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Konungariket Sverige
Kingdom of Sweden
Flag of Sweden
Coat of arms of Sweden
flag coat of arms
Official language Regional Swedish
: Finnish , Meänkieli , Sami

Recognized minority languages : Yiddish , Romani , Svenskt teckenspråk (Swedish sign language )

Capital Stockholm
State and form of government parliamentary monarchy
Head of state King Carl XVI. Gustaf
Head of government Prime Minister Stefan Löfven
area 447,435 km²
population 10,327,589 (December 31, 2019)
Population density 23 inhabitants per km²
Population development   + 0.81% (2016) per year
gross domestic product
  • Total (nominal)
  • Total ( PPP )
  • GDP / inh. (nom.)
  • GDP / inh. (KKP)
  • $ 530.9 billion ( 25th )
  • $ 570.8 billion ( 39th )
  • $ 51,404 ( 13. )
  • $ 55,265 ( 18. )
Human Development Index   0.945 ( 7th ) (2019)
currency Swedish Krona (SEK)
National anthem You gamla, you fria
National holiday 6th of June
Time zone UTC + 1 CET
UTC + 2 CEST (March to October)
License Plate S.
ISO 3166 SE , SWE, 752
Internet TLD .se
Telephone code +46
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Territory of the Kingdom of Sweden
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The Kingdom of Sweden (in Swedish Konungariket listen to Sverige ? / I or just listen to Sverige ? / I ) is a parliamentary monarchy in Northern Europe . The national territory includes the eastern part of the Scandinavian Peninsula and the islands of Gotland and Öland . Sweden is a member of the Nordic Council and has been a member of the European Union since 1995 , but not a member of NATO and militarily non- aligned. The capital and most populous Swedish city is Stockholm . Audio file / audio sample Audio file / audio sample


Sweden borders the Kattegat , the states Norway and Finland as well as the Baltic Sea and the easternmost part of the North Sea. Since the opening of the Oresund Bridge in 2000, there has also been a direct land connection to Denmark . About 221,800 islands belong to Sweden, Gotland (2994 km²) and Öland (1347 km², both in the Baltic Sea) and Orust (346 km², north of Gothenburg ) are the three largest. The longest extension from north to south is 1572 km, from east to west 499 km. The land border with Norway is 1619 km long, that with Finland 586 km.

While large parts of the country are flat to hilly, the mountain ranges of the Skanden rise along the Norwegian border to over 2000 m. The highest peak is the Kebnekaise with about 2100 m. There are 30 national parks spread across the country  . The largest in terms of area are in the northwest of the country.


Southern and central Sweden ( Götaland and Svealand ), which comprises only two fifths of Sweden, is divided into three major landscapes from south to north , while northern Sweden ( Norrland ), which comprises the remaining three fifths, is divided into three regions from west to east.

The longest rivers in Sweden are Klarälven , Torne älv , Dalälven , Ume älv and Ångermanälven . The largest lakes are Vänern , Vättern , Mälaren and Hjälmaren .

South and Central Sweden

The southernmost part, the historical province of Schonen (Skåne), is a continuation of the lowlands of northern Germany and Denmark . In Skåne, Sweden's lowest point (excluding waters) is 2.4  meters below sea level, and Sweden's southernmost point, Smygehuk . To the north of it stretches the southern Swedish highlands , a plateau surrounded by a hilly landscape with a large number of elongated lakes that were created by ice age erosion. The third large landscape is the Central Swedish Depression , a flat, rugged landscape with large plains, eyries, table mountains, fjords and a number of lakes.

Northern Sweden
The Rapa Delta, a post-glacial river landscape in the Sarek National Park within the
Laponia World Heritage

The west of northern Sweden is characterized by the Scandinavian mountains , which form the border with Norway . The mountain range - the mountain tundra of which is called Fjäll in Sweden - has altitudes between 1000 and 2000 meters above sea level. Sweden's highest mountain, the approximately 2100 m high Kebnekaise, is located in the Scandinavian Mountains. Treriksröset, Sweden's northernmost point, is located in the border triangle of Norway / Sweden / Finland .

To the east, the foreland joins, Sweden's most extensive landscape. Large highland plains extend along the mountains at a height of 600 to 700 meters above sea level, which merge into an undulating hill country that slopes down to the east. Sweden's large ore deposits (iron, copper, zinc, lead) are also found in this landscape. Sweden's major rivers, which have their origins in the Scandinavian Mountains, flow almost parallel in deep valleys towards the Baltic Sea .

The flat coastal landscape stretches along the Baltic Sea coast, interrupted between Härnösand and Örnsköldsvik by a foothill of the foreland ( Höga Kusten , National Park) that extends to the Baltic Sea coast .


Kebnekaise , the highest mountain in Sweden
View of the Tarfala valley in Lapland

The Proterozoic basement crystalline of Sweden is part of the Baltic Shield and is made up of metamorphic rocks (e.g. gneiss ) and plutonites (e.g. granite ). In Jämtland and parts of central and southern Sweden as well as on the islands of Öland and Gotland , Paleozoic series consisting of slate, limestone and sandstone can also be found.

The Scandinavian peninsula was at times completely covered by ice during the Ice Ages . The pressure and movement of the ice masses have shaped the landscape in many parts. Today's landscape of Sweden with its numerous lakes, rivers (see also list of rivers in Sweden ) and waterfalls (see also list of waterfalls in Sweden ) was created by the large Scandinavian glacier of the last ice age ( Vistula ice age ). The associated abrasion and hollowing has left behind the moraines the characteristic deposits of pebbles and round stones, which in Sweden are called åsar (dt. Os ).

A factor that is still important today is the postglacial land elevation . The melting of the ice masses that had depressed the earth's crust has led to a land uplift of 800 m since the last ice age (around 10,000 BC). Nowadays the land elevation is up to 10-11 mm annually in the Höga Kusten, in the Stockholm area it is about 6 mm annually.


Scandinavia - Norway, Sweden and Finland in winter

Sweden's climate is quite mild for its geographic location. It is mainly determined by the proximity to the Atlantic with the warm Gulf Stream . Large parts of Sweden therefore have a humid climate with abundant rainfall and relatively small temperature differences between summer and winter. A continentally influenced climate with lower precipitation and higher temperature differences can be found in the interior of the southern Swedish highlands and in some parts of the foreland of the Scandinavian mountains. Polar climate occurs only in the northern high mountains. The average temperature for January is 0 ° C to −2 ° C in the south and −12 ° C to −14 ° C in the north (excluding the high mountains), the average temperature for July is 16 ° C to 18 ° C in the south and 12 ° C to 14 ° C in the north. Cold records were measured on February 2, 1966 in Vuoggatjålme , Arjeplog municipality with -52.6 ° C, and on December 13, 1941 in Malgovik , Vilhelmina municipality with -53 ° C.

Since Sweden stretches between the 55th and 69th parallel and part is north of the Arctic Circle , the difference between long daylight in summer and long darkness in winter is considerable.

Flora and fauna

In northern Sweden, the vast boreal coniferous forests shape the picture. From south to north, the tree silhouettes become increasingly narrow as a result of the adaptation to the longer winters. In addition, the proportion of birch trees that form the transition to the treeless Fjäll of the Skanden and the far north is increasing . The further south you go, the more common there are mixed forests. Pure deciduous forests occur only in southern Sweden. Many of them, however, had to make way for arable farming or were replaced by coniferous forests because of the faster growth. The so-called limes norrlandicus is a distinctive border area for flora and fauna .

Due to the climate and geological conditions, the flora on the islands of Gotland and Öland is particularly rich in species. There is a unique mix here, including plants that otherwise only occur in Europe in the Balkans. The numerous types of orchids are particularly noteworthy.

The wild boar is now widespread again in southern Sweden, although it was completely eradicated in the 18th century. However, after outbreaks of wild boars from game enclosures established in the 1940s, a viable wild population was able to develop again in the 1970s, which today comprises around 80,000-100,000 animals. The population has grown 13% annually since the 1990s and is still increasing today. In addition, there is still an expansion towards the north, and so the wild boar can be found today as far as Dalarna and Hälsingland. Around 25,000 wild boars are now shot every year in Sweden.

Like the wild boar, the red deer in Sweden is mainly found in the southern half of the country. It occurs mainly in Götaland , but there are also isolated populations in Dalarna, Jämtland and even Västerbotten. Most of the stocks are based on deliberate releases, only in Skåne there is still an original stock. The roe deer is somewhat more widespread than the red deer and is found in large numbers north to Dalarna. Areas further north are only sparsely populated by deer.

Sweden is particularly known for having the largest number of moose in Europe. They represent a very great danger in road traffic - in 2006 there were 4,957 traffic accidents involving moose. The moose also do a lot of damage to forest plantings. In the autumn hunting season, up to a quarter of the elk population is hunted. The population is not endangered by the high reproduction rate.

Predators such as brown bears , wolves , lynxes and wolverines have been on the rise again in recent years thanks to strict environmental regulations. The many lakes and long coasts offer plenty of habitat for aquatic animals: there are plenty of freshwater and saltwater fish, and beavers , otters and seals are also common.

Swedish salmon

There are a total of 52 species of freshwater fish in Sweden, with the water temperature limiting the natural range. The Swedish river and lake landscape is internationally known for its excellent salmonid population . The predominant species are brown trout , rainbow trout , lake trout , salmon , sea ​​trout , brook and lake char . The Mörrum in southern Sweden has an internationally known reputation as one of the best salmon rivers in Europe. Furthermore, there are numerous European grayling and Arctic grayling in the oxygen-rich and fast-flowing forest rivers of central Sweden . Predatory fish such as pike , perch , pikeperch , asp play the largest role among sport fishermen who practice a popular sport in Sweden. With its 90,000 lakes, numerous streams, rivers and its 3,200 kilometers of coastline, the country is known as an “angler's paradise”. Pike ( Gäddar in Swedish ) grow to heavy weights in the Baltic Sea archipelago . Smelts search on their spawning migration in large numbers estuaries. Large schools of vendace can be found in larger lakes such as Vänern . Coarse fish such as carp , tench , bream , roach , rudd and aland are mainly found in southern Sweden, depending on their heat requirements.

Sweden was the first country in Europe to set up national parks in 1909 . Almost 15% of the country is now protected by nature reserves or reserves and 30 national parks. If the establishment of eleven new national parks and the expansion of seven existing ones are decided, the proportion of protected area would increase to 15.5%.


Population pyramid Sweden 2016
Population development in Sweden

According to the country's central statistical office SCB, Sweden had 9.982 million inhabitants at the end of November 2016. In January 2017 the mark of ten million inhabitants was exceeded for the first time. The population grew by almost 0.8 percent annually.

The birth rate of 1.88 children per woman (2016) is on the one hand below the reproductive threshold of 2.1 children per woman, on the other hand far above the EU25 average, which was 1.58 children per woman in the same year. Life expectancy in the period from 2010 to 2015 was 81.9 years (women: 83.7 years, men: 80.0 years). The average age in 2016 was 41.2 years.

Education and Research

The Swedish education system comprises four parts: pre-school, school, colleges and universities, and adult education. Compulsory schooling is nine years (7 to 16 years of age), followed by a voluntary three-year high school attendance. Around 30 percent of a class begin their studies within five years of graduating from high school .

In the 2015 PISA ranking , Sweden’s students ranked 23rd out of 72 countries in mathematics, 28th in science and 17th in reading comprehension. The performance of Swedish students was thus slightly above the OECD average in all three categories .

A rocket launch site for sounding rockets is being operated near Kiruna in Esrange .


The majority of the population are ethnic Swedes . There is a larger minority of Swedish Finns in the country. On the one hand, Finns lived in parts of what is now Sweden for several centuries, and on the other hand, there are a larger number of Finns due to migration after the Second World War . Swedish Finns form a large group in Tornedalen . There are now a total of around 450,000 residents with Finnish roots.

largest population groups without Swedish citizenship (2017)
rank Country population
2. FinlandFinland Finland 150,000
4th PolandPoland Poland 91,000
5. SomaliaSomalia Somalia 66,000
1. SyriaSyria Syria 172,000
10. DenmarkDenmark Denmark 40,000
9. NorwayNorway Norway 42,000
7th GermanyGermany Germany 50,000
3. IraqIraq Iraq 140,000
8th. AfghanistanAfghanistan Afghanistan 43,000
11. United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom 27,000

Another minority are the 20,000 or so Swedish Sami today . Many live in the parishes of Gällivare and Kiruna . Traditional reindeer herding still plays a role today. There are 51 Sami local communities , called samebyar (Swedish; literally "seed villages"), in which breeding is carried out. The Sami languages became recognized minority languages in 2000. You have your own parliamentary representation in Kiruna with the Sameting .

Immigrants from almost every country in the world live in Sweden. In 2016, the proportion of the population of foreign-born residents was just under 18 percent (1.78 million inhabitants). Sweden has had relatively liberal immigration law for decades. The first major waves of immigration began in the 1960s: primarily from other European countries such as Germany, Italy, Yugoslavia and Turkey. In the 1980s there was an increase in asylum seekers from Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Eritrea and to some extent also from South America. From the 2000s onwards there was an increased immigration of people from other regions, such as Africa and the Middle East and Central Asia . The countries of origin were Iraq, Afghanistan or Somalia. Due to the refugee crisis in Europe from 2015 and the large number of refugees and migrants being accepted, the number of people with a migration background rose sharply. The largest foreign-born group of people in 2016 was the Finns at 153,620. Other large groups include people from Syria (149,418), Iraq (135,129), Poland (88,704), Iran (70,637), the former Yugoslavia (66,539) and Somalia (63,853).

The proportion of the population of foreigners and people with a migrant background varies greatly from region to region, with the highest proportions being achieved in the major cities of Stockholm , Malmö and Gothenburg . There are relatively few migrants living in the country's rural areas.


The analyzes of the values ​​for healthy life years indicate significant inequalities between the European countries. In Austria , the respondents' own reports in 2016 showed a health expectation of 57.1 years for women and 57.0 years for men, which was 16 years below the values ​​of 73.3 and 73.0 years in Sweden.

Since January 2020, Sweden has also been affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic , which began in the People's Republic of China in December 2019 . The Swedish government has so far followed a more cautious course against the virus compared to other European countries. Most of the measures taken to contain the epidemic in Sweden are voluntary. The high number of COVID-19 deaths compared to neighboring countries, however, led to a decline in confidence in the Swedish COVID-19 strategy among the population. Confidence in the government collapsed from 63 to 45 percent. The public health authority also lost trust, but is still at 65 percent after 73 percent. The measures, such as the open schools, are also welcomed by the population.


Swedish Church
year population Church members proportion of
1972 08,146,000 7,754,784 95.2%
1980 08,278,000 7,690,636 92.9%
1990 08,573,000 7,630,350 89.0%
2000 08,880,000 7,360,825 82.9%
2005 09,048,000 6,967,498 77.0%
2010 09,415,570 6,589,769 70.0%
2015 09,850,452 6,225,091 63.2%
2016 09,995,153 6,116,480 61.2%
2017 10,120,242 5,993,368 59.3%
2018 10,230,185 5,899,242 57.7%
2019 5,817,634 56.4%
The Ahmadiyya Mahmood Mosque in Malmo

In 2019, 56.4% of the Swedish population belonged to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sweden , which was the state church from 1527 to 1999 . Since 2000 the number of members has decreased significantly. Between 2005 and 2015, approximately 740,000 members (11%) left the Church. The second largest religious community, that of Muslims , is difficult to estimate in terms of numbers. Its membership in 2014 was around 500,000 (5.1%).

After a ban during the Reformation , Catholics have again been allowed to practice their religion publicly since 1781. In 1783 the first apostolic vicariate for Sweden was established with Abbot Nikolaus Oster. The Roman Catholic Church in Sweden had around 113,000 members (1.1% of the population) in 2016, and the number of members is increasing, mainly due to immigration.

The Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Churches had around 120,000 (1.2%) believers. Evangelical free churches are more strongly represented in the Jönköping area , in Bohuslän and in Västerbotten and together have a good 250,000 members, almost half of them in the Equmeniakyrkan .

The neo-charismatic movement Livets Ord is headquartered in Uppsala. There are also around 23,000 Jehovah's Witnesses (0.25%) in Sweden . Around 10,000 people belong to a Jewish community (0.1%). In Stockholm there is a Mandaean congregation with its own place of worship.


The Swedish language has not only been the de facto , but also the legal official language since July 1, 2009 . In Sweden, Finnish , Tornedal Finnish , Yiddish , Romani , Sami and the Swedish sign language Svenskt teckenspråk have the status of recognized minority languages . Along the Swedish-Finnish border, in Tornedalen , approximately half of the population speaks Tornedal -Finnish ( Meänkieli ) . The Sami language is used as the main language by several thousand people, in addition to the Swedish language.

Almost 80% of the Swedish population speak English as a foreign language, as English is on the one hand the first foreign language in schools and on the other hand it is very well represented on television (foreign language films are usually not dubbed, but subtitled). The majority (approx. 45%) of the students choose Spanish as their second foreign language . Also, German (25%) and French (20%) are offered as a second foreign language; As in the rest of Scandinavia, German was the first foreign language until around 1945. The Norwegian language is mostly understood because of its strong similarities to Swedish; this is true to a lesser extent for Danish , especially outside of the former Danish parts of the country Halland, Blekinge and Skåne.


The Global Peace Index ranked Sweden 6th in the European Union (out of 27 member states) for domestic security in 2019, and 13th worldwide. The US News & World Report ranked Sweden the sixth best country in 2019 World in terms of perceived security. In recent years the situation has improved in some areas and worsened in others. The total murder rate has fallen since the 1990s, but remains slightly higher than in Germany. On the other hand, 13% of Swedes state that they have already had problems with crime, violence or vandalism in their own residential area, which is one of the highest (subjective) values ​​in Europe. Among 13 Western European countries surveyed , between 2010 and 2015 the risk of falling victim to a shooting was on average in Sweden for the majority of the population, but higher for 15 to 29-year-old men than in the other countries surveyed. By gang violence , the have -prone area in Sweden increased particularly in the second half of the 2010s.

The threat situation due to international terrorism has also been considered to have increased since March 2016 . The warning level set by the Swedish National Center for Terrorist Threat Assessment is 3 out of 5.


Sweden before 1800

Hovgårdsstenen on Adelsön is a rune stone from the 11th century

The Scandinavian peninsula is first mentioned in the Naturalis historia Pliny the Elder from 79. He writes about Scatinavia , a large island where the Hillevion people live. Some see it as the first mention of Swedes. In 98 Tacitus ' Germania mentions the suions (paragraph 44), which allegedly live "in the ocean itself" and have a powerful fleet. On the world map of Ptolemy around 120, Scandinavia is recorded for the first time cartographically . In the fifth century Prokop described the island of Thule in the north, which is ten times larger than Britain and on which no sun shines for 40 days in winter.

During the early Middle Ages (around 800 to 1000) Vikings ruled the European seas and coastal areas. Swedish Vikings, also known as Varangians , oriented themselves mainly towards the east, towards Russia . From the ninth century, the Swedes, also known as Rus , helped build the Kievan Rus . The first contact with Christianity came about through the missionary activities of St. Ansgar , the archbishop of Hamburg and Bremen. Around 830 and 853 he undertook two mission trips to Birka , the most important trading center of the Vikings in Mälaren , which were unsuccessful. In 1008, however, Olof Skötkonung , King of Sweden, was baptized. But until the 12th century, large parts of the population were pagan. So in 1160 King Erik IX. Murdered by anti-Christian nobles after attending mass.

Gustav I. Wasa was King of Sweden from 1523 to 1560 .

In 1397 the Danish Queen Margaret I formed the Kalmar Union . She had previously obtained the Norwegian and Swedish crowns through inheritance and marriage. This union of three kingdoms under Danish union kings lasted until 1523, even if the central power ultimately failed. The Kalmar Union was increasingly characterized by internal struggles, especially between the royal central power and the nobility. At certain times the Union kings were also recognized in Sweden, but in between the Swedish King Karl Knutsson (1448–1457, 1464–1465 and 1467–1470) or Swedish imperial rulers ruled . The conflict culminated under the imperial administrator Sten Sture the Younger . The Danish Union King Christian II defeated his Swedish opponents in 1520 and in November of the same year had over 80 opposition members executed in the so-called Stockholm carnage . This led to the riot of Gustav Wasa , who was appointed imperial administrator in 1521, and the final collapse of the Kalmar Union. In 1523 Gustav I. Wasa was elected king. After the popular uprising, the Swedish Empire suffered from high debts and Gustav I looked around for ways to improve its financial situation. For this he awarded, among other things, a fishing monopoly to the Gävle fishermen . The brothers Olavus and Laurentius Petri had made the acquaintance of Martin Luther in Germany . Lutheran opposition to monasteries created an opportunity to freshen up the financial situation. For this reason the king supported the Petri brothers. Since the population did not initially come into contact with Protestant ideas, the Reformation was introduced gradually. Many traditions that were supposed to be abolished in German Protestantism were retained. In 1544 Sweden was declared a Protestant Empire.

Scandinavia around 1730

The 17th century of Swedish history in particular was marked by attempts by the royal family to gain a hegemonic position in Europe. Through the civil war in Russia, Sweden was able to gain control of Estonia . From 1611 to 1613 Denmark and Sweden fought the Kalmark War , which led to a victory for the Danes and the surrender of the Finnmark to Norway , which was under Danish rule . Gustav II Adolf later took an active part in the Thirty Years' War and conquered large parts of northern Germany , including Western Pomerania , the Archdiocese of Bremen and the Diocese of Verden . In 1632, however, he fell in the battle of Lützen . In 1648, in the Peace of Westphalia , Sweden acquired large coastal areas on the soil of the Holy Roman Empire . After a war against Denmark in 1658 in the Peace of Roskilde, today's southern Sweden including the important Skåne was added. The great power dreams under Charles XII came to an abrupt end . who was defeated by the Russians and the Danes in the Great Northern War . Sweden then had to surrender its holdings in the Baltic States. Various colonization efforts outside of Europe also fall during this period . These included the establishment of Swedish branches and colonies in North America (1638–1655) and West Africa (1650–1659), but ultimately failed.

Sweden from 1800

After the loss of Finland to the Russian Empire in 1809 and the Napoleonic Wars , as a result of which Sweden was ceded the Kingdom of Norway by Denmark, the Swedish involvement in wars and major fighting ended. The often invoked Swedish policy of neutrality began. Until the 20th century, however, it was never an official political doctrine , but more an expression of pragmatic politics. So one was tempted (and had already mobilized in each case ) to intervene militarily on the part of Denmark in the Schleswig-Holstein Uprising (1848-1851) and in the German-Danish War (1864) for the Duchy of Schleswig and South Jutland and Norway's declaration of independence from Sweden in 1905 to prevent. Further crisis situations arose for Sweden, especially during World War II , when Finland was supported with volunteers and relief supplies in the so-called Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union in 1939/1940, as well as after the Weser exercise .

In July 1945 a single social democratic government replaced the coalition government, initially under Per Albin Hansson , and after his death in October 1946 Erlander underground . In the following years the social reform work interrupted by the war was resumed and a modern welfare state emerged based on the principles of the aforementioned Swedish model. In parallel with the expansion of the social system, work was also carried out on a constitutional reform, which was gradually implemented through several basic laws in the 1970s (see Constitution of Sweden ).

Following the recommendation of the country to join the United Nations through Resolution 8 of the UN Security Council , it joined the international community on November 19, 1946.

On September 3, 1967, the Dagen H , traffic was switched from left-hand traffic to right-hand traffic. Transport minister at the time was Olof Palme , who replaced Prime Minister Erlander in office in 1969. In the years to come, Palme shaped the image of Sweden abroad through its committed foreign policy: through its harsh criticism of the Vietnam War , as a UN mediator in the Iran-Iraq war and through its international disarmament initiatives . Domestically, he encountered several difficulties. On one hand, the constitutional reform and the new parliamentary situation aggravated after the election of 1970 a stable cooperation on the block boundaries, on the other hand overshadowed economic problems, especially after the oil crisis in 1973, the social reform work. In addition, the 1973 election led to a stalemate in parliament: the government and the opposition each received 175 seats. Votes in the Reichstag were often decided by drawing lots. The nuclear power debate divided the Social Democrats and brought a new political factor into play, environmental policy and the green movement, and the union demand for the introduction of workers' funds heightened antagonisms with the bourgeois parties. After the Social Democrats were defeated in the elections on September 19, 1976 , Sweden was ruled by various civil coalitions until Palme came to power again in 1982 as Prime Minister of a Social Democratic government.

The submarine crisis has been the name given to the appearance of so-called "unknown diving objects" off the coast since 1980. On October 27, 1981, the Soviet submarine U-137 ran aground in front of the Karlskrona naval base - in the middle of the military prohibition zone. The accident triggered a submarine panic. The Soviet captain Gushchin claimed that all navigation instruments had failed. The more detailed background remained unclear.

The Social Democrats were heavily influenced by the neoliberal ideas from the US and Great Britain. Fierce debates about neoliberal reforms of the welfare state broke out under the new Finance Minister Kjell-Olof Feldt . The conflict sparked primarily between Feldt and the chairman of the trade union confederation ( LO ), Stig Malm. This “war of the roses” ultimately led to Feldt's departure in 1990.

After Palme's murder in 1986, Ingvar Carlsson took over the government and continued his policy on all important points. At the same time, Palme's murder caused such a shock that it led to a great silence in the political debate. A change of political power took place in 1991 with the loss of the election of the Social Democrats. Carl Bildt , who had called for a system change in line with neoliberal ideas, formed a coalition government of bourgeois parties and began to implement these ideas. The period is characterized by a continuing economic crisis (which began in 1990) and economic restructuring that was considered necessary at the time. In the 1994 Reichstag elections, the Social Democrats won again and Ingvar Carlsson formed a minority government. In 1996 he handed over his official duties to Göran Persson . The policy of the following years focused on stabilizing public finances , which resulted in deep interventions in the social system. Despite the resulting dissatisfaction, the Social Democrats were able to maintain their position in government in the 1998 and 2002 elections thanks to the support of the Left Party and the Greens .

In 1995 Sweden joined the European Union after a referendum in which 52.3% voted for membership on November 13, 1994 (see Enlargement of the European Union ). The referendum of 1994, but also the subsequent elections and opinion polls, showed that there is widespread skepticism towards the EU. Therefore, Sweden decided in 1997 not to participate in the monetary union . In autumn 2003 this question was put to the people for a vote. A majority of the population voted against the introduction of the euro . The referendum was overshadowed by the murder of Foreign Minister Anna Lindh a few days before, who had been seen by many as Persson's successor.


Political system

King Carl XVI. Gustaf of Sweden on National Day 2009
Stefan Löfven ( SAP ) has been the
Swedish Prime Minister since 2014

Sweden is a parliamentary-democratic monarchy. King Carl XVI has been the head of state since 1973 . Gustaf . The duties of the head of state are purely representative and ceremonial; the king has no political authority and does not take part in political life.

The Riksdagshuset is the seat of the Swedish Parliament

The unicameral parliament, the Reichstag (Swedish Riksdag ) has 349 members and is re-elected every four years. The eight parties represented in the Reichstag are the conservative Moderate Collection Party ( Moderata samlingspartiet , M), the Liberal Party ( Liberalerna , L), the Center Party ( Centerpartiet , C), the Christian Democrats ( Kristdemokraterna , KD), the Greens ( Miljöpartiet de Gröna , MP), the Swedish Social Democratic Labor Party ( Sveriges socialdemokratiska arbetareparti , S), the Left Party ( Vänsterpartiet , V) and the Sweden Democrats ( Sverigedemokraterna , SD) .

The Prime Minister (state minister ) is appointed by the Reichstag, which in turn appoints the other ministers (Swedish statsråd ) of his government .

Universal suffrage for men was introduced in 1907/1909 through a constitutional reform, and women's suffrage at the national level in 1919/1921 as part of a constitutional amendment. The two-year deadline stems from the fact that a constitutional amendment in the Swedish parliament requires two decisions, between which there is a general election.

For a long time Sweden was considered a model country for social democracy; it was seen by many European leftists as a successful example of a third way between socialism and a market economy . That has changed since the reforms in the 1990s.

The Democracy Index of The Economist magazine shows Sweden as the third most democratic country in the world after Norway and Iceland .

Sweden was accused by Human Rights Watch of disregarding the absolute prohibition of torture in 2006 for its involvement in the transfer of asylum seeker Mohammed al-Zari to Egypt.

Administrative structure

Sweden is divided into 21 provinces (swedish län ). The state administrative tasks at the regional level are performed by a district president (Swedish Landshövding ) and a provincial government (Swedish länsstyrelse ).

The origins of the Swedish political system can be found in the administrative reforms of Axel Oxenstierna of 1618. In contrast to most democracies, the ministers, i.e. the government, are not allowed to control the executive bodies directly (Eastern Nordic form of administration, also used in Finland). Rather, it is the independently operating central offices (swed. Ämbetsverk ) (for example Trafikverket , Skolverket - there are around 200 of different sizes) that perform the tasks that are carried out in other countries by ministries or state administrations. In contrast, the ministries have the task of drafting bills and, in the best case scenario, of influencing the work of the central offices through ordinances.

The local self-government is done on two levels: the (since 2003) 290 municipalities (. Schwed kommun ) and the county councils (. Schwed landsting ) which is a kind of composite municipalities represent (not to be confused with the state länsstyrelse ). The municipalities take on the municipal tasks, such as the school system, social services, child and elderly care as well as the municipal infrastructure, but the framework conditions are determined by the central authorities, e.g. Skolverket. The provincial parliaments, on the other hand, are responsible for those areas of local self-government that are beyond the power of individual communities, such as health care and nursing, regional transport and transport planning. The municipalities and the provincial parishes finance their activities by collecting income taxes, levies and state subsidies.

Principle of public disclosure and ombudsmen

In Sweden, the publicity principle applies , which means that official documents are accessible to the press and all private individuals with few exceptions. Nobody has to state why they want to see a document, nor do you have to identify yourself. It has been constitutionally guaranteed since 1766 , making it the world's oldest constitutional regulation on freedom of information . Sweden is also a pioneer in the field of data protection , the counterpart to freedom of information: While the world's first data protection law was promulgated in Hesse in 1970 , the world's first national data protection law came into force in 1973 in Sweden.

Another Scandinavian peculiarity is the system of ombudsmen (Swedish ombudsman ). They are intended to protect the rights of individuals in contact with the authorities and to ensure compliance with important laws. Citizens who believe they have been treated unfairly can turn to the ombudsmen, who will investigate the case and possibly bring it to court as special prosecutors. At the same time, in cooperation with the authorities, they should record the situation in their respective areas, carry out educational work and make suggestions for changes to the law. In addition to the justice ombudsman, there is a consumer ombudsman, a child ombudsman and a discrimination ombudsman.

Monetary policy

On September 14, 2003, a vote was taken in Sweden on the introduction of the euro as the national currency. The introduction had been discussed controversially in advance, and ultimately the euro-skeptics prevailed (voter turnout: 81.2%, election result: 56.1% against, 41.8% in favor, 2.1% abstentions, 0.1% invalid). The skeptics saw the introduction of the euro as patronizing the Swedish currency policy by the European Central Bank (ECB). The vote was heavily overshadowed by the murder of Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh .


The parliamentary elections in 2014 did not win any of the two large blocks. Stefan Löfven ( Sveriges socialdemokratiska arbetareparti ) won a vote of confidence in parliament on October 2, 2014, succeeding Fredrik Reinfeldt as Minister of State (Prime Minister). Although the red-green Löfven government does not have a majority, the election was possible because both the bourgeois opposition and the socialist Left Party abstained. After the government's draft budget failed on December 3, 2014 because the opposition parties received more votes than the government against this draft, Löfven announced new elections for March 22, 2015. At a press conference on December 27, 2014, Löfven announced that a “December agreement” between the red-green minority government and the four opposition parties of the Civic Alliance agreed that they would not reject the government's proposal in the next vote on the 2015 budget . The new elections that had already been announced, but officially only to be called on December 29, 2014, three months after the last parliamentary election, therefore did not take place.

In the 2004 European elections, Junilistan won 14.5% of the votes from scratch and for the first time sends three of 19 Swedish MPs to the European Parliament.

In the 2009 European elections, the Swedish Piratpartiet (a pirate party ) won 7.1% of the vote and for the first time sends one of the 18 Swedish MPs to the European Parliament. The PP became the fifth strongest party, after the parties Arbetarepartiet-Socialdemokraterna (24.6%), Moderata samlingspartiet (18.8%), Folkpartiet liberalerna (then the party name of Liberalerna) (13.6%) and Miljöpartiet de gröna (10, 8th %). The remarkably high result of the Pirate Party, whose main demand is “a reformed copyright law”, is attributed to the great attention the Swedish people paid to the sentencing of four people responsible for the torrent portal The Pirate Bay to prison terms in mid-April 2009.

In the 2014 European elections, the Swedish feminist initiative won 5.3% of the vote from scratch and for the first time sends one of the 20 Swedish MPs to the European Parliament.

Provincial Administration

The state administration of Sweden is currently (as of 2016) divided into 21 provinces ( län ) . These are partly based on the historical provinces ( landskap ) into which the empire was divided up to 1634, which is reflected in the naming of many provinces. More or less congruent with the historical provinces are Gotland, Skåne, Blekinge, Östergötland, Värmland and Dalarna; in other cases the historical provinces are divided into several present-day provinces (e.g. old Lapland and Småland) or several historical landscapes are combined in a single province (e.g. in the case of today's Jämtlands län and Västra Götalands län). Overall, the provincial borders roughly follow the earlier land cape borders, but there are many small-scale deviations.

A reform of the current system with the aim of dividing the country into eight to ten major provinces was discussed, especially from the 1990s. The implementation of these plans began in 1997/1998 with the creation of Skåne län and Västra Götalands län from two and three former provinces, respectively. This development was originally supposed to be completed by 2014, but there have been no further changes to date.

The present-day provinces are:

Division of Sweden into Län and Kommuner
Population density in inhabitants / km² (2016)
province Area
(December 31, 2019)
Population density
(inhabitants per km²)
Residential city Color in
Stockholm County 7,153.9 2,377,081 332.3 Stockholm
Uppsala län 8,608.1 383.713 44.6 Uppsala
Södermanland County 7,026.1 297,540 42.3 Nykoping
Östergötland County 12,230 465.495 38.1 Linkoping
Jönköpings län 11,693.1 363,599 31.1 Jonkoping
Kronobergs län 9,385.2 201,469 21.5 Vaxjo
Kalmar Lan 11,636.7 245,446 21.1 Squid
Gotland County 3,166.8 59,686 18.8 Visby
Blekinge län 3,039.4 159,606 52.5 Karlskrona
Skåne County 11,302.2 1,377,827 121.9 Malmo
Hallands Lan 5,687.5 333,848 58.7 Halmstad
Västra Götalands län 28,778 1,725,881 60 Gothenburg
Värmland County 21,789.1 282.414 13 Karlstad
Örebro län 9,633.3 304.805 31.6 Örebro
Västmanland County 5,658.7 275,845 48.7 Västerås
Dalarna County 30,222.8 287,966 9.5 Falun
Gävleborg County 19,629.7 287,382 14.6 Gävle
Västernorrlands Lan 22,957.6 245,347 10.7 Harnösand
Jämtland County 53,752.8 130.810 2.4 Ostersund
Västerbotten County 58,875.4 271.736 4.6 Umeå
Norrbotten County 105,208.8 250.093 2.4 Luleå
Sweden 447,434.8 10,327,589 23.1 Stockholm

Note: initial sorting of the table in the order of the provinces usual in Swedish statistics, from Stockholm county roughly clockwise

Local government

Local self-organization takes place at the level of the provincial parliaments and the municipalities; the provincial parliaments are currently responsible for health care, cultural maintenance and, together with the municipalities, for local public transport.

Provincial councils and regions (secondary municipalities)

Currently, the areas of the provincial parliaments / regions coincide with the associated provinces; each province has a provincial assembly. In the provinces in which the provincial parliaments have merged into regions (Västra Götaland, Skåne), the provinces have also been grouped together accordingly. Halland and Gotland also formed regions in 2010. These regions will probably remain permanent; however, the consolidation of the provincial parliaments is a process that will continue; which provincial parliaments are combined into which regions is still unclear, especially in central Sweden; a resolution is expected in 2014. The new structure should then come into force from 2015; a province may contain one or more provincial parliaments / regions, but a provincial border will not run straight through a provincial parliament.

Municipalities (primary commune )

The municipalities are the administrative unit under the provincial parliaments. There are 290 municipalities in Sweden.


By far the largest metropolitan area in Sweden is the capital Stockholm , followed by Gothenburg and Malmö . Other major cities are Uppsala , Västerås , Örebro , Linköping and Helsingborg .


The “ Swedish model ”, a term mostly used in the 1970s, refers to the welfare state , a comprehensive system of social security and welfare that is the result of a century of development. Between 1890 and 1930 the foundations for a social system were partly laid , but it was not until the 1930s, especially after the Social Democratic Workers' Party came into power in 1932, that the establishment of the welfare state was promoted as a political project. The Swedish social system finally covered everyone from toddlers (via municipal child care ) to pensioners (via municipal elderly care). It was only in the last decade that major changes occurred. A severe economic crisis in the early 1990s led to a reduction in social benefits and the expected demographic development led to a radical restructuring of the pension system, which is now linked to economic development.

State budget

The state budget included expenditures in 2016 of the equivalent of 250.8 billion US dollars , which were income equivalent to 248.3 billion US dollar against. This results in a budget deficit of 0.3% of GDP .
The national debt in 2016 was $ 215.8 billion, or 41.6% of GDP. Swedish government bonds are rated AAA by the rating agency Standard & Poor’s (as of 2018).

In 2006, the share of government expenditure (as a percentage of GDP) was as follows:

Police and military

Swedish police vehicle with Battenberg markings

The Swedish Police (Polisen) has around 26,000 employees, including more than 18,000 police officers.

The Swedish Security Police ( Säkerhetspolisen ) is an intelligence service with police powers.

The Swedish Armed Forces ( Swedish Försvarsmakten ) consist of the four armed forces

The Swedish Army is formally organized as an administrative body. As such, it reports directly to the Swedish government and not, as in many other countries, to the defense minister . A four-star general with the title Överbefälhavaren is in command both in times of peace and in times of war .

The eleven to seventeen month conscription was suspended on July 1, 2010, after fewer and fewer soldiers had been drafted since the end of the Cold War (45,000 military service in 1975 compared to 15,000 military service in 2003). In times of crisis, the government can reintroduce general conscription by resolution , for reasons of equality also for women. In fact, the Ministry of Defense announced in September 2016 that conscription would be reintroduced in 2018, then also applicable to women.

The defense budget is the equivalent of around 4.2 billion euros (40 billion SEK , as of 2010), which includes all ongoing expenses for the armed forces and expenses for research and development as well as material procurement.

Foreign policy

Sweden joined the European Union in 1995 and signed the
Lisbon Treaty in 2007

Due to the Cold War , Sweden saw accession to the European Communities before 1989 as incompatible with its policy of neutrality. In 1995 Sweden joined the EU in the fourth round of enlargement . The Swedish government is committed to an EU that works transparently, promotes equality and sees peaceful globalization as a priority. The country spoke out in favor of enlargement to include the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, including the Baltic states. Sweden is also one of the strongest supporters of Turkey joining the EU. From July 1 to December 31, 2009, Sweden held the presidency of the European Council .


In the first half of the 19th century, Sweden was still a pronounced agricultural state , in which 90% of the population lived from agriculture . It was not until the second half of the 19th century that extensive industrialization began, which laid the foundations for a modern industrial society until the Great Depression of 1929 . Industrialization was initially based on good access to raw materials and the processing of these resources on the spot (for example iron ore with huts in Svealand, endless forests in the north, a large number of sawmills along the Norrland coast). It was not until the 1890s that a very progressive workshop industry emerged, especially in central Sweden (e.g. Nobel AB, ASEA (now ABB), Bahco, LM Ericsson, Alfa Laval , SKF ). After the Second World War , Sweden became one of the leading industrial nations in the world. The development peaked in the mid-1960s, and since the 1970s the number of people employed in industry has been falling, while the service sector has grown. In 2000 the share of agriculture in the gross domestic product (GDP) was only 2% and that of the secondary sector 28%, while 70% of GDP was generated by the tertiary sector.

Sweden has mastered the global economic and financial crisis comparatively well in recent years . In 2014 the increase in GDP was 2.3% (2013: 1.5%). For 2015, the Swedish government expects the economy to grow by 2.8%. Compared with the GDP of the EU expressed in purchasing power standards reached Sweden in 2015, an index value of 123 (EU-28: 100) and about 98% of the German level. Sweden ranked 7th in the Global Competitiveness Index 2017-2018 and was one of the least corrupt countries in the world according to the Corruption Perceptions Index 2016. In 2017, the country was ranked 19th out of 180 countries in the index for economic freedom .

According to a study by Bank Credit Suisse from 2017, Sweden ranked 18th in the world in terms of total national wealth . Total real estate, stocks, and cash holdings totaled $ 1,994 billion. The wealth per adult person is 260,667 dollars on average and 45,235 dollars in median (in Germany: 203,946 and 47,091 dollars, respectively). The Gini coefficient for wealth distribution was 83.2 in 2016, which indicates that wealth inequality is now quite high.

The unemployment rate was 6.1% in November 2018, which is below the EU average. In 2017, youth unemployment was 18.3%. In 2014, 2.0% of the total workforce worked in agriculture, 12% in industry and 86% in the service sector. The total number of employees is estimated at 5.36 million for 2017; 47.7% of them are women.

Agriculture and Forestry

Agriculture in Östergötland County

Swedish agriculture is shaped by the geological conditions and the climate. 10% of the state's area is used for agriculture. 90% of the cultivation area is in southern and central Sweden. Most of the farms are family owned. Mainly cereals, potatoes and oil plants are grown. However, more than half of the agricultural income (58%) is generated from animal husbandry, in this case mainly from milk production. The EU's agricultural subsidies represent 24% of revenue. Three quarters of the farms also have forests and combine agriculture with forestry .

Forestry is therefore also of great importance, as Sweden is one of the most forested countries in the world; 56% of the national territory is covered by forest. In July 2018, forests in central and southern Sweden were hit by the largest forest fires in decades (see Drought and heat in Europe 2018 ).


Building of the mine in Hedemora

Sweden is rich in natural resources that have been mined since the Middle Ages. After the iron and steel crisis of the 1970s, iron ore is only mined and exported in Norrland ( Kiruna , Gällivare - Malmberget ). Copper, lead and zinc are several times higher than the company's own requirements and are also exported, while 60% of silver and 80% of gold cover the company's own requirements. Larger ore reserves are available, but mining them is currently uneconomical.


What sets Swedish industry apart is the relatively high proportion of large companies. After a crisis at the beginning of the 1990s (with a production decline of 10% within two years), the industry has recovered. The largest branches of industry are vehicle construction (1996: 13% of industrial value added) with companies such as Volvo , Scania , Saab AB (aircraft and space technology) and others, the wood and paper industry (also 13% of industrial value added) with four large companies, mechanical engineering (12% of industrial value added) with companies such as Electrolux , SKF , Tetra-Pak and Alfa Laval and the electrical and electronics industry (10% of industrial value added) with the dominating companies Ericsson and ABB .

Since 2006 intensified efforts in the search for ores have been taking place across Sweden, with a focus on the far north . The Sami fear significant negative effects of mining on the reindeer industry and the sensitive nature.

Many software companies such as Mojang Studios , King Digital Entertainment and Spotify are from Sweden. Furthermore, the inventor and developer of the most installed software in the world, cURL , is Swede. The controversial torrent site The Pirate Bay also comes from Sweden.


Main energy sources
Electricity generation according to energy sources

Electrical energy in Sweden is mainly produced through renewable energies and nuclear energy : in 2015 57% of the electricity production came from renewable energies, with hydroelectric power plants on the large rivers ( Luleälv , Indalsälv , Umeälv and Ångermanälv ) in the north of the country , the rest Nuclear power plants . Hydropower also makes a significant contribution to primary energy consumption : in 2011 it provided around 15%. Among the member states of the European Union , Sweden's hydropower contributes the most to the supply from renewable energy sources : In 2011, 66 TWh were generated - this corresponds to more than 20% of the total energy generated from hydropower in the EU countries.

In 2015 the government announced that in all consumption sectors, i. H. Electricity, heat and transport to want to abandon the use of fossil fuels completely in order to advance the energy transition and climate protection . At the same time, renewable energies, energy efficiency measures, storage facilities and sustainable transport solutions are to be promoted more strongly. By 2040, Sweden's entire energy supply is to be based on 100 percent renewable energies. For this purpose, the onshore wind energy is to be expanded, whereby the fluctuating energy output of the wind power plants is to be compensated for by the existing hydropower plants and stronger networking with neighboring countries for the supra-regional exchange of electricity. In 2017, the state also set a climate protection law with the goal of being completely greenhouse gas neutral by 2045 . The decision was passed with 254 to 41 votes, with all parties except the far right Sweden Democrats supporting the decision.

Sweden regularly ranks first in the Climate Protection Index , a comparative tool for evaluating the climate protection efforts of the world's largest greenhouse gas emitters, including in 2021.

Nuclear phase-out

After the partial meltdown in Three Mile Island in the USA (1979), a referendum against nuclear energy was successfully held in Sweden . As a result, Parliament decided in 1980 not to build any more nuclear power plants and to shut down the twelve existing ones by 2010.

This exit plan was only partially implemented. In 1997 the Swedish Parliament adopted the "Sustainable Energy Supply" bill. Among other things, this stipulated that one of the reactors at the Barsebäck site should be shut down before July 1, 1998 and the second before July 1, 2001, provided that their electricity production can be offset. The previous decision to shut down all reactors by 2010 has been repealed. Barsebäck Block 1 was finally shut down on November 30, 1999, and Barsebäck Block 2 on June 1, 2005.

There is controversy about not using nuclear energy in Sweden. The industry fears the loss of inexpensive electricity generation and thus an impairment of its international competitiveness. In addition, critics emphasize that renouncing the use of nuclear energy without having sufficient other and reliable electricity generation technologies could have significant negative consequences for the Swedish economy.

The output of the three nuclear power plants still in operation has increased considerably in recent years. This increase made it possible to compensate for the Barsebäck nuclear power plant , which was shut down in 2005 . It is not possible to utilize existing large hydropower potentials. In 1998 the Swedish Parliament decided not to allow any further expansion of water bodies for reasons of nature conservation. The rivers Kalixälv , Piteälv , Torneälv and Vindelälv are protected by law .

The operators of nuclear power plants assume that the existing facilities will be in use until around 2050. In 2004 Parliament passed a resolution that an exit “in the next 30 to 40 years” should be sought. In January 2008, Jan Björklund , the chairman of the Liberal Party of Sweden, spoke out in favor of building four more reactors. A survey in June 2008 showed that 40% of Swedes agreed to these plans, while 42% only supported the operation of the current plants and not the construction of new plants. On February 5, 2009, the Swedish Parliament decided to build ten new reactors in the three existing power plants.

November 2014, the director of the state-owned company Vattenfall, Magnus Hall, announced that he had put all plans to expand nuclear energy in Sweden on hold - following an agreement by the red-green government. In 2015, a parliamentary energy commission on the initiative of Energy Minister Ibrahim Baylan is to develop a new future concept for supplying Sweden with sustainable energy. In the medium term, three nuclear power plant blocks are to be closed. Vattenfall announced that it would close two units in the Ringhals nuclear power plant in 2018 and 2020, while EON intends to shut down Oskarshamn 2 around 2020 due to economic problems, as the necessary modernization is not worthwhile. In Sweden, approval for this form of energy generation has increased in recent years. According to a survey by public television, 66 percent of the population are positive about nuclear energy.

Oil exit

In 2006 the Swedish government announced that it wanted to switch entirely to renewable energies by 2020 in order to free itself from dependence on fossil fuels. In the same year, the Social Democratic Prime Minister Göran Persson set up a committee for oil independence ( Komiteeen för att bryta oljeberoendet i Sverige till år 2020 ) for this purpose , which worked out concrete plans. The report recommends that the following goals be achieved by 2020:

In order to achieve the goals, at least 75 percent of all new buildings are to be built in low-energy construction by 2020 . Existing houses are to be modernized and converted to district or local heating , biofuels or heat pump heating . In 2013, Sweden was the country in which the energy transition had advanced furthest worldwide.


The service sector now generates 70% of GDP, which is mainly due to the fact that the public sector has grown so rapidly over the past few decades. Nevertheless, the private service sector accounts for more than two thirds of production.


The tourism accounts for some 3% (3.3 billion euros, 2000) at Sweden's GDP. Four fifths of the tourists are domestic and only one fifth come from abroad. Of the foreign tourists in 1998, 23% came from Germany , 19% from Denmark , 10% from Norway and 9% each from Great Britain and the Netherlands . In 2016, the country was visited by over 10 million foreign tourists. There are a total of 15 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country .

Foreign trade

Cargo ship at Värtahamnen harbor in Stockholm

Sweden's economy is heavily dependent on international trade . The most important export countries are Germany (10.2% of exports in 2016), Norway (10.1%), United States (7.0%), Denmark (7.0%) and Finland (6.7%). The most important export products are machines (14.2% of exports in 2016), electrical and electronic products (14.9%) and motor vehicles and motor vehicle components (12.6%). The most important importing countries are Germany (18.8% of imports in 2016), the Netherlands (8.3%) and Norway (8.2%). The most important import products are electrical and electronic products (15.3% of imports in 2016), motor vehicles and motor vehicle components (12.1%) and food (9.7%)

The share of foreign direct investment in Sweden is comparatively high. This can be attributed to the fact that the Swedish economy is dominated by a small number of international corporations. About 50 companies account for two thirds of Swedish exports.

Sweden is the tenth largest arms exporter in the world.

Key figures

Change in gross domestic product (GDP), real Eurostat
year 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Change in% yoy 4.7 3.4 −0.6 −5.2 6.0 2.7 −0.3 1.2 2.6 4.5 2.7 2.1
Change in gross domestic product (GDP), real Eurostat
year 2018 2019
Change in% yoy 2.2 1.2
Development of GDP (nominal), World Bank
absolute (in billion US dollars) per inhabitant (in thousands of US dollars)
year 2015 2015 2016 year 2015 2016 2017
GDP in billions of dollars 498.9 514.5 538.0 GDP per inhabitant (in thousands of dollars) 50.9 51.8 53.4
Foreign Trade Development (GTAI)
in billion euros and its change compared to the previous year in percent
2014 2015 2016
Billion euros % yoy Billion % yoy Billion euros % year-on-year
import 122.1 +1.0 124.8 +2.2 127.1 +1.9
export 123.9 −1.8 126.3 +1.9 126.0 −0.2
balance +1.8 +1.5 −1.1
Sweden's main trading partner (2016), source: GTAI
Export (in percent) to Import (in percent) of
GermanyGermany Germany 10.2 GermanyGermany Germany 18.8
NorwayNorway Norway 10.1 NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands 8.3
United StatesUnited States United States 7.0 NorwayNorway Norway 8.2
DenmarkDenmark Denmark 7.0 DenmarkDenmark Denmark 7.6
FinlandFinland Finland 6.7 United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom 5.2
United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom 5.9 BelgiumBelgium Belgium 4.8
NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands 5.3 China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China People's Republic of China 4.6
other countries 47.8 other countries 42.5


In the Logistics Performance Index , which is compiled by the World Bank and measures the quality of the infrastructure, Sweden ranked second out of 160 countries in 2018.

SJ X2 in Lund

Sweden has a well-developed railway network that connects the most important cities, especially in the more densely populated south. The largest providers are Statens Järnvägar (SJ). There are also several smaller railway companies of local importance. In recent years the railway network has been reduced in size for economic reasons. This was the case, for example, with the domestic railway to northern Sweden. The high-speed traffic with the modern SJ X2 , which connects Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö / Copenhagen and several smaller cities, is important. Sweden is connected to Denmark between Malmö and Copenhagen via the Öresund connection. The largest logistics provider in rail freight transport is Green Cargo AB.


The entire road network covered around 573,134 km in 2016, of which 140,010 km are asphalt.

In terms of road traffic, the country is one of the safest in the world. In 2013 there were a total of 2.8 road deaths for every 100,000 inhabitants in Sweden. For comparison: In Germany there were 4.3 deaths in the same year. A total of 272 people were killed in traffic. The country has a high rate of motorization in a global comparison, but it is below the EU average. In 2016 there were 542 vehicles for every 1,000 inhabitants in the country (in Germany there were 610 vehicles).

Sweden has a very well developed road network with a good infrastructure of rest stops , which is being expanded like a motorway on more frequented routes . Motorways ( motorväg ) mainly connect the three metropolitan areas around Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö. A toll motorway runs over the Öresund Bridge .

Two -way three-lane roads are widespread on trunk roads , with the middle lane being used as a passing lane in each direction. Country roads and smaller paths are often unpaved across Sweden. Until 1967 there was left-hand traffic in Sweden . ( See main article Dagen H , 'Tag H', H for Swedish Högertrafikomläggningen - 'right-hand traffic changeover ')

Intercity bus

Intercity buses are a popular means of transport because they are inexpensive and offer a close-knit network.

Air traffic

Air traffic is of great importance for longer domestic connections, for example to northern Sweden. Almost every medium and large city has a commercial airport. The largest airports are Stockholm / Arlanda , Göteborg / Landvetter , Stockholm-Skavsta and Malmö Airport .


As a country with a long coastline and many natural seaports , Sweden has traditionally had a well-developed shipping industry. Coastal shipping and ferry connections are particularly important. Important ports are in Gothenburg, Malmö, Helsingborg, Trelleborg, Karlshamn, Karlskrona and in the Stockholm area.

Stena Line is the market leader in passenger and vehicle transport with ferries .


Swedish cuisine

Celebrations, customs and humor

Anders Zorn : Midsommardans , 1897

Trettondedag jul (thirteenth Christmas day, also Trettondag jul ) is celebrated on January 6th . This day corresponds to the German Epiphany and is a public holiday in mainly Protestant Sweden.

Christmas time is over on Tjugondedag jul (twentieth Christmas day, also Tjugondag jul ) or Tjugondag Knut (13 January). There are occasional closing parties with Christmas tree looting. The candles and jewelry are removed and the tree is carried out.

Påsk ( Easter ) is celebrated across the country - until the 1970s, Good Friday was a quiet day with closed shops and funeral music on the radio, today that is a thing of the past, except in strictly religious circles. On Holy Saturday the children run around dressed up as Easter witches (påskhäxor) to collect sweets or money. Good Friday and Easter Monday are public holidays.

The Valborgsmässoafton is celebrated on April 30th and corresponds to the German Walpurgis Night . The people gather around large bonfires. There are speeches about spring and spring songs are sung. Especially in the two old university towns of Lund and Uppsala , Valborg or Siste april is an important student festival on the evening before May 1st. In Uppsala, after a champagne breakfast, the festival starts at 10:00 am, when self-made, imaginative boats are steered through Fyrisån during a race . After the festive hats at 3 p.m., you can go down the Carolinahügel in a champagne gallop to the overcrowded student bars , where boisterous drinking parties begin. The students often celebrate the beginning of spring until the early hours of the morning in the parks and streets of the city with games, picnics and alcohol consumption.

June 6th, Svenska flaggans dag , is the official national holiday of Sweden. Originally launched in 1916 as “Flag Day”, June 6th has been “National Day” since 1983 and has also been a public holiday since 2005. This national day is not properly celebrated and is widely perceived as insignificant among the population.

The Midsummer Festival is celebrated on the first night of the Saturday after June 21st. The intensity of partying this weekend can only be compared to Christmas. On Midsummer Eve at the end of June, sunlight can be seen for 24 hours in the north and blue twilight for only a few hours in the south. The holiday is an age-old tradition and is rooted in the prehistoric summer solstice celebrations . Around the maypole decorated with birch twigs and flowers, perhaps the best-known Swedish national symbol, people dance and sing all over Sweden. There is an exuberant festive mood throughout the country.

The first fresh crabs hit the market earlier in August. The associated festival is called strength skiva and can take place at any time. You eat as much as you can from the crabs cooked in a strong dill broth and drink schnapps with it. Garlands and funny hats serve as jewelry.

In northern Sweden there is still the Surströmmingsskiva at the end of the summer . The consumption of herring pre-fermented in a can with potatoes or tunnbröd (thin bread - a preliminary stage of crispbread from Norrland) requires insensitive olfactory nerves.

The Lucia festival starts on the morning of December 13th and is the day of the Queen of Lights in Sweden. The eldest daughter appears as the bride of Lucia in a white dress and a wreath of cranberry branches and burning candles on her head. The "Lussebrud" wakes up the family and serves breakfast in bed. Throughout the country, schools and workplaces are visited by magically shimmering Lucia trains in the early morning hours. Young girls in foot-length white robes with candles on their heads and in their hands are accompanied by young men dressed in white, the “star boys”, who on this occasion wear a long, pointed hat crowned with a star. Together they sing the traditional chants that are part of the run-up to Christmas and Christmas. From this day on and throughout the entire Christmas period, you will eat a special yeast pastry ( lussekatter ) that is seasoned and colored with saffron .

Houses on Möja in the traditional color of
Falun red



In the 2019 press freedom ranking published by Reporters Without Borders , Sweden was ranked third out of 180 countries. The country thus had the freest press in the world behind its neighboring countries Norway and Finland.

Radio and television

The public television company Sveriges Television AB (SVT) and Sveriges Radio are based in Stockholm. The private TV4 has been located there since the early 1990s , while the private TV3, founded in the late 1980s, was based in London in order to circumvent SVT's monopoly at the time.

After cable television was introduced in the 1980s and foreign private broadcasters could also be seen in Sweden, Swedish providers of private radio and television were also approved from 1990 onwards.

Print media

National daily newspapers are Dagens Nyheter , Svenska Dagbladet and Dagens Industri , which appear in Stockholm . For further print media see also the list of newspapers .


In 2016, 93.1% of the population used the internet .


“Swedish literature” means literature written in Swedish , that is, in addition to literature from Sweden - including those written in Swedish by immigrants - literature from the Åland Islands and literature written by Finland-Swedes . Swedish literature is part of Scandinavian literature .


Swedish pop music has been an export hit since ABBA . As a result of the success of ABBA, other Swedish pop bands such as Roxette , Rednex and Ace of Base made their international breakthrough in the 1980s and 1990s . Numerous Swedish bands have also achieved worldwide success in the field of rock and metal since the 80s - the spectrum of internationally known Swedish rock bands ranges from glam rock ( Europe ) to sleaze rock ( The Hellacopters , Backyard Babies ), indie / alternative rock ( The Cardigans , Peter Bjorn and John , Shout Out Louds ) and punk rock ( Refused , The Hives , The (International) Noise Conspiracy ) to heavy metal ( In Flames , Evergrey , Hammerfall ). In the metal arena, the Gothenburg metal scene of the 1990s became internationally known and influential when bands like At the Gates , In Flames, Dark Tranquility and Soilwork helped develop a style that is now known as Melodic Death Metal . A world famous Swedish DJ is Avicii . Max Martin is the most successful Swedish music producer and songwriter - he became known in the 90s for his work for Rednex and Ace of Base and from the late 90s wrote and produced songs for Britney Spears , Katy Perry , * NSYNC , the Backstreet Boys, among others and Bon Jovi . Today Sweden is one of the most important music export nations in the world, alongside the USA, Great Britain, Canada and Australia.

Choral music from Sweden - which offers a wide range from traditional folklore to the popular drinking songs to classical choral literature - has a following in Germany that has led to the establishment of some specially designed choirs: Among others, “De tokiga trollen” from Leverkusen, “ Swedish Choir Munich ”,“ Swensk Ton ”in Frankfurt or“ The Swedish Choir in Stuttgart ”.

Folk music

The wise men of the Swedish cowherd women (vallåt) are probably among the oldest folk melodies . The melodies are signal calls for other cow keepers, which can have different meanings (lost animal, recovered animal etc.) or direct instructions to the herd (rest, lullabies, pasture songs etc.). Whether the melody sequences are characterized by musical instruments (cow horns, lurs) or were sung from the beginning cannot be determined with certainty.

Many shepherds have passed into dance music or served as a source for national romantic classical music (Alfvén, Atterberg). In dance music, which probably developed mainly in the Baroque period, the violin (minstrel music ), which had spread in Sweden since the end of the 17th century, and the dance forms of the polka (originally from Bohemia), the minuet and the polska dominate. There is no agreement as to the extent to which the Polska dance form partly existed as a peasant dance before Polish influences in the 16th and 17th centuries. Before the violin was generally used, the key fiddle (Swedish nyckelharpa , in use since the late Middle Ages) and the bagpipe were common folk instruments. The nyckelharpa has survived as an instrument to the present day. After further technical developments (chromatic nyckelharpa) it is experiencing a new upswing outside of folk music, for example in the music of the medieval scene .

In the course of the 19th century, Swedish folk music came under severe pressure from the pietistic and pious movements in the countryside. Folk music instruments were considered troll and devil stuff. The painter Anders Zorn , who has held folk music competitions below the Gesunda mountain on Lake Siljans near his hometown Mora in Dalarna since 1906, made a decisive contribution to the survival of folk music. In this way he managed to popularize the old melodies and instruments again. A similar threat experienced the Sami folk music, joik and the seeds drum during the time of proselytizing were frowned upon as the devil's music in the 17th and 18th centuries. The drums were systematically collected. The drums were used in the context of shamanistic customs (fortune telling, sacrifice, prophecy, etc.). The joik is a song that describes nature, animals, people, happy or sad events in the text and onomatopoeic in the melody.

Well-known contemporary folk musicians and singers are z. B. Ulrika Bodén , Emma Härdelin , Lena Willemark , Anders Norudde and Benny Andersson .

Art music

Johan Helmich Roman (1694–1758) is considered the real father of Swedish art music. Roman was based on Georg Friedrich Händel, wrote table music (Drottningholmsmusiken), but also the first Swedish-language mass (Then svenska messan) . Under Gustav III. the opera experienced its first heyday (at that time works with emphatically national content such as Johann Gottlieb Naumann's Gustav Vasa were also created ).

Franz Berwald (1796–1868) and Adolf Fredrik Lindblad (1801–1878) were among the first important symphonists to draw on the German Classical and Romantic periods. Beethoven was the great role model for both of them. Berwald achieved international recognition with his symphonies and wrote his first tone poems (Älvalek) . Lindblad gained great popularity mainly because of his choral works and songs. Ludvig Norman (1831–1855) dominated the mid-19th century as a symphonic composer. His symphonies follow on from the romantic music of Niels Wilhelm Gade and are close to the German romanticism of Schumann and Mendelssohn. Ivar Hallström followed French models with his operas (Den Bergtagna) and ballets. In contrast, Andreas Hallén joined the New German School with his tone poems Die Toteninsel or his opera Harald Viking , in which echoes of Wagner's work are unmistakable.

Folk music and its rich treasure trove of melodies was "rediscovered" by August Söderman . With his dance suites, his drama music and choral works he tried to find a national Swedish musical language. His attempts became a source of inspiration for the late romanticists. The music of the turn of the century was shaped by several great personalities who managed to create a national Swedish but also personal musical language: Wilhelm Stenhammar, Hugo Alfvén and Wilhelm Peterson-Berger. Of the three, Wilhelm Stenhammar is the "most classical" and the superior master of the major musical forms (symphonies, piano concertos, cantatas). Brahms and Wagner are role models for his musical language. Hugo Alfvén created a national Swedish musical language with his rhapsodies (Midsommarvaka, Uppsala rapsodi, Dalarapsodi), which use Swedish folk music as motifs. Wilhelm Peterson-Berger created important symphonies, operas (Arnljot) and piano works (Frösöblomster, I Somras) , in which he translates natural moods into sound and melody. He is also close to Wagner, but also to Edvard Grieg and at times sounds surprisingly modern and its sounds are reminiscent of Debussy's impressionism, which he actually rejected.

Swedish late romanticism is intense and lasted until around 1950. The dominant musical personality of this time is Kurt Atterberg with his symphonies, whose musical language is based on Richard Strauss . Atterberg also succeed in creating unusual timbres for depicting natural moods, some of which even surpass Strauss in terms of sophistication. In the 1930s a group of composers, the so-called "30-talisterna", began to tie in with newer musical trends with neoclassical works ( Lars-Erik Larsson , Gunnar de Frumerie , Dag Wirén ). Hilding Rosenberg became a great innovator of symphonies with his symphonies, which deal with complex intellectual contexts (St. John's Apocalypse) . With his space opera Aniara (1959), Karl-Birger Blomdahl set new standards for the development of modern music in Sweden, in which he also introduced electronic sounds (tape), although the music is still largely conservative on the neoclassical tonal language of the 1940s -Years oriented.


Royal Stockholm

Sweden has a number of opera houses and theaters, most of which are located in Stockholm, such as the Royal Opera , the Drottningholm Theater , the Royal Dramatic Theater , the Chinateatern , the Regina Theater and the Jewish Theater of Stockholm . Other houses are located in Malmö (Malmö Music Theater ), Umeå ( NorrlandsOperan ), Kristianstad ( Kristianstad Theater ), Karlstad (Wermland Opera) and Gothenburg (GöteborgsOperan).


The regular production of feature films began around 1910. The Swedish film soon achieved a quality that made it internationally known. The directors Victor Sjöström and Mauritz Stiller as well as the actress Greta Garbo achieved world fame. But with the introduction of the sound film and the associated limitation to the small, Swedish-speaking market, the film sank to a provincial level with no artistic claim. With Ingrid Bergman , Sweden already had the second big Hollywood star. It was not until after the Second World War that Swedish film itself experienced a renewed artistic boom, first in documentary films, for example Arne Sucksdorff's 1948 Oscar- winning film “ People in the City ”, and then as an outstanding auteur film with Ingmar Bergman , Jan Troell and Bo Widerberg Personalities. Bergman achieved legendary status worldwide with films such as Wild Strawberries , Scenes from a Marriage , The Seventh Seal , Autumn Sonata, and Fanny and Alexander . Swedish films for children and young people , mostly filmed by Olle Hellbom based on Astrid Lindgren's original , also received international attention. The creation of the Swedish Film Institute in the 1960s contributed to quality assurance that continues to this day.

World heritage and sights

The “World Heritage in Sweden” includes (as of 2017) fifteen UNESCO World Heritage sites , including thirteen World Heritage Sites, one World Heritage Site and a mixed cultural and natural heritage site. Two of these sites are cross-border or transnational . The first World Heritage Site was added to the World Heritage List in 1991, and the last World Heritage Site to date was entered in 2012.


Idrott (physical exercises) have a long tradition in Sweden. Skiers and swimmers were already shown in the cave drawings. Olaus Magnus describes physical exercise as part of national identity in the 15th century. At the Olympic Games in 1912 (in Stockholm) Sweden was by far the most successful country together with the USA. In order to shine above all against the neighbors Denmark, Norway and Finland and to demonstrate the superiority of Swedish gymnastics over sport, considerable investments were made in promoting top-class sport. With the involvement of American President Theodore Roosevelt in the 1908 Olympic Games, the Games were so politicized that it became important to win. Sweden bypassed the amateur conditions of the time by drawing the men's team (if the men were interested) for six months of military service, thus inventing the state amateur .

Ice hockey is a very popular sport in Sweden

In Sweden today, team sports such as ice hockey , handball , innebandy , bandy or football are very popular, as this allows the national identity to be better represented than through individual sports - especially since the individual sports do not correspond to the Swedish national character. In addition, winter sports (especially cross-country skiing ) are particularly popular.

The Hockey Team Sweden is one of the best in the world. Players like Peter Forsberg , Markus Naslund , Mats Sundin , Henrik Zetterberg , Nicklas Lidström and Daniel Alfredsson play for the “Tre Kronor” team. At the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, they won the gold medal in the final against arch-rivals Finland. That also meant the eighth world title for the Swedish team. The women's selection was able to prevent an all-North American final at these Olympic Games with a win against the USA for the first time. In the final, however, the team failed to Canada.

The most successful Swedish alpine skiers are Ingemar Stenmark , Pernilla Wiberg and Anja Pärson . The most famous Swedes in Nordic skiing are the cross-country skiers Gunde Svan , Thomas Wassberg and Torgny Mogren as well as the ski jumper Jan Boklöv , who is considered to be the inventor of the so-called V-style. Magdalena Forsberg is the most successful biathlete in the history of the World Cup.

Before the Second World War, Sweden and Austria dominated the men's competition in figure skating . With ten world championship titles, Ulrich Salchow is still the undisputed most successful figure skater at world championships . With three Olympic victories and one silver medal, Gillis Grafström is the most successful figure skater at the Olympic Games .

In football, Sweden played in the final against Brazil at the football World Cup in their own country in 1958 . In 1950 and 1994 the team reached 3rd place. Most recently, many international stars such as Henrik Larsson , Freddie Ljungberg or Olof Mellberg , currently still Zlatan Ibrahimović , played for the national team . At the 2006 World Cup in Germany, she also participated, but retired after losing to Germany in the second round. For the 2010 World Cup , Sweden could not qualify. The women's national team is one of the best in the world and the Swedish Damallsvenskan is the strongest league in Europe alongside the German Bundesliga .

In 1954, 1958, 1990 and 1999 the Swedish men's national handball team was world champion. The country became European champions in 1994, 2000 and 2002. In 1992, 1996 and 2000 the Swedish handball team took second place at the Olympic Games. Current Swedish national players include Stefan Lövgren , Marcus Ahlm , Pelle Linders , Kim Andersson , Mattias Andersson and Henrik Lundström . The Swede Magnus Wislander was named the player of the world century.

In tennis , Sweden has produced some of the world's best players. These include the five-time Wimbledon winner Björn Borg (eleven Grand Slam titles), as well as Mats Wilander (seven Grand Slam titles) and Stefan Edberg (six Grand Slam titles).

There were also some world-class table tennis players from Sweden, so u. a. Jan-Ove Waldner (two-time world champion) and Mikael Appelgren . The national team has been one of the best in the world since the 1980s. a. He won the World Championship three times in a row in 1989, 1991 and 1993 and is a record European champion with 14 titles . However, the last major international successes (World Champion 2000, European Champion 2002) are a long time ago.

In the team sport floorball (innebandy) , the Swedish men's team won six of the seven world championships held so far; the Swedish women won the world title twice. Alongside Finland and Switzerland , Sweden is one of the founding fathers of the world floorball association IFF .

There were also some successful Swedes in motorsport such as B. the two rally world champions Björn Waldegard and Stig Blomqvist as well as the two-time vice world champion Ronnie Peterson in Formula 1 . In the speedway Tony Rickardsson , Ove Fundin , Per Jonsson, Anders Michanek and Björn Knutsson won a total of 14 gold medals for Sweden in the individual speedway world championship. Tony Rickardsson is the most successful speedway driver of all time with six world championship titles. Erik Stenlund and Per-Olof Serenius were each ice speedway world champions. Anders Michanek also won the World Long Distance Championship in 1977.


  • Anemone Schlich: The Swedish public's image of the European Union . Der Andere Verlag, Osnabrück 2004, ISBN 3-89959-243-3 .
  • Jörg-Peter Findeisen: Sweden. From the beginning to the present . 2nd Edition. Verlag Friedrich Pustet, Regensburg 2005, ISBN 3-7917-1561-5 .
  • Ralph Tuchtenhagen : A Little History of Sweden. Verlag C. H. Beck, Munich 2008, ISBN 3-406-53618-2 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Sweden  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Sweden  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wikimedia Atlas: Sweden  geographical and historical maps
Wikisource: Sweden  - Sources and full texts
Wikivoyage: Sweden  Travel Guide
Portal: Sweden  - Overview of Wikipedia content on Sweden

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Coordinates: 61 °  N , 15 °  E