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Geography of Sweden

Learn Geographic Facts about the Scandinavian Country of Sweden

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Sweden Flag

The Sweden flag is blue with a golden yellow cross extending to the edges of the flag; the vertical part of the cross is shifted to the hoist side in the style of the Dannebrog (Danish flag).

Source: CIA World Factbook, 2007
Updated January 02, 2011

Population: 9,074,055 (July 2010 estimate)
Capital: Stockholm
Bordering Countries: Finland and Norway
Land Area: 173,860 square miles (450,295 sq km)
Coastline: 1,999 miles (3,218 km)
Highest Point: Kebnekaise at 6,926 feet (2,111 m)
Lowest Point: Lake Hammarsjon at -7.8 feet (-2.4 m)

Sweden is a country located in Northern Europe on the Scandinavian Peninsula. It is bordered by Norway to the west and Finland to the east and it is along the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Bothnia (map). Its capital and largest city is Stockholm which is located along the country's east coast. Other large cities in Sweden are Goteborg and Malmo. Sweden is the European Union's third largest country but it has a very low population density away from its larger cities. It also has a highly developed economy and it is known for its natural environment.

History of Sweden

Sweden has a long history that began with prehistoric hunting camps in the southernmost part of the country. By the 7th and 8th centuries, Sweden was known for its trade but in the 9th century, the Vikings raided the region and much of Europe. In 1397, Denmark's Queen Margaret created the Kalmar Union, which included Sweden, Finland, Norway and Denmark. By the 15th century though, cultural tensions caused conflicts to develop between Sweden and Denmark and in 1523, the Kalmar Union was dissolved, giving Sweden its independence.

In the 17th century, Sweden and Finland (which was a part of Sweden) fought and won several wars against Denmark, Russia and Poland which caused the two countries to become known as strong European powers. As a result, by 1658, Sweden controlled many areas - some of which included several provinces in Denmark and some influential coastal towns. In 1700, Russia, Saxony-Poland and Denmark-Norway attacked Sweden, which ended its time as a powerful country.

During the Napoleonic wars, Sweden was forced to cede Finland to Russia in 1809. In 1813 however, Sweden fought against Napoleon and shortly thereafter the Congress of Vienna created a merger between Sweden and Norway in a dual monarchy (this union was later dissolved peacefully in 1905).

Throughout the rest of the 1800s, Sweden began to shift its economy to private agriculture and as a result its economy suffered and between 1850 and 1890, about a million Swedes moved to the United States. During World War I, Sweden remained neutral and was able to benefit by producing products like steel, ball bearings and matches. After the war, its economy improved and the country began to develop the social welfare policies that it has today. Sweden joined the European Union in 1995.

Government of Sweden

Today Sweden's government is considered a constitutional monarchy and its official name is the Kingdom of Sweden. It is has an executive branch made of a chief of state (King Carl XVI Gustaf) and a head of government which is filled by the prime minister. Sweden also has a legislative branch with a unicameral Parliament whose members are elected by popular vote. The judicial branch is comprised of the Supreme Court and its judges are appointed by the prime minister. Sweden is divided into 21 counties for local administration.

Economics and Land Use in Sweden

Sweden currently has a strong, developed economy that is, according to the CIA World Factbook, "a mixed system of high-tech capitalism and extensive welfare benefits." As such, the country has a high standard of living. Sweden's economy is mainly focused on the service and industrial sectors and its main industrial products include iron and steel, precision equipment, wood pulp and paper products, processed foods and motor vehicles. Agriculture plays a small role in Sweden's economy but the country does produce barley, wheat, sugar beets, meat and milk.

Geography and Climate of Sweden

Sweden is a northern European country located on the Scandinavian Peninsula. Its topography consists mainly of flat or gently rolling lowlands but there are mountains in its western areas near Norway. Its highest point, Kebnekaise at 6,926 feet (2,111 m) is located here. Sweden has three main rivers which all flow into the Gulf of Bothnia. They are the Ume, the Torne and the Angerman rivers. In addition, the largest lake in Western Europe (and the third largest in Europe), Vanern, is located in the southwestern part of the country.

The climate of Sweden varies based on location but it is mainly temperate in the south and subarctic in the north. In the south, summers are cool and partly cloudy, while winters are cold and usually very cloudy. Because northern Sweden is within the Arctic Circle, it has long, very cold winters. In addition, because of its northern latitude, much of Sweden stays dark for longer periods during the winter and light for more hours in the summer than more southern countries. Sweden's capital, Stockholm has a relatively mild climate because it is on the coast toward the southern part of the country. The average July high temperature in Stockholm is 71.4˚F (22˚C) and the average January low is 23˚F (-5˚C).

To learn more about Sweden, visit the Geography and Maps section on Sweden on this website.

References

Central Intelligence Agency. 8 December 2010). CIA - The World Factbook - Sweden. Retrieved from: https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/sw.html

Infoplease.com. (n.d.). Sweden: History, Geography, Government, and Culture- Infoplease.com. Retrieved from: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0108008.html

United States Department of State. (8 November 2010). Sweden. Retrieved from: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2880.htm

Wikipedia.org. (22 December 2010). Sweden - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweden

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