^ Persons who have foreign backgrounds are defined as persons who are foreign born, or born in Sweden with foreign born parents. As the Swedish government does not base any statistics on ethnicity, there are no exact numbers on the ethnic background of migrants and their descendants in Sweden. This is not, however, to be confused with migrants' national backgrounds, which are recorded.
Öresund. At 447,425 square kilometres (172,752 sq mi), Sweden is the largest Nordic country, the third-largest country in the European Union, and the fifth-largest country in Europe. The capital and largest city is Stockholm. Sweden has a total population of 10.5 million, and a low population density of 25.5 inhabitants per square kilometre (66/sq mi), with around 87% of Swedes
residing in urban areas, which cover 1.5% of the entire land area, in the central and southern half of the country.
Nature in Sweden is dominated by forests and many lakes, including
Scandes range through the landscape, primarily emptying into the northern tributaries of the Baltic Sea. It has an extensive coastline and most of the population lives near a major body of water. With the country ranging from 55°N to 69°N, the climate of Sweden is diverse due to the length of the country. The usual conditions are mild for the latitudes with a maritime south, continental centre and subarctic north. Snow cover is variable in the densely populated south, but reliable in higher latitudes. Furthermore, the rain shadow
of the Scandes results in quite dry winters and sunny summers in much of the country.
prehistoric times, emerging into history as the Geats (Swedish: Götar) and Swedes (Svear) and constituting the sea peoples known as the Norsemen. An independent Swedish state emerged during the early 12th century. After the Black Death in the middle of the 14th century killed about a third of the Scandinavian population, the dominance of the Hanseatic League in Northern Europe threatened Scandinavia economically and politically. This led to the formation of the Scandinavian Kalmar Union in 1397, which Sweden left in 1523. When Sweden became involved in the Thirty Years' War on the Protestant side, an expansion of its territories began, forming the Swedish Empire, which remained one of the great powers
The name for Sweden is generally agreed to derive from the Proto-Indo-European root *s(w)e, meaning "one's own", referring to one's own tribe from the tribal period. The native Swedish name, Sverige (a compound of the words Svea and rike, with lenition of the consonant [k], first recorded in the cognate Swēorice in Beowulf), translates as "realm of the Swedes", which excluded the Geats in Götaland.
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.
It is not known when and how the kingdom of Sweden was born, but the
Swedish-Geatish wars in the sixth century. Götaland in this sense mainly includes the provinces of Östergötland (East Gothia) and Västergötland (West Gothia). The island of Gotland was disputed by other than Swedes, at this time (Danish, Hanseatic, and Gotland-domestic). Småland was at that time of little interest to anyone due to the deep pine forests, and only the city of Kalmar with its castle was of importance. The south-west parts of the Scandinavian peninsula consisted of three Danish provinces (Scania, Blekinge and Halland). North of Halland, Denmark had a direct border to Norway and its province Bohuslän. But there were Swedish settlements along the southern coastline of Norrland
(Old Uppsala), a site of religious and political importance in the early days of Sweden
During the early stages of the Scandinavian Viking Age, Ystad in the Danish province Scania and Paviken on Gotland were flourishing centres of trade, but they were not parts of the early Swedish Kingdom. Remains of what is believed to have been a large market dating from 600 to 700 CE have been found in Ystad. In Paviken, an important centre 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.
A rough map of the extent of Swedish rule, c. 1220
Eric Chronicles Swedish kings made a first, second and third crusade to pagan Finland against Finns, Tavastians, and Karelians and started conflicts with the Rus' who no longer had any connection with Sweden. The Swedish colonisation of the coastal areas of Finland also started during the 12th and 13th century. In the 14th century, the colonisation began to be more organised, and by the end of the century, several of the coastal areas of Finland were inhabited mostly by Swedes.
Except for the provinces of Scania, Blekinge and Halland in the south-west of the Scandinavian peninsula, which were parts of the Kingdom of Denmark during this time, feudalism never developed in Sweden as it did in the rest of Europe. As a result, the peasantry remained largely a class of free farmers throughout most of Swedish history. Slavery (also called thralldom) was not common in Sweden, and what slavery there was tended to be driven out of existence by the spread of Christianity, by the difficulty of obtaining slaves from lands east of the Baltic Sea, and by the development of cities before the 16th century. Indeed, both slavery and serfdom were abolished altogether by a decree of King Magnus IV in 1335. Former slaves tended to be absorbed into the peasantry, and some became labourers in the towns. Still, Sweden remained a poor and economically backward country in which barter was the primary means of exchange. For instance, the farmers of the province of Dalsland would transport their butter to the mining districts of Sweden and exchange it there for iron, which they would then take to the coast and trade for fish, which they consumed, while the iron would be shipped abroad.
In the middle of the 14th century, Sweden was struck by the Black Death. The population of Sweden and most of Europe was decimated. The population (at same territory) did not reach the numbers of the year 1348 again until the beginning of the 19th century. One third of the population died during the period of 1349–1351. During this period, the Swedish cities 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 affected 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.
which ruled Sweden and Poland until the 17th century.
Many times the Swedish crown was inherited by child kings over the course of the kingdom's existence; consequently, real power was held for long periods by regents (notably those of the
The Hanseatic League had been officially formed at
textiles, while the remaining third was salt. The main exports from Sweden were iron and copper.
However, the Swedes began to resent the monopoly trading position of the Hansa (mostly consisting of German citizens), and to resent the income they felt they lost to the Hansa. Consequently, when Gustav Vasa or Gustav I broke the monopoly power of the Hanseatic League he was regarded as a hero by the Swedish people. History now views Gustav I as the father of the modern Swedish nation. The foundations laid by Gustav would take time to develop. Furthermore, when Sweden did develop, freed itself from the Hanseatic League, and entered its golden era, the fact that the peasantry had traditionally been free meant that more of the economic benefits flowed back to them rather than going to a feudal landowning class.
The end of the 16th century was marked by a final phase of rivalry between the remaining Catholics and the new Protestant communities. In 1592, Gustav Vasa's Catholic grandson and
deposition in 1599, Sigismund attempted to reclaim the throne at every expense and hostilities between Poland and Sweden continued for the next one hundred years.
The Swedes conducted a series of invasions into the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, known as the Deluge. After more than half a century of almost constant warfare, the Swedish economy had deteriorated. It became the lifetime task of Charles X's son, Charles XI, 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. Russia, the most serious threat to Sweden at this time, had a larger army but lagged far behind in both equipment and training.
After the success of invading Poland, Charles XII decided to make an attempt at
two campaigns against Norway on 1716 and 1718, respectively. During the second attempt, he was shot to death during the siege of Fredriksten fortress.
The Swedes were not militarily defeated at Fredriksten, but the whole structure and organisation of the 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. As the war finally ended in 1721, Sweden had lost an estimated 200,000 men, 150,000 of those from the area of present-day Sweden and 50,000 from the Finnish part of Sweden.
The Swedish East India Company, Ostindiska Kompaniet, began in 1731. The obvious choice of home port was Gothenburg at Sweden's west coast, the mouth of Göta älv river is very wide and has the county's largest and best harbour for high-seas journeys. The trade continued into the 19th century, and caused the little town to become Sweden's second city.
There was a significant population increase during the 18th and 19th centuries, which the writer Esaias Tegnér in 1833 attributed to "the peace, the smallpox vaccine, and the potatoes". Between 1750 and 1850, the population in Sweden doubled. According to some scholars, mass emigration to America became the only way to prevent famine and rebellion; over 1% of the population emigrated annually during the 1880s. Nevertheless, Sweden remained poor, retaining a nearly entirely agricultural economy even as Denmark and Western European countries began to industrialise.
, with a few others moving to other parts of the United States and Canada.
Despite the slow rate of industrialisation into the 19th century, many important changes were taking place in the agrarian economy due to constant innovations and a rapid population growth. These innovations included government-sponsored programmes of enclosure, aggressive exploitation of agricultural lands, and the introduction of new crops such as the potato. Because the Swedish peasantry had never been enserfed as elsewhere in Europe, the Swedish farming culture began to take on a critical role in Swedish politics, which has continued through modern times with modern Agrarian party (now called the Centre Party). Between 1870 and 1914, Sweden began developing the industrialised economy that exists today.
Strong grassroots movements sprang up in Sweden during the latter half of the 19th century (trade unions,
Sweden was officially neutral during World War I. However, under pressure from the German Empire, they did take steps which were detrimental to the Allied powers. Most notably, mining the Øresund channel, thus closing it to Allied shipping, and allowing the Germans to use Swedish facilities and the Swedish cipher to transmit secret messages to their overseas embassies. Sweden also allowed volunteers to fight for the White Guards alongside the Germans against the Red Guards and Russians in the Finnish Civil War, and briefly occupied Åland in cooperation with the German Empire.
A Swedish soldier during World War II. Sweden remained neutral during the conflict.
As in the First World War, Sweden remained officially neutral during World War II, although its neutrality during World War II has been disputed. Sweden was under German influence for much of the war, as ties to the rest of the world were cut off through blockades. The Swedish government felt that it was in no position to openly contest Germany, and therefore made some concessions. Sweden also supplied steel and machined parts to Germany throughout the war. The Swedish government unofficially supported Finland in the Winter War and the Continuation War by allowing volunteers and materiel to be shipped to Finland. However, Sweden supported Norwegian resistance against Germany, and in 1943 helped rescue Danish Jews from deportation to Nazi concentration camps.
During the last year of the war, Sweden began to play a role in humanitarian efforts, and many refugees, among them several thousand Jews from Nazi-occupied Europe, were rescued thanks to the Swedish rescue missions to internment camps and partly because Sweden served as a haven for refugees, primarily from the Nordic countries and the Baltic states. The Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg and his colleagues ensured the safety of tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews. Nevertheless, both Swedes and others have argued that Sweden could have done more to oppose the Nazis' war efforts, even if it meant increasing the risk of occupation.
Sweden was officially a neutral country and remained outside NATO and Warsaw Pact membership during the Cold War, but privately Sweden's leadership had strong ties with the United States and other western governments. 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 received aid under the Marshall Plan and participated in the OECD. During most of the post-war era, the country was governed by the Swedish Social Democratic Party largely in co-operation with trade unions and industry. The government actively pursued an internationally competitive manufacturing sector of primarily large corporations.
Sweden, like many industrialised countries, entered a period of economic decline and upheaval following the oil embargoes of 1973–74 and 1978–79. In the 1980s several key Swedish industries were significantly restructured. Shipbuilding was discontinued, wood pulp was integrated into modernised paper production, the steel industry was concentrated and specialised, and mechanical engineering was robotised.
Between 1970 and 1990, the overall tax burden rose by over 10%, and the growth was low compared with other countries in Western Europe. Eventually, the government began to spend over half of the country's gross domestic product. Swedish GDP per capita ranking declined during this time.
A bursting real estate bubble caused by inadequate controls on lending combined with an international recession and a policy switch from anti-unemployment policies to anti-inflationary policies resulted in a
fiscal crisis in the early 1990s. Sweden's GDP declined by around 5%. In 1992, a run on the currency caused the central bank to briefly increase interest rates to 500%.
The response of the government was to cut spending and institute a multitude of reforms to improve Sweden's competitiveness, among them reducing the
Alliance defeated the incumbent Social Democrat government. Following the rapid growth of support for the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats, and their entrance to the Riksdag in 2010
, the Alliance became a minority cabinet.
Until recently Sweden remained non-aligned militarily, although it participated 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. However, in 2022, in response to the
2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine, Sweden moved to formally join the NATO alliance. The same year, Sweden applied for NATO membership and was formally invited to join the alliance at the NATO Summit in Madrid. The secretary general of NATO Jens Stoltenberg spoke of a fast-track membership process of just a few weeks, however NATO member Turkey has repeatedly hindered Sweden from joining the alliance, demanding Swedish action against the PKK and for Sweden to extradite alleged Kurdish "terrorists" to Turkey, the situation straining relations between the two countries. Turkey has maintained links with Russia since its invasion of Ukraine in 2022.
Second day of the Stockholm Husby riots. The picture shows three cars on fire in the Stockholm suburb of Husby, 20 May 2013.
In recent decades Sweden has become a more culturally diverse nation due to significant immigration; in 2013, it was estimated that 15% of the population was foreign-born, and an additional 5% of the population were born to two immigrant parents. The influx of immigrants has brought new social challenges. Violent incidents have periodically occurred including the 2013 Stockholm riots, which broke out following the police shooting of an elderly Portuguese immigrant. In response to these violent events, the anti-immigration opposition party, the Sweden Democrats, promoted their anti-immigration policies, while the left-wing opposition blamed growing inequality caused by the centre-right government's socioeconomic policies.
In 2014, Stefan Löfven (Social Democrats) won the General Election and became the new Swedish Prime Minister to succeed Fredrik Reinfeldt of the liberal conservative Moderate Party. The Sweden Democrats held the balance of power and voted the government's budget down in the Riksdag, but due to agreements between the government and the Alliance, the government was able to hang onto power. Sweden was heavily affected by the 2015 European migrant crisis, eventually forcing the government to tighten regulations of entry to the country, as Sweden received thousands of asylum seekers and migrants predominantly from Africa and the Middle East per week in autumn, overwhelming existing structures. Some of the asylum restrictions were relaxed again later.
In August 2021, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven announced his resignation and finance minister Magdalena Andersson was elected as the new head of Sweden's ruling Social Democrats in November 2021. On 30 November 2021, Magdalena Andersson became Sweden's first female prime minister. She formed a minority government made up of only her Social Democrats. Her plan for forming a new coalition government with the Green Party was unsuccessful because her budget proposal failed to pass.
The September 2022 general election ended in a narrow win to a bloc of right-wing parties, meaning the resignation of Magdalena Andersson's government. On 18 October 2022, Ulf Kristersson of the Moderate Party became the new Prime Minister of Sweden. Kristersson's Moderates formed a centre-right coalition with the Christian Democrats and the Liberals. The new government will be backed by the biggest right-wing party, Sweden Democrats (SD) led by Jimmie Åkesson, meaning tougher immigration policies as a crucial part of a policy deal with the SD.
At 449,964 km2 (173,732 sq mi), Sweden is the 55th-largest country in the world,
above sea level
Sweden has 25
Vindelfjällen Nature Reserve
, one of the largest protected areas in Europe, totaling 562,772 ha (approx. 5,628 km2).
About 15% of Sweden lies north of the
islands; Vänern and Vättern are its largest lakes. Vänern is the third largest in Europe, after Lake Ladoga and Lake Onega in Russia. Combined with the third- and fourth-largest lakes Mälaren and Hjälmaren, these lakes take up a significant part of southern Sweden's area. Sweden's extensive waterway availability throughout the south was exploited with the building of the Göta Canal in the 19th century, shortening the potential distance between the Baltic Sea south of Norrköping and Gothenburg by using the lake and river network to facilitate the canal.
Sweden also has
. In southern Sweden, narrower rivers known as åar are also common. The vast majority of municipal seats are set either on the sea, a river or a lake and the majority of the country's population live in coastal municipalities.
Most of Sweden has a temperate climate, despite its northern latitude, with largely four distinct seasons and mild temperatures throughout the year. The winter in the far south is usually weak and is manifested only through some shorter periods with snow and sub-zero temperatures; autumn may well turn into spring there, without a distinct period of winter. The northern parts of the country have a subarctic climate while the central parts have a humid continental climate. The coastal south can be defined as having either a humid continental climate using the 0 °C isotherm, or an oceanic climate using the −3 °C isotherm.
Due to the increased maritime moderation in the peninsular south, summer differences between the coastlines of the southernmost and northernmost regions are about 2 °C (4 °F) in summer and 10 °C (18 °F) in winter. This grows further when comparing areas in the northern interior where the winter difference in the far north is about 15 °C (27 °F) throughout the country. The warmest summers usually happen in the Mälaren Valley around Stockholm due to the vast landmass shielding the middle east coast from Atlantic low-pressure systems in July compared to the south and west. Daytime highs in Sweden's municipal seats vary from 19 °C (66 °F) to 24 °C (75 °F) in July and −9 °C (16 °F) to 3 °C (37 °F) in January. The colder temperatures are influenced by the higher elevation in the northern interior. At sea level instead, the coldest average highs range from 21 °C (70 °F) to −6 °C (21 °F). As a result of the mild summers, the arctic region of Norrbotten has some of the northernmost agriculture in the world.
Sweden is much warmer and drier than other places at a similar latitude, and even somewhat farther south, mainly because of the combination of the Gulf Stream and the general west wind drift, caused by the direction of planet Earth's rotation. Sweden has much milder winters than many parts of Russia, Canada, and the northern United States. Because of Sweden's high latitude, the length of daylight varies greatly. North of the Arctic Circle, the sun never sets for part of each summer, and it never rises for part of each winter. In the capital, Stockholm, daylight lasts for more than 18 hours in late June but only around 6 hours in late December. Sweden receives between 1,100 and 1,900 hours of sunshine annually.
The highest temperature ever recorded in Sweden was 38 °C (100 °F) in Målilla in 1947, while the coldest temperature ever recorded was −52.6 °C (−62.7 °F) in Vuoggatjålme on 2 February 1966. Temperatures expected in Sweden are heavily influenced by the large Fennoscandian landmass, as well as continental Europe and western Russia, which allows hot or cool inland air to be easily transported to Sweden. That, in turn, renders most of Sweden's southern areas having warmer summers than almost everywhere in the nearby British Isles, even matching temperatures found along the continental Atlantic coast as far south as in northern Spain. In winter, however, the same high-pressure systems sometimes put the entire country far below freezing temperatures. There is some maritime moderation from the Atlantic which renders the Swedish continental climate less severe than that of nearby Russia.
Apart from the ice-free Atlantic bringing marine air into Sweden tempering winters, the mildness is further explained by prevailing low-pressure systems postponing winter, with the long nights often staying above freezing in the south of the country due to the abundant cloud cover. By the time winter finally breaks through, daylight hours rise quickly, ensuring that daytime temperatures soar quickly in spring. With the greater number of clear nights, frosts remain commonplace quite far south as late as April.
The relative strength of low and high-pressure systems of marine and continental air also define the highly variable summers. When hot continental air hits the country, the long days and short nights frequently bring temperatures up to 30 °C (86 °F) or above even in coastal areas. Nights normally remain cool, especially in inland areas. Coastal areas can see so-called tropical nights above 20 °C (68 °F) occur due to the moderating sea influence during warmer summers.
(see table below) or in the high Lapland mountains where polar microclimates exist.
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 south-western part of the country receives more precipitation, between 1,000 and 1,200 mm (39 and 47 in), and some mountain areas in the north are estimated to receive up to 2,000 mm (79 in). Despite northerly locations, southern and central Sweden may have almost no snow in some winters. Most of Sweden is located in the rain shadow
of the Scandinavian Mountains through Norway and north-west Sweden. The blocking of cool and wet air in summer, as well as the greater landmass, leads to warm and dry summers far north in the country, with quite warm summers at the Bothnia Bay coast at 65 degrees latitude, which is unheard of elsewhere in the world at such northerly coastlines.
It is predicted that as the Barents Sea gets less frozen in the coming winters, becoming thus "Atlantified", additional evaporation will increase future snowfalls in Sweden and much of continental Europe.
Sweden has a considerable south to north distance (stretching between the latitudes N 55:20:13 and N 69:03:36) which causes large climatic difference, especially during the winter. The related matter of the length and strength of the four seasons plays a role in which plants that naturally can grow at various places. Sweden is divided in five major vegetation zones. These are:
Southern deciduous forest zone, also known as the nemoral region, the southern deciduous forest zone is a part of a larger vegetation zone which also includes Denmark and large parts of Central Europe. It has to a rather large degree become agricultural areas, but larger and smaller forests still exist. The region is characterised by a large wealth of trees and shrubs. The
goat willow, larch, bird cherry, wild cherry, maple, ash, alder along creeks, and in sandy soil birch compete with pine.Spruce is not native but between approximately 1870 and 1980, large areas were planted with it. They tend to grow too quickly due to being outside of their native range and large distances between the tree rings cause poor board quality. Later some spruce trees began to die before reaching optimal height, and many more of the coniferous trees were uprooted during cyclones. During the last 40–50 years large areas of former spruce plantings have been replanted with deciduous forest.
Southern coniferous forest zone, also known as the boreo-nemoral region, the southern coniferous forest zone is delimited by the oak's northern natural limit (limes norrlandicus) and the Spruce's southern natural limit, between the southern deciduous zone and the Taiga farther north. In the southern parts of this zone the coniferous species are found, mainly spruce and pine, mixed with various deciduous trees. Birch grows largely everywhere. The beech's northern boundary crosses this zone. This is however not the case with oak and ash. Although in its natural area, also planted Spruce are common, and such woods are very dense, as the spruces can grow very tight, especially in this vegetation zone's southern areas.
The northern coniferous forest zone or the Taiga begins north of the natural boundary of the oak. Of deciduous species the birch is the only one of significance. Pine and spruce are dominant, but the forests are slowly but surely more sparsely grown the farther towards the north it gets. In the extreme north is it difficult to state the trees forms true forests at all, due to the large distances between the trees.
The alpine-birch zone, in the Scandinavian mountains, depending on both latitude and altitude, is an area where only a smaller kind of birch (Betula pubescens or B.tortuosa) can grow. Where this vegetation zone ends, no trees grow at all: the bare mountain zone.
The public sector in Sweden is divided into two parts: the
Regional Councils (Swedish: regioner) (renamed from county councils (landsting) in 2020) and local Municipalities (Swedish: kommuner). The local authorities, rather than the State, make up the larger part of the public sector in Sweden. Regional Councils and Municipalities are independent of one another, the former merely covers a larger geographical area than the latter. The local authorities have self-rule, as mandated by the Constitution, and their own tax base. Notwithstanding their self-rule, local authorities are nevertheless in practice dependent upon the State, as the parameters of their responsibilities and the extent of their jurisdiction are specified in the Local Government Act (Swedish: Kommunallagen) passed by the Riksdag.
Sweden is a
Royal Family undertake a variety of unofficial and other representative duties within Sweden and abroad.
unicameral Riksdag with 349 members. General elections are held every four years, on the second Sunday of September. Legislation may be initiated by the Government or by members of the Riksdag. Members are elected on the basis of proportional representation to a four-year term. The internal workings of the Riksdag are, in addition to the Instrument of Government, regulated by the Riksdag Act (Swedish: Riksdagsordningen). The fundamental laws can be altered by the Riksdag alone; only an absolute majority with two separate votes, separated by a general election in between, is required.
The Swedish Social Democratic Party has played a leading role in Swedish politics since 1917, after the Reformists had confirmed their strength and the left-wing revolutionaries formed their own party. After 1932, most governments have been dominated by the Social Democrats. Only six general elections since World War II—1976, 1979, 1991, 2006, 2010 and 2022—have given the assembled bloc of centre-right parties enough seats in the Riksdag to form a government.
For over 50 years, Sweden had had five parties who continually received enough votes to gain seats in the Riksdag—the Social Democrats, the
The party leaders lined up before the start of the televised
live debate on 12 September 2014.
Alliance for Sweden bloc and won a majority of the Riksdag seats. In the 2010 general election the Alliance contended against a unified left block consisting of the Social Democrats, the Greens and the Left Party. The Alliance won a plurality of 173 seats, but remained two seats short of a 175-seat majority. Nevertheless, neither the Alliance, nor the left block, chose to form a coalition with the Sweden Democrats.
The outcome of the
2014 general election resulted in the attainment of more seats by the three centre-left parties in comparison to the centre-right Alliance for Sweden, with the two blocs receiving 159 and 141 seats respectively. The non-aligned Sweden Democrats more than doubled their support and won the remaining 49 seats. On 3 October 2014, Stefan Löfven formed a minority government consisting of the Social Democrats and the Greens.
In August 2021, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven announced his resignation and finance minister Magdalena Andersson was elected as the new head of Sweden's ruling Social Democrats in November 2021. On 30 November 2021, Magdalena Andersson became Sweden's first female prime minister. She formed a minority government made up of only her Social Democrats. Her plan for forming a new coalition government with the Green Party was unsuccessful the coalition partner left after her budget proposal failed to pass. In the 2022 election, the remnants of the Alliance were able to secure a narrow majority. This was backed up by the surging Sweden Democrats becoming the second largest party. The election saw Andersson resigning from her post, with the Moderate leader Ulf Kristersson the likely replacement. The election saw the right-wing coalition win dozens of small towns always dominated by the left, while suffering major losses in the big cities.
Election turnout in Sweden has always been high by international comparison. Although it declined in recent decades, the latest elections saw an increase in voter turnout (80.11% in
2002, 81.99% in 2006, 84.63% in 2010, 85.81 in 2014) and 87.18% in 2018. Swedish politicians enjoyed a high degree of confidence from the citizens in the 1960s, However, that level of confidence has since declined steadily, and is now at a markedly lower level than in its Scandinavian neighbours.
Sweden is a unitary state divided into 21 regions (regioner) and 290 municipalities (kommuner). Every region corresponds to a county (län) with a number of municipalities per county. Regions and municipalities are both local government but have different roles and separate responsibilities. Health care, public transport and certain cultural institutions are administered by regional councils. Preschools, primary and secondary schooling, public water utilities, garbage disposal, elderly care and rescue services are administered by the municipalities. Gotland is a special case of being a region with only one municipality and the functions of region and municipality are performed by the same organisation.
Municipal and region government in Sweden is similar to
at the general election which are held every four years in conjunction with the national parliamentary elections.
Municipalities are also divided into a total of 2,512
parishes (församlingar). These have no official political responsibilities but are traditional subdivisions of the Church of Sweden
and still have some importance as census districts for census-taking and elections.
The Swedish central government has 21
County Governor (Swedish: landshövding) appointed for a term of six years. The list of previous officeholders for the counties stretches back, in most cases, to 1634 when the counties were created by Lord High Chancellor Count Axel Oxenstierna
. The main responsibility of the County Administrative Board is to co-ordinate the development of the county in line with goals set by the Riksdag and Government.
There are older historical divisions, primarily the twenty-five provinces and three lands, which still retain cultural significance.
(Geats) in the 12th century, with modern borders in grey
The actual age of the kingdom of Sweden is unknown.
Swedish monarchs from when Svealand and Götaland were ruled under the same king, namely Eric the Victorious (Geat) and his son Olof Skötkonung in the tenth century. These events are often described as the consolidation of Sweden
, although substantial areas were conquered and incorporated later.
Earlier kings, for which no reliable historical sources exist, can be read about in
and blend with Norse mythology.
The title Sveriges och Götes Konung was last used for
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
Executive power was historically shared between the King and an aristocratic
the latter granting several civil liberties. Already during the first of those three periods, the 'Era of Liberty' (1719–72) the Swedish Rikstag had developed into a very active Parliament, and this tradition continued into the nineteenth century, laying the basis for the transition towards modern democracy at the end of that century.
In 1866, Sweden became a constitutional monarchy with a
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 parliament became unicameral. Legislative power was (symbolically) shared between the King and the Riksdag until 1975. Swedish taxation is controlled by the Riksdag.
The Riksdag, the Swedish Parliament in 2014
Sweden has a history of strong political involvement by ordinary people through its "popular movements" (Folkrörelser), the most notable being trade unions, the independent Christian movement, the temperance movement, the
women's movement, and the intellectual property pirate movements. Sweden was the first country in the world to outlaw corporal punishment of children by their parents (parents' right to spank their own children was first removed in 1966, and it was explicitly prohibited by law from July 1979
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.
Some Swedish political figures have become known worldwide, among these are: Raoul Wallenberg,
The courts are divided into two parallel and separate systems: The general courts (allmänna domstolar) for criminal and civil cases, and general administrative courts (allmänna förvaltningsdomstolar) for cases relating to disputes between private persons and the authorities. Each of these systems has three tiers, where the top tier court of the respective system typically only will hear cases that may become precedent. There are also a number of special courts, which will hear a narrower set of cases, as set down by legislation. While independent in their rulings, some of these courts are operated as divisions within courts of the general or general administrative courts.
The Supreme Court of Sweden (Swedish: Högsta domstolen) is the third and final instance in all civil and criminal cases in Sweden. Before a case can be decided by the Supreme Court, leave to appeal must be obtained, and with few exceptions, leave to appeal can be granted only when the case is of interest as a precedent. The Supreme Court consists of 16 Justices (Swedish: justitieråd), appointed by the Government, but the court as an institution is independent of the Riksdag, and the Government is not able to interfere with the decisions of the court.
According to a victimisation 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.
A mid-November 2013 news report announced that four prisons in Sweden were closed during the year due to a significant drop in the number of inmates. The decrease in the number of Swedish prisoners was considered "out-of-the-ordinary" by the head of Sweden's prison and probation services, with prison numbers in Sweden falling by around 1% a year since 2004. Prisons were closed in the towns of Åby, Håja, Båtshagen, and Kristianstad.
The EU parliament in Brussels. Sweden is a member state of the European Union.
Throughout the 20th century,
Swedish foreign policy was based on the principle of non-alignment in peacetime and neutrality in wartime. Sweden's government pursued an independent course of nonalignment in times of peace so that neutrality would be possible in the event of war.
Sweden's doctrine of neutrality is often traced back to the 19th century as the country has not been in a
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.
However, Sweden also indirectly contributed to the defence of Finland in the Winter War, and permitted the training of Norwegian and Danish troops in Sweden after 1943.
Beginning in the late 1960s, Sweden attempted to play a more significant and independent role in international relations. It involved itself significantly in international peace efforts, especially through the United Nations, and in support to the Third World.
On 27 October 1981, a Whiskey-class submarine (U 137) from the Soviet Union ran aground close to the naval base at Karlskrona in the southern part of the country. Research has never clearly established whether the submarine ended up on the shoals through a navigational mistake or if an enemy committed espionage against Swedish military potential. The incident triggered a diplomatic crisis between Sweden and the Soviet Union. Following the 1986 assassination of Olof Palme and with the end of the Cold War, Sweden has adopted a more traditional foreign policy approach. Nevertheless, the country remains active in peacekeeping missions and maintains a considerable foreign aid budget.
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. In 2022, in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Sweden moved to formally join the NATO alliance. The secretary general of NATO Jens Stoltenberg spoke of a fast-track membership process of just a few weeks, however NATO member Turkey has repeatedly hindered Sweden from joining the alliance, demanding Swedish action against the PKK and for Sweden to extradite alleged Kurdish "terrorists" to Turkey, the situation straining relations between the two countries. Turkey has maintained links with Russia since its invasion of Ukraine in 2022.
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 focusing on those otherwise most fit for service. By law, all soldiers serving abroad must be volunteers. In 1975, the total number of conscripts was 45,000. By 2003, it was down to 15,000.
On 1 July 2010, Sweden ended routine conscription, switching to an all-volunteer force unless otherwise required for defence readiness. Emphasis was to be placed on only recruiting those later prepared to volunteer for international service. The total forces gathered would consist of about 60,000 personnel. This in comparison with the 1980s, before the fall of the Soviet Union, when Sweden could gather up to 1,000,000 servicemembers.
However, on 11 December 2014, due to tensions in the Baltic area, the
A proportional representation of Sweden exports, 2019
Sweden is the twelfth-richest country in the world in terms of GDP (gross domestic product) per capita and a high
foreign trade. Sweden's engineering sector accounts for 50% of output and exports, while telecommunications, the automotive industry and the pharmaceutical industries are also of great importance. Sweden is the ninth-largest arms exporter in the world. Agriculture accounts for 2% of GDP and employment. The country ranks among the highest for telephone and Internet access penetration.
Trade unions, employers' associations and collective agreements cover a large share of the employees in Sweden. The high coverage of collective agreements is achieved despite the absence of state mechanisms extending collective agreements to whole industries or sectors. Both the prominent role of collective bargaining and the way in which the high rate of coverage is achieved reflect the dominance of self-regulation (regulation by the labour market parties themselves) over state regulation in Swedish industrial relations. When the Swedish Ghent system was changed in 2007, resulting in considerably raised fees to unemployment funds, a substantial decline in union density and density of unemployment funds occurred.
In 2010, Sweden's income Gini coefficient was the third lowest among developed countries, at 0.25—slightly higher than Japan and Denmark—suggesting Sweden had low income inequality. However, Sweden's wealth Gini coefficient at 0.853 was the second highest in developed countries, and above European and North American averages, suggesting high wealth inequality. Even on a disposable income basis, the geographical distribution of Gini coefficient of income inequality varies within different regions and municipalities of Sweden. Danderyd, outside Stockholm, has Sweden's highest Gini coefficient of income inequality, at 0.55, while Hofors near Gävle has the lowest at 0.25. In and around Stockholm and Scania, two of the more densely populated regions of Sweden, the income Gini coefficient is between 0.35 and 0.55.
In terms of structure, the Swedish economy is characterised 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. High and medium-high technology manufacturing accounts for 9.9% of GDP.
The 20 largest (by turnover) registered Swedish companies in 2007 were
controlled, unlike many other industrialised Western countries, and, in accordance with a historical standard, publicly owned enterprises are of minor importance.
Real GDP growth in Sweden, 1996–2006
An estimated 4.5 million Swedish residents are employed, and around a third of the workforce completed tertiary education. In terms of GDP per-hour-worked, Sweden was the world's ninth highest in 2006 at US$31, compared to US$22 in Spain and US$35 in the United States. GDP per-hour-worked is growing 2.5% per year for the economy as a whole and the trade-terms-balanced productivity growth is 2%. According to the OECD, deregulation, globalisation, and technology sector growth have been key productivity drivers. Sweden is a world leader in privatised pensions and pension funding problems are relatively small compared to many other Western European countries. A pilot program to test the feasibility of a six-hour workday, without loss of pay, will commence in 2014, involving the participation of Gothenburg municipal staff. The Swedish government is seeking to reduce its costs through decreased sick leave hours and increased efficiency.
The typical worker receives 40% of his or her labour costs after the tax wedge. Total tax collected by Sweden as a percentage of its GDP peaked at 52.3% in 1990. The country faced a real estate and banking crisis in 1990–1991, and consequently passed tax reforms in 1991 to implement tax rate cuts and tax base broadening over time. Since 1990, taxes as a percentage of GDP collected by Sweden have been dropping, with total tax rates for the highest income earners dropping the most. In 2010 45.8% of the country's GDP was collected as taxes, the second highest among OECD countries, and nearly double the percentage in the US or South Korea. Tax income-financed employment represents a third of the Swedish workforce, a substantially higher proportion than in most other countries. Overall, GDP growth has been fast since reforms—especially those in manufacturing—were enacted in the early 1990s.
is one of the largest shopping malls in northern Europe.
Sweden is the fourth-most competitive economy in the world, according to the World Economic Forum in its Global Competitiveness Report 2012–2013. Sweden is the top performing country in the 2014 Global Green Economy Index (GGEI). Sweden is ranked fourth in the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook 2013. According to the book The Flight of the Creative Class by the US 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.
Sweden maintains its own currency, the Swedish krona (SEK), a result of the Swedes having rejected the euro in a referendum. The Swedish Riksbank—founded in 1668 and thus the oldest central bank in the world—is currently focusing on price stability with an 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 utilisation of globalisation.
The largest trade flows are with Germany, the United States, Norway, the United Kingdom, Denmark and Finland.
Financial deregulation in the 1980s adversely affected the property market, leading to a bubble and eventually a crash in the early 1990s. Commercial property prices fell by up to two thirds, resulting in two Swedish banks having to be taken over by the government. In the following two decades the property sector strengthened. By 2014, legislators, economists and the IMF were again warning of a bubble with residential property prices soaring and the level of personal mortgage debt expanding. Household debt-to-income rose above 170% as the IMF was calling on legislators to consider zoning reform and other means of generating a greater supply of housing as demand was outstripping what was available, pushing prices higher. By August 2014, 40% of home borrowers had interest-only loans while those that did not were repaying principal at a rate that would take 100 years to fully repay.
TWh, electricity from hydropower accounted for 61 TWh (44%), and nuclear power delivered 65 TWh (47%). At the same time, the use of biofuels, peat etc. produced 13 TWh (9%) of electricity, while wind power produced 1 TWh (1%). Sweden was a net importer of electricity by a margin of 6 TWh.Biomass is mainly used to produce heat for district heating and central heating
and industry processes.
Sweden joined the
oil reserves totalled 130 days’ worth of net imports. Sweden has moved to generate electricity 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 (United States) prompted the Riksdag to ban new nuclear plants. In March 2005, an opinion poll showed that 83% supported maintaining or increasing nuclear power.
Sweden is considered a "global leader" in
decarbonisation. Politicians have made announcements about oil phase-out in Sweden, decrease of nuclear power, and multibillion-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 was the first nation to implement carbon pricing, and its carbon prices remain the highest in the world as of 2020. This model has been shown to be particularly effective at decarbonizing the nation's economy. In 2014, Sweden was net exporter of electricity by a margin of 16 TWh; the production from wind power mills had increased to 11.5 TWh.
Sweden has 162,707 km (101,101 mi) of paved road and 1,428 km (887 mi) of expressways. Motorways run through Sweden and over the Øresund Bridge to Denmark. New motorways are still under construction and a new motorway from Uppsala to Gävle was finished on 17 October 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 on 3 September 1967, known in Swedish as Dagen H.
. Copenhagen Airport also is the largest international airport in Scandinavia and Finland.
Sweden also has a number of car ferry connections to several neighbouring countries.
HH Ferry route. There are over seventy departures a day each way; during peak times, a ferry departs every fifteen minutes. Ports higher up the Swedish west coast include Varberg, with a ferry connection across the Kattegat to Grenaa in Denmark, and Göteborg, serving Frederikshavn at the northern tip of Denmark and Kiel in Germany. Finally, there are ferries from Strömstad near the Norwegian border to destinations around the Oslofjord
in Norway. There used to be ferry services to the United Kingdom from Göteborg to destinations such as Immingham, Harwich and Newcastle, but these have been discontinued.
Sweden has two domestic ferry lines with large vessels, both connecting Gotland with the mainland. The lines leave from Visby harbour on the island, and the ferries sail to either Oskarshamn or Nynäshamn. A smaller car ferry connects the island of Ven in Øresund with Landskrona.
Sweden has one of the most highly developed welfare states in the world. According to a 2012 OECD report, the country had the second-highest public social spending as a percentage of its GDP after France (27.3% and 28.4%, respectively), and the third-highest total (public and private) social spending at 30.2% of its GDP, after France and Belgium (31.3% and 31.0%, respectively). Sweden spent 6.3% of its GDP, the ninth-highest among 34 OECD countries, to provide equal access to education. On health care, the country spent 10.0% of its total GDP, the 12th highest.
Historically, Sweden provided solid support for free trade (except agriculture) and mostly relatively strong and stable property rights (both private and public), though some economists have pointed out that Sweden promoted industries with tariffs and used publicly subsidised R&D during the country's early critical years of industrialisation. After World War II a succession of governments expanded the welfare state by raising the taxes. During this period Sweden's economic growth was also one of the highest in the industrial world. A series of successive social reforms transformed the country into one of the most equal and developed on earth. The consistent growth of the welfare state led to Swedes achieving unprecedented levels of social mobility and quality of life—to this day Sweden consistently ranks at the top of league tables for health, literacy and Human Development—far ahead of some wealthier countries (for example the United States).
However, from the 1970s and onwards Sweden's GDP growth fell behind other industrialised countries and the country's per capita ranking fell from fourth to 14th place in a few decades.
United Nations Development Program predicted that Sweden's rating on the Human Development Index will fall from 0.949 in 2010 to 0.906 in 2030.
Sweden began slowing the expansion of the welfare state in the 1980s, and even trimming it back. Sweden has been relatively quick to adopt
EU-15 countries. Also since the mid-1980s, Sweden has had the fastest growth in inequality of any developed nation, according to the OECD. This has largely been attributed to the reduction in state benefits and a shift toward the privatisation of public services. According to Barbro Sorman, an activist of the opposition Left Party, "The rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer. Sweden is starting to look like the USA." Nevertheless, it remains far more egalitarian than most nations. Partly as a result of these privatisations and widening economic disparity, the Swedes in the 2014 elections put the Social Democrats back in power.
Sweden adopted free market agricultural policies in 1990. Since the 1930s, the agricultural sector had been subject to price controls. In June 1990, the Riksdag voted for a new agricultural policy marking a significant shift away from price controls. As a result, food prices fell somewhat. However, the liberalisations 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 industrialised 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
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.
In 2007[update], total tax revenue was 47.8% of GDP, the second-highest tax burden among developed countries, down from 49.1% 2006. Sweden's 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 the 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 public sector (38% of Danish workforce). Spending on transfers is also high.
In 2015 and 2016, 69 per cent of the employed workers is organised in trade unions. Union density in 2016 was 62% among blue-collar-workers (most of them in the Swedish Trade Union Confederation, LO) and 75% among white-collar workers (most of them in the Swedish Confederation of Professional Employees, TCO, and the Swedish Confederation of Professional Associations, SACO). Sweden has state-supported union unemployment funds (Ghent system). Trade unions have the right to elect two representatives to the board in all Swedish companies with more than 25 employees. Sweden has a relatively high amount of sick leave per worker in OECD: the average worker loses 24 days due to sickness.
The unemployment rate was 7.2% in May 2017 while the employment rate was 67.4%, with the workforce consisting of 4,983,000 people while 387,000 are unemployed. Unemployment among youth (aged 24 or younger) in 2012 was 24.2%, making Sweden the OECD country with the highest ratio of youth unemployment versus unemployment in general.
The traditional engineering industry is still a major source of Swedish inventions, but pharmaceuticals, electronics and other high-tech industries are gaining ground.
Automatic Identification System, a worldwide standard for shipping and civil aviation navigation. 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.
Combined, the public and the private sector in Sweden allocate over 3.5% of GDP to
Swedish government has prioritised scientific and R&D activities. As a percentage of GDP, the Swedish government spends the most of any nation on research and development. Sweden tops other European countries in the number of published scientific works per capita.
In 2009, the decisions to construct Sweden's two largest scientific installations, the synchrotron radiation facility
MAX IV Laboratory and the European Spallation Source (ESS), were taken. Both installations will be built in Lund. The European Spallation Source, costing some SEK 14 billion to construct, will begin initial operations in 2019 with construction completion scheduled for 2025. The ESS will give an approximately 30 times stronger neutron beam than any of today's existing neutron source installations. The MAX IV, costing some SEK 3 billion, was inaugurated on 21 June 2016. Both facilities have strong implications on material research. Sweden was ranked third in the Global Innovation Index in 2022.
Sweden is known for its efficient waste management system. Only 0.7% of the total household waste is disposed, and the rest is reused. Around 52% its waste is used for energy production (that is burnt) and 47% recycled. About two million tonnes of waste are imported from neighbouring countries to make profitable recycling products. As of 2023 report, Sweden generated 1.7 billion euros in 2020 (the highest so far was 1.98 billion euros in 2016) from recycling waste. The works are mostly executed through the public organisation, Swedish Waste Management (Avfall Sverige).
On average, 27% of taxpayers' money in Sweden goes to education and healthcare, whereas 5% goes to the police and military, and 42% to social security.
The typical worker receives 40% of his or her labour costs after the tax wedge. Total tax collected by Sweden as a percentage of its GDP peaked at 52.3% in 1990. The country faced a real estate and banking crisis in 1990–1991, and consequently passed tax reforms in 1991 to implement tax rate cuts and tax base broadening over time. Since 1990, taxes as a percentage of GDP collected by Sweden have been dropping, with total tax rates for the highest income earners dropping the most. In 2010, 45.8% of the country's GDP was collected as taxes, the second highest among OECD countries, and nearly double the percentage in the US or South Korea.
Every Swedish resident receives a state pension. Swedish Pensions Agency is responsible for pensions. People who have worked in Sweden, but relocated to another country, can also receive the Swedish pension. There are several types of pensions in Sweden: occupational and private pensions, and national retirement. A person can receive a combination of the various types of pensions.
Population density in the counties of Sweden. People/km2.
The total resident population of Sweden was 10,377,781 in October 2020. The population exceeded 10 million for the first time on Friday 20 January 2017.
The average population density is just over 25 people per km2 (65 per square mile), with 1 437 persons per km2 in localities (continuous settlement with at least 200 inhabitants).
, the Danish-Swedish cross-border region around the Öresund that Malmö is part of, has a population of 4 million. Outside of major cities, areas with notably higher population density include the agricultural part of Östergötland, the western coast, the area around Lake Mälaren and the agricultural area around Uppsala.
Norrland, which covers approximately 60% of the Swedish territory, has a very low population density (below 5 people per square kilometre). The mountains and most of the remote coastal areas are almost unpopulated. Low population density exists also in large parts of western Svealand, as well as southern and central Småland. An area known as Finnveden, which is located in the south-west of Småland, and mainly below the 57th parallel, can also be considered as almost empty of people.
Between 1820 and 1930, approximately 1.3 million Swedes, a third of the country's population at the time,
There are no official statistics on ethnicity, but according to Statistics Sweden, 2,752,572 (26%) inhabitants of Sweden were of a foreign background in 2021, defined as being born abroad or born in Sweden with both foreign-born parents. Of these inhabitants, 2,090,503 persons were born abroad and 662,069 persons were born in Sweden to parents born abroad. In addition, 805,340 persons had one parent born abroad with the other parent born in Sweden.
Sweden has one of the oldest populations in the world, with the average age of 41.1 years.
Arabic, the use of Arabic is likely more widespread in the country than that of Finnish. However, no official statistics are kept on language use.
Along with Finnish,
Yiddish. Swedish became Sweden's official language on 1 July 2009, when a new language law was implemented. The issue of whether Swedish should be declared the official language had been raised in the past, and the Riksdag voted on the matter in 2005, but the proposal narrowly failed.
In varying degrees, a majority of Swedes, especially those born after World War II, understand and speak English, owing 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, and the relative similarity of the two languages which makes learning English easier. In a 2005 survey by Eurobarometer, 89% of Swedes reported the ability to speak English.
English became a compulsory subject for secondary school students studying
, Swedish speakers often use their native language when visiting or living in Norway or Denmark.
With religious liberalisations in the late 18th century believers of other faiths, including
Roman Catholicism, were allowed to live and work freely in the country. However, until 1860 it remained illegal for Lutherans to convert to another religion. The 19th century saw the arrival of various evangelicalfree 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 Act of 1860, but only under the provision of entering another Christian denomination. The right to stand outside any religious denomination was formally established in the law on freedom of religion
In 2000, the
state church (after Finland did so in the Church Act of 1869).
At the end of 2022, 52.8% of Swedes belonged to the
Evangelical Protestant free churches (where congregation attendance is much higher), and due to recent immigration, there are now some 100,000 Eastern Orthodox Christians and 92,000 Roman Catholics living in Sweden.
The first Muslim congregation was established in 1949, when a small contingent of
18% of Swedish citizens responded that "they believe there is a god".
45% answered that "they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force".
34% answered that "they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, god, or life force".
According to a Demoskop study in 2015, the beliefs of the Swedish showed that
21% believed in a god (down from 35 percent in 2008).
16% believed in ghosts.
14% believed in creationism or intelligent design.
atheist, preferring to call themselves Christians while being content with remaining in the Church of Sweden. Religion continues to play a role in Swedish cultural identity. This is evidenced by the fact that the majority of Swedish adults continue to remain members of the Lutheran Church despite having to pay a church tax; moreover, rates of baptism remain high and church weddings are increasing in Sweden.
Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare
Historical development of life expectancy in Sweden
Healthcare in Sweden is mainly tax-funded, universal for all citizens, and decentralised, although private health care also exists. The health care system in Sweden is financed primarily through taxes levied by regional councils and municipalities. A total of 21 councils are in charge of primary and hospital care within the country.
Private healthcare is a rarity in Sweden, and even those private institutions work under the mandated city councils. The city councils regulates the rules and the establishment of potential private practices. While care for the elderly or those who need psychiatric help is conducted privately in many other countries, in Sweden, publicly funded local authorities are in charge of this type of care.
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. In 2018, health and medical care represented around 11% of GDP.
Children aged 1–5 years old are guaranteed a place in a public kindergarten (Swedish: förskola or, colloquially, dagis). Between the ages of 6 and 16, children attend compulsory comprehensive school. In the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), Swedish 15-year-old pupils score close to the OECD average. After completing the ninth grade, about 90% of the students continue with a three-year upper secondary school (gymnasium), which can lead to both a job qualification or entrance eligibility to university. The school system is largely financed by taxes.
The Swedish government treats public and independent schools equally
education vouchers in 1992 as one of the first countries in the world after the Netherlands. Anyone can establish a for-profit school and the municipality must pay new schools the same amount as municipal schools get. School lunch is free for all students in Sweden, and providing breakfast is also encouraged.
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. In 2000, 32% of Swedish people held a tertiary degree, making the country fifth in the OECD in that category. Along with several other European countries, the government also subsidises tuition of international students pursuing a degree at Swedish institutions, although a recent bill passed in the Riksdag will limit this subsidy to students from EEA countries and Switzerland.
The large influx of immigrants to Swedish schools has been cited as a significant part of the reason why Sweden has dropped more than any other European country in the international
In recent centuries the country has been transformed from a nation of net emigration, ending after World War I, to a nation of net immigration, from World War II onwards. In recent years the country has received a massive influx of refugees and immigrants mainly due to the Syrian war which broke out in 2015. Sweden received more refugees per capita than anywhere else in Europe. In 2015 alone a record-breaking 163,000 people applied for asylum to a country of barely 10 million people.
The economic, social, and political aspects of immigration have caused controversy regarding ethnicity, economic benefits, jobs for non-immigrants, settlement patterns, effects on upward social mobility, crime, and voting behaviour.
Swedes of two Swedish parents in Sweden's counties and overall as of 2020
There are no exact numbers on the ethnic background of migrants and their descendants in Sweden because the Swedish government does not base any statistics on ethnicity. This is, however, not to be confused with the migrants' national backgrounds, which are recorded.
Immigrants in Sweden are mostly concentrated in the urban areas of Svealand and Götaland. Since the early 1970s, immigration to Sweden has been mostly due to refugee migration and family reunification from countries in Asia (particularly Western Asia) and Latin America. In 2019, Sweden granted 21,958 people asylum, up from 21,502 in 2018.
In 2021 one in five people (2,090,503) in Sweden were born abroad.
According to an official investigation by The Swedish Pensions Agency on order from the government, the immigration to Sweden will double the state's expenses for pensions to the population. The total immigration to Sweden for 2017 will be roughly 180,000 people, and after that 110,000 individuals every year.[needs update]
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. 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" that had been introduced earlier in the US with Ingmar Bergman's Summer with Monika.
The image of "hot love and cold people" emerged. Sexual liberalism was seen as part of modernisation process that by breaking down traditional borders would lead to the emancipation of natural forces and desires.
Sweden has also become very liberal towards homosexuality, as is reflected in the popular acceptance of films such as
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. As of 2009, Sweden is experiencing a baby boom.
Historical re-creations of Norse music have been attempted based on instruments found in Viking sites. The instruments used were the lur (a sort of trumpet), simple string instruments, wooden flutes and drums. Sweden has a significant folk-music scene. The joik, a type of Sami music, is a chant that is part of the traditional Sami animistic spirituality. Notable composers include Carl Michael Bellman and Franz Berwald.
Sweden also has a prominent choral music tradition. Out of a population of 9.5 million, it is estimated that five to six hundred thousand people sing in choirs.
In 2007, with over 800 million dollars in revenue, Sweden was the third-largest music exporter in the world and surpassed only by the US and the UK.
better source needed] According to one source 2013, Sweden produces the most chart hits per capita in the world, followed by the UK and the USA.
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.
Before the 13th century almost all buildings were made of timber, but a shift began towards stone. Early Swedish stone buildings are the
churches built through influences of the Hanseatic League, such as in Ystad, Malmö and Helsingborg.
Cathedrals in other parts of Sweden were also built as seats of Sweden's bishops. The Skara Cathedral is of bricks from the 14th century, and the Uppsala Cathedral in the 15th. In 1230 the foundations of the Linköping Cathedral were made, the material was there limestone, but the building took some 250 years to finish.
Among older structures are also some significant fortresses and other historical buildings such as at
Around 1520 Sweden was out of the Middle Ages and united under King Gustav Vasa, who immediately initiated grand mansions, castles and fortresses to be built. Some of the more magnificent include Kalmar Castle, Gripsholm Castle and the one at Vadstena.
In the next two centuries, Sweden was designated by Baroque architecture and later the rococo. Notable projects from that time include the city Karlskrona, which has now also been declared a World Heritage Site and the Drottningholm Palace.
1930 was the year of the great Stockholm exhibition, which marked the breakthrough of Functionalism, or funkis as it became known. The style came to dominate in the following decades. Some notable projects of this kind were the Million Programme, offering affordable living in large apartment complexes.
Ericsson Globe, located in Stockholm, is the largest hemispherical building on Earth. Its dome has a diameter of 110 metres (360 feet) and took two and a half years to build.
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
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 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,
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.
The first literary text from Sweden is the Rök runestone, carved during the Viking Age c. 800 AD. With the conversion of the land to Christianity around 1100 AD, Sweden entered the Middle Ages, during which monastic writers preferred to use Latin. Therefore, there are only a few texts in the Old Swedish from that period. Swedish literature only began to flourish when the language was standardised during the 16th century. This standardisation was largely due to the full translation of the Bible into Swedish in 1541. This translation is the so-called Gustav Vasa Bible.
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. The Swedish writer to have made the most lasting impression on world literature is the children's book writer Astrid Lindgren, and her books about Pippi Longstocking, Emil, and others. In 2008, the second best-selling fiction author in the world was Stieg Larsson, whose Millennium series of crime novels is being published posthumously to critical acclaim. Larsson drew heavily on the work of Lindgren by basing his central character, Lisbeth Salander, on Longstocking.
Apart from traditional Protestant Christian holidays, Sweden also celebrates some unique holidays, some of a pre-Christian tradition. They include Midsummer celebrating the summer solstice; Walpurgis Night (Valborgsmässoafton) on 30 April lighting bonfires; and Labour Day or May Day on 1 May is dedicated to socialist demonstrations. The day of giver-of-light Saint Lucia, 13 December, is widely acknowledged in elaborate celebrations which betoken its Italian origin and commence the month-long Christmas season.
6 June is the
Sami, one of Sweden's indigenous minorities, have their holiday on 6 February and Scania celebrate their Scanian Flag day on the third Sunday in July.
crisp bread has developed into several contemporary variants. Regionally important foods are the surströmming (a fermented fish) in northern Sweden and eel
in southern Sweden.
Swedish traditional dishes, some of which are many hundreds of years old, are still an important part of Swedish everyday meals, in spite of the fact that modern-day Swedish cuisine adopts many international dishes.
In August, at the traditional feast known as crayfish party,
Swedes have been fairly prominent in the film area through the years. A number of Swedish people have found success in Hollywood, including Ingrid Bergman, Greta Garbo and Max von Sydow. Amongst several directors who have made internationally successful films can be mentioned Ingmar Bergman, Lukas Moodysson and Lasse Hallström.
Interest in fashion is big in Sweden and the country headquarters famous brands like
within its borders. These companies, however, are composed largely of buyers who import fashionable goods from throughout Europe and America, continuing the trend of Swedish business toward multinational economic dependency like many of its neighbours.
Swedish national men's ice hockey team, affectionately known as Tre Kronor (English: Three Crowns; the national symbol of Sweden), is regarded as one of the best in the world. The team has won the World Championships nine times, placing them third in the all-time medal count. Tre Kronor also won Olympic gold medals in 1994 and 2006. In 2006, Tre Kronor became the first national hockey team to win both the Olympic and world championships in the same year. The Swedish national men's 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
^The Monarch and dynastic members of the Royal House must at all times be Protestant Christians of the Church of Sweden, but protestantism has not been the official state religion since the year 2000. However, the Church is recognised by law and is still supported by the state.
. Swedish expansion in Finland led to conflicts with Rus', which were temporarily brought to an end by a peace treaty in 1323, dividing the Karelian peninsula and the northern areas between the two countries.
^Ivars, Ann-Marie; Hulden, Lena, eds. (2002). När kom svenskarna till Finland?. Helsinki: Studier utg. av Svenska Litteratursällskapet i Finland 646.
^Tarkiainen, Kari (2008). Sveriges Österland: Från forntiden till Gustav Vasa. Finlands svenska historia 1. Skrifter utgivna av Svenska litteratursällskapet i Finland 702:1. Helsinki: Svenska litteratursällskapet i Finland; Stockholm: Atlantis.
^"A Political and Social History of Modern Europe V.1./Hayes..." Hayes, Carlton J. H. (1882–1964), Title: A Political and Social History of Modern Europe V.1., 2002-12-08, Project Gutenberg, webpage: Infomot-7hsr110. Archived 17 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine
. Though Denmark, where industrialization had begun in the 1850s, was reasonably prosperous by the end of the nineteenth century, both Sweden and Norway were terribly poor. Only the safety valve of mass emigration to America prevented famine and rebellion. At the peak of emigration in the 1880s, over 1% of the total population of both countries emigrated annually.
. In economic and social terms the eighteenth century was more a transitional than a revolutionary period. Sweden was, in light of contemporary Western European standards, a relatively poor but stable country. ...It has been estimated that 75–80% of the population was involved in agricultural pursuits during the late eighteenth century. One hundred years later, the corresponding figure was still 72%.
^Koblik, p. 11: "The agrarian revolution in Sweden is of fundamental importance for Sweden's modern development. Throughout Swedish history the countryside has taken an unusually important role in comparison with other European states."
^Koblik, p. 90. "It is usually suggested that between 1870 and 1914 Sweden emerged from its primarily agrarian economic system into a modern industrial economy."
^Nordstrom, p. 315: "Sweden's government attempted to maintain at least a semblance of neutrality while it bent to the demands of the prevailing side in the struggle. Although effective in preserving the country's sovereignty, this approach generated criticism at home from many who believed the threat to Sweden was less serious than the government claimed, problems with the warring powers, ill feelings among its neighbours, and frequent criticism in the postwar period."
^Nordstrom, p. 344: "During the last 25 years of the century a host of problems plagued the economies of Norden and the West. Although many were present before, the 1973 and 1980 global oil crises acted as catalysts in bringing them to the fore."
^Krantz, Olle; Schön, Lennart (2007). Swedish Historical National Accounts, 1800–2000. Lund: Almqvist and Wiksell International.[page needed]
^Englund, P. 1990. "Financial deregulation in Sweden." European Economic Review 34 (2–3): 385–393. Korpi TBD. Meidner, R. 1997. "The Swedish model in an era of mass unemployment." Economic and Industrial Democracy 18 (1): 87–97. Olsen, Gregg M. 1999. "Half empty or half full? The Swedish welfare state in transition." Canadian Review of Sociology & Anthropology, 36 (2): 241–268.
^"Forest and Buildings". lansstyrelsen.se (in Swedish). Archived from the original on 12 October 2017. Granskogen, som spreds norrifrån, nådde inte Skåne förrän mot slutet av 1800-talet. Under 1900-talets första hälft planterades stora arealer granskog." or in English "The spruce forest, which spread from the north, did not reach Scania until the end of the 19th century. During the first half of the twentieth century, large areas of pine forest were planted.
,"Efter stormen kritiserades skogsägarna för att de dominerande granskogarna gjorde att stormen tog hårdare. Uppblandning med lövträd gör skog stryktåligare" or in English "After the storm, the spruce and pine forest owners were criticized for the domination of the forests that made the storm tougher. Admixture with hardwood makes forest more stringent"
^Nordstrom p. 302: "In fact, the plans were mostly a ruse to establish control of the crucial Norwegian port of Narvik and the iron mines of northern Sweden, which were vitally important to the German war efforts."
^Nordstrom, p 336: "As a corollary, a security policy based on strong national defences designed to discourage, but not prevent, attack was pursued. For the next several decades, the Swedish poured an annual average of about 5% of GDP into making their defenses credible."
National Geographic News. 10 October 2003. Archived
from the original on 29 March 2017. Retrieved 10 June 2013.
^Steinfels, Peter (2009). "Scandinavian Nonbelievers, Which Is Not to Say Atheists". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 11 November 2012. Retrieved 31 December 2007. Mr. Zuckerman, a sociologist who teaches at Pitzer College in Claremont, Calif., has reported his findings on religion in Denmark and Sweden in "Society Without God" (New York University Press, 2008). Much that he found will surprise many people, as it did him. The many nonbelievers he interviewed, both informally and in structured, taped and transcribed sessions, were anything but antireligious, for example. They typically balked at the label "atheist." An overwhelming majority had in fact been baptized, and many had been confirmed or married in church. Though they denied most of the traditional teachings of Christianity, they called themselves Christians, and most were content to remain in the Danish National Church or the Church of Sweden, the traditional national branches of Lutheranism.
. More than 80 percent of adults continue to choose to belong to the Lutheran Church in spite of its recent disestablishment and the cost of having to pay the church tax. Rates of baptism remain high and church weddings are increasing. In Sweden, religion appears to play a continuing role in cultural identity, in locating the individual to tradition.
. Sweden has a strong and enviable choral singing tradition. [..] All those interviewed placed great emphasis on the social identification through singing and also referred to the importance of Swedish folk song in the maintenance of the choral singing tradition and national identity.
Bradley, David (1990). "Radical principles and the legal institution of marriage: domestic relations law and social democracy in Sweden—BRADLEY 4 (2): 154—International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family". International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family. 4 (2): 154–185.