Nation at a Glance - Sweden

History

A military power during the 17th century, Sweden has not participated in any war for two centuries. An armed neutrality was preserved in both world wars. Sweden's long-successful economic formula of a capitalist system intermixed with substantial welfare elements was challenged in the 1990s by high unemployment and in 2000-02 and 2009 by the global economic downturns, but fiscal discipline over the past several years has allowed the country to weather economic vagaries. Sweden joined the EU in 1995, but the public rejected the introduction of the euro in a 2003 referendum.

Location: Northern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea, Gulf of Bothnia, Kattegat, and Skagerrak, between Finland and Norway

Border Countries: Finland 545 km, Norway 1,666 km

Total Area: 450,295 sq km Land: 410,335 sq km Water: 39,960 sq km

Climate: Temperate in south with cold, cloudy winters and cool, partly cloudy summers; subarctic in north

Terrain: Mostly flat or gently rolling lowlands; mountains in west

Natural resources: Iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, gold, silver, tungsten, uranium, arsenic, feldspar, timber, hydropower

Land use: Agricultural land: 7.5% arable land 6.4%; permanent crops 0%; permanent pasture 1.1% Forest: 68.7% Other: 23.8% (2011 est.)

Ethnic groups: Indigenous population: Swedes with Finnish and Sami minorities; Foreign-born or first-generation immigrants: Finns, Yugoslavs, Danes, Norwegians, Greeks, Turks

Languages: Swedish (official), small Sami- and Finnish-speaking minorities

Religions: Lutheran 87%, Other (includes Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Baptist, Muslim, Jewish, and Buddhist) 13%

Population: 9,880,604 (July 2016 est.)

Administrative divisions: 21 counties (lan, singular and plural); Blekinge, Dalarna, Gavleborg, Gotland, Halland, Jamtland, Jonkoping, Kalmar, Kronoberg, Norrbotten, Orebro, Ostergotland, Skane, Sodermanland, Stockholm, Uppsala, Varmland, Vasterbotten, Vasternorrland, Vastmanland, Vastra Gotaland

Economy: Sweden’s small, open, and competitive economy has been thriving and Sweden has achieved an enviable standard of living with its combination of free-market capitalism and extensive welfare benefits. Sweden remains outside the euro zone largely out of concern that joining the European Economic and Monetary Union would diminish the country’s sovereignty over its welfare system. Timber, hydropower, and iron ore constitute the resource base of a manufacturing economy that relies heavily on foreign trade. Exports, including engines and other machines, motor vehicles, and telecommunications equipment, account for more than 44% of GDP. Sweden enjoys a current account surplus of about 5% of GDP, which is one of the highest margins in Europe. GDP grew an estimated 3.3% in 2016 and 2017 driven largely by investment in the construction sector. Economic growth is expected to ease slightly in the coming years as this investment subsides. Global economic growth boosted exports of Swedish manufactures further, helping drive domestic economic growth in 2017. The central bank is keeping an eye on deflationary pressures and is expected to maintain its expansionary monetary policy in 2018. Swedish prices and wages have grown only slightly over the past few years, helping to support the country’s competitiveness. In the short and medium term Sweden’s economic challenges include providing affordable housing and successfully integrating migrants into the labor market.

Agriculture - products: Barley, wheat, sugar beets; meat, milk

Industries: Iron and steel, precision equipment (bearings, radio and telephone parts, armaments), wood pulp and paper products, processed foods, motor vehicles

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