Sweden is a large but low-populated country in northern Europe and belongs to the Scandinavian peninsula. It is the largest of the Nordic countries and the fifth-largest country in Europe (though it is the third largest country in the European Union). It has the eight-highest GDP per capita and the third-highest IHDI rankings in the world. Though a neutral country today, Sweden has a very violent history from its days as a great empire, possessing one of the world's most powerful armies between the 17th and 18th centuries.
See also: Swedish cultureSweden has a very unique culture that only partly resembles fellow Scandinavian cultures, and is even more different compared to other western cultures. A famous example for an unique Swedish holiday is Midsommarafton ("Midsummer's Eve"), which is celebrated between 19 and 26 June every year in honor of summer - a very short and valuable period in the cold North. By Swedish culture, Midsummer is one of the days of the year when magic is the strongest and a common part of this exercise is that young people would sleep with a flower under their pillow, hoping to dream about their future spouse. During Midsummer, the participants usually wear traditional clothing inspired by 19th century noble costumes, and young women usually wear special crowns made of wild flowers.
See also: Swedish people
The Swedish people are ethnically northern European and are often pictured with blonde hair and blue eyes, though many Swedes naturally have different physical traits, even without foreign relatives. What can be said by statistics about the Swedish people include good health, very low HIV/AIDS prevalence, low number of overweight individuals and very low crime rates. During World War II, Adolf Hitler described the Swedes as the perfect example for an "Aryan race". Although the Swedish government remained neutral during the world war, the cooperation with Germany may have been motivated by this fact. Between the 1930's and today, Swedish politicians have clearly been avoiding any means of being referred to as racistic, while many nationalistic and neo-nazi movements have a strong foothold in Sweden.
The governmentEditSee also: Government of Sweden
Sweden is a constitutional monarchy and representative democracy with a parliament, meaning in short that the government is based on regular democratic elections but maintains the traditions of a monarchy, including having a royal family. Sweden is the world's second-oldest monarchy after Japan and world's oldest royalist monarchy. However, following the principlesof democracy, the king cannot exercise any influence over the Swedish government and serves a mainly symbolic purpose. All members of the royal family are authorized diplomats with the ability to represent Sweden abroad and tighten the ties to other monarchies of the world. The current monarch of Sweden is King Carl XVI Gustaf, and the heir to the throne is Crown Princess Victoria Ingrid Alice Désirée. The present Swedish royal house is of mixed Swedish and French descent, dating back to the Napoleonic age.
See also: Swedish elections
Since 2006, the right-wing Moderate Party has led Sweden together with a coalition government of centre-right and liberal parties. The 2010 election saw a great increase in popular support for the Moderate party, although recent politics has lessened that support to a rank below that of the Social Democrats. Swedish politics currently contains eight political parties, but only two of major size - the liberal Moderate party and the socialist Social Democrats. Other parties include the Left party (communism), Green party (environmentalism), People's party (liberalism), Centre party (centrism), Christian Democrats (Christianism), and the Sweden Democrats (nationalism).
The flagEditSee also: Flag of Sweden
The Swedish national flag consists of a yellow (alternatively, golden) Scandinavian cross on a blue background. The cross is meant to represent Christianity or God, the yellow color of the cross represents the sun, while the blue background represents the sky. The flag is thus nicknamed Himlens Kors ("Cross of Heaven") or Gud i Himlen ("God in Heaven"). The flag may have been adopted in 1523 by Gustav Vasa, making it one of the oldest flags of the world still in use.
The militaryEditSee also: Armed Forces of Sweden
Sweden has a long-lasting history of war and combat, dating back to the Viking age. However, Sweden has officially remained neutral since 1814 and has not fought a war in their own territory since 1809. Despite not fighting "wars", Sweden has indeed joined conflicts throughout history after 1814 as a co-belligerent or by sending volunteer forces into armed conflicts. An example of this is the Winter War between 1939 and 1940, in which Sweden sent as many as 10,000 "volunteers" to Finland along with tanks and military aircraft. The volunteers were in fact fighting on orders by the Swedish government for a secret operation to prevent Soviet expansion westwards, and the Swedish contribution to the conflict is described by the Finnish government as "of major importance for the survival of Finland as a nation". In the modern day and age, Sweden has a relatively small military equipped with some of the most sophisticated technology available, and has joined the War on Terror together with ISAF. Sweden also took a minor role in the Libyan Civil War and has supported both sides in the Syrian Civil War with communications and radar equipment. Sweden is not a NATO member and relies on EU for military cooperation.
The foreign relationsEdit
See also: Foreign relations of Sweden
Being neutral does not mean lack of friends and foes, and although Sweden is far from participating in any war, the government has indeed cooperated with some particular nations, and has disagreements with other countries.
Sweden's major allies in terms of trade, defense and cultural exchange include:
- Saudi Arabia
- United Kingdom
Note that out of 12 countries above, 6 are fellow monarchies
Sweden's current diplomatic issues and disputes with foreign countries include:
- Belarus (ambassadors mutually withdrawn, see also: Minsk incident)
- Israel (multiple political incidents since the beginning of the 21st century. Diplomatic contact maintained)
See also: Sweden and the world
According to the United Nations, Sweden has the following rankings compared to other countries of the world:
- Third-highest IHDI ranking
- Eight-highest GDP per capita ranking
- Tenth-highest HDI ranking
- Sixteenth-highest exports per capita ranking
- Twenty-first-highest GDP ranking
- Twenty-sixth-highest exports ranking
See also: Sweden and Europe
Throughout Europe, Sweden is always in the top in rankings regarding welfare and health.
- Second-highest IHDI ranking
- Fourth-highest GDP per capita ranking
- Sixth-highest HDI ranking
- Eight-highest exports ranking
- Tenth-highest exports per capita ranking
- Eleventh-highest GDP ranking