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Kingdom of N Europe, it lies in E Scand inavia between Norway to the W and the Gulf of Bothnia and the Baltic Sea to the E; it is generally mountainous in the N and low-lying in the S. It is today one of the world’s most highly industrialized nations, with a population enjoying great material prosperity.

Although Sweden now follows a policy of cautious nonalignment in foreign affairs, the country has a proud military tradition and was at one time the chief power of northeastern Europe. The nation’s capital is Stockholm.

Sweden was originally inhabited by the Svear and Gotar people who merged in the sixth century a.d. when the Svear defeated the Gotar. Swedish Vikings were active in trading and colonizing in Russia, down to the Black Sea. In the following centuries, Swedes were engaged in wars with their Danish and Norwegian neighbors. In the 12th century southern Sweden was united under a king. Royal authority, however, remained weak due to the strength of the nobility and the power of the country’s cities. Meanwhile the Swedes were slowly converted to Christianity between the ninth and 12th centuries.

By the Union of Kalmar of 1397 Sweden was united with Denmark and Norway under Queen Margaret I of Denmark. However the Danes were unable to control the Swedes, and following the massacre known as the Stockholm Blood Bath of 1520, by which the Danes tried to assert their dominance, the Swedes declared their independence in 1523.

Gustavus I, who reigned from 1523 to 1560, is traditionally regarded as the founder of modern Sweden.

Under him Lutheranism became the state religion.

Under Gustavus Adolphus (reigned 1611–32), Sweden reached its zenith, becoming a great European power and winning Ingria and Karelia from Russia in 1617 and most of Livonia from Poland . In the Thirty Years’ War Sweden won victories at Breitenfeld in 1631 and Lutzen in 1632 and by the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648 gained Pomerania and Bremen.

Sweden’s southern provinces were recovered from Denmark in 1660, but in the 18th century Sweden’s fortunes waned. Despite initial successes in the Great Northern War of 1700 to 1721, the country was later defeated and by the Peace of Nystad of 1721 lost most of her possessions in continental Europe. Sweden’s relations with France became close.

During the Napoleonic Wars Sweden fought first against France, then Russia, to which country she lost Finland in 1809. After 1810 French Marshal Bernadotte, adopted heir of the king and later Charles XIV, dominated Swedish affairs. He founded the present reigning dynasty. Sweden was again at war with Napoleon in 1813 and by the Treaty of Kiel in 1814 gained Norway from Denmark. The personal union of the crowns of Norway and Sweden was dissolved in 1905. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Sweden experienced widespread industrialization, which was met by a comprehensive program of social welfare legislation, initiated by the growing Social Democrat Party. Over one million Swedes emigrated to the United States between the 1870s and World War I. In foreign affairs, Sweden pursued a consistent policy of armed neutrality throughout the 20th century, thus avoiding involvement in both world wars.

She became a member of the United Nations in 1946, but in furtherance of her policy of nonalignment refused membership in both NATO and the European Economic Community. Sweden maintained one of the highest stand ards of living in the world after the war, with the government controlled by the Social Democratic Party from 1946 through 1976.

The more conservative Center Party held power from 1976 through 1982 when the Social Democrats again took power. In 1986 Prime Minister Olof Palme was assassinated by an unidentified gunman. In 1995 Sweden reversed its long-stand ing neutrality in Europe and became a member of the European Union. It has so far resisted becoming part of the European monetary union. The Social Democrats have continued to rule the country since 1994.

Sweden is an amazing country with beautiful landscapes and sights that you can't see anywhere else. Those who are visiting Sweden, especially if it's their first visit, should plan to see some of the most popular sites the country has to offer. The following are some of the best places to visit when traveling in Sweden.

Visit a National Park

Sweden has 29 national parks with each one showcasing the natural features that make the country special. A visit to one of the four national parks in Swedish Lapland offers a chance to see glacial rivers, the natural habitat of the reindeer and amazing waterfalls. Haparanda Archipelago National Park in the Gulf of Bothnia off the south end of the country has sandy beaches and many islands to explore.

Experience Stockholm

The capital city has a rich history with many buildings in the Old Town being original structures. You can stroll the cobblestone streets and visit the Royal Palace and some of the Gothic churches for a lesson in European history and architecture. The city also has modern amenities where visitors can shop, dine and enjoy the nightlife. The great thing about Stockholm bars is that they also serve amazing food. Some of the most popular local dishes include råraka, a dish similar to a potato pancake with caviar, and Princesstårta, a sponge cake based dessert with fruit and marzipan. Don't forget to take a fika, a local custom of stopping for a coffee break, at one of the many local cafes which also serve baked goods.

See Southern Sweden

The southern tip of Sweden is like a world all it's own. The coastline has small fishing villages which means some of the freshest seafood that can be found in Europe. The area is also home to the city ofMalmö, which is home to some great shopping with stores that carry Swedish designers, as well as cultural activities.


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