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Sweden, The Elongated Land - in a Nutshell

Author: Sue
Date: 25th March 2022

A Very Brief History of Sweden

  • Germanic peoples, the Geats (Swedish: Götar) and Swedes (Svear) have inhabited Sweden since prehistoric times, evolving into the sea peoples known as the Norsemen.
  • An independent Swedish state emerged during the early 12th century.
  • The Black Death, in the middle of the fourteenth century killed about a third of the Scandinavian population.
  • Sweden (at that time it included most of Finland) joined the Scandinavian Kalmar Union, with Denmark and Norway forming one kingdom from 1397,until 1523.
  • From that time Sweden began to expand its territories, building an empire , which lasted until the early 18th century. After that time, the empire declined, territories, were lost , most notably Finland was annexed by Russia.
  • In 1814 when Norway militarily forced into a personal union, with Sweden, which was peacefully dissolved in 1905.
  • Since then, Sweden has been at peace, maintaining an official policy of neutrality in foreign affairs. Sweden has not participated in any war for almost two centuries, including both world wars. It remains a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy.

Facts and Factoids

  • Sweden’s name, Sverige, in modern Swedish, derives from the Svear language and means “Our Kingdom.”
  • Sweden is the third largest country in the European Union in area, yet it has the second lowest population density
  • Swedish pop group ABBA is the fourth-best selling music act in history, after Elvis Presley, the Beatles, and Michael Jackson.
  • The Nobel Prizes have been awarded every year in Stockholm since 1901. They are the legacy of Alfred Nobel, who invented dynamite in 1866.
  • Ikea was founded in Sweden, in 1943, by Ingvar Kamprad.
  • Swedes have a number of nicknames for their country, mostly related to its shape - 1600 kilometres from top to bottom. The most common is 'Det avlånga landet' or 'The Elongated Country'. But there is also 'Landet Falukorv' a Swedish sausage and even ' En slak kuk', (a limp penis).

Is Sweden a Safe Country to Visit?

Sweden has an extremely low crime rate (well, since Viking times anyway), but there are frequent reports of taxi scamming. I used Uber and didn’t have any problems.

Is Sweden Expensive?

Sweden is fairly expensive, compared to other parts of Europe, as wages are generally good. But it’s the cheapest country in Scandinavia and some goods and transport cost less than in the UK. And no-one expects a tip.

Forget cash. I used my credit card the whole time. Some places do not even accept cash - partly thanks to Covid. The only time I needed any coins was at a public toilet which wanted to charge me 5 krone to open a door. I waited for someone to come out and nipped in the entrance.

Is Sweden in the EU?

Sweden joined the European Union on 1 January 1995, but has rejected NATO membership, as well as Eurozone membership following a referendum. The currency is the Swedish Krona

What is There to See and Do in Sweden?

  • More than half of Sweden is covered in forest and much tourist activity is based on the outdoors. Boating and fishing in the many lakes, hiking, winter sports.
  • There’s an Ice Hotel to try out in the winter.
  • The cities of Malmo, Gothenburg and especially Stockholm are all worth a visit.

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