Much of Sweden is composed of ancient rock; most ice erosion has resulted in generally poor sandy or stony soils. The best, most lime-rich soils are found in Skane, and this southernmost district is the leading agricultural region; it resembles Denmark in its physical endowments and development. Because of maritime influences, particularly the warm North Atlantic Drift and the prevailing westerly airstreams, Sweden has higher temperatures than its northerly latitude would suggest.
As would be expected from its latitudinal extent, there is a wide divergence of climate between northern and southern Sweden: the north has a winter of more than seven months and a summer of less than three, while Skane in the south has a winter of about two months and a summer of more than four. The increasing shortness of summer northward is partly compensated for by comparatively high summer temperatures, the greater length of day, and the infrequency of summer cloud; the considerable cloud cover in winter reduces heat loss by radiation.
Annual rainfall averages 61 cm 24 in and is heaviest in the southwest and along the frontier between Norrland and Norway; the average rainfall for Lapland is about 30 cm 12 in a year. The maximum rainfall occurs in late summer, and the minimum in early spring.
There is considerable snowfall, and in the north snow remains on the ground for about half the year. Ice conditions in the surrounding seas, especially the Gulf of Bothnia, often are severe in winter and seriously interfere with navigation. Vegetation ranges from Alpine-Arctic types in the north and upland areas to coniferous forests in the central regions and deciduous trees in the south. Common trees include birch, aspen, beech elm, oak, and Norway spruce.
Black cock, woodcock, duck, partridge, swan, and many other varieties of birds are abundant. Fish and insects are plentiful. As of , there were at least 60 species of mammals, species of birds, and over 1, species of plants throughout the country. Sweden's relatively slow population growth and an effective conservation movement have helped preserve the nation's extensive forest resources. By the end of there were 19 national parks covering , hectares 1,, acres , 1, nature reserves of , hectares 2,, acres , and 2, other protected landscape areas of , hectares 1,, acres.
As of , protected areas accounted for 9. Principal responsibility for the environment is vested in the National Environmental Protection Agency. In , the total of carbon dioxide emissions was at Other pollutants include sulphur air, nitrogen compounds, oil, VOCs volatile organic compounds , radon, and methane. The pollution of the nation's water supply is also a significant problem. Factory effluents represent a threat to water quality, and airborne sulfur pollutants have so acidified more than 16, lakes that fish can no longer breed in them.
One of the most controversial environmental questions was put to rest by a March referendum in which a small plurality of the electorate As of , there were still 10 nuclear power reactors providing nearly half of the nation's electricity. According to a report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources IUCN , threatened species included 5 types of mammals, 9 species of birds, 6 species of fish, 1 type of mollusk, 12 species of other invertebrates, and 3 species of plants.
Threatened species include the blue ground beetle and cerambyx longhorn. Protected fauna include the wild reindeer, golden eagle, and crane. The population of Sweden in was estimated by the United Nations UN at 9,,, which placed it at number 84 in population among the nations of the world. There were 98 males for every females in the country.
According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for — 10 was expected to be 0. The projected population for the year was 9,, The capital city, Stockholm, had a population of 1,, in that year. The exodus ended by the s, when resource development in Sweden started to keep pace with the population growth. In the s there was a flood of immigration — especially by Finns — that increased the number of aliens in Sweden from , to , The number remained steady in the s but increased, though at a slower rate, in the s. Evacuees, as well as Kosovars who had already sought asylum but whose cases were still pending, were granted temporary protection for an month period, renewable for a maximum of four years.
During , 73, refugees were hosted in Sweden. Main countries of origin for refugees included Iraq 23, , Bosnia and Herzegovina 25, , Serbia and Montenegro 20, , and Iran 5, Asylum applications came from 25 countries of origin, the largest numbers from Serbia and Montenegro , and Iraq. The net migration rate in was an estimated 1. The Swedes are primarily Scandinavians of Germanic origin. There are about 17, to 20, Sami Lapps within the country. Swedish is a national language. Swedish is closely related to Norwegian and Danish.
Many Swedes speak English and German, and many more understand these languages. The Sami speak their own language. There is also a spread of Finnish-speaking people from across the frontier. For hundreds of years, the Church of Sweden, an Evangelical Lutheran church, represented the religion of state. However, in , the Church and government placed into effect a formal separation of church and state , with a stipulation that the Church of Sweden will continue to receive a certain degree of state support. This new agreement triggered a decline in membership for this church.
According to recent estimates, about Protestant groups other than the Church of Sweden have about , people. The number of Muslims is at about ,, with about , active practitioners primarily of the Sunni and Shia branches. There are also about 20, Jews Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform , with about half being active.
Buddhists and Hindus number around 3, to 4, each. The constitution provides for freedom of religion. Since the separation of church and state , all religions are eligible for financial support from the government through the "church tax. The Muslim and Jewish communities have protested government laws which they believe interfere with religious practice. For instance, a law requires the use of anesthesia before slaughter of animals in order to minimize suffering.
This practice interferes with kosher. A law requires that mohels who perform circumcisions according to Jewish customs must be certified by the National Board of Health and the procedure must be completed in the presence of a medical doctor or an anesthesia nurse. Some Jews and Muslims claim that this interferes with their religious ceremony; as of , the law was scheduled for review. As of , the total length of highways was , km , mi , of which about , km , mi were paved, including 1, km mi of expressways.
As of , there were 4,, passenger cars and , commercial vehicles. In , Sweden changed from left-to right-hand traffic. Of that total, 9, km 5, mi of the track was electrified. All tracks are standard gauge. Since the s, the number of ships in the merchant navy has decreased because of competition from low-cost shipping nations and, more recently, the slump in world trade.
Sweden has an increasing number of special-purpose vessels, such as fruit tramps, ore carriers, and oil tankers. Most of the larger vessels, representing the majority of Sweden's commercial tonnage, are engaged in traffic that never touches home ports, and less than half of Swedish foreign trade is carried in Swedish ships. Canals in central Sweden have opened the lakes to seagoing craft; inland waterways add up to 2, km 1, mi , navigable by small steamers and barges. In there were an estimated airports. As of , a total of had paved runways, and there were also two heliports.
Linjeflyg, a subsidiary of SAS, operates a domestic service to most of the larger cities and resorts. In , about Sweden and the Swedes are first referred to in written records by the Roman historian Tacitus , who, in his Germania ad 98 , mentions the Suiones, a people "mighty in ships and arms. In the 9th and 10th centuries when Vikings from the Norwegian homeland traveled west to Iceland , Greenland and farther afield to Newfoundland, Vikings from eastern Sweden raided areas southeastward across Russia to Constantinople.
Archeologists and historians hold that the descendants of one of their chieftains, Rurik, founded the Kievan Russian state. Some other settled regions and place-names in various parts of Europe also show Swedish influence through rune-stones found across Eastern Europe. In the Viking era, the Swedish kingdom took shape but was not very centralized.
Political power became more centralized with the advent of Christianity , which came gradually between the 9th and 11th centuries. During the 12th century, the Swedish kingdom consolidated internally and under the guise of the crusades began to expand into the Baltic, incorporating Finland, between and Among the institutions established in Sweden during the 12th and 13th centuries were Latin education, new modes and styles of architecture and literature, town life, and a more centralized monarchy with new standards in royal administration — all with significant economic, legal, and social implications.
For over a century, Sweden resisted Danish rule, and the union was marked by internal tensions. In , following a war with Denmark whose notable feature was the Stortorget Great Square massacre in Stockholm where hundreds of Swedish nobles were executed, the Swedes elected Gustavus Vasa Gustaf I to the Swedish throne. A great king and the founder of modern Sweden, Gustavus made Lutheranism the state religion, established a hereditary monarchy, and organized a national army and navy.
His successors incorporated Estonia and other areas in Eastern Europe. The growth of nationalism, the decline of the Hanseatic League 's control of Baltic trade, and Protestantism contributed to the rise of Sweden in the following century. He defeated Poland and conquered the rest of Livonia, and by winning a war with Russia acquired Ingermanland and Karelia.
In the period of the Thirty Years' War — 48 , Sweden was the foremost Protestant power on the Continent, and for the following half century the Baltic Sea became a Swedish lake. Swedish expansionism resulted, in , in the recapture of the southern Swedish provinces that Denmark had retained since the early 16th century. Under young Charles XII r.
Sweden at first was militarily successful, but after a crushing defeat by Russian forces under Peter the Great Peter I in at the Battle of Poltava, the nation lost territories to Russia, Prussia , and Hannover. Thereafter Sweden was a second-rate power. Throughout the 18th century there was internal dissension between those that favored increased political liberties and constitutionally shared political power and those who favored monarchical absolutism. In , a power struggle between the nobility and the commoner estates, including the clergy, burghers and farmers, ended when Gustav III carried out a bloodless coup and restored absolutism.
Gustavus III r. Russia switched sides in , however, and the ensuing Russo-Swedish conflict — 9 resulted in the loss of Finland. King Gustavus IV was then overthrown by the army, and a more democratic constitution was adopted. Three years later, he brought his adopted country once again over to the side of the allies against Napoleon in the last full-scale war fought by Sweden.
His reward for being on the winning side of the Napoleonic wars was to wrest a reluctant Norway from Danish control. After a show of Swedish force, Norway was forced into political union with Sweden that lasted until when the union was largely peacefully dissolved. The Bernadotte dynasty, which has reigned successively since , gradually relinquished virtually all of its powers, which were assumed by the Riksdag, Sweden's parliament.
Sweden has become one of the most progressive countries in the world. Industry was developed, the cooperative movement began to play an important part in the economy, and the Social Democratic Labor Party gained a dominant position in political life. In September , a coalition of three non- Socialist parties won a majority in parliamentary elections, ending 44 years of almost uninterrupted Social Democratic rule that had established a modern welfare state.
The country's economic situation worsened, however, and the Social Democrats were returned to power in the elections of September In the ensuing years, investigators have been unable to establish a motive for the killing or to find the assassin. Sweden remained neutral in both world wars; during World War II , however, Sweden had difficulty maintaining neutrality as its Nordic neighbors were drawn into the conflict.
Sweden served as a haven for refugees from the Nazis , allowed the Danish resistance movement to operate on its soil, and sent volunteers to assist Finland's fight against the Russians. On the other hand, Sweden was compelled to comply with German demands to transport its troops through Sweden to and from Nazi-occupied Norway. Sweden's post-WWII foreign policy has been termed "active neutrality. Sweden's traditional policy of neutrality was strained in late October when a Soviet submarine ran aground inside a restricted military zone near the Swedish naval base at Karlskrona.
The Swedish government protested this "flagrant violation of territorial rights" and produced reasons for believing that the submarine had been carrying nuclear weapons. Swedish naval vessels raised the damaged submarine and permitted it to return to the Soviet fleet in early November. In , a Swedish military report stated that at least 10 "alien" submarines had been detected in Swedish waters.
The environment and nuclear energy were major political issues in the s. In the s and into the new century, the major concerns have been conflicts over immigration policies, the economy, and Sweden's relationship to the European Communities. Sweden's economic crisis led to large-scale public spending cuts by a center-right government. In , Sweden applied for membership in the EC against a background of considerable opposition.
In May , the Riksdag altered Sweden's long-standing foreign policy of neutrality. In the future, neutrality would only be followed in time of war. The Riksdag also opened up the possibility of Sweden's participation in defense alliances, which remains a hotly debated issue in Sweden.
In , Swedes voted to join the EU and the country officially became a member on 1 January Sweden did not join the 11 EU countries participating in the launch of the new European currency, the euro, on 1 January Public opinion over the succeeding years softened on the issue of euro membership, however, and a referendum on joining the monetary union was held on 14 September The ruling Social Democratic Party supported euro membership, but its coalition partners in , the ex-communist Left Party and the Greens, were strongly opposed, as those parties feared Sweden would lose not only its currency, but its status as an advanced welfare state.
On 10 September, Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh was stabbed in a Stockholm department store by an assailant unknown to her; she died the next day. Lindh was one of the primary spokespersons for the "yes" campaign for the euro, and was one of the country's best-loved politicians; many thought she could have become prime minister. The referendum was defeated by a margin of Following the 11 September terrorist attacks on the United States , Sweden pledged support for US-led retaliation against terrorists.
At the same time, Sweden relaxed further its policy of neutrality, and some have speculated that it will eventually join NATO. Sweden at the turn of the 21st century was concerned with issues of international terrorism and organized transnational crime, such as drug smuggling and trafficking in human beings.
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Sweden developed as a constitutional monarchy under the constitution of , which remained in effect until 1 January , when a new instrument of government replaced it. Legislative authority is vested in the parliament Riksdag. The monarch ceded involvement in power-brokering among the parties as early as when the Liberals and Social Democrats entered into a coalition. Today, the monarch performs only ceremonial duties as the official head of state; the monarch's last political duty, regular participation in cabinet meetings, was taken away under the most recent constitution.
The king must belong to the Lutheran Church; the throne was hereditary only for male descendants until , when female descendants were granted the right to the throne. The Riksdag was bicameral until , when a unicameral body of members serving three-year terms was established; the constitution provided for members, and the parliamentary term was lengthened to four years in All members of the Riksdag are directly elected by universal suffrage at age Voter turnout has traditionally been very high in Sweden, though in the election turnout dipped to Foreign nationals may vote in regional and municipal elections.
Elections at all levels are simultaneous and are held on the third Sunday of September every fourth year. The parties' share of the national vote is directly translated into seats in Riksdag. Interim national elections may be called by the government between regular elections, but the mandate of the interim election is valid only for the remaining portion of the regular four-year parliamentary term of office.
In Sweden's parliamentary system, executive power lies with the government, or cabinet, that is formed by the majority party in parliament or by a coalition of parties. Sweden has also functioned with a minority government in which the largest party does not enjoy a majority in parliament and must form ad-hoc coalitions with other parties in the Riksdag. The cabinet as a whole is responsible for all government decisions and must defend their legislative agenda in the plenary sessions of the Riksdag.
A vote of no confidence by an absolute majority of the Riksdag allows for the forced resignation of individual ministers or of the entire cabinet. A vote of no confidence becomes moot if within one week of the vote the government calls for new elections for the entire Riksdag. Chief executive power is wielded by the prime minister, who is formally proposed by the speaker of the Riksdag and confirmed by vote of the parliamentary parties. The prime minister appoints a cabinet usually consisting of 18 — 20 members reflecting the party or coalition of parties in power.
Once a week the government takes decisions in a formal meeting presided over by the prime minister. The cabinet as a whole discusses all-important decisions prior to taking a decision. After a decision has been taken by the cabinet, the ministers practice collective responsibility in which all support the decision taken by the government.
Ministers may issue directives but administrative decisions are taken by central boards, which have their respective spheres of activity delimited by the Riksdag. National referenda on policy questions of national importance are permitted by the constitution. The unicameral system and the electoral system of proportional representation have allowed almost exact equality in proportional representation among the constituencies on the national level and has produced a multiparty system.
Sweden has for many years utilized the party list system in which the candidates for office from any given party are listed in order of party preference. If a party won 10 seats in the Riksdag, the top 10 candidates from that party would be represented in parliament. In , voters for the first time had the option of indicating which candidates on the party list whom they preferred to see elected to parliament and to local councils. Sweden had a stable party system until the end of the s. The parties of the political right include the Moderate formerly Conservative Party Moderata Samlingspartiet, M , which favors tax reform and trimming the welfare state; the Liberal Party Folkpartiet Liberalerna, FP , which is a traditional European liberal party; and the Center formerly Agrarian Party Centerpartiet, C , which has in the past represented rural interests and has tried to refashion itself as an "alternative" centrist party favoring environmental issues.
Except for a brief period in , the Social Democratic Labor Party was in power almost uninterruptedly from to , either alone or in coalition. In , the Social Democrats dissolved the wartime Grand Coalition Cabinet representing every party except the Left Party Communists and launched a program of social reform.
Although inflation and other difficulties slowed the Social Democratic program, steadily mounting production encouraged the government to push through its huge social welfare program, which was sanctioned in principle by all major parties. The Social Democrats held or controlled all parliamentary majorities until the elections of September when a non-Socialist coalition including the Center Party, the Moderates, and the Liberals won of the seats at stake.
The center-right coalition retained control in the election with a reduced majority of seats and a stronger showing for the Moderates.
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In the election on 19 September , however, the Social Democrats returned to power. Olof Palme , who had been the Social Democratic prime minister from to , was able to put together a new coalition cabinet on 8 October His party remained in power, though with a reduction of seats, following the election. Palme was assassinated in February ; he was succeeded by Ingvar Carlsson. The election was a watershed that registered political discontentment.
The Social Democrats lost seats as the Moderates' and Liberals' share of the vote continued to increase. More remarkably, for the first time in 70 years, a new party gained representation in the Riksdag — the Green Party MP , which obtained 20 seats. The Social Democrats were narrowly defeated in September , and the government of Ingvar Carlsson gave way to that of Carl Bildt Moderate Party , who headed a minority four-party, center-right coalition composed of the Moderates, the Liberals, the Center Party, and the Christian Democratic party , which together controlled seats.
New Democracy emerged prior to the general election as a party of discontent urging tax cuts and reduced immigration. The Moderate Coalition, which promised to end Sweden's deepening recession, found itself unable to address the country's problems, largely because of Social Democrat and popular opposition to its cost-cutting measures. In , the Social Democrats were returned to office by a population reluctantly willing to bear austerity if initiated and directed by the party that created the welfare state. The September election represented a protest vote against the mainstream parties and perhaps greater voter polarization in Sweden.
The mainstream party of the left, the Social Democrats, had their worst election showing in over 70 years but maintained power in a minority government dependent upon support from a formal alliance from the Left and Green parties. The Social Democrats slipped from Similarly on the right, the Christian Democrats advanced from 4. The Moderates' share of the vote held basically steady.
Much of this discontent in the election was attributed to the budget tightening process that resulted in major cutbacks in social welfare benefits. A growing level of public distrust of politicians was fueled by prominent scandals of misuse of public funds. The reform to allow voters to select individual candidates did not seem to have diminished the distance between voters and elected representatives as only The general election campaign focused largely on the issues of immigration and membership in the euro zone. The Liberals and Moderates supported a plan to import large numbers of guest workers, who would be classed as noncitizens.
The Social Democrats and the Left Party denounced this plan. The Social Democrats registered a strong showing in the elections, winning However, the Liberal Party, with its immigration plan, increased its strength in parliament, with The Christian Democrats fell from The Moderates took The next general elections were to be held September Local self-government has a long tradition in Sweden as the civil role of the Lutheran Church has been gradually reduced. The first legislation establishing municipal governance is the Local Government Ordinances of that separated religious tasks from civil tasks which were given to cities and rural municipal districts.
On 1 January , the Church of Sweden separated from the central government, and local parishes lost their local government status. Decentralization is markedly characteristic of Sweden's governmental structure.
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With the most recent reforms there are two types of local governance in Sweden: the municipality, or kommun , as the local unit and the county council as the regional unit. The country is divided into 21 counties, 2 regions, municipalities, and one "county council-free municipality" on the island of Gotland, each with an elected council. Local government is administered by county councils and municipalities consisting of at least 20 members popularly elected, on a proportional basis, for four years.
Under each council is an executive board with various committees. In addition, there is a governor prefect , the government-appointed head of the administrative board in each of Sweden's counties, who holds supreme police and other supervisory authority. Local authorities are responsible for most social welfare services, including hospitals, elementary education, certain utilities, and the police force.
It is up to the Swedish cabinet and parliament to decide on the overall framework of public sector activities, but within these wide parameters, local governments have a large measure of freedom to implement public programs. Special cases are heard by the Supreme Administrative Court and other courts.
The Swedish judicial procedure uses a jury of the Anglo-US type only in press libel suits. Capital punishment, last employed in , is expressly forbidden by the constitution. The judiciary is independent of executive control or political influence. The right to counsel of criminal defendants is restricted to cases in which the maximum penalty possible is six-month imprisonment or greater.
Sweden originated the judicial practice of the ombudsman when its first ombudsman was designated in The office has been in continuous existence since The institution has also been enshrined by the constitution and provides parliamentary control over the executive. The ombudsman is charged with supervising the observance of laws and statutes as applied by the courts and by public officials, excluding cabinet ministers, members of the Riksdag, or directly elected local government officials. The ombudsmen are concerned especially with protecting the civil rights of individual citizens and of religious and other groups.
Sweden's policy of neutrality and nonalignment requires a strong, modern, and independent defense establishment. Active armed forces that year totaled 27, with reservists numbering , The Army in had 13, active personnel, with main battle tanks, armored infantry fighting vehicles, 1, armored personnel carriers, and artillery pieces. The Swedish Navy had 7, active personnel including a 1,member coastal defense force, and a member naval aviation wing.
Major naval units include seven tactical submarines, 36 patrol and coastal vessels, and 21 mine warfare vessels. The Air Force in totaled 5, active personnel, operating combat capable aircraft, including 13 fighter ground attack aircraft and JAS Gripen multi-role aircraft. A person paramilitary force acts as the nation's coast guard and there are more than 35, people that belong to voluntary auxiliary organizations.
Sweden participates in UN and peacekeeping missions in 11 countries or regions. The country served on the UN Security Council from — Together with Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and Norway, Sweden has been a member of the advisory Nordic Council since and cooperates with these other Scandinavian countries in social welfare and health insurance and in freeing frontiers of passport control.
In , Sweden became a member of the European Union. Sweden has offered support to UN missions and operations in Kosovo est. Sweden is a highly industrialized country.
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The shift from agriculture to industry began in the s and developed rapidly during the postwar period. Average annual growth of the GDP declined from 4. It grew by 1. In , the economy grew by 2. From to GDP growth averaged 3. Growth remained sluggish in , but picked up in Real GDP growth was expected to accelerate from 2. Swedish living standards and purchasing power are among the highest in the world. However, inflation was a problem for several years after the international oil shocks of the s, the annual rise in consumer prices peaking at The rate of price increases declined thereafter, but was still By and , inflation had all but disappeared, with annual rates of 0.
In , inflation rose to 1. By , the annual inflation rate averaged 0. Over the — 05 period, inflation averaged 1. By , unemployment was down to 6. While not high by European standards, many economists believed the true number of the unemployed is even larger. Swedish industry is outstanding in supplying quality goods and specialized products — ball bearings, high-grade steel, machine tools, and glassware — that are in world demand.
Intimate contact between trade, industry, and finance is a feature of the economy, as is the spread of factories to rural districts. Some natural resources are ample, the foremost being lumber, iron ore, and waterpower. Sweden's lack of oil and coal resources makes it dependent on imports for energy production, despite abundant waterpower. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity PPP rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars.
The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 2. The average inflation rate in was 0. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 1. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period to household consumption grew at an average annual rate of 1. In , Sweden's labor force was estimated at 4. As of , the services sector accounted for The trade union movement is based on voluntary membership, and there is neither a closed shop nor a union shop.
Although workers have the right to strike, employers also have the right to use the lockout. Agreements between employers and trade unions are generally worked out by negotiation. Public mediators or mediation commissions intervene if necessary. A labor court, made up of three impartial members and five representing employers, workers, and salaried employees, has jurisdiction over the application and interpretation of collective agreements already signed and may impose damages on employers, trade unions, or trade union members violating a contract.
For many years, an overwhelming majority of the court's decisions have been unanimous, and since the end of the s industrial peace has generally prevailed. In , management and labor agreed to a new negotiating frame-work that has decreased strikes and increased wages. Swedish law requires employee representation on company boards of directors. A law passed in introduced employee funds, partly funded by contributions from profits of all Swedish companies, which give unions and employees equity in companies, while providing the companies with investment capital.
The legal minimum age for full-time employment is 16 years old, but only under the supervision of local authorities. In addition, minors under 18 can only work in the daytime and must be supervised. The regular workweek cannot exceed 40 hours, and overtime is limited to 48 hours over a four-week period and a total of hours a year. However, these regulations may be modified by collective bargaining agreement.
A minimum of five weeks of holiday with pay is stipulated by law. There is no national minimum wage : wages are negotiated in collective bargaining agreements. Workers, even at the lowest end of the pay scale, are able to provide a decent standard of living for their families.
Health and safety standards are very high and are stringently enforced. Production exceeds domestic consumption; however, a considerable amount of food is imported. About 6. In there were 66, holdings with more than two hectares five acres of arable land. Farm holdings are intensively tilled; fertilizers are used heavily and mechanization is increasing. During — 90, the agricultural sector grew by an annual average of 1. However, during — , it remained essentially unchanged.
Most farmers are elderly, and few small farms have a successor waiting to replace the present farmer. Government policy in recent years has been to merge small unprofitable farms into larger units of 10 — 20 hectares 25 — 50 acres of arable land with some woodland, the size estimated able to support a family in the same living standard as an industrial worker. Farmer participation in the government's setaside program resulted in about , hectares , acres of cropland being retired from production in , and again in The full-time farm labor force has fallen from 45, in to 32, in Grains particularly oats, wheat, barley, and rye , potatoes and other root crops, vegetables, and fruits are the chief agricultural products.
In , Sweden produced 1,, tons of barley; , tons of oats; 2,, tons of wheat; , tons of potatoes; and , tons of rye. In the last 50 years, Swedish agricultural policy for major commodities has developed under an official system of import levies, export support, and market intervention. This policy was in response to the economic depression of the s, and for the country's need for food security in times of risk or war. In , a five-year agricultural reform program came into effect, whereby most subsidies and price regulations were eliminated, allowing consumer demand to determine production volumes.
By , Sweden's agricultural policy was fully in line with EU rules. The government has also introduced incentives to promote the production of biomass for energy production. Due to a relatively short growing season , Sweden relies heavily on imported food and agricultural products. In , there were 1. Beef production totaled , tons in Liquid milk production totaled 3. Other dairy products made that year were cheese, , tons, and butter, 50, tons. Because the over-sufficiency of butter before weakened Sweden's position in world markets, the government encouraged farmers to shift to meat production.
An agricultural reform program in the early s dismantled many of the price regulations and subsidies for products like milk and meat in favor of market-oriented pricing. As these adjustments were made, the number of dairy producers fell from 24, in to 12, by Sweden's beef industry is now supported by direct EU subsidies and in programs connected with less favored area and environment supports.
The sheep population was , in , and pigs numbered 1,, There were 6,, chickens during the same year. Fur farms breed large numbers of mink and a declining number of fox. Reindeer are raised by 51 Sami Lapp communities in the north, and between and the reindeer population in Lapp villages increased from , to , Fish is an important item in the Swedish diet, and Sweden is both a major importer of fish products and a principal supplier to other countries. At the beginning of , there were 1, vessels in the Swedish fishing fleet, with 1, professional fishermen. Herring, cod, plaice, flounder, salmon, eel, mackerel, and shellfish are the most important saltwater varieties.
Freshwater fish include trout, salmon, and crayfish, a national delicacy. In , there were aquacultural enterprises, yielding 4, tons of fish. The saltwater fish catch increased from , tons in to , tons in , overcoming a significant drop in the — 79 period because of government conservation measures and the declining number of fishermen. The total catch amounted to , tons in By tradition, a large part of the annual catch is landed in Denmark.
The percentage has only varied between Virtually all of Sweden's forests are regrowth; virgin forests cover , hectares 1,, acres and are almost exclusively found in national parks and nature reserves. The growing stock is estimated at 3 billion cu m billion cu ft. The annual growth amounts to about million cu m 3.
Annual removals decreased from an average of Forestry and farming are interdependent everywhere except in the most fertile plains; in northern Sweden, almost one of every two men works in the woods for at least part of the winter. Both the number of workers and the productivity of those who stayed on declined in the late s.
The exploitation of forest wealth ranks second in importance in the economy after metal-based industry. Sweden competes with Canada for world leadership in the export of wood pulp and is the world's leading exporter of cellulose. The total timber felled in amounted to an estimated Mostly roads and trains are used to transport timber; only a few of the biggest rivers are used.
In , Sweden's production of sawn timber reached its highest level ever. That year, Sweden's major saw mills processed A forest policy introduced in coordinates forestry measures more closely with industrial needs and places increased emphasis on clear-cutting and more complete use of the forest biomass, including stumps and small trees. The government, through the Forest Commission, enforces pest control, the prevention of premature cutting, and the use of proper methods of preserving permanent forest cover.
The government decided in the early s to eliminate subsidies to commercial forestry because such subsidies had been counterproductive in a strongly competitive international market. Nature conservation agreements between forest owners and the government have been established to protect and develop natural areas. In January a severe storm raged through southern Sweden and caused major damage to forests. About 75 million cu m 2. Since ancient days, mining and the iron industry have been of great importance in the economic life of Sweden, which was among the most active mining countries in Europe.
In addition to iron ore, Sweden also is a producer of primary metals such as zinc, copper and lead, as well as industrial minerals such as dolomite, feldspar, granite, kaolin, quartz and limestone. Sweden accounted for a large percentage of Western Europe 's iron output, and was home to the region's largest gold mine. Iron-ore production in concentrate and pellets was estimated at 22,, metric tons, up from an estimated 21,, metric tons in The Bergslagen region, in central Sweden, yielded high-grade ores for quality steel.
Gold mine output in totaled 5, kg, up from 4, kg in , while silver mine output in totaled , kg, down from , kg in Lead mine output in totaled 33, metric tons, while copper mine output, in that year, totaled 85, metric tons. Zinc mine output in totaled , metric tons. Lead, copper, zinc, gold, and silver were produced in the rich Skellefte Boliden region, where bismuth, cobalt, and huge quantities of arsenic were also found.
Further south, phosphate, tungsten, kyanite, and pyrite were found. Sweden also produced hydraulic cement, kaolin clay, feldspar, fertilizer, graphite, lime, quartz, quartzite, dimension and crushed stone including dolomite, granite for domestic use and for export , limestone, sandstone, and slate , sulfur, and soapstone talc. Marble in Askersund and ilmenite were also found in Sweden.
Sweden has no proven reserves of oil or natural gas , and only small reserves of coal. However, the country does possess the ability to refine crude oil, and with many rivers, waterfalls, and lakes, the country has favorable conditions for waterpower. As of 1 January , Sweden had no proven reserves of natural gas or crude oil, but did have a crude oil refining capacity of , barrels per day. Sweden's limited coal reserves, as of , were placed at one million short tons.
Since the s, Sweden has been reducing its petroleum imports. In the same year, nuclear energy accounted for another In , Sweden's imports of all petroleum products, including crude oil, averaged , barrels per day. Of that amount, crude oil accounted for , barrels per day. Refined oil output in averaged , barrels per day, while demand that year for refined products averaged , barrels per day. In , Sweden's demand for dry natural gas totaled There was no domestic production of coal in All of Sweden's coal needs were met by imports. In that year, imports of coal totaled 3,, short tons, of which 3,, short tons consisted of hard coal, and , tons of coke.
Sweden's electric generating sector is marked by a high dependence upon hydroelectric power , and to a lesser extent on nuclear power. Total electric power generating capacity in was Conventional thermal fuel generating capacity in stood at 7. For that same year, electric power output totaled Consumption of electricity in was Sweden's heavy use of nuclear energy stems from an ambitious nuclear energy program, under which seven nuclear reactors came into operation between and By , 12 units offered a capacity of 9.
However, by , all 12 will be shut down. Plants fired by natural gas will replace nuclear energy's role. Energy conservation, development of alternative energy sources, and increased use of imported coal are also planned.
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More than half of Sweden's hydroelectric output is produced underground. The basic resources for industrial development are forests, iron ore, and waterpower. Forest products, machinery, and motor vehicles are primary exports. From to , Swedish industry suffered as a result of the deep national recession as well as an overpriced labor pool. Between and , , Swedes lost their jobs in the manufacturing sector. As the economy rebounded in subsequent years, however, especially the growth turnaround in — 96, industrial output has grown. Between and , industrial investments more than doubled.
Industrial growth remained a solid 4. Since the end of World War II , emphasis has shifted from production of consumer goods to the manufacture of export items. Swedish-made ships, airplanes, and automobiles are considered outstanding in quality. As evidence of the growing consolidation of the world automotive industry, however, in the US's General Motors Corp. In , General Motors indicated it would begin to make the first truly non-Swedish Saab, by building the automobiles in Germany to save costs.
Before World War II, virtually the entire tonnage of iron and steel products consisted of high-grade steels, but in recent years exports have included considerable quantities of commercial grades. Transport equipment and iron and steel are of declining importance, however, while exports of machinery, precision equipment, chemicals, and paper have been growing in value. Sweden is a world leader in telecommunications, computers, electronics, robotics, pharmaceutical and medical products, and biotechnology.
Sweden's Ericsson is the world's largest telecommunications service provider, with 18, service professionals in over countries in Ericsson supports networks that handle more than million subscribers. Sweden has the largest number of biotechnology companies per capita in the world. Sweden's high-quality scientific and technological development is renowned throughout the world.
Technological products invented or developed by Swedish firms include the self-aligning ball bearing, the cream separator, the three-phase electric motor , and a refrigerator without moving parts.
Sweden's more recent applications of sophisticated technology range from powder metallurgy to the Hasselblad camera and the Viggen jet fighter. State-financed research, centering on the universities, is directed by the Council for Planning and Coordination of Research. Long-term industrial research and development is the responsibility of the government through the National Board for Technological Development. In , of all bachelor's degrees awarded, Of that amount, the business sector accounted for Institutions that have played an important role in the advancement of science, both in Sweden and throughout the world, are the Nobel Foundation, which sponsors annual awards in chemistry, physics, and physiology or medicine, as well as for peace, literature, and economic science; the Royal Academy of Sciences, founded in in Stockholm; the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences, founded in at Stockholm; and the Karolinska Institute, founded in in Stockholm, specializing in medical research.
Sweden has 18 universities that offer courses in basic and applied sciences. Of the country's retail business, most is in private hands, but the consumer cooperative movement has long been one of the strongest in Europe. The local organizations belong to the Cooperative Union and Wholesale Society, a central buying and manufacturing organization, which operates factories, department stores, supermarkets, and specialized shops.
The Swedish Federation of Trade is another important organization for importers and traders in the private sector. Competition between the cooperatives and private enterprise has improved selling methods, so that Sweden's self-service shops are among the most modern in Europe. Department stores are located in the major cities. Franchising has become popular in the fast-food, apparel, home improvement, and business services sectors. Wholesale and retail outlets, as well as supermarkets, are plentiful.
Value-added taxes apply to all goods and services. Offices and stores are open on weekdays from 9 am to 5 or 6 pm in summer, sometimes to 3 or 4 pm and close early on Saturdays. However, many stores stay open one night a week, and some department stores are open on Sundays. Many businesses are closed, or management is unavailable, for extended vacations in the summer and around the Christmas holidays. Sweden is one of the world's leading free-trading nations, with about half the economy dependent upon trade, and business operating largely free of political influence.
Telecommunications equipment, automobile manufacturing, and logging dominate export commodities from Sweden. Sweden has one of the most open and competitive markets in the world, as of ranking behind only Finland and the United States in the International Competitiveness Ranking. Sweden is home to more multinational corporations per capita than any other nation in the world. It is at the economic center of the Nordic and Baltic world, a market of over 27 million consumers.
The major exports in were machinery and transportation equipment The major imports in were machinery and transportation equipment From through , Sweden ran annual current-account deficits except in because of increases in world oil prices and a decline in the competitiveness of Swedish export products on the world market. Until , deficits were financed mainly through long-term foreign private borrowing by the private sector. Thereafter, however, central government borrowing expanded rapidly. A rebounding trade balance surplus and a turnaround in direct investment aided in the improvement.
The lifting of controls on foreign direct investment, combined with improved competitiveness accruing from greater wage restraint and rising productivity, are expected to bring continued interest in investing in Sweden. It is the bank of issue and regulates domestic banking operations. The European Central Bank is responsible for determining monetary policy and setting interest rates. The largest commercial bank is the Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken. In the early s, Swedish banks suffered severe losses; the government was forced to intervene and support two of the five largest commercial banks, Nordbanken and Gota Bank, by taking them over and eventually merging them, and the savings bank Forsta Sparbanken.
By the end of , Swedish banks showed improved results, with reduced credit losses and a stricter control of costs since the banking crises set in at the beginning of the s. The smaller banks serve provincial interests. Deposit accounts at various lengths of call are used for short-term credit by industry and trade.
The deregulation of financial markets has paved the way for foreign banks to open offices in Sweden. In , Sweden's banking sector saw a series of mergers and acquisitions as Svenska Handelsbanken, the nation's largest bank, acquired the country's largest mortgage lender, Stadshypotek.
However, this deal must still garner the approval of the EU. By December , 41 commercial banks remained in Sweden. Mortgage banks of various types meet the needs of property owners, home builders, farmers, and shipbuilders. Credit also is extended by some local rural credit societies and by about an equal number of agricultural cooperatives. There are four semi-governmental credit concerns, organized as business companies and created in cooperation with private commercial banks to facilitate long-term lending to agriculture, industry, small industry, and exports.
Although the Riksbank's note issue is not tied to its gold reserves, there is an adjustable legal limit. The money market rate, the rate at which financial institutions lend to one another in the short term, was 4. The Riksbank lends money to the commercial banks and other credit associations against securities. Traditionally, the Swedish people have preferred to save by placing money in these banks rather than by direct investment, although this seemed likely to change if the Swedish pension reforms of were fully enacted, allowing workers to decide how to invest a portion of their retirement reserves.
In , the Stockholm Stock Exchange entered into a joint equity trading union with the Danish bourse, creating the first trans-national link of its kind in Europe. The joint equities market became Europe's sixth-largest. Profits from the sale of securities are taxable provided they have been owned for less than five years. For machinery and equipment a minimum write-off period of three years is prescribed. Although men and women danced to the same music, women and men used different rhythms and movements.
While marking differences inside the community, folk sports also contributed to social cohesion and a sense of togetherness — among women and men, among old and young people, and among people from different professions. However, there was considerable variation across cultures in the extent that men and women competed together. In Swedish folk sports, women participated only with men and did not compete against women. In the latter, girls were normally given certain advantages. A girl could, for instance, use both hands in the pulling competition dra hank while the boy used one hand only.
These Swedish folk sports contrasted with the English smock races, where competitions between women and men were rare. Some folk sports were especially invented to promote togetherness. In Shrovetide races in Denmark, one boy had to compete with four, six, or up to twelve girls who used a handkerchief in a sort of relay. The result of the race was not important for the participants, as the prize money or goods would be given to the joint feast, regardless of, whether is was the boy or the girls who won.
More important was the sexual joking that took place as the girls flirted with the boy to distract him and cause him to stumble. Flirtation was an important element of folk festivals. Along with dances, the folk sports contributed to the playful encounter between boys and girls, between men and women. In societies where rigid segregation of the sexes was the norm, folk sports made flirtation possible by allowing participants to take a time out from the norm and to run and capture, to touch or even kiss members of the opposite sex.
Folk sports were often arranged by so-called youth guilds or "game rooms" Lichtstuben , which placed possible marriage partners together. Such activities are also known from Central Asia, where Kazakh youths played the White Bone Game ak suiek on warm summer nights. Two teams of young people, boys and girls, tried to find a bone that a referee had thrown as far as possible into the dark.
While the two teams were searching and fighting for the bone, some pairs of boys and girls searched for erotic experiences and temporarily disappeared in the vast steppe. Folk sport, however, did not only affirm gender identity, but could also mock it in the form of parody. In dance and game, mummery and scene play, men could appear as women, and women and men. Modern sport, as it developed in the Western world beginning in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, was to some extent based on folk sports, but at the same time marginalized it.
Modern sport brought a new sense of discipline and a new set of rules for social relations. What was folk sport before, became now highly organized in strictly separated disciplines, which aimed at systematizing results and maintaining records. Festivity was replaced by specialization, and many old folk sports were abandoned or relegated to folklore.
Alongside mainstream sports, some folk sports persisted or reappeared in different forms. The circus and freak shows at fairs served as one arena for such events. Workers' sport movements was another. In Danish workers' festivities Fagenes Fest , domestic servants raced with buckets and scrubbers, pottery workers walked with piles of plates on their heads, strongmen and women pulled the rope in the tug-of-war, and people ran obstacle races while eating cream puffs. Folk sports in their modern form emerged as a reaction against the specialization of sports and against the disappearance of the festival atmosphere from sporting events.
In addition, people sought to resist the anonymity of modern life by engaging in physical activities in community. Modern folk sports developed in three main stages. The first stage was linked to the Romantic revival that emerged in early nineteenth century Europe. Johann Gottfried Herder , a literary and cultural critic, gave impulses to reevaluate and re-appropriate folk traditions. In some of these patriotic gymnastic movements, folk sports and games Volksturnen were revived in contrast against English sport. In Ireland in the s, the Gaelic Athletic Association promoted folk hurling as a sport of liberation from the British rule and was closely connected with Republican nationalism.
Boy Scouts competed with this approach through the use of a more military model. The German Naturfreunde movement began as a workers' tourist movement, wandering and building shelters for volkswalkers across the country. The German youth movement Wandervogel developed outdoor activities in small, self-administered groups of boys and girls. Their members walked, sang, folk-danced, competed and played in the green nature. After , German and Austrian Volkswandern was discovered by soldiers of the occupation forces, who took it back to the United States.
The third stage in the modern emergence of folk sports began in the s. In connection with the movement against the war in Vietnam and hippie culture, young people engaged in noncompetitive play and game. At about the same time, in several European countries there arose a new interest in reviving and preserving traditional folk sports.
From the s on, folk sports were organized in national and regional festivals. Among the first to systematize this was the Flemish volkssport typically urban games organized by local clubs , Basque competitions of force and Breton folk games. The Danish traditional games movement began in the s, with links to the folkelig gymnastic movement. The International Sport and Culture Association serves as an umbrella organization for folk sports, popular gymnastics, and festivals in about fifty countries.
New was also the spread of folk sports from Third World countries to Western metropolis — and influences into the inverse direction. Capoeira , a traditional Afro-Brazilian sport, became popular among young people in European cities such as Amsterdam, Berlin and Paris. Tai chi and wushu — historically based on Chinese warrior training and magic folk practices — are now practiced worldwide.
The Indonesian martial art pencak silat became a Western sport, and even Japanese sumo wrestling has appeared in Western countries. Immigrant cultures re- invented new movement forms like the bhangra dance of South Asians in Britain. By these diffusions, on one hand, folk sports were often transformed after Western model into specialized sports of achievement with tournaments, bureaucratic organization and controlled production of results. And a third effect was, that new activities developed, which cannot any longer be placed in traditional categories of sport. Conversely, Western practices have also given birth to new folk practices in Africa, Asia and the Americas.
Trobriand cricket became the most well-known example, transforming a colonial sport into a Melanesian folk festivity of dance, sport, carnival and gift exchange. Danish sport development aid supported local folk culture of dance and festivity, ngoma , in Tanzanian villages, while at the same time Sukuma drumming appeared in Danish youth culture.
Folk sports, which had been repressed in the Soviet era, were revived in many parts of the former empire. Mongolians returned in the sign of Genghis Khan to ancient festivities with nomad equestrianism, belt wrestling, and bow and arrow. Tatars helt their spring time holiday sabantuy again, with belt wrestling korash in its center. The Baltic peoples assembled at large song festivals. Inuit people from Siberia and Alaska met in drum dance and winter festivity kivgiq. In post-Franco Spain, too, folk sports accompanied the process of democratic federalization.
In Basque country, Catalonia and on the Canary Islands, folk sports became active factors in the marking of regional identity. In August , the Olympic Games of Barcelona were supplied with a festival of Spanish folk sports, showing 40 activities of force, casting, wrestling and ball game pelota.
The European Traditional Sport and Games Association was founded in as an umbrella organization for folk sports with a regional perspective. Folk sports are based not on specialized disciplines and bureaucratically defined rules, but on festival and meeting in an atmosphere of festivity. Folk sports are connected with different kinds of cultural activities including music, group singing, dance, theater, and outdoor experiences. The aim of folk sports is not to produce winners but to foster togetherness and celebrate diversity and distinction. In contrast to the rigid standardization of modern Olympic sport, folk sport highlights both the variations among groups and the solidarity inside groups.
In contrast to the display of sameness and hierarchy, they make otherness visible. Folk sports are linked to regional, ethnic, social, or national identities and counteract tendencies of uniformity. However, folk sports in their past and current manifestations are not independent from mainstream tendencies. They are often subjected to instrumental use, whether for sportive, educational, or folkloristic and tourist aims.
Tendencies inside folk sports are working for their integration into the systems of competitive sports. Among the so-called Non-Olympic sports, which hold their own competitions especially in China and Russia, there are many folk sports. Some of their organizations — as the Tug of War International Federation TWIF — strive for Olympic recognition by transforming classic folk sports like tug-of-war into a standardized sport of achievement.
Tug-of-war was in fact on the Olympic program from to The Olympic sport system also uses folk sports for the cultural framing of competitive events. On the margins of mainstream sport, Sport for all movements use folk sports for the promotion of a healthy life style.
Others try to integrate folk sports into school education. Folk sports are regarded as a soft way of educational sport or as tools for expressing regional identity in education. Furthermore, strategies of folklore have been directed towards folk sports. Folklore tends to transform folk sports into a sort of living museum. And last but not least, media are more and more interested in showing folkloristic games.
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