987. It was followed by Kanal 5 in 1989 (then known as Nordic Channel) and TV4 in 1990.
In 1991 the government announced it would begin taking applications from private television companies wishing to broadcast on the terrestrial network. TV4, which had previously been broadcasting via satellite, was granted a permit and began its terrestrial broadcasts in 1992, becoming the first private channel to broadcast television content from within the country.
Around half the population are connected to cable television. Digital terrestrial television in Sweden started in 1999 and the last analogue terrestrial broadcasts were terminated in 2007.
With improved education and the freedom brought by secularisation, the 17th century saw several notable authors develop the Swedish language further. Some key figures include Georg Stiernhielm (17th century), who was the first to write classical poetry in Swedish; Johan Henric Kellgren (18th century), the first to write fluent Swedish prose; Carl Michael Bellman (late 18th century), the first writer of burlesque ballads; and August Strindberg (late 19th century), a socio-realistic writer and playwright who won worldwide fame. The early 20th century continued to produce notable authors, such as Selma Lagerlöf, (Nobel laureate 1909), Verner von Heidenstam (Nobel laureate 1916) and Pär Lagerkvist (Nobel laureate 1951).
In recent decades, a handful of Swedish writers have established themselves internationally, including the detective novelist Henning Mankell and the writer of spy fiction Jan Guillou. But the only Swedish writer to have made a significant mark on world literature is the children's book writer Astrid Lindgren, and her books about Pippi Longstocking, Emil of Maple Hills, and others.
Sweden has been a very successful sport nation throughout the years, and has a row of sportsmen that are considered to be the best in history in their type of sport. Björn Borg is considered not only to be the most successful player in his genre of sport, tennis, but also to be one of the most successful players in the history of sports. Jan-Ove Waldner the table tennis player known as 'the Mozart of table tennis' is a legend in both his native Sweden as well as in China. Gunnar Nordahl (football player) is still the best goalscorer of all time with 225 goals in 291 matches, and remains record holder for the most goals in a season in Italy, with 35 goals 1949–1950. Skier Ingemar Stenmark is considered to be one of the greatest alpine skiers of all time with 86 World Cup Victories. The greatest female Golf player of all time, Annika Sörenstam, have 90 international tournament wins as a professional make her the female golf player with the most wins to her name. She also tops the LPGA's career money list.
The Swedish ice hockey team Tre Kronor is regarded as one of the very best in the world and has won the World Championships eight times, which makes them third in the medal count. They won Olympic gold medals in 1994 and 2006. In 2006, as the first nation in history, they won both the Olympic and world championships in the same year. The Swedish national football team has seen some success at the World Cup in the past, finishing second when they hosted the tournament in 1958, and third twice, in 1950 and 1994.
Ullevi is a stadium in Gothenburg. The stadium is also the biggest in Scandinavia.
Athletics has enjoyed a surge in popularity due to several successful athletes in recent years, such as: Carolina Klüft, Stefan Holm, Christian Olsson, Patrik Sjöberg, Johan Wissman, Kajsa Bergqvist.
Sweden is also the eighth most successful country in the Olympic games in history.
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.
Sweden hosted the 1912 Summer Olympics and the FIFA World Cup in 1958. Other big sports events held here include 1992 UEFA European Football Championship, FIFA Women's World Cup 1995, and several championships of ice hockey, curling, athletics, skiing, bandy, figure skating and swimming.
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