Sweden was covered with a thick ice cap 14,000 years ago. As the ice melted, human inhabitants came to the region. The first known dwellings which date back to 12,000 years ago were found in southern Sweden.
The earliest permanent settlements practiced agriculture in the early Ice Age.
In 500AD, a group of people called the Svea tribe settled in the region and became powerful. They called the land "Sverige," which means Land of the Sea. This tribe eventually became the Vikings, who raided land on the coasts of Northern Europe. The group traveled to the Black and Caspian seas, developing trade routes with the Arab and the Byzantine Kingdoms. The Viking age lasted until 1050AD.
Christianity arrived in Sweden in the 9th century but complete conversion took place only in the 11th century. In the late 13th century, the crown gained significant influence where in 1280, King Magnus Ladulas issued a proclamation establishing a nobility and the organization of a society - therefore founding the Swedish kingdom.
During the 1300's, the Black Death of the Middle Ages reached the country and it entered into a long period of economic and political decline. In 1397, Sweden joined the Union of Kalmar with Norway and Denmark, but separated in 1448.
In 1544, the parliament changed the rules of government and lifted the monarchy's power over political control. It was also during this century when the Hanseatic League dominated the Swedish trade, leading to the establishment of many of the country's towns. Sweden then became a great power in Europe, extending their territory but these were given up during the 18th century.
In 1814, Sweden came into a union with Norway but separated in 1905 - becoming an independent nation.
Sweden is located in Northern Europe on the Scandinavian Peninsula. Its borders are Norway to the west, Finland to the northeast, Denmark to the southwest and the Gulf of Bothnia and the Baltic Sea to the south and east.
Sweden has a long coastline on the eastern side, with a total of 3,218 kilometers. 69% of the country's total area is covered with forest and woodland, and 8% is used as farmland.
Sweden is the 5th largest country in Europe and the largest in Northern Europe.
Sweden is a parliamentary representative democratic constitutional monarchy. The King is the head of state and its role is mostly ceremonial and limited to representative functions.
Executive power is vested on the government, which is led by the Prime Minister. Legislative power is exercised by the government and Parliament. The Parliament is elected within a multi-party system, with the dominant party being the Social Democratic Workers' Party - having dominant power since 1917.
Sweden is famous for its spectacular landscape and incredible cities. The most popular and most visited of all is the capital Stockholm. The capital of Scandinavia, Stockholm is one of the world's most beautiful cities. It is progressive and multi-cultural, modern, and trendy in terms of lifestyle, design, cuisine, and fashion. It is also filled with ancient history and tradition, as well as magnificent scenery.
The Stockholm archipelago consists of over 30,000 islands, where 1,000 of them are inhabited - offering an interesting tourist experience aboard boards and yachts that tour within the islands.
Gothenburg is the capital of West Sweden and has charming cobbled streets, plenty of green open spaces, quaint canals, outdoor cafes, food markets, restos, and museums. Its fine dining scene is a tourist attraction in itself - with 5 of its restaurants having Michelin stars.
Malmo is famous for being multi-cultural and having innovative architecture. It is famous for its organic markets, restaurants with organic offerings, and fashions with ethical and environmental-friendly principles.
The Icehotel in Jukkasjarv is the biggest hotel in the world that's made of ice and snow. It is sculpted in November and December, and melts in April to May. Among the highlights of the hotel are the ice church, ice bar, snow rooms, ice rooms, Art suites, and nearby activities such as fishing, moose watching, ice sculpting, dog sled safaris, and viewing of the Northern Lights.
Education is mandatory for ages 7 - 16, and free for ages 6-19. The Independent School Reform of 1992 allows for Swedish parents to send their children to any school in the country without paying for a fee. School lunch is also free for students, and free breakfast is also encouraged in state run and independent schools.
The oldest and largest universities in Sweden are found in Stockholm, Lund, Uppsala, and Gothenburg.
Last Updated on: February 21, 2019
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