SwedenBy, Ethan Paulson

The Flag
The design of the Swedish flag is likely based on the flag of Denmark; while the yellow and blue originate from the Swedish Coat of Arms which features three yellow crowns on a blue base. The cross, common to most Scandinavian flags, represents Sweden's link to other the Scandinavian countries.

Map of Sweden
Physical Geography

Sweden, one of the “three fingers” of Scandinavia, is just larger than the state of California. It covers 173,860 square miles (450,295 square kilometers), slightly larger than California. From the northern to the southern tip, Sweden is about 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) long, but only 310 miles (500 kilometers) wide. Thousands of tiny islands line the coast. Mountains form much of the northwest, but most of Sweden is relatively flat with some rolling hills. Many rivers flow from the mountains through the forests and into the Baltic Sea. Sweden is filled with lakes and rivers, which provide ample water for the country. More than half of the land is forested. Rivers in the Norrland region (roughly the country's northernmost two-thirds) provide most hydroelectric power. North of the Arctic Circle, winters are long and cold, while summers are short and pleasant.
Sweden's population of 9.07 million is growing at 0.16 percent per year. More than 80 percent of Swedes live in the southern third of the country. Most of the population is ethnic Swede. Finns compose a small minority of the population; most are immigrants from Finland, but some are native to northern Sweden. A small indigenous minority (up to 20,000 people), the Sami (pronounced “SAW-me”), lives in the north. Immigrants have added to Sweden's population since the 1960s; Swedish immigration laws are some of the most liberal in Europe. Nearly 14 percent of Swedish citizens were born outside of Sweden.
Population - 9,088,728 (July 2011 est.)
Population growth rate - 0.163% (2011 est.)
Birth rate - 10.18 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Death rate - 10.2 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
Net migration rate - 1.65 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 15.4% (male 722,558/female 680,933)
15-64 years: 64.8% (male 2,982,268/female 2,910,135)
65 years and over: 19.7% (male 800,169/female 992,665) (2011 est.)

Sweden - Largest Cities
Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm, Stockholm
59.333 / 18.065
Göteborg, Västra Götaland
57.707 / 11.967
Malmö, Skåne
55.606 / 13.001
Uppsala, Uppsala
59.859 / 17.645
Kista, Stockholm
59.403 / 17.945
Västerås, Västmanland
59.616 / 16.553
Örebro, Örebro
59.274 / 15.207
Linköping, Östergötland
58.417 / 15.617
Helsingborg, Skåne
56.047 / 12.694
Huddinge, Stockholm
59.237 / 17.982


Family Patterns
Half of all Swedish marriages end in divorce, and single-parent homes are becoming more common. Unmarried couples who live together have nearly the same rights and obligations as married couples. That is, cohabitation is nearly the same as marriage under the law. In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in marriage, and the wedding industry in Sweden is booming. Families are predominantly nuclear rather than extended. While the two-parent household with children remains normative, the rate of single-parent households is high. No industrialized nation has a higher frequency of one-person households, which are particularly common among young adults in urban areas and among the elderly.
Women are the chief providers of social support for the young and the aged. This burden has been mitigated as women's unpaid work has been partially displaced by state-supported professional child-care and elder-care services. Patriarchal family structures have declined as traditional patterns of male authority and female economic dependency have been supplanted by a reliance on communal institutions.

Social Structure and Classes
The distribution of income is among the most equal in the industrialized world, although inequality rose rapidly in the 1990s. The extremes of wealth and poverty have been reduced through the efforts of social democratic governments and trade unions. Manual labor is well paid, and higher education leads to relatively small monetary dividends.
No other country has a higher proportion of women as parliamentarians (43 percent) and cabinet ministers (50 percent), and Sweden leads the developed world in the percentage of professional and technical workers who are women. The proportion of women in the labor force is the highest worldwide.

Classic Swedish Midsummer Picnic

Holidays and Celebrations
Sweden's national holidays include New Year's Day, May Day (1 May), and National Day (6 June). Other holidays are often associated with the season or a religious event. Påsk (Easter) is celebrated over several days, beginning with Skärtorsdagen, the day before Good Friday. Children dress up like old witches with brooms and go door-to-door (among friends and neighbors only) to hand out Easter cards and collect candy. On Easter, people dye eggs and give away egg-shaped boxes of candy. Homes are decorated with twigs, colored feathers, and Easter lilies.
Valborgsmässoafton celebrates the arrival of spring and traces its roots back to paganism. On the last day of April, bonfires are lit throughout the country and choirs gather to sing traditional songs. In some university towns, students wear traditional studentmössa (white hats with black bills) and celebrate with outdoor champagne breakfasts.
Midsommar (Midsummer) celebrations are held in late June (usually around the 20th), when the summer days are much longer than the nights. Most celebrations take place the day before the actual summer solstice (the longest day of the year), on Midsummer Eve. Some people see this as Sweden's actual national holiday, since it is much more widely celebrated and has more traditions associated with it than the Swedish National Day. Most people try to celebrate outdoors in the countryside, where festivities include traditional music, dancing around the maypole, and barbecues and picnics of fresh potatoes, herring, salmon, and strawberries. People bring drinks and sing traditional drinking songs. Women and children also wear flowers in their hair.

Dating and Marriage
Although serious dating is reserved for older teens, Swedes start to date early. They enjoy going to movies, dining out, having parties, and dancing. Many couples meet through internet dating sites or social networking sites. Casual sexual relationships are common. Many people choose to live together before or instead of marrying. Often, a couple marries when they have a child.
Those Swedes who choose to marry have either a religious or a civil ceremony; both are common. Civil weddings have a long tradition in Sweden and are closely tied to the society's secular ideals. Both religious and civil ceremonies vary according to the choices and economic means of the bride and groom. Most ceremonies include the exchanging of rings and vows. At church weddings, the priest speaks, passages are read from the Bible, and a relative or friend might sing a song or read a poem. At the end of the ceremony, the priest blesses the couple.

Behavior While Eating

Swedes eat a light breakfast around 7 a.m., and they might have a coffee or tea break at midmorning. Traditionally, the main meal (middag) was eaten at midday. This is still the case in most rural areas, but urban residents eat only a light lunch at noon and then have their main meal around 6 p.m. It is common to get together with friends for fika (coffee, tea, or soft drinks, perhaps with a light snack of a sandwich or pastries). People may meet for fika at cafés or at home.
Swedes eat in the continental style, meaning they hold the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right. A dinner knife is not used as a butter knife, since separate butter knives are usually provided. Diners keep hands, but not elbows, above the table during the meal. Guests are served first. When finished eating, a person places the utensils side by side on the plate. Leaving any food on the plate is impolite. Guests usually wait for the hosts to offer second helpings. Declining is not impolite, but guests may take more if they desire. Food is placed in serving dishes on the table, so if the dishes are empty there is usually no more food; asking for more would be impolite.

King Carl XVI Gustaf

Sweden has a constitutional monarchy. King Carl XVI Gustaf, a descendant of the Bernadotte Dynasty, has ruled since 1973. His duties are mostly ceremonial. The head of government is the prime minister (currently Fredrik Reinfeldt). Members of the 349-seat Parliament (Riksdag) are elected to four-year terms. The voting age is 18. Sweden is divided into 21 counties, each with its own government. Municipal councils handle local affairs. Immigrants can vote in local elections after residing in the country for three years. However, they must have citizenship before voting in national elections.

Sweden has one of the most prosperous economies in the world. It is highly industrialized, has a modern distribution system, and boasts a skilled and educated labor force. Only around 1 percent of the workforce is engaged in agriculture, while 28 percent is in the industrial sector. Sweden's automobile industry is less prominent now than it was in the past, as important Swedish brands (Volvo and Saab) were recently sold to foreign companies. Sweden still exports machinery and steel products. Important natural resources include silver, zinc, lead, iron ore, and copper. Timber exports (mostly pulp for paper products) are also important. Lacking indigenous fossil fuels, which must be imported, Sweden depends on nuclear and hydroelectric power for 90 percent of its energy needs.
In spite of its strengths, Sweden's economy was hampered in the early 1990s by budgetary difficulties, inflation, unemployment, and a gradual decline in global competitiveness. Reforms were able to boost confidence in the economy and yield budget surpluses. Membership in the EU has provided opportunities for trade and economic growth. More than half of Swedish exports go to other EU countries. Sweden's economy was hit hard by the 2008 global financial crisis, despite government aid to struggling car and banking industries.
Although salaries are high, the cost of living is high too. An income tax funds the country's extensive welfare system

-Sports- Ice hockey: This is one of the most popular sports in Sweden. Tre Kronor is the Swedish Ice hockey team who has won gold medal in Olympics (1994) and also entitled
Ice hockey is a major sport in Sweden.
6 times with the World Championships.

-Clothing- European fashions are common in Sweden, and Swedes are generally considered quite trendy, usually among the first to adopt new styles in fashion and design. However, because of the country's cooler climate, Swedes wear warm clothing more often than other Europeans. Dress is generally conservative; it is important to be neat and clean in public. They prefer to avoid glamorous clothing but are still fashionable.
-Language- Swedes speak Swedish—a Germanic language that is closely related to Danish and Norwegian and more distantly related to Icelandic. It developed from Old Norse, which was spoken by the Vikings.
-Hobbies- Swedes are sports enthusiasts. Physical fitness is particularly important to Swedes. Most aspire to lead active, healthy lives. Popular sports include soccer, horseback riding, ice-skating, skiing, tennis, golf, swimming, ice hockey, bandy (a sport similar to hockey), and orienteering races (using a map and compass to cross an area). Ice-skating and other winter sports are common. In the wintertime, Swedes enjoy participating in and watching downhill and cross-country skiing. In February, schools are even given a week off, called “the sport vacation.” During this time, most students take part in winter sports, and ski resorts are usually fully booked. Singing in choirs is by far Sweden's most popular hobby, with 1.5 million participants.
-Literature - Swedish authors to win a Nobel Prize in literature include novelist Selma Lagerlöf; novelist, poet, and playwright Pär Lagerkvist; and author Harry Martinson. Astrid Lindgren is known to children in many countries as the author of the famous Pippi Longstocking (Pippi Långstrump) series of children’s novels. Vilhelm Moberg won recognition for his books about Swedish immigrants in the United States.
-Movies - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; Melancholia; Let the Right One In

-Music - Sweden is known for its array of popular music. From death metal to Top 40 pop, Sweden is the home to some of the biggest names in the music industry.

Ethnic/Religious Make-up
-Religion-Sweden, like most of Europe, is a highly secular society. Freedom of religion is guaranteed by the constitution. Most Swedes (about 87 percent) are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church but rarely attend church services. The Lutheran Church still enjoys limited support from the state; however, a complete legal separation of church and state took place in 2000. Now all church decisions are made by church leaders rather than the government.
-Ethnic Makeup- Indigenous population: Swedes with Finnish and Sami minorities; foreign-born or first-generation immigrants: Finns, Yugoslavs, Danes, Norwegians, Greeks, Turks

Pollution is becoming a major concern for Swedish officials.

1. The people of Sweden are taxed about half their income, and face many other outrageous taxes.
2. Sweden is having a very damaging effect on their environment and releasing high concentrations of pollutants.
3. Sweden is experiencing a large number of foreign refugees trying to enter.
4. Gambling has become an addiction for many Swedes.
5. Since Sweden was ordered by the EU to relax it’s anti-alcohol laws, Sweden has been faced with a growing alcoholism problem.


1. Start decreasing the welfare assistance and put more of the burden on the people, but at the same time decrease the taxes.
2. Set goals to fix environmental issues, and set pollution standards, which if they are exceeded, there will be a punishment,
3. Do not totally close the borders, but limit the number of people allowed in by guarding the border.
4. Threaten to take away government aid if the addiction persists, which would financially cripple the individual due to Sweden’s large taxes.
5. Put age limits on the legal drinking age, and educate young people.

1. What is the largest city in Sweden?
2. What type of government runs Sweden?
3. What well known prizes are given out in Sweden?
4. Comparatively, Sweden is the same size as what U.S. state?
5. What is the primary language of Sweden?

1. Stockholm
2. Constitutional Monarchy
3. Nobel Prizes
4. Slightly larger than California
5. Swedish—a Germanic language that is closely related to Danish and Norwegian and more distantly related to Icelandic