Photograph by Priit Vesilind
The third largest nation in the European Union remains lightly populated, sharing maritime borders with Denmark, Germany, Russia, Poland, and the three Baltic states. • Despite its northern latitude, it enjoys all four seasons and is generally warmer and drier than similarly situated countries, thanks to the warm waters of the Gulf Stream. • Alpine sports are nevertheless a major draw in winter. • In summer the sun virtually never sets. • The capital, Stockholm, is regarded as one of the worldís most beautiful cities.
Photograph by Nicholas Pitt
Building a city on a collection of islands may have its logistical drawbacks; but no visitor to Stockholm will miss the most obvious peacetime benefit—space. There is an airy feel to the downtown that comes from the waters pretty much having been left alone to provide breathing space between neighborhoods. As the big brother of Sweden and most of Scandinavia, Stockholm is both despised and admired—as older siblings tend to be—but is supremely oblivious to it. Strong and confident, equally trendy and historic, and achingly beautiful come summer, this self-proclaimed “Capital of Scandinavia” counts among its treasures the Nobel Prize, more than 100 museums and attractions, and Europe’s largest royal palace, the official residence of His Majesty the King of Sweden.
Photograph by Nicholas PittStatues by sculptor Carl Milles are on display at his home on the island of Lidingö, not far from the center of Stockholm.
Old Town, Stockholm
Photograph by Chad Ehlers/TIPS ImagesLight bathes Stockholm's Old Town, a neighborhood first built in the 13th century.
Old Town Architecture
Photograph by QT Luong/terragalleria.comInspired by North German architecture, Stockholm's Old Town consists of medieval alleyways, large iconic buildings, and cobbled streets.
Nordic Sea Hotel
Photograph by Chad Ehlers/TIPS ImagesAt the Nordic Sea Hotel, Stockholm's Absolut IceBar is kept at -5 degrees Celsius year round.
Photograph by Nicholas PittStruck orange by the sunrise, Storkyrkan, meaning the "Great Church," and the Royal Palace are two memorable sites in Stockholm's Old Town.
Photograph by Nicholas PittPalace guards march past Stockholm's Royal Palace, the official residence of King Carl XVI Gustav.
Villa Villekulla, Junibacken
Photograph by Heimo AgaA popular tourist destination, Junibacken features Villa Villekulla, the home of Astrid Lindgren's popular storybook character Pippi Longstocking.
Glass Obelisk and Fountain
Photograph by Nicholas PittSergels Torg's glass obelisk and fountain were created by sculptor Edvin Öhrström in 1974.
Guide at Skansen
Photograph by Nicholas PittA girl in traditional Swedish dress works as a guide at Skansen, an outdoor living history museum.
Photograph by Nicholas PittA 19th-century ferryboat transports visitors to the Gröna Lund Tivoli Amusement Park from Old Town.
- Stockholm; 1,697,000
- 449,964 square kilometers (173,732 square miles)
- Lutheran, Roman Catholic
- Swedish krona
- Life Expectancy:
- GDP per Capita:
- U.S. $26,000
- Literacy Percent:
Armed neutrality has kept Sweden out of war for nearly two centuries. Low unemployment, a low birthrate, and one of the world's highest life expectancies have characterized modern Sweden. Success has been credited to a blending of socialism and capitalism, including cooperation between the government and labor unions, which represent 90 percent of workers. High taxes finance advanced social programs, from education to health and child care and paid paternal leave.
Sweden Facts Flag
In the 1980s a flood of immigrants from Asia, Africa, and Latin America sought the Swedish utopia but further taxed expensive social programs. Mounting economic problems led to cutbacks in 1991, when Sweden reassessed its social policies and elected a conservative government. The Social Democrats returned to power in 1994 with a commitment to stringent economic controls. By 1998 they were operating from a weakened power base—the lowest vote share in 78 years. Sweden joined the EU in 1995. Inflation is low and unemployment is down.
Radioactive fallout from Chornobyl underscored Sweden's resolve to dismantle its nuclear power plants, a process which was begun in 1997.
- Industry: Iron and steel, precision equipment, wood pulp and paper products, processed foods
- Agriculture: Barley, wheat, sugar beets; meat
- Exports: Machinery, motor vehicles, paper products, pulp and wood, iron and steel products, chemicals