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SWEDEN
 
   
   
 

Sweden Identity Card

 

 
Country name:
~ conventional long form: Kingdom of Sweden
~ conventional short form: Sweden
~ local long form: Konungariket Sverige
~ local short form: Sverige
Area: 449,964 sq km
Coastline: 3,218 km
Highest point: Kebnekaise 2,111 m
Population: 9,001,774
Density: 20/km2
Population growth rate: 0.17%
Language: Swedish
Religions: Lutheran 87%, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Baptist, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist
Government type: constitutional monarchy
Capital: Stockholm
GDP - per capita: $28,400
Inflation rate: 0.7%
Currency (code): Swedish krona (SEK)
Vehicle Country Id-Code: S
ISO CODE Alpha2: SE
ISO CODE Alpha3: SWE
ISO NUMERIC CODE: 752
Calling code: +46
Internet country code: .se
Time Zone: + 1.0 H

 
 
 
 

To the musically inclined, the name Sweden speaks accolades. From the masterful wizardry of the premiere virtuoso guitarist and neo-classical composer Yngwie Malmsteen to the vivid and controlled violence of Opeth or the Sahara Hotnights or the Cardigans; Swedish music is something that definitely makes one reminisce the wild and reckless days of the Viking dominion. The era (5th – 6th century A.D.) is looked upon as the terminus a quo for the advent of ancient Sweden; however, the aggressive Vikings are now transmuted into the soft-spoken and often-shy modern Swedes. But don’t be mistaken thinking their quest for greatness is over; instead, it has simply shifted over to the cultural and the technological side.


Oresund bridge

Geography

The Kingdom of Sweden (Konungariket Sverige) is a part of Scandinavia in Northern Europe, with Norway(separated by the Scandinavian mountain chain) covering the west, Finland the northeast, the Skagerrak and the Kattegat Straits on the southwest and the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Bothnia on the east, providing a long coastline. With a low population density except in its metropolitan areas, most of Sweden is covered by forests and mountains that impart a different dimension to the wilderness. Southern Sweden thrives on agricultural activities; the valley of lake Mälaren and the Öresund region requires here a special mention. The islands of Gotland and Öland are also a part of Sweden.


Stockholm Old city view

Climate

A temperate climate distinguishes Sweden from the rest of the countries in the northern latitudes; the Gulf Stream can be held responsible for this. Greeneries are in abundance – with Pines and Birches dominating the sub-Arctic northern landscape. Another strange aspect of Sweden is its prolonged days and nights – while the sun never sets for part of each summer, the winter renders the nights un-ending for a corresponding period.


Visby

History

The word Viking meant ‘vikarnas män’ or ‘the men of bays’, since they resided close to bays and fjords. Viking-Age Europe took the word a step further and made it synonymous to the word ‘pirate’; the reason being their infamy, gathered largely due to the raids and plundering all over Europe and beyond. But what the older population overlooked are their skills in trade and crafts, a diplomatic bent of mind and their capabilities as valiant explorers and warriors. Ancient Norse language was also a contribution that was made by the Vikings. After they gave way to Christianity, Sweden entered a war with Denmark (1200 A.D. – 1710 A.D.) and Norway (16th and 17th century), which resulted in its advent as a great power. This time, Sweden was twice its current size; however, the extra acres were lost within a century. Since then, i.e. 1814, Sweden is maintaining a policy that keeps the country free of any sort of alliance; a policy that’s witnessed even during the World War II.
The advent of modern Sweden is a rags-to-riches story unknown to most; from being one of the poorest countries in Europe in the 19th century to one of the top nations in the United Nations Human Development Index, efforts were required for a complete abolishment of the heavy alcohol consumption rates of its inhabitants and the removal of dogmatic Protestantism as the second step. Improved means of transportation and communication were then introduced, which allowed the country to utilize its natural assets (primarily timber and iron ore). This created a welfare state within the country in the early 20th century, and the rectifying measures brought about the present liberal tendencies along with a strong national quest for racial and gender-related equality.
The cultural heritage of Sweden is an adept remolding of diverse influences borrowed from other larger cultures; how much ever the world detests the Vikings of yore, but it was they who brought back the eastern and southeastern charms and flavours from their expeditions. Sheer reflections of the same were noticed in their crafts, which primarily comprised of ornate and bejeweled swords and helmets. The Vikings lived in Scandinavia and Sweden till Christianity invaded in the twelfth century A.D.
Contemporary Swedish creativity has been able to attract the global attention - from traditional cultural genres such as literature and art to design, fashion, music and culinary creations. The 20th century culture at Sweden has offerred pioneering works in the early days of the movie industry; Mauritz Stiller and Victor Sjöström being the seminal names. Between 1920 and 1980, film producers like Ingmar Bergman and Bo Widerberg have brought in the Academy Awards; actresses like Greta Garbo, Zarah Leander, Ingrid Bergman and Anita Ekberg also brought Sweden into the limelight of the media-universe. Lukas Moodysson is the current torchbearer of the Swedish movie-dom who also had have received international recognition; Swedish authors like Carolus Linnaeus, Emanuel Swedenborg and August Strindberg are currently becoming household names and share a position at par with a large number of death and black metal acts such as Bathory, Meshuggah and In Flames. Sweden’s latest offer to the world is the Swechno scene, attracting and merging together a diverse community of house and techno crowd.
But what’s most striking is the experience that Swedish culture has gathered from epochs as classical antiquity and the Renaissance within such a short period of time. A constant longing to surge ahead and a complete denial to confinement is something that sets Swedish Culture apart; marking it’s presence in the world of literature, design, art, cinema, dance, opera and theater, classic and modern music, architecture, art handicrafts and a whole array of other forms of expressions.


Stockholm scene

Economy

Sweden enjoys an enviably high standard of living; credits go to the present social democracy. The prime factors being a modern distribution system, an excellent internal and external communications mode and a skilled labour force, the country fully utilizes it’s resource base of timber, hydropower and iron ore to sustain the economy heavily oriented towards foreign trading and exports. Though unemployment has gone up since 2001 and is being constant at 6.5%, the country has an even distribution of income. The transportation systems also play a major role and is an important component of the country’s infrastructure.
50% of Sweden’s exports are oriented to its engineering sector. The public and the trade unions control the pension funds making the trade-unions own more than 50% of the country’s reserve funds. They also organise 80% of Sweden’s total workforce. 53% of the country’s GDP belong to the public sector, whereas agriculture provides only 2% of it. Sweden suffered a global economic slowdown in 2002, which had reduced the country’s budgetary surplus accumulated the previous year. The Swedish Riksbank had set its inflation target at 2% that ensured a continued moderate global recovery.
The two step progresive tax scale of Sweden consists of a municipal income tax around 30% and a high- income state tax around 50%; the later applicable once the income equals or crosses 3,00,000 SEK. The additional 32% of Employee fee is to be paid by the employer, whereas it’s mandatory for the citizens to pay a national VAT tax of 25% on every purchase but food, which is 12% and transports and books at a flat 6%.
Sweden’s extensive childcare system guarantees every child between 1 and 5 years of age a public day-care facility. 6 to16 year old children are made to attend comprehensive schools under compulsion. The structure had been introduced as a part of the country’s social welfare system.


Riksdag (Swedish Parliament) in Stockholm

Politics

Sweden existed under a monarchial structure for almost a thousand years and paid its taxes to the Riksdag; the Swedish Parliament with four chambers housing the representatives from each of the estates of clerics, nobility, townsmen and peasants. 1866 saw Sweden turning into a Constitutional monarchy with the formation of a parliament comprising of two legislative bodies or to Chambers, subjected to change once every four years, until 1971, after which the Riksdag was rendered unicameral. The 349-member Riksdag is currently the supreme authority in Sweden; however, thinking about the people, the Parliament also has put three other constitutional laws into practice: the Act of Royal Succession, the Freedom of Press Act and the Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression.
Sweden has been able to strike an even balance between Socialism and Capitalism; widely known as the Scandinavian Model, the policy has been labelled the most developed form of Capitalism till now. This allows the Swedish Government provide for childcare, maternity and paternity leave, a limit on costly health care, free education, retirement pensions, free dental care up to 20 years of age and leaves under unavoidable circumstances. The Swedish welfare system suffered due to the recession in the 1990s resulting in the decentralisation of certain facilities.
But deep down the heart of every Swede is a unique poetic tone; they know best to combine a rhythm of simplicity to frame wit and sensitivity for delivering newer impressions. Their real sense of politics, the reader must have understood by now is an ever-present love - and respect – not only for the Nordic natural scenery but for the wide, wild world around as well.


Ice Hotel near Kiruna
 



 

 

 
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