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Kazuo Lim Khee Boon | profile | all galleries >> My Travel Album >> Sweden tree view | thumbnails | slideshow

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Official LanguageSwedish
Current Constitution1974
Area449,964 km²
CurrencySwedish krona (SEK)
IDD Code+46

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Sweden, officially the Kingdom of Sweden is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. Sweden borders Norway and Finland, and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Øresund. At 450,295 square kilometres (173,860 sq mi), Sweden is the third-largest country in the European Union by area, with a total population of about 9.6 million. Sweden has a low population density of 21 inhabitants per square kilometre (54 /sq mi) with the population mostly concentrated to the southern half of the country. About 85% of the population live in urban areas. Southern Sweden is predominantly agricultural, while the north is heavily forested.

For centuries, Sweden was inhabited by various Germanic tribes, who eventually became known as the Vikings. Sweden emerged as an independent and unified country during the Middle Ages. In the 17th century, the country expanded its territories to form the Swedish Empire. The empire grew to be one of the great powers of Europe in the 17th and early 18th centuries. Most of the conquered territories outside the Scandinavian Peninsula were lost during the 18th and 19th centuries. The eastern half of Sweden, present-day Finland, was lost to Russia in 1809. The last war in which Sweden was directly involved was in 1814, when Sweden by military means forced Norway into a personal union. Since then, Sweden has been at peace, remaining a largely neutral nation. The country played a role in humanitarian efforts during World Wars I and II, taking in refugees from German-occupied Europe. With the ending of the Cold War, Sweden joined the European Union, although declined NATO membership.

Today, Sweden is a constitutional monarchy, with Carl XVI Gustaf as king, organised as a parliamentary democracy. The seat of government is the capital Stockholm, which is also the most populous city. Executive power is exercised by the Prime Minister, Fredrik Reinfeldt, and the cabinet. Sweden is a unitary state, currently divided into twenty-one counties.

Sweden maintains a Nordic social welfare system that provides universal health care and tertiary education for its citizens. It has the world's eighth-highest per capita income and ranks highly in numerous comparisons of national performance, including quality of life, health, education, protection of civil liberties, economic competitiveness, equality, prosperity and human development. Sweden has been a member of the European Union since 1 January 1995, although remains outside the Eurozone. It is also a member of the United Nations, the Nordic Council, Council of Europe, the World Trade Organization and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).