Written by andreajn

Modified & Updated: 31 May 2022

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett

sweden facts

Sweden started from the depths of primitiveness and poverty. However, its current state of standard living, life expectancy, literacy, and education ranks among the highest worldwide. At this point, the postindustrial society and the welfare of present-day Sweden is a far cry from what it was before. Learn more about the wonders of this country with these Sweden facts.

  1. Sweden stretches 1,000 mi (1,600 km) north-south and 310 mi (500 km) east-west.
  2. With a total area of 528,447 sq km, Sweden is the 5th largest country in Europe.
  3. As of June 8, 2020, the Sweden had a population of 10,095,502.
  4. Sweden ranks 8th in education as per overall rankings.
  5. As of 2018, Sweden has one of the highest life expectancies at 83 years old.
  1. Officially known as the Kingdom of Sweden, Sweden is also ‘Sverige’ in short.
  2. Sweden is located in the Scandinavian Peninsula in northern Europe.
  3. Sharing the Scandinavian Peninsula with Norway, Sweden occupies its greater portion.
  4. Stockholm is and has been the capital of Sweden since 1523.
  5. The Sweden currency is known as the Swedish krona.
  6. In Sweden, the dominant soil is till formed under glacial ice.
  7. Stockholm is the only city in Sweden with a subway as the backbone of local transportation.
  8. Meanwhile, Gothenburg has a developed tram system.
  9. In Sweden, everyone starting at age 65 are entitled to a basic old-age pension.
  10. The Sweden tax rate is at 57.1% and applies to all income over 1.5x the average national income.
  1. Sweden is known for the Northern Lights.
  2. St. Bridget, the founder of the Brigittine convent at Vadstena, hails from Sweden.
  3. Sweden is the largest country in Northern Europe.
  4. Sweden is the only country that has red as the predominant color of houses.
  5. Since the 16th century, Sweden has not been under military occupation.
Table of Contents

Sweden Facts Infographics

Sweden Facts Infographics

The name ‘Sweden’ originated from the Svear or Suiones.

The first mention of the Svear or Suriones people dates back to Roman author Tacitus in 98 CE. Moreover, Sweden’s ancient name happened to be ‘Svithiod.’

King Carl XVI Gustaf serves the current king of Sweden.

Born on April 30, 1946, King Carl XVI Gustaf serves as the 7th monarch of the House of Bernadotte. He is the fifth child and only son of Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf and Princess Sibylla. Following the death of his grandfather King Gustaf VI Adolf, he became king at age 27. His motto is ‘For Sweden – with the times.’

king King Carl XVI Gustaf and queen Sylvia of Sweden
Image by Bengt Nyman from Wikimedia Commons

Swedish statesmen are sought-after in filling major United Nations positions.

Due to the country’s disowning of military aggressiveness, the Swedish statesmen are usually the first pick for the UN. This factor once involved Sweden’s armies deeply in centuries of Europe’s dynastic warfare. Moreover, Sweden plays a balancing neutral role among the conflicting ideological and political systems of the world.

Sweden has not been at war since 1814.

The country has since followed the doctrine stating its “nonalignment in peace aiming at neutrality in war.” When Sweden joined the European Union (EU) in 1995, it actively bypassed all military alliances with a policy of detachment or neutrality. Still, as a member of the EU, it practices full participation in enforcing the order’s foreign and security policy.

It was not until the 12th century when the Swedish provinces were first united.

In 1164, Sweden became a diocese with its own archbishop in Uppsala. The same papal decree became the oldest document referring to Sweden as a united and independent kingdom.

The world’s oldest continuously published newspaper hails from Sweden.

The Post-och Inrikes Tidningar has been available daily to the Swedes since 1645. However, from the early 2000s, it was only published on the Internet.

The single, most-heralded annual event held in Sweden is the Nobel Prize award ceremony.

The Nobel Foundation holds the event annually on each December 10th. This organization administers the funds and other properties from the estate of Alfred Nobel. The notable Swedish chemist had 355 different patents under his name, and established the Nobel Foundation to recognize scientific and humanitarian endeavors.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences selects Nobel laureates in chemistry and physics.

Starting from its foundation in 1739, it engages in worldwide cooperative programs. The Swedish Academy hosts the awarding for the Nobel Prize for Literature. King Gustav III inaugurated the Swedish Academy as the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History, and Antiquities in 1786.

Sweden was the first European country to establish a national park.

The Sarek National Park was established in 1909. Hence, it has preserved part of the continent’s distinct ecology.

Sweden adopted its first Nature Conservancy Act in 1909.

In 1969, Sweden passed the modern environmental protection act. It then paved the way for allocating thousands of square miles for nature reserves and national parks.

Stockholm is the biggest among Sweden cities and suburbs by population.

Stockholm holds the biggest population in Sweden at approximately 2,300,000 residents, followed by Gothenburg with 1,000,000. Malmö comes in third with a rough estimate of the population at 720,000.

stockholm, sweden facts
Image by David Mark from Pixabay

Geologically, Sweden lies in the oldest and most stable part of the Earth’s crust.

This part of the Sweden map applies specifically to the land slopes from the high mountains along the Norwegian frontier eastward to the Baltic Sea. The receding glaciers of the Pleistocene Epoch occurred around 2,600,000-11,700 years ago. However, the land of Sweden withstood this change.

The Sweden map is bordered by Norway, Finland, and Denmark.

A long coastline extending from the Gulf of Bothnia towards the Baltic Sea forms Sweden’s eastern border. The Sound (called Öresund by locals) is a narrow strait that separates Sweden from Denmark. Meanwhile, a shorter coastline along the Skagerrak and Kattegat strait borders Sweden towards the southwest.

Traditionally, the Sweden landscape divides into 3 regions.

Sweden’s northern region of Norrland comprises vast mountain and forest areas. In central Sweden is Svealand, with its expanse of eastern lowland and western highland. On the other hand, the Småland highlands is a part of Götaland down south. The small yet rich Skåne plains lie at the southern part of the country.

Of Sweden’s 3 regions, Norrland is the largest yet most scarcely populated.

Norrland covers about ⅗ of the Sweden’s total land area. This northern region is comprised entirely of rounded hills and mountains, as well as large lakes and river valleys.

The highest peak of Sweden is Mount Kebne (Kebnekaise) at 6,926 ft (2,111 m) high.

Coming in second is Mount Sarek (Sarektjåkkå) at 6,854 ft (2,089 m) located in the Sarek National Park. Both mountains lie at Norrland’s far northern edge north of the Arctic Circle.

The Swedish coastline has a type of coast known as skärgård.

A skärgård is characterized by grounded glacial ice in the same direction with a common rounded shape. They can be found along the east and west of Sweden, particularly around Stockholm and Gothenburg. Typically, the Swedish coastline is rocky alongside hundreds of small, wooded islands.

The longest river in Sweden is the Klar-Göta River.

Rising from Norway, the Klar-Göta River flows 447 mi (719 km) into Lake Väner (Vänern). From there, it continues southward to the North Sea with the famous falls of Trollhättan as part of its southernmost course.

The rivers of Sweden are sources of hydroelectric power.

The only exceptions to these rivers that provide energy are those in the far north, as they are environmentally protected. Forming the frontier with Finland are the Muonio and Torne rivers. Meanwhile, the Dal River marks the transition to Svealand in the south.

Sweden’s largest lakes can be found in Svealand.

Off all Sweden’s bodies of water, the Lake Väner is the largest at 2,181 sq mi (5,650 sq km) followed by Lake Vätter (Vättern) at 738 sq mi (1,911 sq km). Most importantly, the shores of Lakes Siljan and Storsjön support agriculture alongside the river valleys.

Lake Väner
Image by Christer Andreasson from Pixabay

Sweden takes credit for the first-ever virtual embassy.

On May 30th, 2007, Sweden launched a virtual copy of Sweden’s Washington, USA embassy in the simulator game Second Life. It was designed to provide information to players about the Scandinavian country. For the virtual embassy, an avatar of Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt ‘cut the ribbon’ and kicked off its release.

The Swedish government is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy.

Prior to that, Sweden spent 1,000 years operating as a sovereign state. However, this only lasted until the regular changes in its territorial expanse called for other political structures.

Sweden’s constitution is based on principles of popular sovereignty.

The Swedish constitution dates back to 1917. Like most others, the monarch has function ceremonially, while the parliament and government hold political power.

The Riksdag refers to the unicameral parliament elected for 4-year terms.

Elected by the people, the Riksdag serves as the foundation for the democratic exercise of power through the cabinet. This political body appoints its own speaker, deputy speakers, and standing committees.

The speaker of the Riksdag nominates the prime minister.

This follows after consultation with party leaders and gaining approval for the office through a vote of the Riksdag. The prime minister appoints the other cabinet members, while the cabinet oversees all government decisions.

The Office of the Parliamentary Ombudsman is an original Swedish institution.

Dubbed in Swedish as the Justitieombudsman, this office was established in 1809. Eventually, the Office of the Parliamentary Ombudsman became a model for similar offices in other countries.

Chemist Alfred Nobel is just one of the many famous Swedish people.

You might know more Swedish people than you might realize. Among the famous Swedes are famous scientist Carl Linnaeus, actor Alexander Skarsgård, YouTube personality PewDiePie, and the late DJ Avicii.

Also on the list are authors Astrid Lindgren (Pippi Longstockings) and Stieg Larsson (The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo).

nobel, sweden facts
Image by Isaac Fryxelius from Pixabay

Sweden's history had unusually homogenous Sweden demographics.

Through the centuries, different migrant groups have come to influence Swedish culture. Whether in language, religion, or ethnic stock, Swedish history has always been closely tied with other races. It wasn’t until after World War II that this changed.

The first traces of Swedish people dates back to around 9,000 BCE.

The earliest traces of Swedish people was found in the extremities of southern Sweden at Segebro outside Malmö. Experts believe that the 13,000 year-old land bridges between present-day southern Sweden and Denmark facilitated earlier settlements.

There are 2 minority groups of Sweden's indigenous inhabitants.

One is the Finnish-speaking people of the northeast residing along the Finnish border. The other is the Sami (Lapp) with a population of 15,000 throughout the northern Swedish interior. The ancient Sami relied on hunting and fishing, until they developed a reindeer-herding system that still operates today.

In the 1980s, many refugees fled to Sweden.

This sudden influx of people came from Asian, African, and Latin American countries that had repressive governments. Some of these countries were Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Somalia, and Turkey.

From 2010 to 2014, the number of refugees swelled dramatically.

While Sweden’s population of refugees reached 80,000 in 2014, it even doubled over 160,000 in 2015. Sadly, the Syrian Civil War reared most of these refugees.

Sweden granted citizenship to around 70,000 Syrian refugees.

By 2016, one out of six Swedish residents were born outside the country. Eventually, the Scandinavian country felt the strain of the mass influx of migrants. Because of this mass influx, the country implemented stricter immigration restrictions.

Among the lesser-known Sweden facts is how highly unionized the country is.

Roughly ⅘ of all workers belong to trade unions, organized into three main groups. These groups are the Swedish Confederation of Professional Employees, the Swedish Confederation of Professional Associations, and the Swedish Trade Union Confederation.

Parents in Sweden receive extremely liberal benefits.

Parents who are Swedish citizens are entitled to 13 months of paid family leave from work, which they can share before a child is 8 years old. They also receive tax-free child allowances that are equal for everyone until a child reaches age 16.

Students in Sweden are entitled to study allowances.

A majority of Sweden’s university-level student funds consists of repayable loans. Along with these loans, municipalities provide many options for day-care and youth activities, as well.

Sweden is the first-ever country in the world to ban hitting children.

Since the law’s establishment in 1979, Sweden also became the first country to make a law against flogging. With that, at least 30 countries implemented the same law.

As of December 2019, ‘Lars’ ranked the most famous among Swedish male names.

A record of 85,500 persons carried the name in that year. This was followed by ‘Michael’ with about 79,000 people, and ‘Anders’ with about 77,000.

In Sweden, there is an ‘Ice Hotel’ made entirely of ice.

Iceland’s renowned Ice Hotel lies the village of Jukkasjärvi. Each year, builders craft the hotel from scratch, requiring two-tonne blocks of ice collected from the nearby Torne River.

The hotel’s construction starts with the cold season in the Arctic. This project inspires artists and builders alike in creating a landmark that is different every year.

a room in the ice hotel
Image by Laplandish from Wikimedia Commons

Forests of birch, fir, and pine comprise most of Sweden.

Mixed forests thrive in Southern Sweden while deciduous trees like ash, beech, elm, linden, maple, and oak rule the far south. Other lush growths are berries like blueberries and lingonberries, and mushrooms.

The country utilizes this rich plant life by allowing everyone to hike through forests and pick the native berries and mushrooms.

The high mountains of Sweden are covered in thick treelines.

Due to these treelines, the mountains extend their elevation to up to 1,600 to 2,900 ft (480 to 880 m). On the other hand, treeless mountains feature Alpine flora with heaths, marshes, and boulder fields. Dwarf birch and willows are also typical in these areas.

Roughly 15% of Sweden lies within the Arctic Circle.

This means that sunlight lasts around the clock from about late May to mid-July in the north of the Arctic Circle. However, during this period, areas as far south as Stockholm have total nights with only a few hours of semidarkness.

In mid-December, Stockholm only has around 5.5 hours of daylight.

However, this may vary for areas as far north as Lappland. These regions have roughly 20 hours of total darkness with only a mere 4 hours of twilight.

Despite its northerly geographic location, a favorable climate influences Sweden weather.

The weather in Sweden is largely influenced by Atlantic low-pressure winds blowing from the southwest. Additionally, the North Atlantic Current warms these winds, making Sweden weather mild but varied.

Continental high pressure to the east influences Sweden weather as well.

Typically, Sweden experiences sunny weather in the summer and cold in winter. However, the interaction between the Atlantic and continental air pressure also influences unnatural weather.

Late summer and autumn are Sweden's rainiest seasons.

Still, precipitation tends to fall throughout the year. Overall, the Scandinavian country receives an annual precipitation average of 24 in (600mm).

The national Sweden language is Swedish, a Nordic language.

Swedish is the mother tongue of about 90% of the country’s population. The Swedish language belongs to the Scandinavian subgroup of the Germanic languages. Moreover, it has close relations to the Danish, Icelandic, Faeroese, and Norwegian languages.

Swedish law also recognizes sign language as a national minority language.

This also applies to Sami and Finnish languages, which are both under the Uralic language group. The same goes for Meänkieli, the Finnish of the Torne Valley, and Romani and Yiddish. Due to the influx of immigrants and refugees, there are now around 200 languages spoken in Sweden.

In Sweden, locals observe the Midsummer Eve around June 21.

Around this time of the year is the longest day, also called the solstice. Ceremonies include a dance ritual around a large pole decorated with flowers and leaves. Moreover, this festival inspired the cult classic film Midsommar.

midsummer eve
Image by Corina Selberg from Pixabay

Sweden is home to around 300 museums and local heritage centers.

Around 20 of these museums are state-run. Most of Sweden’s national museums are found in Stockholm. Each region also features county museums that further enrich Swedish heritage.

Traditional clothing in Sweden includes folk dresses and national costumes.

For women, the ‘folk dress’ consists of hats, skirts, aprons, stockings, and shoes. Meanwhile, the traditional clothing in Sweden for men involves shirts, trousers, long socks, and shoes. Still, there are different folk dress styles for men and women distinguished by varying social classes.

Sweden has the highest number of patents per capita in Europe.

The Scandinavian country is home to numerous Swedish innovators and innovations. Some of them are the Tetra Pak by Erik Wallenberg, the Pacemaker by Rune Elmqvist, and the Dynamite and Spherical ball bearing by Alfred Nobel.

Sweden is home to the oldest limited company in the world.

Founded in 1288, the Falu Koppargruva AB continues to operate today. The Its oldest preserved share certificate earned the company the global title.

Sweden imports waste from countries like Norway.

Only about 1% of the waste produced in the country ever reaches the landfill, while 50% are either recycled or composted. The remaining 49% is harnessed for energy.

Sweden has the largest stealth ship in the world.

Developed by the Kockums shipyard, the Swedish Visby-class corvette spans about 72 km (236 ft) long with a displacement of 600 tonnes (1.32 million lb). Even as a carbon-fiber vessel, it is much lighter than a conventional ship of its size. Its features also include large flat surfaces commonly used in aircraft to yield low radar visibility.

The country’s harsh northern climate reflects on the typical Swedish kitchen.

The 18th-century cook Cajsa Warg, pioneered the opportunistic and practical nature of Swedish culinary. Due to the harsh cold, fresh food can only be available in Sweden during the short summer season.

Hence, traditional Swedish cooking reflects the essence of being able to preserve and store food in preparation for winter.

food storage in sweden
Image by Nils Keyland from Wikimedia Commons

In 1991, the country attached the Sweden currency to the European currency unit (ECU).

Known as the Swedish Krona, it was tied to the European currency unit (ECU) – until Sweden decided to abandon it in 1992. The country then allowed the Krona valuation to float. Eventually, ECU was replaced by the Euro in 1999.

Sweden's currency remained independent even with Sweden being an EU member.

The Scandinavian country became a full member of the European Union in 1995. By 1999, Sweden’s Riksbank established an executive board to set monetary policy and sustain price stability.

Exports play a significant role in Sweden's economy.

About ⅓ of the GDP of Sweden comes from exports. Moreover, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Norway, and the UK contributes up to ⅖ of the country’s export market.

Fishing now only fills a small sector of the Sweden economy.

Unfortunately, international agreements caused Sweden to relinquish its traditional fishing areas in the North Sea. Some of the catches fished in the area are cod, herring, lobster, mackerel, plaice, salmon, and shrimp. Meanwhile, Gothenburg stands as Sweden’s leading fishing harbor and fish market.

Sweden is one of the world’s major exporter of forest products.

Throughout the country, a dense road and rail network sustains the transportation of timber. On the other hand, sawmills and pulp-and-paper factories process forest products.

Sweden manufactures and produces various wood products.

These products vary from papers and boards to pre-built houses and furniture. Originally, the development of the pulp and paper industry transpired at the mouths of rivers along the Gulf of Bothnia and Lake Baner. However, more recent plantations lie on the coasts of southern Sweden.

Engineering is the largest manufacturing industry in Sweden.

Including the automotive industry, engineering produces around half of the industrial value-added in Sweden. For the same reason, many automotive and aerospace industries are headquartered in south-central Sweden.

Internationally renowned Volvo and Saab are Swedish companies.

Unfortunately, Saab declared bankruptcy in 2011. The National Electric Vehicle Sweden [NEVS], a start-up company, purchased most of its assets.

Stockholm and Västerås are the main centers for Sweden’s electric and electronics industry.

Moreover, Stockholm serves as the leading center for the production of communications equipment in Sweden.

Stenungsund in western Sweden is the center of the petrochemical industry.

Sweden brands the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries as rapidly expanding fields in the country. These industries are strategically located near medical research facilities.

Over ⅓ of employed Swedes work in the service sector.

In the early 21st century, Sweden’s export of services led significantly greater over the export of goods. This included business services and technology consultancy services alike.

The multinational group IKEA hails from Sweden.

This company might as well be the Scandinavian country’s best-known company. IKEA’s success largely contributes to Sweden’s status as a world leader in industrial design. IKEA products display Swedish designs throughout the world.

ikea store in korea
Image by Massyparcer from Wikimedia Commons

Sweden awarded the last Olympic gold medal.

The Summer Games held in Stockholm, Sweden in 1912 was the last time that Olympic gold medals were made of solid gold. After that, the medals were only cast in silver with a 6g gold coating.

Sweden’s ice hockey team was the first to win the world and Olympic titles.

First, they bagged the gold in the 2006 Turin Olympics. Then, they proceeded to win the world championship in Riga, Latvia on May 21, 2006, when the team won at 4-0 against the Czechs.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo holds the record of the highest box office film gross for a Swedish film.

Released in 2010, it raked in $10.1 million (£6.4 million) at the U.S. box office alone. The thriller film gathered another $104 million (£65.6 million) worldwide.

Roman Catholicism was the preeminent Sweden religion for roughly 500 years.

The Scandinavian country adopted Christianity in the 11th century. However, the first waves of the Protestant Reformation sailed Europe in the mid-1500s. Since then, Lutheranism became the dominant religious practice in Sweden.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sweden became the official state church until 2000.

Between ⅗ and ⅔ of the population remain as members of the said Church following that. From there, numerous independent churches have emerged since the late 1800s.

Sweden has Judaism as its oldest global non-Christian religion.

It has been in practice in the country since 1776. Meanwhile, Islam comes second to Christianity as the largest religion in Sweden, gathering around 100,000 active members by the 21st century. However, Swedes with Muslim heritage tripled this number.

The Sweden flag features a solid blue with a yellow cross.

sweden flag
Image by Unif from Pixabay

Blue symbolizes truth, loyalty, justice, vigilance, and perseverance. On the other hand, the yellow Scandinavian cross represents Christianity and the value of generosity. The yellow cross extends to the borders while its intersection lies slightly left of the center.

The Swedish Coat of Arms in blue and gold inspired the colors of the Sweden flag.

The history of the flag dates back to the 12th century. However, this originated from mythology due to the unavailability of reliable information back then.

The Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) dominates Sweden’s air services.

Owned by Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, SAS not only rules international aviation but serves domestic lines as well. In Sweden, the major airports are in Gothenburg, Malmö, and Stockholm.

The education system in Sweden is public and open to everyone without fees.

There are only a few exceptions to this arrangement. Swedish municipalities run primary and secondary schools. On the other hand, the state runs universities and colleges which receive liberty in the use of resources as well. Moreover, faculty and students alike carefully keep academic freedom in check.

In Sweden, ‘grunskola’ or comprehensive school is compulsory for 9 years.

Children in Sweden aged 7 to 16 are required to attend school. Further, the comprehensive school divides into three-year stages: the lower, middle, and upper.

Continuing and adult education is essential in the Swedish education system.

Folk Schools are uniquely Scandinavian educational institutions. Moreover, they offer adult education outside the public school system.

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