Sweden, a brief introduction
In Sweden there are four distinct seasons:
In a land as varied as Sweden, these seasons can be quite different depending on where you live. For simplicity’s sake, the country can be divided into three major regions: Götaland in the south, Svealand in the middle and Norrland in the north.
In Götaland, where you’ll find the cities Göteborg and Malmö, winters are shorter and milder, while daytime summer temperatures normally range from 15 to 25 degrees. The air is relatively humid here, making warm days feel warmer, and cold days colder. However, even in winter months, snow is rare near any southern coast. Spring and autumn can be unpredictable, mainly in terms of rainfall, but temperatures are usually higher than in much of the rest of the country.
Stretching from Stockholm in the east to southern Norway in the west, Svealand has a climate that is normally a few degrees cooler than that of Götaland. Average temperatures are just below zero in January, and snowfall is more common — especially in the northwest, where a number of popular ski resorts are located. In the summertime, days are longer than in the south. You’re likely to see Swedes in t-shirts starting as early as the end of April, and people picking chanterelles in the forest well into October.
Although relatively few people live in Norrland, this is the climate many people falsely associate with all of Sweden. Winters here are long, cold and dry, with sub-zero temperatures lasting several months. There is also much more snow here, making the winter months often seem much lighter than you'd expect with so little daylight, if any. Summers may be short, but temperatures are often a comfortable 15 degrees, and sometimes warmer, with occasional peaks of up to 30 degrees. For much of late June and early July, the sun never sets below the horizon.
Winter, November to March
Spring, April to May
Summer, June to August
Autumn, September to October
Myth I: Polar bears
We don’t have polar bears running loose in Stockholm. We don’t have any polar bears at all in Sweden, except in zoos. Polar bears live in the Arctic. But not in Sweden. And no penguins either. They’ve heard about the polar bears and stay away from here.
Myth II: The Swedish sin
Yes, the Scandinavian blonde is an icon. It goes back almost fifty years ago, when some of the first soft porn films were produced, yes indeed in Sweden. But, some of you might be disappointed now, the modern Swede is not obsessed with sex. He or she accepts nudity as a fact, not as a taboo, and therefore speaks frankly about it. That’s maybe unusual in other cultures, but it doesn’t mean the Swede sleep with every man or woman around.
Mamma Mia! Sweden is full of music!
Sweden has produced many famous musicians and musical groups over the years. ABBA, Roxette, Ace of Base, The Hives, Millencollin, The Cardigans, Kent, and Robyn to name a few.
The first ice hotel
The first ice hotel of the world was built near the village of Jukkasjärvi, in Kiruna district of Sweden.
Cold facts about Sweden
Area: 450.000 km² (174,000 sq mi), the third largest country in Western Europe
Mountains: 11%. Highest mountain is Kebnekaise 2104 m
Cultivated land: 8%
Lakes and rivers: 9%, where the estimated number of lakes would be 520 000.
Longest north-south distance: 1.574 km (978 mi)
Longest east-west distance: 499 km (310 mi)
Capital: Stockholm, around 1.4 million inhabitants
Population: 9.4 million inhabitants
Currency: Swedish krona (SEK)
Languages: Swedish; recognized minority languages: Sami (Lapp), Finnish, Meänkieli (Tornedalen Finnish), Yiddish, Romani Chib
Form of government: Constitutional monarchy, parliamentary democracy
Parliament: The Riksdag, with 349 members in one chamber
Religion: In practice, Sweden is very secularized. The Church of Sweden is Evangelical Lutheran; co-exists with many other beliefs
Life expectancy: Men 79 years, women 83 years
Most important export goods: Machinery, electronics and telecommunication, paper, pharmaceuticals, petroleum products, iron and steel, and foodstuffs
Most important imported goods: Electronics and telecommunication, machinery, foodstuffs, crude oil, textiles and footwear, chemicals, pharmaceuticals and petroleum products.
The strongest girl in the world is Swedish!
Pippi Longstocking is the heroine in the most famous children's books in Sweden. These books were written by Astrid Lindgren and are loved by children (and adults) all over the world. They have been translated into 76 languages.
All the world's flowers are Swedish!
Carolus Linnaeus – better known in the U.S. as Carl von Linné – was the first individual to successfully classify all the plants (and animals) of the world into different species and families. He wrote the epoch-making book Systema Nature (The System of Nature) in 1735, which is still being used by botanists and zoologists today!
A popular souvenir is the road sign for moose-crossing. Every year a huge number of these signs are stolen from Swedish roads.
Sweden is the land of the Midnight Sun!
Every year, Swedes celebrate Midsummer (Midsommar) on the twenty-third of June. On this longest day, in many parts of Sweden the sun never sets.
Swedes are known for their Innovations
In 1958, Rune Elmqvist developed a small battery-driven pacemaker. The first operation was carried out later that year, but the device only lasted for a few hours and further adjustments were made. The patient, Arne Larsson, survived the tests and lived until 2001.
The three-point seat belt
Nils Bohlin’s great invention from 1959 is reputed to save one life every six minutes. It is thereby considered to be one of the most important safety innovations of all time.
The Global Positioning System
Håkan Lans is the great mind behind important developments to the satellite-guided GPS system, moulding it into its modern form and ensuring that motorists reach their destinations on time and without hassle. Håkan Lans did also invent the computer mouse.
Through the ideas of Erik Wallenberg and his dedicated team, the solution to packaging, storing and distributing liquids such as juice and dairy items was developed in 1951 and has since spread to fridges all over the world.
The flat screen monitor
The building of the flat-screen monitor was made possible by Sven Torbjörn Lagervall’s discovery of ferroelectric liquid crystals in 1979. The technology was developed and in 1994 mass production was begun.
The safety match
In 1844, Gustaf Erik Pasch patented the safety match when he replaced the poisonous yellow phosphorus with non-poisonous red phosphorus.
Alfred Nobel invented dynamite in 1866, which earned him one of the 355 patents he had managed to assemble before his death in 1896. Through his life he founded 90 companies and made a huge fortune. In his will he set up the Nobel Prizes for physics, chemistry, medicine, literature and peace.
The method still used today, based on interlocking teeth, was invented in 1913 by Gideon Sundbäck. Initially it was called the “hookless fastener” and was later redesigned to become more reliable.
The first attempts at designing a new device for propelling vessels took place in 1802. But the device commonly used for ships and aircrafts was patented in 1836 by John Ericsson of Sweden. The propeller is only one of many things invented or improved by Ericsson. In U.S.A he is probably most remembered for constructing the battleship Monitor, used with great success in the American Civil War by the North.
The modern telephone
It was constructed by a Swede with the name Lars Magnus Ericsson. At that time, telephones had the mouthpiece built in, while the speaker was connected to the telephone by a flex. Ericsson's new idea was to combine the two into a single receiver. In 1876 he founded the Ericsson company in Stockholm.
The typical favorite food in Sweden can be meatballs with potatoes and lingonberry sauce. Swedish pancakes are also a favorite.
Potatoes are the main complement to most dishes. Only in the last 50 years have other complements such as rice and spaghetti become standard on the dinner table. There are several different kinds of potatoes: the most appreciated is the new potato, which ripens in early summer, and is enjoyed at the feast called Midsummer. Other sorts of potatoes are eaten all year around.
Traditionally, Thursday has been soup day because the maids had half the day off and it was easy to prepare. One of the most traditional Swedish soups is the pea soup, or ärtsoppa. It dates back to the old tradition of peas being associated with Thor. This is a simple meal, basically consisting of yellow peas, a little onion and often pieces of pork. It is often served with a little mustard and followed by thin pancakes. The Swedish Army still serve their conscripts pea soup and pancakes every Thursday.
Sweden has the highest number of:
• personal computers per capita in Europe
• nuclear plants per capita
• McDonalds restaurants per capita in Europe
• total taxation, 54,2% of GDP, the highest level worldwide
• working mothers in the developed world, no less 76 % of them