|General background: A military
power during the 17th century, Sweden has not participated
in any war in almost two centuries. An armed neutrality
was preserved in both World Wars. Sweden's long-successful
economic formula of a capitalist system interlarded
with substantial welfare elements was challenged in
the 1990s by high unemployment, rising maintenance costs,
and a declining position in world markets. Indecision
over the country's role in the political and economic
integration of Europe delayed Sweden's entry into the
EU until 1995, and waived the introduction of the euro
Area comparative: Slightly
larger than California.
in south with cold, cloudy winters and cool, partly
cloudy summers; subarctic in north.
Mostly flat or gently rolling lowlands; mountains
Population: 8,876,744 (July 2002 est.)
Ethnic groups: Indigenous population: Swedes
and Finnish and Sami minorities; foreign-born or first-generation
immigrants: Finns, Yugoslavs, Danes, Norwegians, Greeks,
Religions: Lutheran 87%, Roman Catholic, Orthodox,
Baptist, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist
note: small Sami- and Finnish-speaking minorities
Government type: Constitutional monarchy
Legal system: Civil law system influenced
by customary law; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction,
Economic overview: Aided by peace and neutrality
for the whole 20th century, Sweden has achieved an
enviable standard of living under a mixed system of
high-tech capitalism and extensive welfare benefits.
It has a modern distribution system, excellent internal
and external communications, and a skilled labor force.
Timber, hydropower, and iron ore constitute the resource
base of an economy heavily oriented toward foreign
trade. Privately owned firms account for about 90%
of industrial output, of which the engineering sector
accounts for 50% of output and exports. Agriculture
accounts for only 2% of GDP and 2% of the jobs. The
government's commitment to fiscal discipline resulted
in a substantive budgetary surplus in 2001, but is
expected to shrink somewhat in 2002, due to the global
economic slowdown, tax cuts, and spending increases.
The Swedish central bank (the Riksbank) is focusing
on price stability with an inflation target of 2%
Communication/Telephone system: Excellent domestic
and international facilities.
Places of interest: Once you get out of town,
Sweden's starkly beautiful forests and giant lakes
lend themselves perfectly to outdoor activities from
ice-skating to moose-spotting.