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State

Capital

Sweden

Stockholm

Sverige

Currency unit

Swedish krona

Connections

EFTA

Baltic

Nordic

EU

Aaland Islands

 Politics

 Economics

 Green

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History

One of the Scandinavian states. Sweden has changed from being, in the 17th century, one of the most feared military nations (their armies ravaged Germany in the Thirty Years War) to being a by-word for peaceful neutrality. From 1611-1718 (death of Charles 12th) Sweden was a Great Power and controlled Finland, Estonia and Livonia (part of Poland- Lithuania).

The Svea, one of the migrating Germanic peoples, moved northwards into Scandinavia. The Swedes were one of the Viking groups - when groups of warriors spread out, possibly spurred by crop failures, to plunder neighboring countries in Britain, northern Europe and the east. In the ninth century they traveled eastwards across the Baltic founding Russia (they were the Rus, the first rulers of Kiev and Moskva) and then as far as Constantinople where they made up part of the Varangian Guard of the Byzantine emperors (also including Anglo-Saxons).

They were converted to Christianity and ceased raiding from the 11th century.

In the 16th and 17th centuries Sweden became an important regional power in the Baltic, influencing and colonizing Finland and the two Baltic states of Latvia and Estonia.

At various times parts of Sweden (Skåne) were ruled by Denmark and from 1814 until 1905 Sweden ruled Norway.

In the late 19th century and 20th century Sweden has been a pioneer in social democracy providing a high range of social services and welfare (at a very high personal tax rate). It is also one of the most advanced technological nations.

Recently the main political question has been whether Sweden's traditional neutrality would be compatible with membership of the European Union - membership from Jan 1995 after a referendum voted in favor. Membership was opposed by people who feared that the high level of social services and environmental standards may not be compatible with EU membership.

Sweden has not fought in a war since 1814.

The suicide rate is not the world's highest, ranking 9th in the world (Denmark is 3rd).

During the Cold War Sweden was officially neutral between the Soviet Union and the NATO powers. However, recent disclosures show that Sweden's military and Intelligence services did cooperate with western services, and thus was in practice a member of the western alliance.

Languages

Swedish

Sami (Lapp)

the language of nomads

 History

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Politics

Sweden has a single chamber parliament elected by a proportional representation system. For most of the past 60 years the Social Democratic Party has formed the government, but the three opposition parties sometimes win elections as in September 1991. The recent right wing coalition of Conservatives and Liberals may have represented a discontent with high taxes. Their policy was to reduce the traditional high levels of social benefits and privatize some of the government services.

After trying it for three years the voters returned the Social Democrats in Sept 1994.

SDP government re-elected in 2002.

In September 2006 the SDP was defeated by a coalition of rightwing parties.

Interesting reading

Gwyn Jones - History of the Vikings



 History

 Politics

 Green

 Rights

 Climate

Economics

At the beginning of the 20th century Sweden was one of the poorest countries in Europe. It is now the most industrialized of the three Scandinavian states. The standard of living is high. It is the home of the "Swedish Model" , an approach to social economics which is neither the unrestricted free market of the United States, nor the Soviet model of total state ownership. It includes high taxes and therefore a narrow difference between the highest earners and lowest and a high level of social provision including investment in social infrastructure, pensions and other social benefits. There are some signs that taxes are higher than the voters wish to pay so that an increasing divergence between rich and poor may now take place following the election of a right wing coalition in September 1991.

The main wealth creating industries are mostly conventional joint stock companies of the western free market type. The Labour party did however introduce employee share purchase funds, which created opposition among the financial community.

The social provision was severely reduced by the new government, and there is now (Sep 1994) 15% unemployment (previously unknown) following the introduction of what some Swedes regard as Thatcherite economic policies. Is this the result of the collapse of the previous policy, or the result of new political ideas imported from outside? That is, was Swedish industry unable to compete with other countries with lower wages and social provision. If so, it might have lessons for Canada and the United States in NAFTA when they compete with Mexico. Or is it that the former conscious policy towards equality is being abandoned. Until now there have been no beggars and no homeless. Only after American and British policies were adopted did they appear. But the new (1994) Social Democrat government will still need to reduce a huge fiscal deficit and may now have to conform to EU norms.

Sweden was one of the three countries to stay out of the euro zone, but following the introduction of the physical euro seems likely to do so, eventually. The government announced that in 2003 it would hold a referendum on joining the euro zone. The voters rejected it but after the recent world financial problems they may vote in favor later.

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 Climate

Green/Ecology

Sweden is a pioneer of thinking about reducing greenhouse emissions. However, although the government planned to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, the people have also voted to phase out nuclear power. The main alternative indigenous energy source is hydroelectricity. The last unused rivers are also to be conserved. This is a paradox which the Swedes may be the first to resolve. The government has planned a carbon tax on petroleum fuels and coal to be offset by reductions in income tax.

The government plans to phase out oil and nuclear power by 2020. Can they?

Guardian article

 History

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Human Rights

Good record.

Climate effects

Last revised 3/02/09


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