SWEDEN  |  Sweden Travel Guide
Tuesday, September 28, 2021



Sweden is made up of 25 different provinces (landskap). There are also 21 counties (län) but provinces are generally applied when talking about geographical sections of the country. Counties are more like political divisions. This is the largest of the three Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Norway and Sweden) and the fifth-largest in Europe with 450,000 square km (175,500 square miles); only Russia, the Ukraine, France and Spain are bigger. Sweden is an oblong country, 1,570 km (975 miles) from north to south, which is equivalent to the distance between Malmö in southern Sweden and Rome, Italy. The width is never more than 500 km (300 miles) and in the south as little as 80 km (48 miles).

Half of the country is forested and there are thousands of lakes, of which Lake Vänern is the largest in Scandinavia and third-largest in Europe. The south of Sweden is flat, while the northwest, close to the Norwegian border, is mountainous. More than half of Sweden is made up of forests – most of it coniferous in the northern and central parts. The forests in southern Sweden are mainly deciduous. Sweden has a long coastline – 3,200 km (2,000 miles). Most of it borders the Baltic Sea to the east where Gotland and Öland, the two biggest islands in the country, are both located. The highest mountain is Mount Kebnekaise (2,111 m/6,755 feet), in northern Lappland.

Sweden has a population of about nine million people with a population density of 19 people per square km. Most of them live in urban areas. Stockholm is the capital and biggest city with 750,000 residents, Gothenburg is second with 470,000 people and Malmö, the third-biggest, has about 270,000. Only 10% of Sweden’s population lives in the northern half of the country; 50% live in Greater Stockholm, Greater Gothenburg and Scania (the southernmost province where Malmö is located).

Swedish is the principal language spoken in Sweden, which has evolved from Old Norse from the Viking era, with strong influences from German. English is taught in school as a second language from early ages and a foreign tourist can get by with English virtually everywhere, especially in and around the bigger cities.

The vast majority of the Swedes people are Protestant Christian (Lutheran), but there is complete freedom of religion in Sweden, as in the other Scandinavian countries. Generally speaking, Scandinavians don’t go to church on a regular basis, only on special occasions such as weddings and funerals.

Swedish meatballs are world-famous, although they don’t look or taste the same if you order them abroad. Smörgåsbord, i.e., buffet, is a Swedish word commonly used in the English language as well (smorgasbord). The word comes from the two terms, smörgås (sandwich) and bord (table). A typical Swedish smörgåsbord consists of many different types of food such as beans, cabbage, potatoes, herring, raw spiced salmon (gravlax), as well as other types of fish, meatballs and much more.

Sweden is a constitutional monarchy with a democratic parliamentary form of government. Parliamentary elections are held every four years, and the minimum age for citizens to vote in general elections is 18. The country's Riksdag is unicameral, with 349 seats. The Riksdag appoints the prime minister who then appoints a council of state which implements the Riksdag’s decisions and is also responsible for creating new laws.


Destinations in Sweden (13)

  • Blekinge, Sweden

    Blekinge, the "Garden of Sweden," has a scenic archipelago, as well as Sweden's only Baroque city and its only remaining naval base. It is of course the country's southeastern-most province, bordered on its north and east by...

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  • Dalarna, Sweden

    Dalarna is the most Swedish of Sweden's provinces. It occupies a large tract of land in central Sweden, encompassing some 11,230 sq miles (29,086 sq km), more than two-thirds of it covered with forest, extending from the...

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  • Gothenburg (Göteborg), Sweden

    Gothenburg is the largest city in West Sweden, second largest in Sweden, with a population of around 500,000. It is a charming city, surrounded by water, not unlike Stockholm, and crisscrossed by canals and centuries-old cobbled...

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  • Gotland, Sweden

    Gotland is an island province in East Sweden, largely unspoiled and with fabulous beaches, often referred to as the "Pearl of the Baltic" or "Queen of the Baltic." Actually, Gotland may even seem like a country unto itself, where...

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  • Great Castles of Sweden

    Great Castles of Sweden. The 10 greatest, best, most popular, most picturesque, most famous castles in Sweden.

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  • Jamtland and Harjedalen, Sweden

    Jämtland and Härjedalen, twin provinces that border Norway and comprise the southwestern portion of North Sweden, are a skier's paradise. There are more than 300 ski slopes, with 150 ski lifts and 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) of...

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  • Lappland, Sweden

    Lappland is cold. Lappland is dark. It is at the top of Sweden. It is at the top of Europe. It makes up nearly 27% of the country, which in turn makes it by far the largest province in Sweden, but with the smallest population in...

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  • Scania (Skåne), Sweden

    Scania (Skåne in Swedish) is Sweden's "Castle Country," a supremely romantic destination, lavishly dotted with castles, manor houses and small churches. It is also Sweden's southernmost province, and the most densely...

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  • Småland, Sweden

    Småland is the largest of Sweden's southern provinces, comprising some 12,262 square miles (31,760 sq km). It is unmistakably Nordic in its composition, with densely forested areas of spruce and pine, interspersed with swatches...

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  • Stockholm, Sweden

    Stockholm is a city of style and Scandinavian cool. It has its stylish nightclubs, its cool blondes, its media moguls and high-tech innovators, and Scandinavian royalty ensconced in opulent palaces. The city itself is set on 14...

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  • The Bothnian Coast, Sweden

    The Bothnian Coast stretches from Stockholm across to the Finnish border at Haparanda. It is a beautiful, 633-mile-long (1,050 km) coast, dotted with several decidedly interesting places, and lovely vistas besides.

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