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The flag of Sweden.

The Kingdom of Sweden is a democratic constitutional monarchy in Europe.


Sweden (SwedishSverige [ˈsværjɛ] ), officially the Kingdom of Sweden (Swedish:  Konungariket Sverige), is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. It borders Norway to the west and north and Finland to the east, and is connected to Denmark in the southwest by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund, a strait at the Swedish-Danish border. At 450,295 square kilometres (173,860 sq mi), Sweden is the third-largest country in the European Unionby area. Sweden has a total population of 10.2 million of which 2.4 million has a foreign background. It has a low population density of 22 inhabitants per square kilometre (57/sq mi). The highest concentration is in the southern half of the country.


During the seventh and eighth centuries, the Swedes were merchant seamen well known for their far-reaching trade. In the ninth century, Nordic Vikings raided and ravaged the European continent as far as the Black and Caspian Seas. During the 11th and 12th centuries, Sweden gradually became a unified Christian kingdom that later included Finland. Queen Margaret of Denmark united all the Nordic lands in the "Kalmar Union" in 1397. Continual tension within the countries and within the union gradually led to open conflict between the Swedes and the Danes in the 15th century. The union's final disintegration in the early 16th century brought on a long-lived rivalry between Norway and Denmark on one side and Sweden and Finland on the other.

In the 16th century, Gustav Vasa fought for an independent Sweden, crushing an attempt to restore the Kalmar Union and laying the foundation for modern Sweden. At the same time, he broke with the Catholic Church and established the Reformation. During the 17th century, after winning wars against Denmark, Russia, and Poland, Sweden-Finland (with scarcely more than 1 million inhabitants) emerged as a great power. Its contributions during the Thirty Years War under Gustav II Adolf (Gustavus Adolphus) determined the political as well as the religious balance of power in Europe. By 1658, Sweden ruled several provinces of Denmark as well as what is now Finland, Ingermanland (in which St. Petersburg is located), Estonia, Latvia, and important coastal towns and other areas of northern Germany.

Russia, Saxony-Poland and Denmark-Norway pooled their power in 1700 and attacked the Swedish-Finnish Empire. Although the young Swedish King Karl XII (also known as Charles XII) won spectacular victories in the early years of the Great Northern War, his plan to attack Moscow and force Russia into peace proved too ambitious; he fell in battle in 1718. In the subsequent peace treaties, the allied powers, joined by Prussia and England-Hanover, ended Sweden's reign as a great power.

Sweden suffered further territorial losses during the Napoleonic wars and was forced to cede Finland to Russia in 1809. The following year, the Swedish King's adopted heir, French Marshal Bernadotte, was elected Crown Prince as Karl Johan by the Riksdag (Parliament). In 1813, his forces joined the allies against Napoleon. The Congress of Vienna compensated Sweden for its lost German territory through a merger of the Swedish and Norwegian crowns in a dual monarchy. Sweden's last war was fought in 1814. A brief confrontation with Norway to restrain its demands for independence resulted in Norway entering into a union with Sweden, but with its own constitution and Parliament. The Sweden-Norway union was peacefully dissolved at Norway's request in 1905.

Sweden's predominantly agricultural economy shifted gradually from village to private, farm-based agriculture during the Industrial Revolution. This change failed to bring economic and social improvements commensurate with the rate of population growth; as a result about 1 million Swedes immigrated to the United States between 1850 and 1890.

In the 19th century liberal economic influences emerged, which ultimately led to the abolition of guild monopolies in favor of free enterprise. Other modernizing reforms included new taxation laws, voting reforms, and a national military service. This period of time also marked the birth of Sweden's three major political parties: the Social Democratic, Liberal and Conservative parties.

During and after World War I, in which Sweden remained neutral, the country benefited from the worldwide demand for Swedish steel, ball bearings, wood pulp, and matches. Postwar prosperity provided the foundations for the social welfare policies characteristic of modern Sweden. Foreign policy concerns in the 1930s centered on Soviet and German expansionism, which stimulated abortive efforts at Nordic defense cooperation. Sweden followed a policy of armed neutrality during World War II and currently remains nonaligned.

Sweden became a member of the European Union (EU) in 1995. In September 2003 Sweden held a referendum on entering the European Monetary Union. The Swedish people rejected participation, with 56% voting against and 42% for. No new referendum is currently planned.


Sweden's government is a limited constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system. Popular government in Sweden rests upon ancient tradition. The Swedish Parliament (Riksdag) stems from tribal courts (Ting) and the election of kings during the Viking era. It became a permanent institution in the 15th century.

King Carl XVI Gustaf (Bernadotte) ascended to the throne on September 15, 1973. His authority is symbolic and representational. Executive authority is vested in the Cabinet, which consists of a prime minister and 22 ministers who run the governmental departments. The current "Alliance" government, led by Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, came to power in September 2006.

Sweden has three levels of government: national, regional, and local. In addition, there is a European level, which has acquired increasing importance following Sweden's entry into the EU and the EU’s adoption of the Lisbon Treaty. Parliamentary, municipal, and county council elections are held every 4 years. The 349-member unicameral Riksdag has legislative powers, and is in session generally from September through mid-June. Proposals for new laws are presented by the government, which also implements decisions made by the Riksdag. The government is assisted in its work by the Government Offices, comprising a number of ministries, and some 300 central government agencies and public administrations.

Sweden is divided into 21 counties (lan), 18 county councils (landsting), 290 municipalities (kommuner), and two semi-independent regions. Each county is headed by a governor, who is appointed by the central government. The counties coordinate administration with national political goals for the county. The county council (landsting) is a regional government that is popularly elected with particular responsibility for health and medical care. The municipalities are local governments that deal with issues such as education, public transportation and social welfare. Elected municipal councils are headed by executive committees roughly analogous to the boards of commissioners found in some U.S. cities.

Swedish law draws upon Germanic and Roman traditions. It is neither as codified as French law nor as dependent on judicial precedent as U.S. law. Legislative and judicial institutions include, in addition to the Riksdag, the Supreme Court, the Supreme Administrative Court, the Labor Court, the Law Council, District Courts and Courts of Appeal, and the Public Prosecutor's Office. The parliamentary ombudsmen and the Chancellor of Justice oversee the application of laws with particular attention to abuses of authority.


Ordinary general elections to the Swedish Parliament are held every fourth year on the third Sunday in September. County council and municipal council elections take place at the same time. A party must receive at least 4% of the votes in the entire country or 12% in a single electoral district to qualify for any seats in Parliament.

The most recent elections were held on September 19, 2010. The Alliance for Sweden (a coalition of four center-right parties--the Moderate Party, the Liberal Party, the Christian Democrats, and the Center Party) won 173 of the 349 seats, securing Moderate Fredrik Reinfeldt the position of Prime Minister. The 2010 election results for Sweden's major parties were as follows: the Social Democratic Party (30.66%; 112 seats), the Moderate Party (30.06%; 107 seats), the Green Party (7.34%; 25 seats), the Liberal Party (7.06%; 24 seats), the Center Party (6.56%; 23 seats), the Sweden Democrats (5.70%; 20 seats), the Left Party (5.60%; 19 seats), and the Christian Democrats (6.60%; 19 seats).

The Social Democratic Party (SDP) has a base of blue-collar workers and public sector employees. It derives much of its power from strong links with the National Swedish Confederation of Trade Unions (LO), which represents blue-collar workers. The party program combines a commitment to social welfare programs and government direction of the economy. The Social Democratic Party has led the government for 65 of the 78 years since 1932; the 2006 election ended its most recent term of 12 consecutive years in office.

The Moderate Party emphasizes personal freedom, free enterprise, and reduction of the public-sector growth rate, while still supporting most of the social benefits introduced since the 1930s. The party also supports a strong military and Sweden's membership in the EU. Its voter base is urban business people and professionals, but the party also attracts young voters, main-street shop owners, and, some blue-collar workers. Moderate Party Leader Reinfeldt has remodeled his party as "New Moderates," moving away from the party's right-wing, upper-class roots to appeal to a large middle ground of voters. In 2006, Reinfeldt was instrumental in uniting into one party the previously separate four center-right parties, the Alliance.

The Green Party is a left-leaning, environmentalist party that attracts young people. The Greens strongly support greater public transportation and environmental taxation, and replacing nuclear energy in Sweden with alternative, environmentally friendly energy sources.

The Liberal Party's platform is "social responsibility without socialism," which includes a commitment to a free-market economy combined with comprehensive Swedish social welfare programs. Foreign aid, education, and women's equality also are popular issues. The Liberal Party base is mainly centered in educated, middle-class voters, and is pro-EU.

The Center Party maintains close ties to rural Sweden. The main priorities of the party include providing a sound economic climate for business and job creation, rural development, climate change and environmental concerns, and health and welfare issues.

The Sweden Democrats gained representation in Parliament for the first time in 2010. It is a nationalist, right-wing party. Its main priority is to protect Swedish culture and values, mostly by reducing immigration to Sweden. In the 2010 elections, the Sweden Democrats were particularly successful in getting votes from the unemployed, laborers, men, and those between 18 and 30 years old.

The Left Party, formerly the Communist Party, focuses on feminist issues, employment in the public sector, and the environment. It opposes privatization, cuts in public expenditure, Swedish participation in NATO activities, and EU membership. Its voter base consists mainly of young people, public sector employees, feminists, journalists, and former social democrats.

The Christian Democrat Party is conservative and “value-oriented”. Its voter base is primarily among members of conservative churches and rural populations. Christian Democrats seek government support for families and better ethical practices to improve care for the elderly.

Foreign Policy[]

For much of the last two centuries, Swedish foreign policy had been based on the premise that national security was best served by staying out of military alliances in peacetime in order to remain neutral in the event of war. However, Sweden has been redefining this position in recent years. In its 2010 Foreign Policy Statement, the Swedish Government said that membership in the European Union means that Sweden is part of a political alliance and that Sweden accepts its share of responsibility for European security. This echoes a 2007 statement that Sweden would not remain passive if another EU or Nordic nation suffers a disaster or an attack and Sweden expects these countries to act the same way. Internationally, the Swedish Government gives special focus to disarmament, arms control, and nuclear nonproliferation. Sweden has greatly contributed to numerous international peacekeeping operations under UN, EU, and NATO auspices, including the NATO-led peacekeeping forces in the Balkans (KFOR). The country contributes to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, and in March 2006 assumed leadership of the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Mazar-e-Sharif. Sweden currently has about 500 troops deployed with ISAF. Sweden also has troops serving in Kosovo (KFOR) and in the EU anti-piracy mission ATLANTA off the coast of Somalia.

Sweden is an active and vocal participant in the United Nations, the World Bank, World Trade Organization (WTO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Labor Organization (ILO), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), World Health Organization (WHO), and other international institutions. In January 1995 Sweden became a full member of the European Union after a referendum was passed with a 52.3% majority. Sweden became a member partially because it was increasingly isolated outside the economic framework of the Maastricht Treaty. Sweden is a member of NATO's Partnership for Peace (PFP). Sweden also cooperates closely with its Nordic neighbors, formally in economic and social matters through the Nordic Council of Ministers and informally in political matters through direct consultation.

Government leaders focus political and financial attention on fostering democracy in developing countries, paying particular attention to key African nations. During the Cold War, Sweden was suspicious of the superpowers, which it saw as making decisions affecting small countries without always consulting those countries.


The Swedish economy emerged from the financial crisis as one of the strongest in Europe. A high-tech local economy and a comprehensive system of welfare benefits allow Sweden to enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the world. Sweden has one of the most globalized and competitive economies today.

From the early 1990s until 2008, Sweden enjoyed a sustained economic upswing fueled by strong exports and rising domestic demand. In the fourth quarter of 2008, Sweden entered a recession. Heavily dependent on exports of autos, telecommunications, construction equipment and other investment goods, Sweden was hard hit by the contraction in external demand due to the global financial and economic crisis.

As a result, GDP fell 4.9% in 2009. GDP is expected to increase by 4% in 2010 and by 3.7% in 2011. By mid-2011, GDP growth is projected to slow to 2007 “pre-crisis” levels, which would be around 3.4%.

The Swedish economy bounced back more quickly than other similar economies due to strong public sector finances and a reliable export-driven economy. Main Swedish exports include machinery and transport equipment, chemical and rubber products, food, clothing, textiles and furniture, and wood products. Exports and investments are rapidly increasing, and the Swedish export market is expected to grow by 8% each year through 2013.

Central Bank policy is guided by inflation targeting to keep the Consumer Price Index (CPI) at or around 2% on an annual basis. The inflation rate was 1.4% as of September 2010.

One of Sweden’s tools in maintaining solid public figure finances is a budget process that calls for Parliamentary-designated spending ceilings. The ceilings are set for SEK 1.024 trillion (U.S. $144.7 billion) in 2010, SEK 1.063 trillion (U.S. $150.3 billion) in 2011, SEK 1.083 trillion (U.S. $153.1 billion) in 2012, and SEK 1.093 trillion (U.S. $154.5 billion) in 2013. While spending ceilings can technically be surpassed, they represent a promise the government makes to the people and they are adhered to.

Sweden entered the financial crisis with a budget surplus due to prior economic growth and conservative fiscal policy. This was a key factor that allowed Sweden to ride out the crisis better than most other economies. In 2008, Sweden had a surplus of SEK 58 billion (U.S. $8.2 billion). By 2009, the surplus dipped into a deficit of SEK 176 billion (U.S. $24.8 billion). A budget deficit of SEK 14 billion (U.S. $1.98 billion) is expected for 2010 and SEK 8 billion (U.S. $1.13 billion) for 2011. The Swedish Government released a conservative budget for 2011 aimed at reestablishing a surplus and consolidating the economic recovery. The budget contains new spending aimed at job creation, maintaining the welfare state, promoting exports and tackling climate change. A series of additional reforms, such as lowering taxes on low and middle income earners, may be implemented if economic conditions allow.

One of the ways Sweden stimulates growth and raises revenue is through the sale of public assets. The government set a goal of selling some $31 billion in state assets between 2007 and 2010. Major sales have included selling d V&S (Vin & Sprit AB) to French Pernod Ricard for some $8.3 billion, and the Swedish OMX stock exchange to Borse Dubai/Nasdaq for $318 million. Additionally, the government sold most of its 946 apoteket (pharmacy) stores and eliminated its monopoly on pharmacies. The government has also approved the sale of Svensk Bilprovning (the Swedish Motor Vehicle Inspection Company).

The Swedish banking sector is highly concentrated, with the four large banking groups (Nordea, Svenska Handelsbanken, Swedbank, and SEB) accounting for roughly 80% of sector assets. Swedish banks are heavily invested in the Baltic states, some of the countries hardest hit during the financial crisis. Swedish banks suffered considerably as a result, forcing authorities to respond with a bank support package in 2008. The package included guarantees for new debt insurance, increased deposit insurance, and a fund that would provide up to $6 billion in equity injection to systemically important institutions. In August 2010, the government revoked the license of the embattled HQ Bank, as risky securities deals and an over-valued trading portfolio threatened its survival. The bank was subsequently purchased by investment bank Carnegie. Despite this, the Swedish banking industry is strong. All Swedish banks passed summer 2010 EU stress tests with wide margins.

Profit returned to the Baltic states in the third quarter of 2010, as the economies stabilized and funding costs to Swedish banks in the Baltic region decreased. Swedbank, one of the Swedish banks most heavily invested in the Baltics, showed a net interest income rise in the third quarter of 2010, the same time that the Baltic market began to turn. This was the first such rise in six quarters.

Unemployment fell from 8.3% in 2009 to 7.8% in September 2010. Continued decline is expected, to an estimated 7.2% in 2012 and 6.4% in 2013. Youth unemployment is disproportionately high at around 28% for those between 15 and 24. The 2011 budget includes programs designed to better prepare young people to enter the work force.

Over 70% of the Swedish labor force is unionized; however, membership is decreasing. For most unions there is a counterpart employers' organization for businesses. The unions and employer organizations are independent of both the government and political parties, although the largest federation of unions, the National Swedish Confederation of Trade Unions (LO), always has maintained close links to the largest political party, the Social Democrats. There is no national minimum wage. Instead, wages are set by collective bargaining.

The World Bank ranks Sweden 18th in “ease of doing business” and 43rd in “ease of starting a business” in 2010. Starting a business in Sweden takes 15 days and costs 0.57% of GNI per capita. The World Bank ranking data set includes 183 economies worldwide, including 27 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) high-income economies. As of 2009, there were 1,100 American companies operating in Sweden. American companies in Sweden employed 101,700 Swedes in 2008--the largest number of employees of all foreign countries doing business in Sweden. The majority of employees in Swedish-controlled affiliates abroad are in Europe and America, although the number of employees in America was decreasing as of 2008.


Sweden has one of the world's longest life expectancies and lowest birth rates. The country counts at least 20,000 indigenous Sami among its population. About one in every five Swedes is an immigrant or has at least one foreign-born parent. The largest immigrant groups are from Finland, Iraq, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Somalia, Iran, Norway, Denmark, and Poland. This reflects Nordic immigration, earlier periods of labor immigration, and more recent refugee and family immigration.

Swedish is a Germanic language related to Danish and Norwegian but different in pronunciation and orthography. English is widely spoken, particularly by Swedes under the age of 50.

Sweden has an extensive child-care system that guarantees a place for all young children ages two through six in a public day-care facility. From ages seven to 16, children participate in compulsory education. After completing the ninth grade, 90% attend upper secondary school for either academic or technical education.

Swedes benefit from an extensive social welfare system, which provides childcare and maternity and paternity leave, a ceiling on health care costs, old-age pensions, and sick leave, among other benefits. Parents are entitled to a total of 480 days' paid leave at 80% of a government-determined salary cap between birth and the child's eighth birthday. The parents may split those days however they wish, but 60 of the days are reserved specifically for the father. The parents may also take an additional 5 months of unpaid leave.


  • Oscar II (₩) (September 17, 1872 - December 8, 1907)
  • Gustaf V (₩) (December 8, 1907 - October 29, 1950)
  • Gustaf VI Adolf (₩) (October 29, 1950 - September 15, 1973)
  • Carl XVI Gustaf (₩) (September 15, 1973 - )

Prime minister[]

  • Christian Lundeberg (₩) (August 2, 1905 - November 8, 1905)
  • Karl Staaff (₩) (November 8, 1905 - May 29, 1906)
  • Arvid Lindman (₩) (May 29, 1906 - October 7, 1911)
  • Karl Staaff (₩) (October 7, 1911 - February 16, 1914)
  • Hjalmar Hammarskjöld (₩) (February 16, 1914 - March 30, 1917)
  • Karl Swartz (₩) (March 30, 1917 - October 19, 1917)
  • Nils Edén (₩) (October 19, 1917 - March 10, 1920)
  • Hjalmar Branting (₩) (March 10, 1920 - October 27, 1920)
  • Louis de Geer (₩) (October 27, 1920 - February 23, 1921)
  • Oscar Fredrik von Sydow (₩) (February 23, 1921 - October 13, 1921)
  • Hjalmar Branting (₩) (October 13, 1921 - April 29, 1923)
  • Ernst Trygger (₩) (April 29, 1923 - October 19, 1924)
  • Hjalmar Branting (₩) (October 19, 1924 - January 25, 1925)
  • Rickard Sandler (₩) (January 25, 1925 - June 6, 1926)
  • Carl Gustaf Ekman (₩) (June 6, 1926 - October 1, 1928)
  • Arvid Lindman (₩) (October 1, 1928 - June 6, 1930)
  • Carl Gustaf Ekman (₩) (June 6, 1930 - August 6, 1932)
  • Felix Hamrin (₩) (August 6, 1932 - September 26, 1932)
  • Per Albin Hansson (₩) (September 26, 1932 - June 19, 1936)
  • Axel Pehrsson-Bramstorp (₩) (June 19, 1936 - September 28, 1936)
  • Per Albin Hansson (₩) (September 28, 1936 - October 6, 1946)
  • Tage Erlander (₩) (October 6, 1946 - October 14, 1969)
  • Olof Palme (₩) (October 14, 1969 - October 7, 1976)
  • Thorbjörn Fälldin (₩) (October 7, 1976 - October 13, 1978)
  • Ola Ullsten (₩) (October 13, 1978 - October 9, 1979)
  • Thorbjörn Fälldin (₩) (October 9, 1979 - October 7, 1982)
  • Olof Palme (₩) (October 7, 1982 - February 28, 1986)
  • Ingvar Carlsson (₩) (February 28, 1986 - October 3, 1991)
  • Carl Bildt (₩) (October 3, 1991 - October 7, 1994)
  • Ingvar Carlsson (₩) (October 7, 1994 - March 21, 1996)
  • Göran Persson (₩) (March 21, 1996 - October 6, 2006)
  • Fredrik Reinfeldt (₩) (October 6, 2006 - )


Swedish Polities[]

Scandinavian Polities[]

  • Kingdom of Norway (From 1905)
  • Kingdom of Denmark: Denmark (From 1945)

Neighboring Nations[]


  • Capital = Stockholm.
  • Population = 10,01,873.
  • GDP = 498.130 billion.
  • Currency = Swedish Krona.

Also see[]


  • The United States Department of State - Background Note
  • The United States Department of State - Background Note
  • The United States Department of State - Background Note
  • The United States Department of State - Background Note
  • The United States Department of State - Background Note
  • The United States Department of State - Background Note
  • Sweden: Guide to Law Online (Library of Congress)
  • Sweden: Location Map 2013 (UN OCHA, PNG)
  • The World Factbook (CIA)
  • Chiefs of State and Cabinet Members of Foreign Governments (CIA)
  • U.S. Department of State
  • GOV.UK
  • Australian Government
  • European Union
  • Inter-Parliamentary Union - Riksdag
  • BBC News Country Profile
  • BBC News Time Line
  • Financial Times World Desk Reference
  • World Statesmen.org
  • International Constitutional Law Project
  • Psephos Election Archive
  • Wikisource 1911 encyclopedia project
  • Wikipedia