Sweden

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Sweden
Sweden is the largest of the five Nordic countries.
It is long and narrow, with a maximum north-south extent of 1,574 km (978 MI) and a maximum east-west extent of 499 km (310 MI). Sweden shares a long land frontier with Norway to the west. Finland, the Gulf of Bothnia, and the Baltic Sea are to the east, and Denmark lies to the south. Rich in iron ores and forest resources.

Land and resources
North-western Sweden is crossed by an ancient mountain chain rising to Sweden´s high point of 2,111 m (6,926 ft) in Kebnekaise.
To the south is Skane, a low-lying, predominantly agricultural area.
The entire country was covered by ice during Quaternary glaciation, and both the thin moraines and bare rocks left by the ice underlie soils of poor to mediocre quality.

Climate
The northern two-thirds of the country has a continental climate marked by severe winters. The south central areas experience the long, cold winters of the north, but they enjoy milder summers. The mountain regions remain cool in summer. In January temperatures decrease markedly from south to north. In July, when many hours of sunshine are recorded in the north and nearly 24 hours of continuous daylight north of the Arctic Circle, the temperature variation is minimal.

People
Sweden has a relatively homogeneous population in ethnic stock, language, and religion. Because of the country´s isolation relatively few non-Swedes have intermixed with the Swedes through the course of history. Groups that maintain their distinct ethnic identity today include a growing Finnish population, about 17,000 LAPPS, and recent immigrants from eastern and southern Europe. In the 1990s the arrival of large numbers of refugees from Bosnia and other war-torn areas during a period of rising unemployment sparked an antiimmigrant backlash in some sectors of the Swedish population.

Language
The Swedish language belongs to the east Scandinavian branch of GERMANIC LANGUAGES. The Swedish of the Malar provinces has developed as the written and national language, and the use of other forms is declining. The Lapp and Finnish minorities speak their own languages as well as Swedish.

Religion
Nearly 90 percent of the population are members of the state-controlled Church of Sweden (Evangelical Lutheran). Religious freedom is guaranteed by the constitution, and the country has a number of other Protestant churches, the largest of which are the Pentecostals (95,000), the Mission Covenant church (78,000), the Salvation Army (28,000), the Swedish Evangelical Mission (22,000), and the Swedish Baptist church (20,000). Roman Catholics, many of whom are recent immigrants, number about 147,000, and Jews about 20,000.

Government
Sweden is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary form of government. The present constitution was adopted in 1975, replacing that of 1809. The monarchy occupies a ceremonial and symbolic position; CHARLES XVI GUSTAV has occupied the throne since the death of King GUSTAV VI ADOLF in 1973. Legislative authority rests in the unicameral Riksdag (parliament), composed of 349 members elected to 4-year terms under a system of proportional representation. The prime minister and cabinet form the government and hold office only as long as they retain the support of a majority in the Riksdag.

The principal political parties are the Social Democratic party (led by Goran PERSSON); the Moderate Coalition party (led by Carl Bildt); the Centre party; the Liberal party; the Christian Democratic party; New Democracy; and the Left (formerly the Communist) party. Beginning in the 1930s, the Social Democrats were the dominant party, their position secured by economic prosperity and a broad program of social welfare. In the 1970s and ´80s, however, dissatisfaction grew among the voters over high taxes and a lagging economy. A conservative coalition governed from 1976 to 1982, and another one under Carl Bildt took office in 1991.

For local government purposes, Sweden is divided into 24 counties (lan) and 277 municipalities (communes).


History
Sweden was first populated by Palaeolithic hunters during the end of the last ice age, c.10,000-c.8000 BC. During the Bronze Age (c.1500-500 BC), when the inhabitants spoke an Indo-European language from which Swedish was later to develop, lively trade links existed with the rest of Europe. From c.100 BC extensive trade was shared with Rome, and in the 4th century AD Baltic trade was centred on Gotland. At this time small kingdoms were formed by tribes, the most important of which, the Suiones (Svearna) in the Lake Malaren region, was mentioned by Tacitus in AD 98. Other tribes, the GOTHS (Gotarna) in the south and the Halsings and Lapps in the north, appear in sources from the 6th century AD. Christianity came to Sweden in the 9th century, and in 1164 the archbishopric in Uppsala was instituted. By 1000 the Goths had been conquered by the Suiones, and the first unified Swedish state founded.

The VIKING period, from the 9th century to c.1050, was prosperous. Swedish Vikings travelled as fur and slave traders to Russia and down to the Arab caliphate at Baghdad. In the 13th century parts of Finland and Karelia were occupied by Swedes. Slavery ended in 1335, and the first Swedish national law was compiled around 1350. In 1397, after three centuries of internal struggles in Sweden, the Danish queen MARGARET I united Denmark, Sweden, and Norway in the Kalmar Union. The Period of Union lasted to 1523 when, as opposition to the continuing aggression of Denmark and the HANSEATIC LEAGUE mounted in Sweden, Gustav Vasa used the murder of Swedish leaders in the so-called Bloodbath of Stockholm (1520) to lead a revolt against Denmark. Ruling as GUSTAV I Vasa (1523-60), he achieved independence for Sweden and introduced Lutheranism as Sweden´s national religion.

Sweden´s expansion continued during the 16th and 17th centuries. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania were occupied between 1561 and 1629. Under GUSTAV II ADOLF (r. 1611-32), Sweden entered the THIRTY YEARS´ WAR on the side of the Protestants and gained lands in northern Germany (see WESTPHALIA, PEACE OF). Sweden´s period as an empire (1611-1718) reached its apex under CHARLES X Gustav (r. 1654-60) but came to an end in the 18th century with the rise of Russia as a unified empire under Emperor Peter I. In the Great NORTHERN WAR (1700-21), Sweden lost its Baltic territories and several of its north German provinces on the death of CHARLES XII (r. 1697-1718). After the war a new constitution was drawn up by the Riksdag and an early form of parliamentarism initiated with reduced powers for the monarchy and increased powers for the Riksdag and bourgeoisie. Known as the Age of Freedom, this era ended abruptly in 1772 following a coup d´etat by GUSTAV III (r. 1772-92) and the re-establishment of a strong monarchy.

During the NAPOLEONIC WARS, Sweden joined (1805) the Third Coalition against France. In 1809, Russia, then an ally of France, seized Finland. After this defeat GUSTAV IV ADOLF was forced to abdicate (1809) in favour of Charles XIII. In 1810, Jean Baptiste Bernadotte, one of Napoleon´s marshals and the founder of the present Swedish royal house, was chosen by the Riksdag as crown prince. He ruled as CHARLES XIV JOHN from 1818 to 1844. Finland remained in Ru...

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Källhänvisning

patrik hager [2003-03-11]   Sweden
Mimers Brunn [Online]. http://mimersbrunn.se/article?id=1782 [2017-10-17]

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