Sweden

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For other uses, see Sweden (disambiguation)

Template:Sweden infobox The Kingdom of Sweden (Swedish: Template:Audio) is a Nordic country in Scandinavia, in Northern Europe. It is bordered by Norway in the west, Finland in the northeast, the Skagerrak Strait and the Kattegat Strait in the southwest, and the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Bothnia in the east. Sweden has a low population density except in its metropolitan areas, with most of the inland consisting of forests and mountainous wilderness.

Following the decline of the Viking Age, Sweden became part of the Kalmar Union together with Denmark and Norway (Finland at this time was a part of Sweden). Sweden left the union in the beginning of the 16th century, and more or less constantly battled its neighbours for many years, especially Russia and the still united Denmark-Norway, which never really accepted Sweden leaving the union. In the 17th and 18th centuries Sweden extended its territory through warfare and became a Great Power, twice its current size. The extended territory was subsequently lost within a century. Since 1814, Sweden has been at peace, adopting a policy of keeping free of alliances.

Sweden was one of the poorest countries in Europe in the 19th century, shaped by heavy alcohol consumptionTemplate:Ref, until improved transportation and communication allowed it to utilize natural assets from different parts of the country, most notably timber and iron ore, which allowed the creation of a welfare state in the early 20th century. Today, the country is defined by liberal tendencies and a strong national quest for equality, and usually ranks among the top nations in the UN Human Development Index.

Contents

History

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Pre-history

Template:See Image:Thor.jpg Soon after the recession of the last ice age, Sweden became populated by hunters and gatherers, during the Stone Age (6000 BC – 4000 BC). The region developed rather slowly compared to southern Europe; while the Romans wrote poetry, Scandinavia had just entered the Iron Age.

Sweden was first mentioned in the 1st century, by Roman historian Tacitus, who wrote that the Suiones tribe lived out in the sea and were powerful in both arms and ships. This referred to the inhabitants of eastern Sweden: Svealand, primarily around lake Mälaren; Sigtuna, and Birka. From this tribe, Sweden derived its name (see Etymology of Sweden). The southern parts, on the other hand, were inhabited by Geats (Götar) in the Götaland territory. Little is known for certain about that time, but chronicles based on Norse sagas and the Beowulf epos go back about 2,000 years.

During the Viking Age of the 9th and 10th century, Swedish vikings travelled east setting their mark on the Baltic countries, Russia whose name comes from the Finnish name for these Vikings: Rus (the Finnish name for Sweden is Ruotsi), the Black Sea, further through the rivers of Russia down south to Constantinople and southern Europe. The Swedish Vikings were somewhat different from their Norwegian and Danish counterparts as they were not as warrior minded but instead were more merchant and settler minded.

Middle ages

Template:See Image:Gripsholm.jpg With Christianization in the 12th century, the country became consolidated, with its centre in the water-ways of the northern Baltic and the Gulf of Finland. In the 14th century Sweden, like the rest of Europe, was struck by the Black Death (the Plague), with all its effect.

During the middle ages, the expansion of Sweden into the northern wilderness of Laplandia, the Scandinavian peninsula, and present-day Finland continued. Finland was a part of Sweden proper from 1362 until 1809.

In 1389, Norway, Denmark and Sweden were united under a single monarch in a treaty known as the Kalmar Union. After several wars and disputes between these nations, King Gustav I of Sweden (House of Vasa) broke free in 1521 and established a nation state, considered the foundation of modern Sweden. Shortly afterwards he rejected Catholicism and led Sweden to the Protestant Reformation. Gustav I is considered to be Sweden's "Father of the Nation."

A major power

Image:Sweden 1658.png Template:See

The 17th century saw the rise of Sweden as one of the great powers in Europe, due to successful participation, initiated by King Gustav II Adolph, in the Thirty Years' War and by Charles X Gustav of Sweden in the The Deluge of Poland. Mighty as it was, it crumbled in the 18th century with Imperial Russia taking the reins of northern Europe in the Great Northern War, and finally in 1809 when the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland was created out of the eastern half of Sweden.

After Denmark was defeated in the Napoleonic wars, Norway was ceded to Sweden in the Treaty of Kiel. Norway had meanwhile declared itself independent and this led to the Campaign against Norway, which was fought in 1814. It ended with the Convention of Moss, which forced Norway into a union with Sweden that was not dissolved until 1905. But the campaign also signified the last of the Swedish wars and its 200 years of peace are arguably unique in the world today.

Modern history

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The 19th century saw a significant population increase, generally attributed to peace, vaccination, and potatoes, doubling the population from 1750 to 1850. Many people in the countryside, where most Swedes lived, found themselves unemployed. The result was poverty, alcoholism, and massive emigration; it is believed that between 1850 and 1910 more than one million Swedes moved to the United States alone. In the early 20th century, more Swedes lived in Chicago than in Gothenburg (Sweden's second largest city). Strong grassroots movements sprung up during the latter half of the 19th century (unions, temperance groups, and independent religious groups). They were all based on democratic principles and built a strong base for Sweden's migration into a modern parliamentary democracy, achieved by the time of World War I. As the Industrial Revolution progressed during the century, people gradually began moving into cities to work in factories, and became involved in Socialist unions. A threatening Socialist revolution was avoided in 1917, following the re-introduction of Parliamentarism, and the country was democratized.

Recent history

Template:See Sweden remained neutral during World War I and World War II, although its neutrality during World War II has been disputed, as it made concessions to both sides during the war. (See further Sweden during World War II)

Following the war, Sweden took advantage of its natural resources and lack of war damage, making it possible to expand its industry to supply the rebuilding of Europe, leading it to be one of the richest countries in the world by 1960. Sweden was part of the Marshall Plan but continued to stay non-aligned during the Cold War, and is still not a member of any military alliance. During most of the post-war era, the country was ruled by the Swedish Social Democratic Party that established a welfare state, striving for a "well being for all"-policy. This policy led to recession in the early 1990s, and some of the socialist policies were relaxed. Sweden, despite its officially neutral stance, joined the European Union in 1995, arguing that neutrality was less important in the post-Cold War world. However, in a 2003 consultative referendum, Swedish citizens declined to adopt the Euro.

As other economies were re-established, Sweden was surpassed in the 1970s and had to adjust its politics in the 1990s; however, it still ranks among the top nations in terms of standard of living.

Geography

Image:Sweden cia old.png Image:Gamla Stan swe.jpg Image:Tarfala.jpg Image:Halso island.jpg Image:Scania outside Malmö at Lockeby.jpg Image:Hhgg.jpg Image:Turning Torso och Bo01 2.jpg Image:Akallavy.jpg Template:Main Sweden enjoys a mostly temperate climate despite its northern latitude, mainly due to the Gulf Stream. In the south of Sweden leaf-bearing trees are prolific, in the north pines, spruces and hardy birches dominate the landscape. In the mountains of northern Sweden a sub-Arctic climate predominates. North of the Arctic Circle, the sun never sets for part of each summer, and in the winter, night is unending for a corresponding period. The country is similar in size to the U.S. state of California, and has nearly the same population as the Californian city of Los Angeles.

East of Sweden lies the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Bothnia, providing a long coastline, and mellowing the climate further yet. To the west is the Scandinavian mountain chain, a range that separates Sweden from Norway.

The southern part of the country is predominantly agricultural, with forests covering a larger percentage of the land the further north one goes. Population density is also higher in southern Sweden, with centres being in the valley of lake Mälaren and the Öresund region.

Gotland and Öland are the largest islands of Sweden.

Counties

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Sweden is divided into 21 counties or län. They are Stockholm County, Uppland County, Södermanland County, Östergötland County, Jönköping County, Kronoberg County, Kalmar County, Gotland County, Blekinge County, Skåne County, Halland County, Västra Götaland County, Värmland County, Örebro County, Västmanland County, Dalarna County, Gävleborg County, Västernorrland County, Jämtland County, Västerbotten County and Norrbotten County.

Each has a County Administrative Board or länsstyrelse which is appointed by the Government. In each county there is also a separate County Council or landsting, which is the municipal representation appointed by the county electorate. Each county further divides into a number of municipalities or kommuner, making a total of 290 municipalities, in 2004. There are also older historical divisions of Sweden, primarily into the 25 provinces and three lands. These divisions are still significant.

Provinces

For provinces see:Provinces of Sweden

Largest cities

Denotes inhabitants in the municipality (kommun) area. Area is in km². The figures are as of 2005.

Rank Municipality Population Land Area Density
1 Stockholm 765,044 187.74 4,075.02
2 Göteborg 481,410 450.71 1,068.11
3 Malmö 269,142 155.56 1,730.15
4 Uppsala 182,076 2,189.10 83.17
5 Linköping 136,912 1,435.80 95.36
6 Västerås 131,014 962.78 136.08
7 Örebro 126,982 1,380.11 92.01
8 Norrköping 124,410 1,503.61 82.74
9 Helsingborg 121,179 346.25 349.98
10 Jönköping 119,927 1,488.75 80.56
11 Umeå 110,705 2,331.39 46.92
12 Lund 101,423 430.27 235.72
13 Borås 98,886 915.22 108.05
14 Sundsvall 93,707 3,208.70 29.20
15 Gävle 92,081 1,615.07 57.01

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Demographics

Template:Details Image:Sågargatan 11 Södermalm Stockholm 2005-06-13.JPG Sweden has one of the world's highest life expectancies. As of approximately 12 August 2004, the total population of Sweden for the first time exceeded 9,000,000, according to Statistics Sweden. As of February, 2006, the population was 9,060,430. [1]

The country's population includes some 17,000 indigenous Sami. Some 50,000 of the ethnic Finns of Sweden also constitute an indigenous minority, although many more of the Sweden Finns descend from 20th century immigrants.

Sweden has been transformed from a nation of emigration ending after World War I to a nation of immigration from World War II onwards. Currently, almost 12% of the residents are born abroad, and about one fifth of Sweden's population are either immigrants or the children of immigrants. The largest immigrant groups are from Finland, the former Yugoslavia, Iraq and then other Nordic Countries, in that order. This reflects the inter-Nordic migrations, earlier periods of labour immigration, and later decades of refugee and family immigration.

Soviet intervention against the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and the 1968 Czechoslovak liberalization resulted in the first surges of intellectual political refugees. Some American deserters from the Vietnam War also found refuge among the Swedes, who in international politics took a clear stand against what they typically viewed as imperialism executed by both the Soviet Union and the United States of America. After the 1973 coup in Chile, and the following military dictatorships in Chile and other South American countries, political refugees came to dominate the image of immigration to Sweden, including refugees from Iran, Iraq and Palestine.

Language

Template:Details Swedish is a Germanic language, related to Danish and Norwegian, but differing in pronunciation and orthography. Sweden has no official language but the Swedish language holds a de facto status as such. The dominant language has always been Swedish and there has never been a political issue about making it an official language. However, with the recognition of five minority languages of Sweden (being Finnish, Meänkieli, Sami, Romani and Yiddish) on April 1, 2000, the issue of whether Swedish should be declared the official language was raised. On December 7, 2005, the parliament voted on this issue, and with the count 147 to 145 the earlier position was settled, i.e. Swedish is not the official language according to law. It was, however, strengthened as the principal language in that same proposal.

Most Swedes, especially those under 60, are able to understand and speak English thanks to trade links, the popularity of overseas travel, a strong Anglo-American influence and the tradition of subtitling rather than dubbing foreign television shows and films. English became a compulsory subject for secondary school students studying natural sciences as early as 1849 and has been a compulsory subject for all Swedish students since the late 1940s [2]. Depending on the local school authorities, English is currently a compulsory subject from first until ninth grade, and most students continuing in secondary school study English for a further three years. Most students also learn one or two additional languages; often German, French, or Spanish.

Politics

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Sweden has been a monarchy for almost a millennium, with its taxation controlled by the Riksdag (parliament). It consisted of two chambers, made up by representatives from the 4 estates: clerics, nobility, townsmen and peasants, until 1866 when Sweden became a Constitutional monarchy with a bicameral parliament. Its First Chamber was indirectly elected by local governments, and the Second Chamber directly elected in national elections every four years. Image:Riksdagen-fran-vattnet-2004-05-09.jpg Image:800px-Sveriges riksdag 2001 a.jpg Legislative power was (symbolically) shared between king and parliament until 1975. In 1971 the Riksdag became unicameral. Constitutionally, the 349-member Riksdag holds supreme authority in Sweden, and its acts are not subject to judicial review. Acts of the parliament must be made inapplicable at every level if they are obviously against constitutional laws. Legislation may be initiated by the Cabinet or by members of Parliament. Members are elected on the basis of proportional representation for a four-year term. The Constitution of Sweden can be altered by the Riksdag, which requires a supermajority and confirmation after the following general elections. Sweden has three other constitutional laws: the Act of Royal Succession, the Freedom of Press Act and the Fundamental Law on Freedom of Expression.

Executive power was shared between the King and a noble Privy Council until 1680, followed by the King's autocratic rule initiated by the common estates of the Parliament. As a reaction to the failed Great Northern War, Parliamentarism was introduced in 1719, followed by three different flavours of Constitutional Monarchy in 1772, 1789 and 1809, the latter granting several civil liberties. The monarch remains as the formal, but merely symbolic head of state with ceremonial duties.

The Swedish Social Democratic Party has played a leading political role since 1917, after Reformists had confirmed their strength and the revolutionaries left the party. After 1932, the Cabinets have been dominated by the Social Democrats. Only three general elections (1976,1979 and 1991) have given the centre-right bloc enough seats in Parliament to form a government. It is considered the reason for the Swedish post-war welfare state, with a government expenditure of slightly more than 50% of the gross domestic product.

In January 2006, the following political parties held seats in the Riksdag (the most recent elections were held in September 2002; the next elections will be held in September 2006):

(There are also 2 members of parliament who have left their respective parties during this term and are therefore not counted above.)

Some Swedish political figures that have become known worldwide include Anna Lindh, Joe Hill, Carl Skoglund, Raoul Wallenberg, Dag Hammarskjöld, Olof Palme, Carl Bildt and Hans Blix.

Energy politics

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After the 1973 oil crisis, the energy politics were determined to become less dependent on the import of petroleum. Since then, energy has been generated mostly from hydropower and nuclear power. Sweden wants to be independent of petroleum use by 2020. Accidents at the Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station (USA) prompted the Swedish parliament in 1980 after a referendum to decide that no further nuclear power plants should be built and that a nuclear power phase-out should be completed by 2010. As of 2005, the use of renewables amounted to 26 per cent of the energy supply in Sweden, most important being hydropower and biomass. In 2003, electricity from hydropower accounted for 53 TWh and 40 per cent of the country's production of electricity with nuclear power delivering 65 TWh (49 per cent). At the same time, the use of biofuels, peat etc. produced 13 TWh of electricity[3].

In March 2005, an opinion poll with 1027 persons asked, showed 83 per cent support for maintaining or increasing nuclear power [4]. Since then however, reports about radioactive leakages at a nuclear waste store in Forsmark, Sweden, have been published [5]. This doesn't seem to have changed the public support of continued use of nuclear power.

Sweden decided to phase out nuclear fission before 2020, although it is very unlikely that this will happen.

Economy

Image:Swedish 1krona 2001 front.jpg Template:Main The standard of living has become markedly high under Sweden's social democratic system. The economy features a modern distribution system, excellent internal and external communications, and a skilled labour force. Timber, hydropower, and iron ore constitute the resource base of an economy heavily oriented toward foreign trade.

The engineering sector accounts for 50% of output and exports. The public and the trade unions controlled pension funds, non-profit organizations and the reserve funds of the trade-unions owns more than 50% of Sweden capital. 80% of the workforce is organized through the trade-unions. The public sector accounts for 53% of the GDP. Trade unions have the right to elect two representatives to the board in all Swedish companies with more than 25 employees. Agriculture accounts for only 2% of GDP and 2% of the jobs. The government's commitment to fiscal discipline resulted in a substantial budgetary surplus in 2001, which was cut by more than half in 2002, due to the global economic slowdown, revenue declines, and spending increases. The Swedish Riksbank is focusing on price stability with its inflation target of 2%. Growth is expected to reach 3.3% in 2006, assuming a continued global recovery. Swedish unemployment figures are highly contested with the Socialdemocratic government claiming that the figure is 5.6% and the opposition claiming it is much higher. The official statistics on unemployment is 5.6% for 2004 these numbers do not however include unemployed people in government programs, people on extended sick-leave and people in different welfare programs. Unemployment is thought to be closer to 11% when using a system of measurement similar to that of other European nations and the United States. Sweden is known for having an even distribution of income, with a Gini coefficient at 0.21 in 2001 (one of the most even income distributions in the industrialized world).

Welfare state

Template:See Image:Hjalmar Brantings porträtt av Richard Bergh.jpg What is known as the Scandinavian model is usually described as a middle way between socialism and capitalism and is regarded by its proponents as the most developed form of capitalism.

The state provides for tax-funded childcare, parental leave, a ceiling on health care costs, free education (all levels up to, and including university), retirement pensions, free dental care up to 20 years of age and sick leave (partly paid by the employer). Parents are entitled to a total of 480 days partly paid leave between birth and the child's eighth birthday, with 60 days reserved specifically for each parent, in effect providing the father with two so called "daddy-months". In addition, the ceiling on health care costs makes it easier, relative to other nations, for Swedish workers to take time off for medical reasons.

The Swedish welfare system remains generous, but a recession in the 1990s forced an introduction of a number of reforms, such as education vouchers in 1992 and decentralisation of some types of healthcare services to municipal control. [6]

The welfare state requires high taxes, but the population is generally affirmative of this. Sweden has a two step progressive tax scale with a municipal income tax of about 30% and an additional high-income state tax of 20-25% that kicks in when you earn more than about 300 000 SEK. The employing company pays an additional 32% of so called Employers fee. In addition, a national VAT of 25% is added to many things bought by private citizens except food (12% VAT) and transports and books (6% VAT). Certain items are taxed at higher rates, e.g. petrol/diesel, new cars and alcoholic beverages.

The high rates of income taxation in combination with very influential labour unions have kept differences in income at a minimum, resulting in little reward for individuals going through higher education as compared to individuals who start working for a living at an earlier age.

Education

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As part of its social welfare system, Sweden provides an extensive childcare system that guarantees a place for all young children from 1-5 years old in a public day-care facility. Between ages 6-16, children attend compulsory comprehensive school. After completing the ninth grade, 90% continue with a three year upper secondary school leading sometimes to a vocational diploma and always to the qualifications for further studies at a university or university college (högskola).

Culture

Image:Sweden red house.jpg Template:Main Swedish authors of worldwide recognition include Henning Mankell, Carolus Linnaeus (the father of botany), Emanuel Swedenborg, August Strindberg, Selma Lagerlöf, Vilhelm Moberg, Harry Martinson and Astrid Lindgren, the author of the beloved Pippi Longstocking books.

Sweden's most well-known artists are painters Carl Larsson, Anders Zorn, and Alexander Roslin, and the sculptors Tobias Sergel and Carl Milles.

Many well-known inventions and discoveries, historical and modern, were made by Swedes. Some notable figures are Alfred Nobel, Anders Celsius, Baltzar von Platen, Carl Wilhelm Scheele, Jöns Jakob Berzelius, John Ericsson, Anders Jonas Ångström, Lars Magnus Ericsson, Svante Arrhenius, Arvid Carlsson, Håkan Lans.

Swedish 20th century culture is noted by pioneering works in the early days of cinema, with Mauritz Stiller and Victor Sjöström. In the 1920s–1980s, the filmmakers Ingmar Bergman and Bo Widerberg received Academy Awards, and actresses Greta Garbo, Ingrid Bergman, Ann-Margret, Lena Olin, Zarah Leander, and Anita Ekberg made careers abroad. The actor Max von Sydow is also worth mentioning. More recently, the films of Lukas Moodysson and Lasse Hallström have received international recognition.


Music

Template:See Image:Ebbaflagga12.jpg The best-known opera singers are the 19th century soprano Jenny Lind and the 20th century tenor Jussi Björling, who had great success abroad. Björling is considered by many to be the epitome of a great tenor. Also sopranos Christina Nilsson, Birgit Nilsson, and tenor Nicolai Gedda, baritone Håkan Hagegård and the contemporary mezzo-soprano Anne-Sofie von Otter are worth mentioning.

Some of the most successful Swedish popular music artists are ABBA, In Flames, Europe, HammerFall, Roxette, Gyllene Tider, Ace of Base, Army of Lovers, The Cardigans and guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen. A number of bands with less emphasis on pop music have come out of the country in recent years, including Dungen, Blindside, Clawfinger, Magnus Uggla, The Sounds, The Hives, Refused, Millencolin, The (International) Noise Conspiracy, Sahara Hotnights, The Hellacopters, The Soundtrack of Our Lives, Silverbullit, Kent, Infinite Mass, A*Teens, Mando Diao and Looptroop. In underground circles, Sweden is known for a large number of death metal and black metal acts such as Bathory, Meshuggah, The Haunted, Therion, Cemetary, Amon Amarth, Opeth, Naglfar, Arch Enemy, Nightrage, Dark Tranquillity, Entombed, Dissection, At The Gates, Hypocrisy, Grave, Candlemass, Dismember, Marduk, Unleashed and Soilwork, as well as Progressive bands like The Flower Kings, Evergrey and Pain of Salvation. Sweden is also responsible for the Swechno scene, offering a distinct house and techno sound. More recently, the so-called Swedish House Mafia including Steve Angello, Sebastian Ingrosso, Axwell, and Eric Prydz have topped the house music charts and DJ top 10s around the world. There is also a well known Swedish punk band called Ebba Grön and in the synth world, S.P.O.C.K is still going strong after 18 years.

Media

Template:Details Swedes are among the greatest consumers of newspapers in the world, and every town is served by a local paper. The country's main quality morning papers are Dagens Nyheter (centrist), Göteborgs-Posten (centrist), Svenska Dagbladet (conservative) and Sydsvenska Dagbladet (liberal). The two largest evening tabloids are Aftonbladet (earlier left-wing, now centrist) and Expressen (centrist).

The ad-financed, free international morning paper, Metro International, was originally founded in Stockholm, Sweden. The country's news is reported in English by The Local.

For many years Swedish television consisted solely of the two channels broadcast by the public service company Sveriges Television, which, as in most other European countries, is financed through a radio and TV license. But in 1987 the first commercial Scandinavian channel, TV3, started transmitting from London, and today there are five free-to-air channels in the terrestrial network, which is currentlly is switching from analogue to digital, However, most Swedes have access to numerous other free and pay channels as well, through cable or satellite TV.

Holidays

Template:Details Image:Midsommardans av Anders Zorn 1897.jpg Apart from traditional Protestant Christian holidays, Sweden also celebrates some unique holidays, some of a pre-Christian tradition. They include Midsummer, celebrating the summer solstice; Walpurgis Night on April 30 lighting bonfires; Labour Day on May 1st is dedicated to Socialistic demonstrations; and December 13th, the day of Saint Lucia the lightgiver. June 6 is National Day of Sweden and as of 2005 a public holiday. Furthermore, there are official flag day observances and a Namesdays in Sweden calendar. In August many Swedes have kräftskivor (crayfish parties). More regional variants are the surströmming parties in Northern Sweden (surströmming is a type of fermented fish), and ålegillar (eel parties) in Skåne. The Sami, Sweden's indigenous minority, have their holiday on February 6th.

Cuisine

Template:Main Swedish cuisine, like that of the other Scandinavian countries (Denmark and Norway), is traditionally simple. Fish, meat and potatoes play prominent roles. Spices are sparse. Famous dishes include Swedish meatballs (köttbullar—traditionally served with gravy, boiled potatoes and lingonberry jam), plättar (Swedish pancakes, served with jam) lutfisk, the smörgås (open-faced sandwich), and the famous 'Smörgåsbord'.

Sports

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Sport activities are a national movement with half of the population actively participating. The two main spectator sports are football (soccer) and ice hockey. Some notable Swedish football stars include Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Henrik Larsson and Fredrik Ljungberg. Swedish hockey players have often been regarded as some of the best in their sport. Famous Swedish hockey players include: Bengt Gustafsson, Håkan Loob, Peter Forsberg, Markus Näslund, Mats Sundin, Daniel Alfredsson, Nicklas Lidström, Tomas Holmström, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Börje Salming, Mattias Norström, Tomas Sandström, Pelle Lindbergh and Henrik Lundqvist.

Second to football, horse sports have the highest number of practitioners, mostly women. Thereafter follow golf, track and field, and the team sports of handball, floorball, basketball and in northern parts bandy. American sports such as baseball and American football are also practised but have no widespread popularity.

Successful tennis players include former world No. 1's Björn Borg, Mats Wilander and Stefan Edberg; in skiing sports, Ingemar Stenmark, Pernilla Wiberg and Anja Pärson have all had dominating periods in alpine skiing, as have Sixten Jernberg, Gunde Svan, Per Elofsson and Thomas Wassberg in cross country skiing. In ski jumping, Jan Boklöv revolutionised the sport with his new technique, the V-style.

A number of Swedes have been internationally successful in athletics. In the 1940s runner Gunder Hägg dominated middle distance. In recent years, stars include high jumpers such as the European record holder Patrik Sjöberg, Kajsa Bergqvist, and Athens Olympic gold medallist Stefan Holm. Two other Swedish athletes won gold medals in the 2004 Olympic Games: heptathlete Carolina Klüft and triple jumper Christian Olsson.

Other famous Swedish athletes include the heavyweight boxing champion Ingemar Johansson, golfer Annika Sörenstam, former five times World table tennis Champion Jan-Ove Waldner and the World Speedway Champion Tony Rickardsson.

In schools, on meadows and in parks, the game brännboll, a sport similar to baseball, is commonly played for fun. Other leisure sports are the historical game of kubb and boules among the older generation.

Religion

Template:Main Before the 11th century, people of Sweden adhered to Norse religion, worshipping Æsir gods, with its centre at the Temple in Uppsala. With Christianisation in the 11th century, the laws of the country were changed, forbidding worship of other deities.

After the Protestant Reformation in the 1530s the Church and State were united, abolishing the authority of the Roman Catholic bishops, and in the long run allowing only Lutheranism to prevail. This was not a process completed until the Uppsala Synod 1593. During the era following the Reformation period, usually known as the period of Lutheran Orthodoxy, in the 17th century, small groups of non-Lutherans, especially Calvinist Dutchmen and Walloons who played a significant role in trade and industry, were quietly tolerated as long as they kept a low religious profile. The Sami originally had their own shamanistic religion, but they were converted to Lutheranism by Swedish missionaries in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Not until liberalisation in the late 18th century, believers of other faiths, including Judaism and Catholicism, were allowed to openly live and work in Sweden, although it remained illegal until 1860 for Lutheran Swedes to convert to another religion. The 19th century saw other Christian denominations, such as the Episcopal Church; and towards the end of the century secularism began attracting attention, leading people to distance themselves from Church rituals such as baptism. Leaving the Church of Sweden became legal with the so-called dissenter law of 1860, but only under the provision of entering another denomination. The right to stand outside any religious denomination was established in the Law on Freedom of Religion in 1951. Today about 78% of Swedes belong to the Church of Sweden, but the number is decreasing by about one percent every year, and church services are sparsely attended (hovering in the single digit percentages of the population)Template:Ref. Also of significance are the 200,000 to 400,000 Muslims in Sweden.Template:Ref.

According to the most recent Eurostat "Eurobarometer" poll, in 2005 Template:Ref, only 23% of Swedish citizens responded that "they believe there is a God", whereas 53% answered that "they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force" and 23% that "they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, God, or life force". This, according to the survey, would make Swedes the third least religious people in the 25-member European Union.

International rankings

Notes

  1. Template:Note For instance expressed thus: As regards social evils generally, however, the low, though undoubtedly improving, standard of Sweden has had one of its chief reasons in the national intemperance. article Sweden in the Online 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica. ([9]
  2. Template:Note The difference between "open unemployment" and "real unemployment" has been a politically disputed question for a long time in Sweden. Many unemployed are automatically enrolled in Work guidance projects, serving little purpose except keeping them out of the statistics, and officially discounting them as unemployed. Figures in the article are calculated based on information from the Moderate Party website [10] (In Swedish ).
  3. Template:Note Church of Sweden, Members 1978-2004, PDF document
  4. Template:Note Swedish Muslim Association
  5. Template:Note Eurostat poll on the social and religious beliefs of Europeans Eurobarometer, (PDF format)

References

See also

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External links


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