Sweden

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Posted by r2d2 04/14/2009 @ 09:09

Tags : sweden, europe, world

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Sweden Looking to Collect $3.8M in Damages From Pirate Bay - Digital Media Wire
Stockholm, Sweden - Swedish authorities are moving to collect the $3.8 million in damages the country's High Court has ordered the operators of file-sharing hub The Pirate Bay to pay as part of their copyright infringement conviction,...
Golf-Sweden's Stenson wins Players' Championship - Reuters
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Eriksson helps Sweden win bronze - Dallas Morning News
Loui Eriksson had a goal and an assist to help Sweden defeat Team USA, 4-2, and win the bonze medal at the World Championships of Hockey in Switzerland today. Jonas Gustavsson, the free agent goalie who is being pursued by the Stars and several other...
EU Clears EUR11 Mln Govt Training Aid To Truck Maker Scania - Wall Street Journal
BRUSSELS (Dow Jones)--Sweden can give EUR11 million of training aid to its struggling truck maker Scania AB (SCV-A.SK) the European Commission said Thursday. The money will go toward a staff training program at Scania's plants at Sodertalje,...
Ericsson, WWF Sweden to reduce global CO2 emissions - Telecompaper
Ericsson and the World Wide Fund for Nature Sweden have signed a contract aimed to encourage the smart use of telecommunication products across industries to reduce global CO2 emissions. Ericsson and WWF Sweden will work together to promote...
National Briefing - Los Angeles Times
A jury convicted a Lebanese-born Swede on all 12 counts in a plot to help Al Qaeda recruit members by trying to set up a weapons-training post in Oregon and distributing terrorist training manuals over the Internet. The verdict against Oussama Kassir...
Sweden Says Gender Based Abortions are Legal - ChattahBox
This decision by Sweden's National Board of Health and Welfare was in response to a Swedish woman who underwent repeat abortions of a healthy fetus because it wasn'ta boy. The woman already had two girls and wanted a boy. Her doctors became uneasy when...
Climate-Smart Steel from SSAB Covers Sweden in Shanghai - WELT ONLINE
The Swedish pavilion is expected to have thousands of visitors each day during the fair and will be an important showcase for Sweden to display products and know-how. Prelaq Energy has qualities which contribute to reducing energy consumption in...
Report Finds Rising Rate Of Childbirth To Unwed Mothers - RedOrbit
In Sweden and Norway, about half of all births are to unwed mothers. In the US, the percentage of babies born to unwed women is about 40 percent, according to the new CDC report issued on Wednesday. Countries with lower percentages than the US include...
Sweden's Capacity Utilization Decreases In Q1 - RTT News
(RTTNews) - Wednesday, a report by Statistics Sweden said the rate of capacity utilization in the manufacturing and mining industries dropped to 78.1% in the first quarter from 83.1% in the fourth quarter. Last year, in the first quarter,...

Sweden

Flag of Sweden

Sweden (pronounced /ˈswiːdən/ (help·info)), officially the Kingdom of Sweden (Swedish: Konungariket Sverige (help·info)), is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden has land borders with Norway to the west and Finland to the northeast, and it is connected to Denmark by the Öresund Bridge in the south.

At 450,000 km² (174,000 sq mi), Sweden is the third largest country in the European Union in terms of area, and it has a total population of over 9.2 million. Sweden has a low population density of 20 people per km² (52 per square mile), but with a considerably higher density in the southern half of the country. About 85% of the population live in urban areas, and it is expected that these numbers will gradually rise as a part of the ongoing urbanisation. Sweden's capital is Stockholm, which is also the largest city in the country (population of 1.3 million in the urban area and with 2 million in the metropolitan area). The second and third largest cities are Gothenburg and Malmö.

Sweden is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of government and a highly developed economy. It ranks first in the world in The Economist's Democracy Index and 7th in the United Nation's Human Development Index. Sweden has been a member of the European Union since 1 January 1995.

Sweden emerged as an independent and unified country during the Middle Ages. In the 17th century the country expanded its territories to form the Swedish empire. Most of the conquered territories outside the Scandinavian Peninsula were lost during the 18th and 19th centuries. The eastern half of Sweden, present-day Finland, was lost to Russia in 1809. The last war in which Sweden was directly involved was in 1814, when Sweden by military means forced Norway into a personal union with Sweden, a union which lasted until 1905. Since then, Sweden has been at peace, adopting a non-aligned foreign policy in peacetime and neutrality in wartime.

The modern name Sweden is derived through back-formation from Old English Sweoðeod, which meant "people of the Swedes" (Old Norse Svíþjóð, Latin Suetidi). This word is derived from Sweon/Sweonas (Old Norse Sviar, Latin Suiones). The Swedish name Sverige literally means "Kingdom of the Swedes", excluding the Geats in Götaland.

Variations of the name Sweden are used in most languages, with the exception of Danish and Norwegian using Sverige and the more notable exception of some Finno-Ugric languages where Ruotsi (Finnish) and Rootsi (Estonian) are used, names commonly considered etymologically related to the English name for Russia, referring to the people, Rus', originally from the coastal areas of Uppland — Roslagen.

The etymology of Swedes, and thus Sweden, is generally not agreed upon but suggestively deriving from Proto-Germanic Swihoniz meaning "one's own", referring to one's own Germanic tribe.

Sweden's prehistory begins in the Allerød warm period c. 12,000 BC with Late Palaeolithic reindeer-hunting camps of the Bromme culture at the edge of the ice in what is now the country's southernmost province. This period was characterized by small bands of hunter-gatherer-fishers using flint technology.

Farming and animal husbandry, along with monumental burial, polished flint axes and decorated pottery, arrived from the Continent with the Funnel-beaker Culture in c. 4,000 BC. Sweden's southern third was part of the stock-keeping and agricultural Nordic Bronze Age Culture's area, most of it being peripheral to the culture's Danish centre. The period began in c. 1,700 BC with the start of bronze imports from Europe. Copper mining was never tried locally during this period, and Scandinavia has no tin deposits, so all metal had to be imported. It was largely cast into local designs on arrival.

The Nordic Bronze Age was entirely pre-urban, with people living in hamlets and on farmsteads with single-story wooden long-houses.

In the absence of any Roman occupation, Sweden's Iron Age is reckoned up to the introduction of stone architecture and monastic orders about 1100. Much of the period is proto-historical, that is, there are written sources but most are of low credibility. The scraps of written matter are either much later than the period in question, written in distant areas, or, while local and coeval, extremely brief.

The climate took a turn for the worse, forcing farmers to keep cattle indoors over the winters, leading to an annual build-up of manure that could now for the first time be used systematically for soil improvement.

A Roman attempt to move the Imperial border forward from the Rhine to the Elbe was aborted in AD 9 when Germans under Roman-trained leadership defeated the legions of Varus by ambush in the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. About this time, there was a major shift in the material culture of Scandinavia, reflecting increased contact with the Romans.

Starting in the 2nd century, much of southern Sweden's agricultural land was parcelled out with low stone walls. They divided the land into permanent infields and meadows for winter fodder on one side of the wall, and wooded outland where the cattle was grazed on the other side. This principle of landscape organization survived into the 19th century. The Roman Period also saw the first large-scale expansion of agricultural settlement up the Baltic coast of the country's northern two thirds.

Sweden enters proto-history with the Germania of Tacitus in AD 98. In Germania 44, 45 he mentions the Swedes (Suiones) as a powerful tribe (distinguished not merely for their arms and men, but for their powerful fleets) with ships that had a prow in both ends (longships). Which kings (kuningaz) ruled these Suiones is unknown, but Norse mythology presents a long line of legendary and semi-legendary kings going back to the last centuries BC. As for literacy in Sweden itself, the runic script was invented among the south Scandinavian elite in the 2nd century, but all that has come down to the present from the Roman Period is curt inscriptions on artefacts, mainly of male names, demonstrating that the people of south Scandinavia spoke Proto-Norse at the time, a language ancestral to Swedish and other North Germanic languages.

In the 6th century Jordanes named two tribes he calls the Suehans and the Suetidi who lived in Scandza. These two names are both considered to refer to the same tribe. The Suehans, he says, has very fine horses just as the "Thyringi" tribe (alia vero gens ibi moratur Suehans, quae velud Thyringi equis utuntur eximiis). Snorri Sturluson wrote that the contemporary Swedish king Adils (Eadgils) had the finest horses of his days. The Suehans were the suppliers of black fox skins for the Roman market. Then Jordanes names the Suetidi which is considered to be the Latin form of Svitjod. He writes that the Suetidi are the tallest of men together with the Dani who were of the same stock. Later he mentions other Scandinavian tribes for being of the same height.

I have seen the Rus as they came on their merchant journeys and encamped by the Itil. I have never seen more perfect physical specimens, tall as date palms, blond and ruddy; they wear neither tunics nor caftans, but the men wear a garment which covers one side of the body and leaves a hand free. Each man has an axe, a sword, and a knife, and keeps each by him at all times. The swords are broad and grooved, of Frankish sort.

The adventures of these Swedish Vikings are commemorated on many runestones in Sweden, such as the Greece Runestones and the Varangian Runestones. There was also considerable participation in expeditions westwards, which are commorated on stones such as the England Runestones. The last major Swedish Viking expedition appears to have been the ill-fated expedition of Ingvar the Far-Travelled to Serkland, the region south-east of the Caspian Sea. Its members are commemorated on the Ingvar Runestones, none of which mentions any survivor. What happened to the crew is unknown, but it is believed that they died of sickness.

It is not known when and how the kingdom of Sweden was born, but the list of Swedish monarchs is drawn from the first kings who ruled Svealand (Sweden) and Götaland (Gothia) as one with Erik the Victorious. Sweden and Gothia were two separate nations long before that. It is not known how long they existed, Beowulf described semi-legendary Swedish-Geatish wars in the 6th century.

During the early stages of the Scandinavian Viking Age, Ystad in Scania and Paviken on Gotland, in present-day Sweden, were flourishing trade centers. Remains of what is believed to have been a large market have been found in Ystad dating from 600–700 AD. In Paviken, an important center of trade in the Baltic region during the ninth and tenth century, remains have been found of a large Viking Age harbour with shipbuilding yards and handicraft industries. Between 800 and 1000, trade brought an abundance of silver to Gotland and according to some scholars, the Gotlanders of this era hoarded more silver than the rest of the population of Scandinavia combined.

St. Ansgar introduced Christianity in 829, but the new religion did not begin to fully replace paganism until the twelfth century. During the 11th century, Christianity became the most prevalent religion, and from the year 1050 Sweden is counted as a Christian nation. The period between 1100 and 1400 was characterized by internal power struggles and competition among the Nordic kingdoms. Swedish kings also began to expand the Swedish-controlled territory in Finland, creating conflicts with the Rus which now no longer had any connection with Sweden.

In the 14th century, Sweden was struck by the Black Death (bubonic plague). During this period the Swedish cities also began to acquire greater rights and were strongly influenced by German merchants of the Hanseatic League, active especially at Visby. In 1319, Sweden and Norway were united under King Magnus Eriksson and in 1397 Queen Margaret I of Denmark effected the personal union of Sweden, Norway, and Denmark through the Kalmar Union. However, Margaret’s successors, whose rule was also centred in Denmark, were unable to control the Swedish nobility. Real power was held for long periods by regents (notably those of the Sture family) chosen by the Swedish parliament. King Christian II of Denmark, who asserted his claim to Sweden by force of arms, ordered a massacre in 1520 of Swedish nobles at Stockholm. This came to be known as the “Stockholm blood bath” and stirred the Swedish nobility to new resistance and, on 6 June (now Sweden's national holiday) in 1523, they made Gustav Vasa their king. This is sometimes considered as the foundation of modern Sweden. Shortly afterwards he rejected Catholicism and led Sweden into the Protestant Reformation. Gustav Vasa is considered to be Sweden's "Father of the Nation".

During the 17th century Sweden emerged as a European Great Power. Before the emergence of the Swedish Empire, Sweden was a very poor, scarcely populated, barely known of country in northern Europe with no significant power or reputation. Sweden rose to European power during the tenure of king Gustavus Adolphus, thanks to territories seized from Russia and Poland-Lithuania and the Thirty Years' War. These military victories made Sweden the continental leader of Protestantism until the Empire's collapse in 1721.

Gustav Adolphus' war against the Holy Roman Empire had a high cost; during the Thirty Years' War, a third of the population of the Holy Roman Empire died, and the Holy Roman Empire lost its position as the mightiest country in Europe. Sweden managed to conquer approximately 50 percent of the Holy Roman states. Gustav Adolphus planned to become the new Holy Roman Emperor over a united Scandinavia and the Holy Roman states; however, after his death in 1632 at the Battle of Lützen, this plan was scrapped. After the Battle of Nördlingen, Sweden's only military disaster, the pro-Sweden feeling among the German states was severely injured. These German provinces excluded themselves from Swedish power one by one, leaving Sweden with only a couple of northern German provinces: Swedish Pomerania, Bremen-Verden and Wismar.

In the middle of the 17th century Sweden was the third largest country in Europe by land area, only superseded by Russia and Spain. Sweden reached its largest territorial extent under the rule of Charles X (1622–1660) after the treaty of Roskilde in 1658. The foundation of Sweden's success during this period is credited to Gustav I's major changes on the Swedish economy in the mid-1500s, and his introduction of Protestantism. The 17th century saw Sweden engaged in many wars, for example with the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth with both sides competing for territories of today's Baltic states, with the disastrous Battle of Kircholm being one of the highlights.

This period also saw the Deluge — the Swedish invasion of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. After more than half a century of almost constant warfare, the Swedish economy had deteriorated. It would become the lifetime task of Charles' son, Charles XI (1655–1697), to rebuild the economy and refit the army. His legacy to his son, the coming ruler of Sweden Charles XII, was one of the finest arsenals in the world, a large standing army and a great fleet. Sweden's largest threat at this time, Russia, had a larger army but was far behind in both equipment and training.

After the Battle of Narva in 1700, one of the first battles of the Great Northern War, the Russian army was so severely decimated that Sweden had an open chance to invade Russia. However, Charles did not pursue the Russian army — instead turning against Poland-Lithuania and defeating the Polish king Augustus II and his Saxon allies at the Battle of Kliszow in 1702. This gave the Russian Tsar time to rebuild and modernize his army. After the success of invading Poland Charles decided to make an invasion attempt of Russia which ended in a decisive Russian victory at the Battle of Poltava in 1709. After a long march exposed to cossack raids, the Russian Tsar Peter the Great's scorched-earth techniques and the cold Russian climate, the Swedes stood weakened with a shattered morale, and enormously outnumbered against the Russian army at Poltava. The defeat meant the beginning of the end for the Swedish empire.

Charles XII attempted to invade Norway 1716; however, he was shot dead at Fredriksten fortress in 1718. The Swedes weren't militarily defeated at Fredriksten, but the whole structure and organization of the Norwegian campaign fell apart with the King's death and the army withdrew. Forced to cede large areas of land in the Treaty of Nystad in 1721, Sweden also lost its place as an empire and as the dominant state on the Baltic Sea. With Sweden's lost influence, Russia emerged as an empire and became one of Europe's dominant nations.

In the 18th century, Sweden did not have enough resources to maintain its territories outside Scandinavia and most of them were lost, culminating with the 1809 loss of eastern Sweden to Russia which became the semi-autonomous Duchy of Finland in Imperial Russia.

In interest of reestablishing Swedish dominance in the Baltic, Sweden allied itself against its traditional ally and benefactor, France, in the Napoleonic Wars. Sweden's role in the Battle of Leipzig gave it the authority to force Denmark-Norway, an ally of France, to cede Norway to the King of Sweden on 14 January 1814 in exchange for northern German provinces, at the Treaty of Kiel. The Norwegian attempts to keep their status as a sovereign state were rejected by the Swedish king, Charles XIII. He launched a military campaign against Norway on July 27, 1814, ending in the Convention of Moss, which forced Norway into a personal union with Sweden under the Swedish crown, which was not dissolved until 1905. The 1814 campaign was the last war in which Sweden participated as a combatant. Swedish troops, however, have participated in war many times since.

The 18th and 19th centuries saw a significant population increase, which the writer Esaias Tegnér in 1833 famously 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 percent 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 industrialize. Many looked towards America for a better life during this time. It is believed that between 1850 and 1910 more than one million Swedes moved to the United States. In the early 20th century, more Swedes lived in Chicago than in Gothenburg (Sweden's second largest city). Most Swedish immigrants moved to the Midwestern United States, with a large population in Minnesota. Some Swedes moved to Delaware. Some also moved to Canada and others in smaller numbers to Argentina.

Despite the slow rate of industrialization into the 19th century, many important changes were taking place in the agrarian economy due to innovations and the large population growth. These innovations included government-sponsored programs of enclosure, aggressive exploitation of agricultural lands, and the introduction of new crops such as the potato. Due also to the fact that the Swedish peasantry had never been enserfed as elsewhere in Europe, the Swedish farming culture began to take on a critical role in the Swedish political process, which has continued through modern times with modern Agrarian party (now called the Centre Party). Between 1870 and 1914, Sweden began developing the industrialized economy that exists today.

Strong grassroots movements sprung up in Sweden during the latter half of the nineteenth century (trade unions, temperance groups, and independent religious groups), creating a strong foundation of democratic principles. In 1889 The Swedish Social Democratic Party was founded. These movements precipitated Sweden's migration into a modern parliamentary democracy, achieved by the time of World War I. As the Industrial Revolution progressed during the twentieth century, people gradually began moving into cities to work in factories, and became involved in socialist unions. A socialist revolution was avoided in 1917, following the re-introduction of parliamentarism, and the country was democratized.

Sweden remained officially neutral during World War I and World War II, although its neutrality during World War II has been debated. 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. However, Sweden supported Norwegian resistance, and in 1943 helped rescue Danish Jews from deportation to concentration camps. Toward the end of the war, Sweden began to play a role in humanitarian efforts and many refugees, among them many Jews from Nazi-occupied Europe, were saved partly because of the Swedish involvement in rescue missions at the internment camps and partly because Sweden served as a haven for refugees, primarily from the Nordic countries and the Baltic states. Nevertheless, internal and external critics have argued that Sweden could have done more to resist the Nazi war effort, even if risking occupation.

Sweden publicly claimed to be a neutral country and the image was forcefully maintained, but unofficially Sweden's leadership had strong ties with the United States. In the early 1960s Sweden and the United States agreed to deploy nuclear submarines off the Swedish west coast. In the same year Sweden made a defense pact with the United States. Knowledge of this alliance was kept secret from the Swedish public until 1994.

Following the war, Sweden took advantage of an intact industrial base, social stability and its natural resources to expand its industry to supply the rebuilding of Europe. Sweden was part of the Marshall Plan and participated in the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). During most of the post-war era, the country was governed by the Swedish Social Democratic Party (in Swedish: Socialdemokraterna). Social democrats imposed corporatist policies: favoring big capitalist corporations and big unions, especially Swedish Trade Union Confederation, affiliated with Social Democrats. The amount of bureaucrats rose from normal levels in the 1960s to very high levels by the 1980s. Sweden was open to trade and pursued internationally competitive manufacturing sector. Growth was good until 1970s.

Sweden, like countries around the globe, entered a period of economic decline and upheaval, following the oil embargoes of 1973–74 and 1978–79. In the 1980s pillars of Swedish industry were massively restructured. Shipbuilding was discontinued, wood pulp was integrated into modernized paper production, the steel industry was concentrated and specialized, and mechanical engineering was robotized.

Between 1970 and 1990 the overall tax burden rose by over ten percentage points and the growth was very low compared to most other countries in Western Europe. The marginal income tax for workers reached over 80%. Eventually government spent over half of the country's gross domestic product. Sweden steadily declined from its perennial top five GDP per capita ranking. Since the late 1970s, Sweden's economic policies were increasingly questioned by economists and Ministry of Finance officials.

Carl XVI Gustaf has been Sweden's king and head of state since 1973.

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, there was a run on the currency, the central bank briefly jacking up interest to 500% in an unsuccessful effort to defend the currency's fixed exchange rate. Total employment fell by almost 10% during the crisis. The response of the government was to cut spending and institute a multitude of reforms to improve Sweden's competitiveness, among them reducing the welfare state and privatizing public services and goods. Much of the political establishment promoted EU membership, and the Swedish referendum passed by 52–48% in favour of joining the EU on 13 November 1994. Sweden joined the European Union on 1 January 1995.

During the Cold War, Europe's non-aligned Western countries, except the Republic of Ireland, had considered membership unwise, as the EU predecessor, the European Community, had been strongly associated with NATO countries. Following the end of the Cold War, however, Sweden, Austria and Finland joined, though in Sweden's case without adopting the euro. Sweden remains non-aligned militarily, although it participates in some joint military exercises with NATO and some other countries, in addition to extensive cooperation with other European countries in the area of defence technology and defence industry. Among others, Swedish companies export weapons that are used by the American military in Iraq. Sweden also has a long history of participating in international military operations, including most recently, Afghanistan, where Swedish troops are under NATO command, and in EU sponsored peacekeeping operations in UN protectorate Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Cyprus.

Situated in Northern Europe, Sweden lies west of the Baltic Sea and Gulf of Bothnia, providing a long coastline, and forms the eastern part of the Scandinavian Peninsula. To the west is the Scandinavian mountain chain (Skanderna), a range that separates Sweden from Norway.

Sweden is surrounded by Norway (west), Finland (northeast), the Skagerrak, Kattegat and Öresund straits (southwest) and the Baltic Sea (east). It has maritime borders with Denmark, Germany, Poland, Russia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, and it is also linked to Denmark (southwest) by the Öresund Bridge. At 449,964 km2 (173,732 sq mi), Sweden is the 55th largest country in the world. It is the 5th largest in Europe, and the largest in Northern Europe. The land area is slightly larger than the U.S. state of California, or equal to Uzbekistan with a population in 2008 of over 9.2 million people.

The lowest elevation in Sweden is in the bay of Lake Hammarsjön, near Kristianstad at −2.41 m (−7.91 ft) below sea level. The highest point is Kebnekaise at 2,111 m (6,926 ft) above sea level.

Sweden has 25 provinces or landskap (landscapes), based on culture, geography and history; Bohuslän, Blekinge, Dalarna, Dalsland, Gotland, Gästrikland, Halland, Hälsingland, Härjedalen, Jämtland, Lapland, Medelpad, Norrbotten, Närke, Skåne, Småland, Södermanland, Uppland, Värmland, Västmanland, Västerbotten, Västergötland, Ångermanland, Öland and Östergötland. While these provinces serve no political or administrative purpose, they play an important role for people's self-identification. The provinces are usually grouped together in three large lands, parts, the northern Norrland, the central Svealand and southern Götaland. The sparsely populated Norrland encompasses almost 60% of the country.

About 15% of Sweden lies north of the Arctic Circle. Southern Sweden is predominantly agricultural, with increasing forest coverage northward. The highest population density is in the Öresund region in southern Sweden, and in the valley of lake Mälaren near to Stockholm. Gotland and Öland are Sweden's largest islands; Vänern and Vättern are Sweden's largest lakes. The lake Vänern is the largest lake in Northern Europe and the third largest in all Europe, after Lake Ladoga and Lake Onega in Russia.

Most of Sweden has a temperate climate, despite its northern latitude, with four distinct seasons and mild temperatures throughout the year. The country can be divided into three types of climate; the southernmost part has an oceanic climate, the central part has a humid continental climate and the northernmost part has a subarctic climate. However, Sweden is much warmer and drier than other places at the similar latitude, and even somewhat further south, mainly because of the Gulf Stream. For example, central and southern Sweden has much warmer winters than many parts of Russia, Canada, and the northern United States. Because of its high northern latitude, the length of daylight varies greatly. North of the Arctic Circle, the sun never sets for part of each summer, and for part of the winter the sun never rises. The capital of Stockholm's daylight lasts for more than 18 hours in late June, but only around 6 hours in late December. Most of Sweden has between 1,600 to 2,000 hours of sunshine annually.

Temperatures vary greatly from north to south. Southern and central parts of the country have warm summers and cold winters, with average high temperatures of 20 to 25°C (68–77°F) and lows of 12 to 15°C (53–59°F) in the summer, and average temperatures of −4 to 2°C (25–36°F) in the winter, while the northern part of the country has shorter, cooler summers and longer, colder and snowier winters, with temperatures that often drop below freezing from September through May. Occasional heatwaves can occur a few times each year, and temperatures above 25°C (77°F) occur on many days during the summer, sometimes even in the north. The highest temperature ever recorded in Sweden was 38°C (100.4°F) in Målilla in 1947, while the coldest temperature ever recorded was −52.6°C (−63.7°F) in Vuoggatjålme in 1966.

On average, most of Sweden receives between 500 and 800 mm (20 and 31 in) of precipitation each year, making it considerably drier than the global average. The southwestern part of the country receives more precipitation, between 1000 and 1200 mm (39 and 47 in), and some mountain areas in the north are estimated to receive up to 2000 mm (79 in). Snowfall mainly occurs from December through March in Southern Sweden, from November through April in central Sweden, and from October through May in Northern Sweden. Despite its northernly locations, southern and central Sweden tends to be virtually free of snow.

Sweden is a constitutional monarchy, in which King Carl XVI Gustaf is head of state, but royal power has long been limited to official and ceremonial functions. The Economist Intelligence Unit, while acknowledging that democracy is difficult to measure, listed Sweden in first place in its index of democracy assessing 167 countries. The nation's legislative body is the Riksdag (Swedish Parliament), with 349 members, which chooses the Prime Minister. Parliamentary elections are held every four years, on the third Sunday of September.

Sweden is a unitary state, currently divided into twenty-one counties (län). Each county has a County Administrative Board or länsstyrelse, which is appointed by the government (the first Swedish County Administrative Board was made up by the Swedish Prime Minister Axel Oxenstierna in 1634). In each county there is also a separate County Council or landsting, which is elected directly by the people.

Each county further divides into a number of municipalities or kommuner, with a total of 290 municipalities in 2004. Municipal government in Sweden is similar to city commission government and cabinet-style council government. A legislative municipal assembly (kommunfullmäktige) of between 31 and 101 members (always an uneven number) is elected from party-list proportional representation at municipal elections, held every four years in conjunction with the national parliamentary elections.

The municipalities are also divided into a total of 2,512 parishes, or församlingar (2000). These have traditionally been a subdivision of the Church of Sweden, but still have importance as districts for census and elections.

There are also older historical divisions, primarily the twenty-five provinces and three lands, which still retain cultural significance. The Swedish government is investigating the possibilities of merging the current 21 counties into circa 9 larger regions along the lines of the current riksområden used for statistical purposes. If approved, these would come into effect around 2015.

The actual age of the kingdom of Sweden is unknown. It depends mostly on whether Sweden should be considered a nation when the Svear (Swedes) ruled Svealand or if the emergence of the nation started with the Svear and the Götar (Geats) of Götaland being united under one ruler. In the first case, Sweden was first mentioned as having one single ruler in the year 98 by Tacitus, but it is almost impossible to know for how long it had been this way. However, historians usually start the line of Swedish monarchs from when Svealand and Götaland were ruled under the same king, namely Erik the Victorious and his son Olof Skötkonung in the 10th 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 mythical kings of Sweden and semi-legendary kings of Sweden. Many of these kings are only mentioned in various saga and blend with Norse mythology.

The title Sveriges och Götes Konung was last used for Gustaf I of Sweden, after which the title became "King of Sweden, of the Goths and of the Wends" (Sveriges, Götes och Vendes Konung) in official documentation. Up until the beginning of the 1920s, all laws in Sweden were introduced with the words, "We, the king of Sweden, of the Goths and Wends". This title was used up until 1973. The present King of Sweden, Carl XVI Gustaf, was the first monarch officially proclaimed "King of Sweden" (Sveriges Konung) with no additional peoples mentioned in his title.

The term Riksdag was used for the first time in the 1540s, although the first meeting where representatives of different social groups were called to discuss and determine affairs affecting the country as a whole took place as early as 1435, in the town of Arboga. During the assemblies of 1527 and 1544, under King Gustav Vasa, representatives of all four estates of the realm (clergy, nobility, townsmen and peasants) were called on to participate for the first time. The monarchy became hereditary in 1544.

Executive power was historically shared between the King and a noble Privy Council until 1680, followed by the King's autocratic rule initiated by the common estates of the Parliament. As a reaction to the failed Great Northern War, a parliamentary system was introduced in 1719, followed by three different flavours of constitutional monarchy in 1772, 1789 and 1809, the latter granting several civil liberties. The monarch remains as the formal, but merely symbolic, head of state with ceremonial duties.

The Riksdag of the Estates consisted of two chambers. In 1866 Sweden became a constitutional monarchy with a bicameral parliament, with the First Chamber indirectly elected by local governments, and the Second Chamber directly elected in national elections every four years. In 1971 the Riksdag became unicameral. Legislative power was (symbolically) shared between king and parliament until 1975. Swedish taxation is controlled by the Riksdag (parliament).

Constitutionally, the 349-member Riksdag (Parliament) holds supreme authority in modern Sweden. The Riksdag is responsible for choosing the prime minister, who then appoints the government (the ministers). The legislative power is then shared between the parliament and the Prime Minister led government. The executive power is exercised by the government, while the judiciary is independent. Sweden lacks compulsory judicial review, although the non-compulsory review carried out by lagrådet (Law Council) is mostly respected in technical matters but less so in controversial political matters. Acts of the parliament and government decrees can be made inapplicable at every level if they are manifestly against constitutional laws. However, due to the restrictions in this form of judicial review and a weak judiciary, this has had little practical consequence.

Legislation may be initiated by the cabinet or by members of Parliament. Members are elected on the basis of proportional representation for a four-year term. The Constitution of Sweden can be altered by the Riksdag, which requires a simple but absolute majority and two decisions with general elections in between. Sweden has three other constitutional laws: the Act of Royal Succession, the Freedom of Press Act and the Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression.

The Swedish Social Democratic Party has played a leading political role since 1917, after Reformists had confirmed their strength and the revolutionaries left the party. After 1932, the cabinets have been dominated by the Social Democrats. Only four general elections (1976, 1979, 1991 and 2006) have given the centre-right bloc enough seats in Parliament to form a government. However, poor economic performance since the beginning of the 1970s, and especially the crisis at the beginning of the 1990s, have forced Sweden to reform its political system to become more like other European countries. In the 2006 general election the Moderate Party, allied with the Centre Party, Liberal People's Party, and the Christian Democrats, with a common political platform, won a majority of the votes. Together they have formed a majority government under the leadership of the Moderate party's leader Fredrik Reinfeldt. The next elections will be held in September 2010.

Election turnout in Sweden has always been high by international comparison, although it has declined in recent decades, and is currently around 80% (80.11 in general election of 2002, 81.99 in general election of 2006). Swedish politicians enjoyed a high degree of confidence from the citizens in the 1960s but it has since declined steadily and has a markedly lower level of trust than its Scandinavian neighbours.

Some Swedish political figures that have become known worldwide include Raoul Wallenberg, Folke Bernadotte, former Secretary General of the United Nations Dag Hammarskjöld, former Prime Minister Olof Palme, former Prime Minister and Foreign minister Carl Bildt, former President of the General Assembly of the United Nations Jan Eliasson, and former International Atomic Energy Agency Iraq inspector Hans Blix.

Sweden 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—more recently—the sports movement.

Sweden is currently leading the EU in statistics measuring equality in the political system and equality in the education system. Gudrun Schyman founded the first Swedish feminist party, the Feminist Initiative party, commonly referred to simply as F!, in 2005. Ms. magazine quoted Schyman's view of Sweden's reputation for progressive initiatives: "In Sweden there’s a gap between words and reality.... Internationally a lot of people look upon Sweden as equality paradise, but that is not the truth – and now things are actually going backwards." In fact the pay gap between men and women in Sweden is 16%; a bit higher than the EU average of 15%. Sweden compares unfavourably with the EU average when it comes to providing full-time jobs for women, with a high fraction of employed women working part-time.

The Supreme Court of Sweden 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 Councillors of Justice or justitieråd which are 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.

Law enforcement in Sweden is carried out by several government entities. The Swedish Police Service is a Government agency concerned with police matters. The National Task Force is a national SWAT unit within the National Criminal Investigation Department. Swedish Security Service's responsibilities are counter-espionage, anti-terrorist activities, protection of the constitution and protection of sensitive objects and people.

According to a victimization survey of 1,201 residents in 2005, Sweden has above average crime rates compared to other EU countries. Sweden has high or above average levels of assaults, sexual assaults, hate crimes, and consumer fraud. Sweden has low levels of burglary, car theft and drug problems. Bribe seeking is rare.

Sweden's doctrine of neutrality is often traced back to the 19th century as the country has not participated in any war since the end of the Swedish campaign against Norway in 1814. During World War II Sweden joined neither the allied nor axis powers. This has sometimes been disputed since in effect Sweden allowed in select cases the Nazi regime to use its railroad system to transport troops and goods, especially iron ore from mines in northern Sweden, which was vital to the German war machine.

During the early Cold War era, Sweden combined its policy of non-alignment with a low profile in international affairs, although it also pursued a security policy based on strong national defence to deter attack. At the same time, the country maintained relatively close informal connections with the Western bloc, especially in the realm of intelligence exchange. In 1952, a Swedish DC-3 was shot down over the Baltic Sea by a Soviet MiG-15 jet fighter. Later investigations revealed that the plane was actually gathering information for NATO. Another plane, a Catalina search and rescue plane, was sent out a few days later and shot down by the Soviets as well. Olof Palme, the former prime minister of Sweden, visited Cuba during the 1970s and showed his support for Cuba in his speech.

Beginning in the late 1960s, Sweden for a period attempted to play a more significant and independent role in international relations. This involved significant activity in international peace efforts, especially through the United Nations, and in support to the Third World. Since the assassination of Olof Palme in 1986 and the end of the Cold War, this has been significantly toned down, although Sweden remains comparatively active in peace keeping missions and maintains a generous foreign aid budget.

In 1981 a Soviet Whiskey class submarine ran aground close to the Swedish naval base at Karlskrona in the southern part of the country. It has never been clearly established whether the submarine ended up on the shoals through a navigational mistake or if it was a matter of espionage against Swedish military potential. The incident triggered a diplomatic crisis between Sweden and the Soviet Union.

Since 1995 Sweden has been a member of the European Union, and as a consequence of a new world security situation the country's foreign policy doctrine has been partly modified, with Sweden playing a more active role in European security co-operation.

Försvarsmakten (Swedish Armed Forces) is a government agency reporting to the Swedish Ministry of Defence and responsible for the peacetime operation of the armed forces of Sweden. The primary task of the agency is to train and deploy peace support forces abroad, while maintaining the long-term ability to refocus on the defence of Sweden in the event of war. The armed forces are divided into Army, Air Force and Navy. The head of the armed forces is the Supreme Commander of the Swedish Armed Forces (Överbefälhavaren, ÖB), after the sovereign the most senior officer in the country.

Until the end of the Cold War, nearly all males reaching the age of military service were conscripted. In recent years, the number of conscripted males has shrunk dramatically, while the number of female volunteers has increased slightly. Recruitment has generally shifted towards finding the most motivated recruits, rather than solely those otherwise most fit for service. All soldiers serving abroad must by law be volunteers. In 1975 the total number of conscripts was 45,000. By 2003 it was down to 15,000. After the Defence Proposition of 2004, the number of troops in training will decrease even more to between 5,000 and 10,000 each year. The need to recruit only the soldiers later prepared to volunteer for international service will be emphasized. The total forces gathered would consist of about 60,000 men. This could be compared with the 80s before the fall of the Soviet Union, when Sweden could gather up to 1,000,000 men.

Swedish units have taken part in peacekeeping operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cyprus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Liberia, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Chad.

Currently, one of the most important tasks for the Swedish Armed Forces has been to form a Swedish-led EU Battle Group to which Norway, Finland, Ireland and Estonia will also contribute. The Nordic Battle Group (NBG) had a 10-day deployment readiness during the first half of 2008 and, although Swedish led, had its Operational Headquarters (OHQ) in Northwood, outside London.

Sweden is an export-oriented market economy featuring a modern distribution system, excellent internal and external communications, and a skilled labour force. Timber, hydropower, and iron ore constitute the resource base of an economy heavily oriented toward foreign trade. Sweden's engineering sector accounts for 50% of output and exports. Telecommunications, the automotive industry and the pharmaceutical industries are also of great importance. Agriculture accounts for 2 percent of GDP and employment.

The 20 largest (by turnover in 2007) companies registered in Sweden are Volvo, Ericsson, Vattenfall, Skanska, Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB, Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget, Electrolux, Volvo Personvagnar, TeliaSonera, Sandvik, Scania, ICA, Hennes & Mauritz, Nordea, Preem, Atlas Copco, Securitas, Nordstjernan, and SKF. Sweden's industry is overwhelmingly in private control; unlike some other industrialized Western countries, such as Austria and Italy, publicly owned enterprises were always of minor importance.

IKEA was born in Sweden and is controlled in Almhult and the Netherlands.

Some 4.5 million residents are working, out of which around a third with tertiary education. GDP per hour worked is the world's 9th highest at 31 USD in 2006, compared to 22 USD in Spain and 35 USD in United States. According to OECD, deregulation, globalization, and technology sector growth have been key productivity drivers. GDP per hour worked is growing 2½ per cent a year for the economy as a whole and trade-terms-balanced productivity growth 2%. Sweden is a world leader in privatized pensions and pension funding problems are relatively small compared to many other Western European countries. The Swedish labor market has become more flexible, but it still has some widely acknowledged problems. The typical worker receives 40% of his income after the tax wedge. The slowly declining overall taxation, 51.1% of GDP in 2007, is still nearly double of that in the United States or Ireland. State and municipal bureaucrats amount to a third of Swedish workforce, multiple times the proportion in many other countries. Overall, GDP growth has been fast since reforms in the early 1990s, especially in manufacturing.

The World Economic Forum 2008 competitiveness index ranks Sweden 4th most competitive, behind Denmark. The Index of Economic Freedom 2008 ranks Sweden the 27th most free out of 162 countries, or 14th out of 41 European countries, Sweden ranked 9th in the IMD Competitiveness Yearbook 2008, scoring high in private sector efficiency. According to the book, The Flight of the Creative Class, by the U.S. economist, Professor Richard Florida of the University of Toronto, Sweden is ranked as having the best creativity in Europe for business and is predicted to become a talent magnet for the world’s most purposeful workers. The book compiled an index to measure the kind of creativity it claims is most useful to business — talent, technology and tolerance.

Swedes have rejected the euro in a popular vote and Sweden maintains its own currency, the Swedish krona (SEK). The Swedish Riksbank — founded in 1668 and thus making it the oldest central bank in the world — is currently focusing on price stability with its inflation target of 2%. According to the Economic Survey of Sweden 2007 by the OECD, the average inflation in Sweden has been one of the lowest among European countries since the mid-1990s, largely because of deregulation and quick utilization of globalization.

The largest trade flows are with Germany, the United States, Norway, the United Kingdom, Denmark, and Finland.

Sweden's energy market is largely privatized. The Nordic energy market is one of the first liberalized energy markets in Europe and it's traded in Nord Pool. In 2006, out of a total electricity production of 139 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.

On the other hand, Sweden has proposed ban gasoline fossil fuel-driven vehicles by 2025.

The 1973 oil crisis strengthened Sweden's commitment to decrease dependence on imported fossil fuels. Since then, electricity has been generated mostly from hydropower and nuclear power. The use of nuclear power has been limited, however. Among other things, the accident of Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station (USA) prompted the Swedish parliament to ban new nuclear plants. In March 2005, an opinion poll showed that 83% supported maintaining or increasing nuclear power. Politicians have made announcements about oil phase-out in Sweden, decrease of nuclear power, and multi-billion dollar investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency. The country has for many years pursued a strategy of indirect taxation as an instrument of environmental policy, including energy taxes in general and carbon dioxide taxes in particular.

Sweden has 162,707 km paved road and 1,428 km of expressways. Motorways run through Sweden, Denmark and over the Öresund Bridge to Stockholm, Gothenburg, Uppsala and Uddevalla. The system of motorways is still under construction and a new motorway from Uppsala to Gävle was finished on October 17, 2007. Sweden had left-hand traffic (Vänstertrafik in Swedish) from approximately 1736 and continued to do so well into the 20th century. Voters rejected right-hand traffic in 1955, but after the Riksdag passed legislation in 1963 changeover took place in 1967, known in Swedish as Dagen H.

The rail transport market is privatized, but while there are many privately owned enterprises, many operators are still owned by state or municipalities. Operators include SJ, Veolia Transportation, Connex, Green Cargo, Tågkompaniet, Inlandsbanan, and a number of regional companies. Most of the railways are owned and operated by Banverket.

The largest airports include Stockholm-Arlanda Airport (17.91 million passengers in 2007) 40 km north of Stockholm, Gothenburg-Landvetter Airport (4.3 million passengers in 2006), and Stockholm-Skavsta Airport (2.0 million passengers). Sweden hosts the two largest port companies in Scandinavia, Port of Göteborg AB (Gothenburg) and the transnational company Copenhagen Malmö Port AB.

Sweden has always provided solid support for free trade (except agriculture), free immigration, and strong property rights. After World War II a succession of governments increased the welfare state and the tax burden, and Sweden's GDP per capita ranking fell from the 4th to 14th place in a few decades.

Sweden started to move away from this model in the 1980s, and according to the OECD and to McKinsey, Sweden has recently been relatively fast in liberalization compared to countries such as France. Deregulation-induced competition helped Sweden to halt the economic decline and restore strong growth rates in the 2000s. The current Swedish government is continuing the trend to pursue moderate reforms. Growth has been higher than in many other EU-15 countries.

Since the late 1960s, Sweden has had the highest tax quota (as percentage of GDP) in the industrialized world, although today the gap has narrowed and Denmark has surpassed Sweden as the most heavily taxed country among developed countries. Sweden has a two step progressive tax scale with a municipal income tax of about 30% and an additional high-income state tax of 20–25% when a salary exceeds roughly 320,000 SEK per year. The employing company pays an additional 32% of an "employer's fee." In addition, a national VAT of 25% is added to many things bought by private citizens, with the exception of food (12% VAT), transportation, and books (6% VAT). Certain items are subject to additional taxes, e.g. electricity, petrol/diesel and alcoholic beverages. As of 2007, total tax revenue was 47.8% of GDP, the second highest tax burden among developed countries, down from 49.1% 2006. Inverted tax wedge - the amount going to the service worker's wallet - is approximately 15% compared to 10% in Belgium, 30% in Ireland and 50% in United States. Public sector spending amounts to 53% of the GDP. State and municipal employees total around a third of the workforce, much more than in most Western countries. Only Denmark has a larger bureaucracy (38% of Danish workforce). Spending on transfers is also high.

Eighty percent of the workforce is organized through the trade-unions which have the right to elect two representatives to the board in all Swedish companies with more than 25 employees. Sweden have a relative high amount of sick leaves per worker in OECD: the average worker loses 24 days due to sickness. In December 2008 the number employed in age group 16-64 was 75.0%. The employment tendency was very strong in 2007. The positive trend continued during the first half of 2008, but the rate of increase slackened. According to SCB the unemployment rate in December 2008 was at 6.4%.

Sweden has one of the best education systems in the world. 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. Swedish 15-year-old pupils have the 22nd highest average score in PISA assessments, being neither significantly higher nor lower than the OECD average. After completing the 9th grade, about 90% of the students continue with a three-year upper secondary school (gymnasium), which can lead to both a job qualification or the entrance exam to university. The school system is largely financed by taxes. The Swedish government treats public and independent schools equally by introducing 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, which usually includes one or two different kinds of hot meals, a meal for vegetarians, salad bar, fruit, bread, and milk or water for drink. Some schools, especially kindergartens and middle schools, even serve breakfast for free to those who want to eat before school starts.

There are a number of different universities and colleges in Sweden, the oldest and largest of which are situated in Uppsala, Lund, Gothenburg and Stockholm. Only a few countries such as Canada, the United States and Japan have higher levels of tertiary education degree holders. Along with several other European countries, the government also subsidises tuition of international students pursuing a degree at Swedish institutions, although there has been talk of this being changed.

As of 2008, the total population of Sweden was estimated to be 9,234,209. The population exceeded 9 million for the first time as of approximately 12 August 2004 according to Statistics Sweden. The population density is only 20 people per km² (52 per square mile) and it is substantially higher in the south and than in the north. About 85% of the population live in urban areas. The capital city Stockholm has a population of about 800,000 (with 1.3 million in the urban area and 2 million in the metropolitan area). The second and third largest cities are Gothenburg and Malmö.

Of the 2007 population 13.4% (1.23 million) were born abroad. This reflects the inter-Nordic migrations, earlier periods of labour immigration, and later decades of refugee and family immigration. Sweden has been transformed from a nation of emigration ending after World War I to a nation of immigration from World War II onwards. In 2007, immigration reached its highest level since records began with 99,485 people moving to Sweden.

The largest immigrant groups living in Sweden as of 2007 consists of people born in Finland, followed by people born in the Former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Poland, Iran, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Turkey, Chile, Lebanon, Thailand, Somalia, the United Kingdom, Syria, China and the United States. In the last decade most immigrants have come from Iraq, Poland, Thailand, Somalia and China.

Immigration from the Nordic countries reached a peak of more than 40,000 per year in 1969–70 when the new immigration rules introduced in 1967 had made it more difficult for immigrants from outside the Nordic region to settle in Sweden for labour market policy reasons. Immigration by refugees and immigrating relatives of refugees from outside the Nordic region increased drastically during the late 1980s, with many of the immigrants arriving from Asia and America, especially from Iran and Chile. During the 1990s and onwards another large immigrant group came from former Yugoslavia and the Middle East. On December 15, 2008 new labour immigration rules came into effect making it easier to immigrate from outside of the European Union for labour market reasons. Most labour market immigrants so far are IT specialists and engineers from India, China and the US.

The primary language of Sweden is Swedish, a North Germanic language, related and very similar to Danish and Norwegian, but differing in pronunciation and orthography. Norwegians have little difficulty understanding Swedish, and Danes can also understand it, with slightly more difficulty than the Norwegians. Although Swedish is the dominant language, it is not an official language. Sweden Finns are Sweden's largest linguistic minority, comprising about 3 percent of Sweden's population and Finnish is recognised as a minority language. Four other minority languages are also recognised (Meänkieli, Sami, Romani and Yiddish). The issue of whether Swedish should be declared the official language has been raised and the parliament voted on the matter in 2005 but the proposal narrowly failed.

In varying degrees, depending largely on frequency of interaction with English, a majority of Swedes, especially those born after World War II, understand and speak English thanks to trade links, the popularity of overseas travel, a strong Anglo-American influence and the tradition of subtitling rather than dubbing foreign television shows and films. English became a compulsory subject for secondary school students studying natural sciences as early as 1849, and has been a compulsory subject for all Swedish students since the late 1940s. Depending on the local school authorities, English is currently a compulsory subject between first grade and ninth grade, with all students continuing in secondary school studying English for at least another year. Most students also study one and sometimes two additional languages. These include (but are not limited to) German, French and Spanish. Some Danish and Norwegian is at times also taught as part of the Swedish course for native speakers.

Before the 11th century, Swedes adhered to Norse paganism, worshiping Æsir gods, with its centre at the Temple in Uppsala. With Christianization in the 11th century, the laws of the country were changed, forbidding worship of other deities into the late 19th century.

After the Protestant Reformation in the 1530s, a change significantly affected by Martin Luther's Swedish associate Olaus Petri, the Church and state were separated and the authority of Roman Catholic bishops abolished, allowing Lutheranism to prevail. This process was completed by the Uppsala Synod of 1593. During the era following the Reformation, usually known as the period of Lutheran Orthodoxy, small groups of non-Lutherans, especially Calvinist Dutchmen, the Moravian Church and Walloons or French Huguenots from Belgium, played a significant role in trade and industry, and were quietly tolerated as long as they kept a low religious profile. The Sami originally had their own shamanistic religion, but they were converted to Lutheranism by Swedish missionaries in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Not until liberalization in the late 18th century, however, were believers of other faiths, including Judaism and Roman Catholicism, allowed to openly live and work in Sweden, and it remained illegal until 1860 for Lutheran Swedes to convert to another religion. The 19th century saw the arrival of various evangelical free churches, and, towards the end of the century secularism, leading many to distance themselves from Church rituals. Leaving the Church of Sweden became legal with the so-called dissenter law of 1860, but only under the provision of entering another denomination. The right to stand outside any religious denomination was established in the Law on Freedom of Religion in 1951.

Healthcare in Sweden is similar in quality to other developed nations. Sweden ranks in the top five countries with respect to low infant mortality. It also ranks high in life expectancy and in safe drinking water. A person seeking care first contacts a clinic for a doctor's appointment, and may then be referred to a specialist by the clinic physician, who may in turn recommend either in-patient or out-patient treatment, or an elective care option. The health care is governed by the 21 landsting of Sweden and is mainly funded by taxes, with nominal fees for patients. A major criticism of Swedish healthcare is long waiting times before treatment.

Being an advanced industrial nation, research plays a key role for economic development as well as for society at large, Sweden's high-quality scientific and technological development is renowned throughout the world.

Altogether, the public and the private sector in Sweden allocate nearly four per cent of GDP to research & development (R&D), which makes Sweden one of the countries that invest most in R&D in terms of percentage of GDP. The standard of Swedish research is high and Sweden is a world leader in a number of important fields. Sweden tops Europe in comparative statistics both in terms of research investments as a percentage of GDP and in the number of published scientific works per capita.

Though a relatively small country, Sweden has long been at the forefront of research and development. For several decades, the Swedish government, committed to strengthening R&D, has set high priorities on scientific and R&D activities. This strong engagement has helped make Sweden a leading country in terms of innovation.

For many years, Sweden has been a leading player among OECD countries in terms of its investments in and use of advanced technology. In international comparison, Swedish high-technology manufacturing is relatively large in all high-technology segments, and particularly in telecommunications and pharmaceuticals.

Statistics show that during the entire period 1970–2003, the Swedish national innovation system was among the leading countries in the OECD in terms of generating technological inventions, measured as international patenting in relation to population size. The statistics evaluating countries in terms of triadic patenting, i.e. patents assigned in the three patenting areas USA, EU and Japan, were even more outstanding. Only Switzerland reported a higher rate of triadic patenting.

Furthermore, Sweden ranked either as the first or second country publishing the highest number of scientific publications in the fields of medical science, natural science and engineering in 2001. Sweden was world-leading in medical science and second only to Switzerland in natural science and engineering in terms of the number of publications in relation to its population size.

In terms of structure, the Swedish economy is characterized by a large knowledge-intensive and export-oriented manufacturing sector, an increasing, but comparatively small, business service sector, and by international standards, a large public service sector. Large organisations both in manufacturing and services dominate the Swedish economy.

In the 18th century Sweden's scientific revolution took off. Previously, technical progress had mainly come from professionals who had immigrated from mainland Europe. In 1739, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences was founded, with people such as Carolus Linnaeus and Anders Celsius as early members. From the 1870s, engineering companies were created at an unmatched rate and engineers became heroes of the age. Many of the companies founded by early pioneers are still internationally familiar. Gustaf Dalén founded AGA, and received the Nobel Prize for his sun valve. Alfred Nobel invented dynamite and instituted the Nobel Prizes. Lars Magnus Ericsson started the company bearing his name, Ericsson, still one of the largest telecom companies in the world. Jonas Wenström was an early pioneer in alternating current and is along with Croatian inventor Tesla credited as one of the inventors of the three-phase electrical system.

The traditional engineering industry is still a major source of Swedish inventions, but pharmaceuticals, electronics and other high-tech industries are gaining ground. Tetra Pak is an invention for storing liquid foods, invented by Erik Wallenberg. Håkan Lans invented the Automatic Identification System, a worldwide standard for shipping and civil aviation navigation. Losec, an ulcer medicine, was the world's best-selling drug in the 1990s and was developed by AstraZeneca. A large portion of the Swedish economy is to this day based on the export of technical inventions, and many large multinational corporations from Sweden have their origins in the ingenuity of Swedish inventors.

Sweden has a total of 33,523 patents as of 2007, according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and only ten other countries have more patents than Sweden.

Sweden has many authors of worldwide recognition including August Strindberg, Astrid Lindgren, and Nobel Prize winners Selma Lagerlöf and Harry Martinson. In total seven Nobel Prizes in Literature have been awarded to Swedes. The nation's most well-known artists are painters such as Carl Larsson and Anders Zorn, and the sculptors Tobias Sergel and Carl Milles.

Swedish twentieth-century culture is noted by pioneering works in the early days of cinema, with Mauritz Stiller and Victor Sjöström. In the 1920s–1980s, the filmmaker Ingmar Bergman and actors Greta Garbo and Ingrid Bergman became internationally noted people within cinema. More recently, the films of Lukas Moodysson and Lasse Hallström have received international recognition.

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s Sweden was seen as an international leader in what is now referred to as the "sexual revolution", with gender equality having particularly been promoted. At the present time, the number of single people is one of the highest in the world. The early Swedish film I Am Curious (Yellow) (1967) reflected a liberal view of sexuality, including scenes of love making that caught international attention, and introduced the concept of the "Swedish sin". Sweden has also become, in recent decades, fairly liberal regarding homosexuality, as is reflected in the popular acceptance of films such as Show Me Love, which is about two young lesbians in the small Swedish town of Åmål. In the absence of legislation on same-sex marriages, Sweden offers both registered partnerships and domestic partnerships for same-sex couples. Cohabitation (sammanboende) by couples of all ages, including teenagers as well as elderly couples, is widespread although in recent years it has become administratively problematic with regard to proof in claims of "spousal" social security. Recently, Sweden is experiencing a baby boom.

Sweden has a rich musical tradition, ranging from medieval folk ballads to hip hop music. The music of the pre-Christian Norse has been lost to history, although historical re-creations 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. It is possible that the Viking musical legacy lives on in some of the old Swedish folk music.

Sweden has a significant folk-music scene, both in the traditional style as well as more modern interpretations which often mix in elements of rock and jazz. Väsen is more of a traditionalist group, using a unique, traditional Swedish instrument called the nyckelharpa while Garmarna, Nordman, and Hedningarna have more modern elements. There is also Saami music, called the joik, which is actually a type of chant which is part of the traditional Saami animistic spirituality but has gained recognition in the international world of folk music. Sweden has a major market for new age and ecologically or environmentally aware music, as well a large portion of pop and rock music having liberal and left-wing political messages.

Sweden also has a prominent choral music tradition, deriving in part from the cultural importance of Swedish folk songs. In fact, out of a population of 9.2 million, it is estimated that five to six hundred thousand people sing in choirs.

Sweden is the third largest music exporter in the world, with over 800 million dollars in 2007 years revenue, surpassed only by the US and the UK. ABBA was one of the first internationally well-known popular music bands from Sweden, and still ranks among the most prominent bands in the world, with about 370 million records sold. With ABBA, Sweden entered into a new era, in which Swedish pop music gained international prominence. There have been many other internationally successful bands since, such as Roxette, Ace of Base, Europe, and the Cardigans to name some of the biggest, and recently there has been a surge of Swedish Indie pop bands such as Mando Diao and Sahara Hotnights.

Sweden has also become known for a large number of heavy metal (mostly death metal and melodic death metal ) as well as progressive- and power metal bands. Some examples are HammerFall and Meshuggah. The neoclassical power metal guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen is from Sweden. Sweden has a rather lively jazz scene. During the last sixty years or so it has attained a remarkably high artistic standard, stimulated by domestic as well as external influences and experiences. The Centre for Swedish Folk Music and Jazz Research has published an overview of jazz in Sweden by Lars Westin.

Swedes are among the greatest consumers of newspapers in the world, and nearly every town is served by a local paper. The country's main quality morning papers are Dagens Nyheter (liberal), Göteborgs-Posten (liberal), Svenska Dagbladet (liberal conservative) and Sydsvenska Dagbladet (liberal).. The two largest evening tabloids are Aftonbladet (social democratic) and Expressen (liberal). The ad-financed, free international morning paper, Metro International, was originally founded in Stockholm, Sweden. The country's news is reported in English by, among others, The Local (liberal).

The public broadcasting companies held a monopoly on radio and television for a long time in Sweden. Licence funded radio broadcasts started in 1925. A second radio network was started in 1954 and a third opened 1962 in response to pirate radio stations. Non-profit community radio was allowed in 1979 and in 1993 commercial local radio started.

The licence funded television service was officially launched in 1956. A second channel, TV2, was launched in 1969. These two channels (operated by Sveriges Television since the late '70s) held a monopoly until the 1980s when cable and satellite television became available. The first Swedish language satellite service was TV3 which started broadcasting from London in 1987. It was followed by Kanal 5 in 1989 (then known as Nordic Channel) and TV4 in 1990.

In 1991 the government announced it would begin taking applications from private television companies wishing to broadcast on the terrestrial network. TV4, which had previously been broadcasting via satellite, was granted a permit and began its terrestrial broadcasts in 1992, becoming the first private channel to broadcast television content from within the country.

Around half the population are connected to cable television. Digital terrestrial television in Sweden started in 1999 and the last analogue terrestrial broadcasts were terminated in 2007.

The first literary text from Sweden is the Rök Runestone, carved during the Viking Age circa 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 flourished when the Swedish language was standardized in the 16th century, a standardization 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. But the only Swedish writer to have made a significant mark on world literature is the children's book writer Astrid Lindgren, and her books about Pippi Longstocking, Emil of Maple Hills, and others.

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 Mayday 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 National Day of Sweden and, as of 2005, a public holiday. Furthermore, there are official flag day observances and a Namesdays in Sweden calendar. In August many Swedes have kräftskivor (crayfish dinner parties). Martin of Tours Eve is celebrated in Scania in November with Mårten Gås parties, where roast goose and svartsoppa ('black soup', made of goose stock, fruit, spices, spirits and goose blood) are served. The Sami, one of Sweden's indigenous minorities, have their holiday on February 6 and Scania celebrate their Scanian Flag day on the third Sunday in July.

Swedish cuisine, like that of the other Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Norway and Finland), was traditionally simple. Fish (particularly herring), meat and potatoes played prominent roles. Spices were sparse. Famous dishes include Swedish meatballs, traditionally served with gravy, boiled potatoes and lingonberry jam; pancakes, lutfisk, and Smörgåsbord, or lavish buffet. Akvavit is a popular alcoholic distilled beverage, and the drinking of snaps is of cultural importance. The traditional flat and dry crisp bread has developed into several contemporary variants. Regionally important foods are the surströmming (a fermented fish) in Northern Sweden and eel in Scania in Southern Sweden. However, Swedes have traditionally also been very open to foreign influences, ranging from the French cuisine during the eighteenth century, Mediterreanean cuisine, to the sushi and cafe latte of today.

Swedes have been fairly prominent in the film area through the years, several successful Swedish Hollywood actors can be mentioned: Ingrid Bergman, Greta Garbo, Max von Sydow, Dolph Lundgren, Lena Olin, Stellan Skarsgård, Peter Stormare, Izabella Scorupco, Pernilla August, Ann-Margret, Anita Ekberg, Alexander Skarsgård, Harriet Andersson, Bibi Andersson, Ingrid Thulin, Malin Akerman and Gunnar Björnstrand. 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 is headquartering famous brands like Hennes & Mauritz (operating as H&M), J. Lindeberg (operating as JL), Acne, Gina Tricot, Tiger of Sweden, Odd Molly, Dagmar, Cheap Monday, Gant, Lexington, Svea, Resteröds, Nudie Jeans, WESC and Filippa K within its borders. These companies, however, are comprised 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 neighbors.

Sport activities are a national movement with half of the population actively participating, much thanks to the heavy government subsidies of sport associations (föreningsstöd). The two main spectator sports are football and ice hockey (several famous Swede ice hockey players include Mats Sundin, Peter Forsberg, Henrik Lundqvist, Markus Näslund, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Daniel Alfredsson, Henrik Zetterberg and Nicklas Lidström). Second to football, horse sports have the highest number of practitioners, mostly women. Thereafter follow golf, athletics, and the team sports of handball, floorball, basketball and bandy.

Sweden has been a very successful sport nation throughout the years, and has a row of sportsmen that are considered to be the best in history in their type of sport. Björn Borg is considered not only to be the most successful player in his genre of sport, tennis, but also to be one of the most successful players in the history of sports. Jan-Ove Waldner the table tennis player known as 'the Mozart of table tennis' is a legend in both his native Sweden as well as in China. Gunnar Nordahl (football player) is still the best goalscorer of all time with 225 goals in 291 matches, and remains record holder for the most goals in a season in Italy, with 35 goals 1949–1950. Skier Ingemar Stenmark is considered to be one of the greatest alpine skiers of all time with 86 World Cup Victories. The greatest female Golf player of all time, Annika Sörenstam, have 90 international tournament wins as a professional make her the female golf player with the most wins to her name. She also tops the LPGA's career money list.

The Swedish ice hockey team Tre Kronor is regarded as one of the very best in the world and has won the World Championships eight times, which makes them third in the medal count. They won Olympic gold medals in 1994 and 2006. In 2006, as the first nation in history, they won both the Olympic and world championships in the same year. The Swedish national football team has seen some success at the World Cup in the past, finishing second when they hosted the tournament in 1958, and third twice, in 1950 and 1994.

Athletics has enjoyed a surge in popularity due to several successful athletes in recent years, such as: Carolina Klüft, Stefan Holm, Christian Olsson, Patrik Sjöberg, Johan Wissman, Kajsa Bergqvist.

Sweden is also the eighth most successful country in the Olympic games in history.

In schools, on meadows and in parks, the game brännboll, a sport similar to baseball, is commonly played for fun. Other leisure sports are the historical game of kubb, and boules among the older generation.

Sweden hosted the 1912 Summer Olympics and the FIFA World Cup in 1958. Other big sports events held here include 1992 UEFA European Football Championship, FIFA Women's World Cup 1995,The Jon Olsson Invitational, and several championships of ice hockey, curling, athletics, skiing, bandy, figure skating and swimming.

In Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online.

1 Has part of its territory outside Europe.  2 Entirely in West Asia but having socio-political connections with Europe.  3 Has dependencies or similar territories outside Europe. 4 Name disputed by Greece; see Macedonia naming dispute. 5 Declared independence from Serbia on February 17, 2008 and is recognised by 57 United Nations member states.

1 Provisionally referred to by the Council of Europe as the "former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia"; see Macedonia naming dispute.

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Parliament of Sweden

Riksdag assembly hall 2006.jpg

The Riksdag (officially Swedish: Sveriges riksdag, literally: The National Diet of Sweden) is the national legislative assembly of Sweden. The riksdag is a unicameral assembly with 349 members (Swedish: riksdagsledamöter), who are elected on a proportional basis to serve fixed terms of four years. The Riksdag building stands on the island of Helgeandsholmen in Stockholm.

Riksdag is the direct Swedish equivalent of the German Reichstag. In the Swedish constitution, the word is written with a lower-case r, thus marking that it is actually not a name of the parliament, it is just the parliament.

A precise English translation of this German-Nordic word does not actually exist, but "Meeting of the Realm" may serve as a literal translation, though perhaps "Diet of the Realm" would be more accurate (dag literally means "day", and is thus cognate to the use of German tag for a Diet, which comes from Latin dies with the same meaning). The word is also used by Swedish speakers for the parliaments of Finland (it is the official term used by the Swedish-speaking minority there) and Estonia, and for the old Reichstag of Germany as well as the parliament building in Berlin (reciprocally, "Reichstag" is the standard German translation of "riksdag"). In Sweden riksdag is today also frequently used to refer to the contemporary parliament of Germany per se, and sometimes for national parliaments of other countries as well. The word is also used by Norwegian speakers with the same spelling; in Danish it is spelled rigsdag.

The riksdag performs the normal functions of a parliament in a parliamentary democracy. It enacts laws, amends the constitution and appoints a government. In most parliamentary democracies, the head of state commissions a politician to form a government. Under the new Instrument of Government (one of the four fundamental laws of the Constitution) enacted in 1974, that task was removed from the Monarch of Sweden and given to the Speaker of the Riksdag. To make changes to the Constitution under the new Instrument of Government, amendments must be approved twice by Parliament, in two successive electoral periods with a general election held in between.

After holding talks with leaders of the various party groups in the Riksdag, the Speaker of the Riksdag nominates a Prime Minister. To form a government, the Prime Minister designate must then present a list of Cabinet Ministers and have it approved by Parliament. Parliament can cast a vote of no confidence against any single member of the government, thus forcing a resignation. If a vote of no confidence is cast against the Prime Minister (Sw. Statsminister), this means the entire government is rejected, and the procedure of finding a government starts afresh.

Political parties are strong in Sweden, with members of the Riksdag usually supporting their parties in parliamentary votes. In most cases, governments can command the support of the majority in the Riksdag, allowing the government to control the parliamentary agenda.

For many years, no single political party in Sweden has managed to gain more than 50% of the votes, so political parties with similar agendas cooperate on several issues, forming coalition governments. In general, two major blocks exist in parliament, the left and the right, or socialists and non-socialists (conservatives/liberals). Currently the liberal/right coalition consisting of the Centre Party, the Liberal People's Party, the Christian Democrats and the Moderate Party governs Sweden. In the previous three electoral periods the socialists formed the government but lost the election in 2006.

All 349 members of the Riksdag are elected in the general elections held every four years. Eligible to vote and stand for elections are Swedish Citizens who turn 18 years old no later than on the day of the election. The next elections are due to be held in 2010. A minimum of 4% of the national vote is required for membership in Parliament, alternatively 12% or more within one of the election districts.

The electoral system in Sweden is proportional. Of the 349 seats in the unicameral Riksdag, 310 are fixed constituency seats allocated to constituencies in relation to the number of people entitled to vote in each constituency. The remaining 39 adjustment seats are used to correct the deviations from proportional national distribution that may arise when allocating the fixed constituency seats. There is a constraint in the system that means that only a party that has received at least four per cent of the votes in the whole country participates in the distribution of seats. However, a party that has received at least twelve per cent of the votes in a constituency participates in the distribution of the fixed constituency seats in that constituency.

The Social Democrats suffered their worst electoral result since 1920, while the Moderates recorded their best performance in modern times. As a result the center-right alliance won the election and got control over the Riksdag for the first time since 1994.

47 percent of the Members of the Swedish Parliament are women (2008). This is the world's second highest proportion of females in a national parliament.

According to a survey investigation by the sociologist Jenny Hansson , Swedish national parliamentarians have an average work week of 66 hours, including side responsibilities. Hansson's investigation further reports that the average Swedish national parliamentarian sleeps 6.5 hours per night.

The roots of the modern Riksdag can be found in a 1435 meeting of the Swedish nobility in the city of Arboga. This informal organization was modified in 1527 by the first modern Swedish king Gustav I Vasa to include representatives from all the four social estates: the nobility, the clergy, the bourgeoisie (propertied commoners in the towns such as merchants, tradesmen, lawyers, etc), and the peasantry (freehold yeoman farmers). This form of Ständestaat representation lasted until 1865, when representation by estate was abolished and the modern bicameral parliament established. Effectively, however, it did not become a parliament in the modern sense until parliamentary principles were established in the political system in Sweden, in 1917.

Prior to the Constitutional reforms that brought a new Instrument of Government in 1974, the Riksdag underwent an important change in 1970. In 1865 it had been constituted as a political assembly with two chambers but in 1970 it was transformed into a unicameral assembly with 350 seats. By chance, the following general election to the unicameral Riksdag in 1973 only gave the Government the support of 175 members, while the opposition could mobilize an equal force of 175 members. In a number of cases a tied vote ensued, and the final decision had to be determined by lot. To avoid any recurrence of this, the number of seats in Parliament was reduced to 349 from 1976.

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Sweden men's national ice hockey team

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The Swedish men's national ice hockey team, or Tre Kronor ("Three Crowns" in Swedish), as it is called in Sweden, is one of the most successful ice hockey teams in the world. The IIHF currently ranks them third. The team is controlled by the Swedish Ice Hockey Association, and it is considered a member of the "Big Seven", along with Canada, Russia, the USA, Finland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic.

The name Tre Kronor means "Three Crowns" and refers to the three crowns on the team jersey. The three crowns represent the lesser national coat of arms of the Kingdom of Sweden and the national emblem. The first time the symbol was used on the national teams jersey was on February 12, 1938, during the World Championships in Prague.

At the 2006 Winter Olympics they won the gold medal after a thrilling final against Finland, with the score 3-2.

At the 2006 Men's World Ice Hockey Championships, Sweden won the final against the Czech Republic and thus became the first hockey team ever to win at both the Winter Olympics and the World Championships in the same year.

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Sweden national football team

Swedish silver medalist at the 1958 World Cup.

The Swedish national football team is the national football team of Sweden and is controlled by the Swedish Football Association.

Sweden has traditionally been a strong team in international football, with eleven World Cup appearances and three medals in the Olympics. The Swedish team finished second in the 1958 World Cup, when it was the host team, being beaten by Brazil 5-2 in the final. Sweden has also finished third twice, in 1950 and 1994. In 1938, they finished fourth.

Sweden played its first international game against Norway, on 12 July 1908, and won it 11-3. Other games in 1908 were against England, Netherlands and Belgium. Sweden lost all three games.

In the same year Sweden competed in the 1908 Summer Olympics for the first time. Sweden however lost a game in the Olympics against the English Amateur team with 1-12 and it became the biggest loss in the Swedish national team's history.

From 1910 to 1930 Sweden exclusively played friendly games; in 1916 Sweden beat Denmark for the first time.

Sweden played in the 1912 Olympics (as hosts), the 1920 Olympics, and in the 1924 Olympics, where Sweden took the bronze and their first medal ever.

The 1938 World Cup was Sweden's second qualification for the world cup. In the first round, they were scheduled to play against Austria, but after the Germans occupied the nation of Austria could not continue playing in the tournament. Instead, Sweden went straight to the quarterfinal match against Cuba. They beat Cuba 8-0 with both Tore Keller and Gustav Wetterström scoring hat tricks. In the semi-final match against Hungary, Sweden lost 1-5. Sweden's next match was the 3rd place match against Brazil. In that game the Swedes lost 2-4, and ended in 4th place for the first and only time in Swedish football history.

In the first round Sweden played against Austria. The Austrian team had qualified without their professional players, which was a surprise since the Austrian league had many professional players who were allowed to play in the tournament. The match was played at White Hart Lane in London and Sweden won 3-0. In the second game, Sweden played against Korea and won 12-0, one of the two largest margin wins Sweden has ever had. In the semi-final Sweden met their archrivals from Denmark beating them 4-2.

The final was played at legendary Wembley Stadium in London. The attendance was around 40,000 people which was high for a football game in those days. Sweden took on Yugoslavia in the final and won 3-1, with goals by Gunnar Gren (24', 67'), Stjepan Bobek (42') and Gunnar Nordahl (48'). This was Sweden's first championship win in any international football tournament.

In the 1950 FIFA World Cup the Swedish football association did not allow any professional Swedish football players to take part. Sweden consequently only fielded amateur players during the tournament.

In the first game, Sweden beat the Italians 3-2 in São Paulo. The second game, against Paraguay, ended in a draw 2-2. With the most points in the group, Sweden advanced to the next round.

Their first game in the group was against the host nation, Brazil. It was played at the Maracanã with a total attendance of more than 138,000, to this day the record attendance for the Swedish national team. The game ended 7-1 to Brazil and it is rumored that almost everyone in the Brazilian audience waved the Swedes good bye with their scarfs.

The next game was against Uruguay, who Sweden played against for the first time in World Cup history. Played in São Paulo, Uruguay won the game 3-2, which meant Sweden were unable to play for the gold.

The final game for Sweden in the tournament was played in São Paulo, against Spain. Sweden won 3-1 with goals by Stig Sundqvist (15'), Bror Mellberg (34') and Karl-Erik Palmér (79'). Sweden finished 3rd in the group and took their first World cup medal.

In 1956 the Swedish football federation allowed the professional footballers to play for the national team again, giving Swedish football fans hope for the 1958 FIFA World Cup. Sweden, the host nation, were in the same group as Mexico, Hungary and Wales.

The first game, Sweden vs Mexico, was played at Swedens's national stadium, Råsunda Stadium, Solna, and was attendaed by around 32,000 people. Sweden won the game 3-0, taking the lead in Group 3. The next match was against Hungary, who had finished 2nd in the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland and were also the 1952 Olympic Champions. Also played att Råsunda, this game ended 2-1 to Sweden, with both goals scored by Kurt Hamrin. In the next match, against Wales, Sweden drew 0-0.

Making it through to the quarterfinal, playing at Råsunda for the fourth time in this tournament, Sweden were up against the USSR and won 2-0.

The semifinal at Ullevi, Gothenburg, was the only game in the tournament which Sweden did not play at Råsunda. The crowd of around 50,000 people attended one of the best games Sweden played in the tournament. West Germany led by 1-0 when Erich Juskowiak was sent off in the 59th minute. Sweden won 3-1.

The final was played at Råsunda between host nation Sweden and the 1950 FIFA World Cup runners-up, Brazil. The total attendance was approximately 52,000 people. Brazil ended up winning the World Cup for the first time ever after beating Sweden by 5-2. Sweden consequently became runners-up, the best result for Sweden in any World Cup. After the final match the Brazilian players honoured the host nation by sprinting around the pitch holding a Swedish flag.

Sweden was one of the best teams in the World during the 50's. But after the successful 1958 World Cup Sweden did not have any success. In the qualification round of the 1962 World cup Sweden won the group, but it was only points that was counted so they did a last play-off game against Switzerland, played in West Berlin, which they lost by 1-2. In the qualification group Sweden was the better team, where they scored 10 goals and only had 3 goals scored against them. Sweden almost got to the UEFA European Championship 1964. They started their play-off against Norway and won the first game and drawed in the last game. In the second round Sweden beat Yugoslavia 3-2, but they lost the first game. In the quarterfinals Sweden played against the defending champions, the Soviet Union. Sweden drawed the first game, but lost the second. During the 1966 World Cup Sweden was in the UEFA Qualification group 2. After starting the qualification with a draw against West Germany and after that a victory Cyprus with 3-0. But in the last game against West Germany Sweden lost and was out from the group, because it was only the winners of each group qualified. Sweden even entered the UEFA European Championship in 1968, but they finished in the Qualification group 2. Sweden had only one success in the 60's and that was to qualify for the 1970 World Cup, after winning UEFA Group 5 before Norway and France.

Sweden did not qualify for 2 previous World Cups in 1962, 1966 and exited in the group stages in 1970. In the qualification of the 1974 FIFA World cup, Sweden was in the same group as Austria, Hungary, and Malta. Sweden finished 2nd, below Austria, and advanced to the World Cup.

The group Sweden drew into included Uruguay, The Netherlands, and Bulgaria. The first game against Bulgaria ended in a draw. In the second game against the Netherlands, Sweden drew another tie. The last game of the round was played against Uruguay. That game was the first victory Sweden had in the tournament, when they beat Uruguay 3-0 with goals by Roland Sandberg (74') and Ralf Edström (46', 77'). Sweden finished 2nd in the group and advanced to the second group stage.

In the second group stage, Sweden was defeated in the first game against Poland 0-1. The situation after the defeat against Poland was that if Sweden lost against West Germany with a single goal difference and Yugoslavia defeated Poland, Sweden would be second in the group and play for the bronze medal. But since Poland beat Yugoslavia 2-1, Sweden had to win the game against the host nation, West Germany, in order to finish second in the group.

The game against West Germany was played in Düsseldorf with an attendance of 66,500 people. The Swedish striker Ralf Edström gave the Scandinavian the lead with 1-0 after 29 minutes. But in the second half West Germany took control of the game, even after Roland Sandberg's equalizer after 52 minutes. Germany won 4-2. After the tournament, the German players commented that the game against Sweden was their best game in that tournament. The last game for Sweden was played in Düsseldorf against Yugoslavia. Sweden won that game 2-1. They finished the tournament as the 5th place team.

After the successful 70's, reaching all three World Cups. Sweden changed their coach from Georg "Åby" Ericson to Lars "Laban" Arnesson. Arnesson had been a successful coach for Östers IF before becoming national coach. After the failed qualification for the '86 World Cup, Olle Nordin took over the team. Sweden failed to qualify for every World Cup and European Championship during the 1980s, but won their qualification group for the 1990 World Cup ahead of England and went on to their first World Cup in 12 years. However, the World Cup campaign ended quickly after three 1–2 defeats in the group stage matches, against Brazil, Scotland and Costa Rica.

As the host of the 1992 European Championship, Sweden played in their first European Championship tournament. They were drawn in the group with Denmark, France, and England. Sweden managed to win advance as group winners ahead of eventual the champions Denmark. In the semi-finals following the group stage Sweden were eliminated by Germany 2–3. The place in the semi-final is Sweden's the best result a European Championship to date.

Sweden qualified for the World Cup at the top of their qualifying group ahead of Bulgaria. Sweden was placed in Group B with Brazil, Cameroon, and Russia. The first game against Cameroon was going to be yet another 1-2 loss, (after the 1990 World Cup fiasco with losses of 1-2 in all three games), but in the 75th minute Martin Dahlin scored the equalizer from a rebound shot off of Henrik Larsson. In the next game against Russia, Russia scored early with a penalty. But Sweden managed to come back, with a penalty goal from Tomas Brolin and two goals from Martin Dahlin. In the last group stage match against Brazil, they tied 1-1.

In the first knockout stage match, Sweden faced Saudi Arabia and won 3-1 after two goals from Kennet Andersson and one from Martin Dahlin. The quarter-final match against Romania has become a memorable match for Swedish football fans. After Sweden scored late in the second half, Romania managed to equalize in the last minutes of the match, sending it into extra time. Romania's Florin Raducioiu who scored the first goal for Romania, scored his second of the day to take Romania ahead at the 101st minute. But with five minutes left Kennet Andersson scored with a header to make the score even at 2-2. The penalty shoot out began with a miss from Håkan Mild of Sweden, but Thomas Ravelli managed two saves. That gave Sweden the win, making him a Swedish hero. Sweden went through to face Brazil in the semi-finals. They had managed to score in the group stage against Brazil but couldn't do it a second time. After Jonas Thern had been sent off with a red card Romário scored the only goal of the game in the 80th minute.

In the third place match Sweden played against Bulgaria who had lost to Italy in their semi-final match. Sweden scored 4 goals in the first half, but the second half went goal-less. Sweden won the bronze medal, the best placing for the national team in a World Cup play-off since the 1958 silver medal. This led Sweden to the second place of the FIFA World Rankings for one month, in November 1994.

They finished as the top scorers of the tournament, with 15 goals.

Sweden qualified impressively for this tournament, winning all games except the away game against England (0-0) and conceding only one goal. The finals however, were a great disappointment. Sweden lost their opening game against the host Belgium 1-2. Johan Mjällby scored the goal for Sweden after a mess-up by the Belgian goalkeeper Filip De Wilde. Then Sweden played 0-0 against Turkey and lost 2-1 to Italy. The goal was scored by Henrik Larsson. Sweden finished the group last with only 1 point.

Sweden was part of the Group of Death, Group F also including big favourites Argentina, England and Nigeria. The first match was against England. Sol Campbell gave England the lead in the first half by heading in a left side corner from David Beckham. In the second half, Sweden took over completely and dominated the game, creating numerous chances. The equalizing goal was scored by midfielder Niclas Alexandersson, a powerful left-foot shot from outside the box past David Seaman. This gave the result 1-1. In the next game, Sweden played Nigeria. Julius Agahowa gave Nigeria the lead by heading in a cross from the right. But Sweden managed to equalize with a fine goal by Henrik Larsson. Later in the game, Larsson was fouled in the penalty area and Sweden were awarded with a penalty which Larsson himself put in the goal. Sweden won 2-1.

In the final group match, Sweden played Argentina, who needed to win after losing 0-1 to England in the previous game. However, midfielder Anders Svensson scored a great freekick goal from 30 meters. Andreas Andersson then had a shot off the crossbar and out. Mattias Jonson committed a foul in the penalty area and Argentina got a penalty. Ariel Ortega shot straight on Magnus Hedman, the Swedish keeper, but Hernán Crespo rushed into the box and shot the rebound from Hedman between the keepers legs. This was a controversial goal because Crespo began running into the box at the same time as Ortega stepped up to shot. However, the match ended 1-1 and Sweden won the group, England on second place, Argentina third and Nigeria last.

In the round of 16, Sweden played Senegal. Henrik Larsson gave Sweden an early lead by heading in a corner from Anders Svensson. But Senegal equalized through Henri Camara. Senegal also had a goal disallowed for offside. The game came to sudden death golden goal. Rising star Zlatan Ibrahimovic came on and nearly won Sweden the game. He made a terrific run on the right wing past several Senegal players, and shot with his weaker left foot from a tight angle straight at Senegals keeper Tony Sylva. Ibrahimovic had Larsson and Svensson in execellent posisitions for a pass, but shot instead. Then Anders Svensson made a great spin past a defender and hit the post with a powerful shot. Sylva had no chance of saving that strike. Henri Camara then took a weak shot which went past Hedman, off the post and went into the goal. Consequently, Sweden was eliminated.

Sweden competed in Group B at the 2006 World Cup. Their squad for the tournament features players who play club football in eleven different nations. Sweden started the World Cup slowly, recording a scoreless tie against unheralded Trinidad and Tobago, despite playing with a one-man advantage for much of the game. The second game, against Paraguay, threatened to produce the same result until Fredrik Ljungberg scored in the 89th minute to give Sweden a 1-0 victory. Sweden then rallied to tie England, 2-2, to finish group play with five points - enough to finish second in its' group and advance to the second round. There, the team's World Cup run came to an end with a 2-0 defeat to the host team, Germany.

Sweden finished second in Group F behind Spain, thus qualifying for the finals. The campaign included an abandoned match away to Denmark, for which Sweden were awarded a 3-0 win by UEFA.

In their first match in Euro 2008, they beat the reigning European champions, Greece, by a score of 2-0 with goals from Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Petter Hansson. Their next game was against Spain, who they played in qualifying. The game looked like a draw until a 92nd minute strike from David Villa, which put the Spaniards ahead. In the final group match, the Swedes went on to lose 2-0 to the Russians, eliminating them from the tournament.

Swedish supporters showed up first during the 1912 Summer Olympics, where they sang "Heja Sverige Friskt humör, det är det som susen gör" during the football games. The traveling supporters for Sweden's away games showed up for the first time in the 1974 FIFA World Cup in West Germany, and since then Sweden has always had supporters in large tournaments. In the 2006 FIFA World Cup Sweden had one of the largest group of supporters during a tournament, especially during the group stage match against Paraguay with around 50,000 Swedish supporters in attendance.

The Swedish national stadium is called the Råsunda Fotbollsstadion, but it will be replaced in 2011 by the new national stadium Swedbank Arena. According to FIFA, Råsunda Stadion is a classic stadium, one of only two stadiums in the world, the other one being the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California, USA, which hosted both the 1958 FIFA World Cup final and the 1995 FIFA Women's World Cup. Råsunda stadium was opened 18 September 1910, and had a capacity of only 2.000, mostly standing. It was Råsunda stadium and Valhalla stadium in Gothenburg that were the first football fields with grass used for Swedish football. The stadium was expanded during 1937, to a capacity of 40000 people. The stadium was used for the football tournament in the 1912 Summer Olympics held in Stockholm, and hosted 8 games during the FIFA World Cup 1958. In the UEFA European Championship in 1992, the stadium hosted 4 games and in the 1995 FIFA Women's World Cup it hosted only the final game. But Råsunda stadium is still the only stadium in Scandinavia that has hosted 4 big tournaments. Ullevi in Gothenburg is used for some games which Sweden plays, such as the 100 years celebration game of the Swedish football association, against England in 2004. Even other stadiums, such as Malmö stadion in Malmö, is used for the national team.

The following players have been called up for the match against the Portugal on 28 March, 2009.

Players in bold text are still active with Sweden.

Players in bold text are still active with Sweden.

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Source : Wikipedia