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This article is about the European country. For other uses, see Sweden (disambiguation).
|Kingdom of Sweden|
Konungariket Sverige (Swedish)
|Motto: (royal) "För Sverige – i tiden"[a]|
"For Sweden – With the Times"
|Anthem: Du gamla, Du fria[b]|
Thou ancient, thou free
Royal anthem: Kungssången
Song of the King
and largest city
|Ethnic groups||no official statistics[d]|
|-||King||Carl XVI Gustaf|
|-||Prime Minister||Stefan Löfven|
|-||A unified Swedish kingdom established||By early 12th century|
|-||Part of Kalmar Union||1397 - 1523|
|-||Part of Swedish-Norwegian Union||4 November 1814 - August 1905|
|-||Total||450,295 km2 (57th)|
175,896 sq mi
|-||July 2015 estimate||9,801,616 (89th)|
|GDP (PPP)||2015 estimate|
|-||Per capita||$47,229 (14th)|
|GDP (nominal)||2015 estimate|
|-||Per capita||$49,582 (7th)|
|Gini (2012)|| 24.9|
|HDI (2013)|| 0.898|
very high · 12th
|Currency||Swedish krona (SEK)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|-||Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|Drives on the||right[e]|
|ISO 3166 code||SE|
|a.||^ "För Sverige – I tiden" has been adopted by Carl XVI Gustaf as his personal motto.|
|b.||^ Du gamla, Du fria has never been officially adopted as national anthem, but is so by convention.|
|c.||^ Since 1 July 2009. Five other languages are officially recognised as minority languages: Finnish, Meänkieli, Romani, Sami, and Yiddish. The Swedish Sign Language also has a special status.|
|d.||^ On 31 December 2012, approximately 27% of the population had a full or partial foreign background.|
|e.||^ Since 3 September 1967.|
|f.||^ The .eu domain is also used, as it is shared with other European Union member states.|
Sweden (i// swee-dən; Swedish: Sverige [ˈsværjɛ] ( listen)), officially the Kingdom of Sweden (Swedish: Konungariket Sverige (help·info)), is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. It borders Norway and Finland, and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund. At 450,295 square kilometres (173,860 sq mi), Sweden is the third-largest country in the European Union by area, with a total population of over 9.8 million. Sweden consequently has a low population density of 21 inhabitants per square kilometre (54/sq mi), with the highest concentration in the southern half of the country. Approximately 85% of the population lives in urban areas. Southern Sweden is predominantly agricultural, while the north is heavily forested. Sweden is part of the geographical area of Fennoscandia.
Germanic peoples have inhabited Sweden since prehistoric times, emerging into history as the Geats/Götar and Swedes/Svear and constituting the sea peoples known as the Norsemen. Sweden emerged as an independent and unified country during the Middle Ages. In the 17th century, it expanded its territories to form the Swedish Empire, which became one of the great powers of Europe until the early 18th century. Swedish territories outside the Scandinavian Peninsula were gradually lost during the 18th and 19th centuries, beginning with the annexation of present-day Finland by Russia in 1809. The last war in which Sweden was directly involved was in 1814, when Norway was militarily forced into personal union.
Since then, Sweden has been at peace, maintaining an official policy of neutrality in foreign affairs. The union with Norway was peacefully dissolved in 1905, leading to Sweden's current borders. Though it was formally neutral through both world wars, Sweden engaged in humanitarian efforts, such as taking in refugees from German-occupied Europe. After the end of the Cold War, Sweden joined the European Union on 1 January 1995, but declined NATO membership.
Today, Sweden is a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy, with the Monarch as the head of state. The capital city is Stockholm, which is also the most populous city in the country. Legislative power is vested in the 349-member unicameral Riksdag. Executive power is exercised by the Government, chaired by the Prime Minister. Sweden is a unitary state, currently divided into 21 counties and 290 municipalities.
Sweden maintains a Nordic social welfare system that provides universal health care and tertiary education for its citizens. It has the world's eighth-highest per capita income and ranks highly in numerous metrics of national performance, including quality of life, health, education, protection of civil liberties, economic competitiveness, equality, prosperity and human development. Sweden has been a member of the European Union since 1 January 1995, but declined Eurozone membership following a referendum. It is also a member of the United Nations, the Nordic Council, Council of Europe, the World Trade Organization and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Main article: Name of Sweden
The modern name Sweden is derived through back-formation from Old English Swēoþēod, 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 (a compound of the words Svea and Rike, with lenition of the consonant [k], first recorded in the cognate Swēorice in Beowulf)— 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, Faroese Svøríki, Icelandic Svíþjóð, and the more notable exception of some Finnic 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 Roslagen, Uppland.
The etymology of Swedes, and thus Sweden, is generally not agreed upon but may derive from Proto-Germanic Swihoniz meaning "one's own", referring to one's own Germanic tribe.
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (May 2015)|
Main article: History of Sweden
Main article: Prehistoric Sweden
Sweden's prehistory begins in the Allerød oscillation,[according to whom?] a warm period around 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, Scania. This period was characterised by small bands of hunter-gatherer-fishers using flint technology.
Sweden is first described in a written source in Germania by Tacitus in 98 AD. In Germania 44 and 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 at each end (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 in use among the south Scandinavian elite by at least the 2nd century AD, 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.[non-primary source needed]
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, have 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 day. 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 Svíþjóð, the Old Norse name for the Swedes. 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.[non-primary source needed]
The Swedish Viking Age lasted roughly from the 8th century to the 11th century. It is believed that Swedish Vikings and Gutar mainly travelled east and south, going to Finland, the Baltic countries, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, the Black Sea and even as far as Baghdad. Their routes passed through the Dnieper south to Constantinople, on which they carried out numerous raids. The Byzantine Emperor Theophilos noticed their great skills in war, and invited them to serve as his personal bodyguard, known as the Varangian Guard. The Swedish Vikings, called Rus are believed to be the founding fathers of Kievan Rus'. The Arab traveller Ibn Fadlan described these Vikings as follows:
The actions 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 commemorated 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.
The Kingdom of Sweden
|This section possibly contains previously unpublished synthesis of published material that conveys ideas not attributable to the original sources. (May 2015)|
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 known to have ruled both Svealand (Sweden) and Götaland (Gothia) as one province, beginning with Eric the Victorious. Sweden and Gothia were two separate nations long before that into antiquity. It is not known how long they existed: the epic poem Beowulf describes semi-legendary Swedish-Geatish wars in the 6th century. "Götaland" in this sense mainly includes the provinces of Östergötland (East Gothia) and Västergötland (West Gothia). The island of Gotland was disputed by other than Swedes, at this time (Danish, Hanseatic, and Gotland-domestic). Småland was at that time of little interest to anyone due to the deep pine forests, and only city of Kalmar with its castle was of importance. The south-west parts of the Scandinavian peninsula consisted of three Danish provinces (Scania, Blekinge and Halland). North of Halland Denmark had a direct border to Norway and its province Bohuslän. But there were Swedish settlements in south-west Finland, and along the southern coastline of Norrland.
During the early stages of the Scandinavian Viking Age, Ystad in Danish province Scania and Paviken on Gotland, were flourishing centres of trade, but they were not parts of the early Swedish Kingdom. Remains of what is believed to have been a large market dating from 600–700 AD have been found in Ystad. In Paviken, an important centre of trade in the Baltic region during the 9th and 10th 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 is usually credited with introducing Christianity in 829, but the new religion did not begin to fully replace paganism until the 12th century. During the 11th century, Christianity became the most prevalent religion, and from 1050 Sweden is counted as a Christian nation. The period between 1100 and 1400 was characterised by internal power struggles and competition among the Nordic kingdoms. Swedish kings began to expand the Swedish-controlled territory in Finland, creating conflicts with the Rus who no longer had any connection with Sweden.
Except for the provinces of Scania, Blekinge and Halland, in the south-west of the Scandinavian peninsula which were parts of the Kingdom of Denmark during this time, feudalism never developed in Sweden as it did in the rest of Europe. The peasantry therefore remained largely a class of free farmers throughout most of Swedish history. Slavery (also called thralldom) was not common in Sweden, and what slavery there was tended to be driven out of existence by the spread of Christianity, the difficulty in obtaining slaves from the lands east of the Baltic Sea, and by the development of cities before the 16th century. Indeed, both slavery and serfdom were abolished altogether by a decree of King Magnus IV in 1335. Former slaves tended to be absorbed into the peasantry, and some became labourers in the towns. Still, Sweden remained a poor and economically backward country in which barter was the means of exchange. For instance, the farmers of the province of Dalsland would transport their butter to the mining districts of Sweden and exchange it there for iron, which they would then take to the coast and trade for fish, which they consumed, while the iron would be shipped abroad.
In the middle of 14th century, Sweden was struck by the Black Death. The population of Sweden and most of Europe was seriously decimated. And the population (at same territory) as existed by 1348 did not reach the same numbers again until the beginning of the 19th century. One third of the population died during 1349–1351. During this period, the Swedish cities began to acquire greater rights and were strongly influenced by German merchants of the Hanseatic League, active especially at Visby. In 1319, Sweden and Norway were united under King Magnus Eriksson, and in 1397 Queen Margaret I of Denmark 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.
A large number of children inherited the Swedish crown over the course of the kingdom's existence; consequently 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 in 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.
The Hanseatic League had been officially formed at Lübeck on the Baltic coast of Northern Germany in 1356. The Hanseatic League sought civil and commercial privileges from the princes and royalty of the countries and cities along the coasts of the Baltic Sea. In exchange, they offered a certain amount of protection. Having their own navy, the Hansa were able to sweep the Baltic Sea free of pirates. The privileges obtained by the Hansa included assurances that only Hansa citizens would be allowed to trade from the ports where they were located. They sought agreement to be free of all customs and taxes. With these concessions, Lübeck merchants flocked to Stockholm, where they soon came to dominate the city's economic life and made the port city of Stockholm into the leading commercial and industrial city of Sweden. Under the Hanseatic trade, two-thirds of Stockholm's imports consisted of textiles and one-third of salt. The main exports from Sweden were iron and copper.
However, the Swedes began to resent the monopoly trading position of the Hansa (mostly German citizens), and to resent the income they felt they lost to the Hansa. Consequently, when Gustav Vasa or Gustav I broke the monopoly power of the Hanseatic League he was regarded as a hero by the Swedish people. History now views Gustav I as the father of the modern Swedish nation. The foundations laid by Gustav would take time to develop. Furthermore, when Sweden did develop, freed itself from the Hanseatic League, and entered its golden era, the fact that the peasantry had traditionally been free meant that more of the economic benefits flowed back to them rather than going to a feudal landowning class.
See also: History of Sweden (1611–1648), Swedish Empire, Swedish overseas colonies, Sweden and the Great Northern War, Absolute Monarchy in Sweden, Sweden-Finland and Union between Sweden and Norway