Constitution: Monarchy
National holiday: Flag Day, June 6.
Nature and climate: Sweden is the 6th biggest nation of Europe and oblong (more than 1500 km from north to south) with great differences in nature and climate. Close to 10% of the area are lakes, more than 100 000, but most of them are very small. The southmost part is a flat lowland. Most of the area is hilly and on the border to Norway is the Scandinavian mountainchain with the highest peak, Kebnekaise, reaching 2 111 m.a.s.l.
Percipitation above 600 mm. Temperature in capital Stockholm during January -4C and during July +17C.
People: Mainly Swedes. 5% are immigrants, 3% Finnish, and some Lapps in the north. 1 million Swedes emigrated at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, most of them to the USA.
Economy: The industry is based both on rich mineral resources, vast forests, and a number of Swedish inventions by the turn of the century. Sweden is one of the worlds leading exporters of iron ore and forest products (paper pulp and paper). Highquality steel is another Swedish speciality.
History: Sweden was covered by ice during the last glacial period and the first known settlings are from 10000 to 8900 BC. The first farmers settled about 4000 BC. Todays Swedes are descendants of those farmers, making the Swedes the oldest original population of Europe.
These farmers had regular contact with other cultures and countries which culminated during the Viking era 800 to 1050 AD, with trade and plundering expeditions to Great Britain, Iceland and Greenland to the west, to Russia, where they took active part in the foundation of the Russian state, and by the Russian rivers to Istanbul in the east and along rivers and coasts down to the Mediterranean Sea in the south.
There are different opinions on when the nation was established and united. Some say during the 9th century, others assert that it happened about 1000 AD.
In the 12th century Swedes started to colonize Finland, which at the end of the 13th century became a part of Sweden.
The Christian mission reached Sweden 829, but it was not until the first king was Christianized an 1000 AD that Christianity prevailed.
From 1389 to 1523 Sweden, Denmark and Norway was united and reigned by the Danish kings. At the end of the period several attempts were made to break the union, which succeeded in an uprising lead by Gustav Vasa. He was crowned king in 1523.
1527 Sweden broke relations with the catholic church and the reformation started.
Since the 13th century the Swedish parliament, riksdagen, contains representatives from all free citizens, which makes it the oldest in Europe with so wide representation.
Through several wars from the 16th to the 18th century Sweden gained control over vast areas and became the dominating power in northern Europe. Besides todays Sweden it contained Finland, parts of Russia, Estonia, Latvia, and many towns and regions in northern Germany.
In a war against Russia 1808 to 1809 Sweden lost Finland. 1813-1814 Sweden participated in the campaign against Napoleon. At the peace conference Sweden obtained Norway in exchange for the dependencies in northern Germany. This was the last war Sweden have participated in.
The union with Norway was dissolved in a peaceful way 1905. During the two World Wars Sweden declared armed neutrality.
For many decades the Swedish society has developed towards equality and solidarity in as many fields as possible. Many nations see Sweden as a pioneer nation especially in social welfare, others see it as a warning.