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Quick Facts
CapitalStockholm
GovernmentConstitutional monarchy, parliamentary democracy
CurrencySEK - Swedish Krona (about 13 cents)
Areatotal: 450,000 sq km
water: 40,500 sq km
land: 409,500 sq km
Population about 9 million
LanguageSwedish, most people speak English
Religionmostly lutheran; catholic, muslim and jewish minorities

Sweden is the largest of the countries of Scandinavia, in Northern Europe, with a population of about 9 million.

Regions

Sweden is traditionally divided into 25 provinces that roughly match the 21 administrative län (counties). These provinces are grouped into three major regions of ancient origin:

  • Norrland is the sparsely populated, northern part of the country (about two-thirds ot the total area), with nine provinces and five l�n (counties).
  • Svealand, in the south central part of the country, includes Stockholm, Uppsala and the province of Dalarna.
  • G�taland, comprising of the ten provinces in the southernmost part of the country, including the islands (and provinces) of �land and Gotland. The largest cities in G�taland are Malm� and Gothenburg.

Cities

>100'000 inhabitants

  • Stockholm - the capital city spread out over a number of islands.
  • Gothenburg (G�teborg) - the second largest city, located on the west coast.
  • Malm� - in the south, not far from Denmark.
  • Uppsala - north of Stockholm, one of the main student cities, with many historical monuments.
  • Link�ping - University city and largest city in �sterg�tlands l�n
  • V�ster�s - 100 km west of Stockholm.
  • Norrk�ping - Second largest city in �sterg�tlands l�n

Other cities

  • Bor�s - East of Gothenburg
  • Eskilstuna - Largest city in S�dermanlands l�n
  • G�vle - Largest city in G�vleborgs l�n
  • Halmstad - Largest city in Hallands l�n
  • Helsingborg - North of Malm� and close to Denmark.
  • J�nk�ping - Largest city in J�nk�pings l�n
  • Karlstad - University city quite a good halfway between Stockholm and Oslo
  • Lund - Just north of Malm�, the biggest student city, home of Lund Cathedral
  • Mariestad
  • S�dert�lje - Just south of Stockholm
  • Trollh�ttan - Just north of Gothenburg, home of the Saab car company
  • Ume� - A university city in northern Sweden
  • V�xj� - Largest city in Kronobergs l�n
  • �rebro - A University city, roughly halfway between Stockholm and Oslo
  • Kiruna - the northernmost city in Sweden

Other destinations

  • �re - One of Sweden's largest ski resorts, with 44 lifts.
  • Esrange, a rocket launching facility near Kiruna.
  • Gotland, an island in the Baltic Sea, and its capital Visby
  • Grimeton
  • Icehotel in Jukkasj�rvi in northern Sweden, a cold hotel built from snow and ice, which melts in spring and re-built every winter. Icehotel homepage (http://www.icehotel.com/english/index2.htm)
  • Kebnekaise - Sweden's highest mountain surrounded by vast wilderness areas and a popular trail to Abisko National Park.

Understand

Although having been a military power and spanning about three times its current size during the 17th centry, Sweden has not participated in any war in almost two centuries. Having long remaining outside military alliances (including both World Wars), the country has a high peace profile, with internationally renowned names such as Raoul Wallenberg, Dag Hammarsk�ld, Olof Palme and Hans Blix. Sweden is a monarchy by constitution, but king Carl XVI Gustaf has no executive power. The country has a long tradition of Lutheran-Protestant Christianity, but today's Sweden is a secular state with few church-goers. The country has a large number of immigrants.

Sweden has a capitalist system interlarded with a social welfare system. The high level of welfare has proven hard to maintain, especially after the economic decline of the 1990s. Sweden joined the European Union in 1995, but decided by a referendum in 2003 not to commit to the EMU and the euro currency. Leadership of Sweden has for the larger part of the 20th century been dominated by the Social Democratic Party, which started out at the end of the 19th century as a labour movement, but today pursues a mix of socialism and social-liberalism.

Sweden houses the Nobel prize (http://www.nobel.se/) committee.

Get in

By plane

See also "Luftfartsverket - Swedish Airports and Air Navigation Services" (http://www.lfv.se/)

Major airports:

  • Stockholm "Arlanda" (http://www.arlanda.se): Serves most major airlines (SAS (http://www.sas.com),Lufthansa (http://www.lufthansa.com),AirFrance (http://www.airfrance.com), etc.). Located near Stockholm and easy to reach by direct train connection "Arlanda Express" (around 30min) to central station.
  • G�teborg Landvetter: Serves different bigger airlines (SAS (http://www.sas.com),AirFrance (http://www.airfrance.com), etc.) and provides convenient bus transfer (~20min) to town center.
  • Copenhagen Kastrup: Serves most major airlines (SAS (http://www.sas.com),Lufthansa (http://www.lufthansa.com),AirFrance (http://www.airfrance.com), etc.). Located on an island between Copenhagen and Malm� and is ideal for travelling in southern Sweden. Train connections leave from the airport to both cities.

Cheap airports:

  • Stockholm-Skavsta (http://www.skavsta-air.se/pages_eng): Serves cheaper flights and located quite a bit (about 100 km) outside of Stockholm, near the town of Nyk�ping.
  • G�teborg City Airport: Serves cheaper flights (e.g. Ryanair (http://www.ryanair.com) from UK and DE) located conveniently near Gothenburg and has bus transfer.
  • Malm�-Sturup: Serves domestic flights and cheaper flights with Ryanair (http://www.ryanair.com) and Wizz Air (http://www.wizzair.com).

Most airports can be reached by bus "Flygbussarna - Airport coaches" (http://www.flygbussarna.se/) for tickets around 70 to 100 SEK.

Domestic airline companies:

  • [Stockholmsplanet (http://www.stockholmsplanet.com/changeLocaleAction.do?language=en&country=GB)] - flies from Palanga via Ronneby to Stockholm and then directly back to Palanga.
  • [Copenhagen and Copenhagen's airport for Malm� every 20 minutes, and cost only about SEK 85 ("�resundst�g / �resundstog" regional trains). The train goes over the magnificent Oeresund Bridge to get to Sweden in less than 30 minutes. Furthermore direct trains (X2000) leave from Copenhagen to Stockholm. The Helsing�r-Helsingborg connection, known as one of the busiest ferry routes in Europe, might also be used (change to ship).
  • Norway: Main connections between Oslo and Stockholm and Gothenburg as well as connections between Trondheim - �re - �stersund and Narvik - Kiruna - Boden - Stockholm.
  • Germany: Berlin to Malm� with "Berlin Night Express".
  • Finland: Travel via Svealand and G�taland driving takes you quickly from one place to the other. In Norrland the distances tend to be bigger between the different sites so the time spent driving may be long. Unless you really like driving, it is often more convenient to take the train or fly to the sites, particularly in Northern Norrland.

    See also Driving in Sweden.

    By bus

    Get into Sweden by Copenhagen.

    Ghent to Gothenburg by cargo line with limited passenger capacity)

Denmark
  • From Grenaa to Varberg by G�teborg by Helsingborg by Scandlines (http://www.scandlines.se/SEFront/Front_COM) and HH-ferries (http://www.hhferries.se/index.asp?IdSection=236&show=news)
Estonia
  • From Tallinn to Stockholm (via Helsinki by Viking Line (http://www.vikingline.fi/index.asp?lang=en)
  • From Tallinn to Stockholm (direct connection) by Helsinki to Stockholm (via �land) by Silja Line (http://www.siljaline.se/) and Viking Line (http://www.vikingline.fi/index.asp?lang=en)
  • From Turku to Stockholm (via �land) Silja Line (http://www.siljaline.se/) and Viking Line (http://www.vikingline.fi/index.asp?lang=en)
  • From Vaasa to Ume� by Riga to Stockholm by Riga Sealine (http://www.rigasealine.lv/en/rezervesana/anketa/index.asp)
Germany
  • From Travemuende to Trelleborg by TT-Line (http://www.ttline.com/ENGLISH/reisen_start.htm)
  • From Travemuende to Malmo by Kiel to Gothenburg by Rostock to Trelleborg by Scandlines (http://www.scandlines.se/SEFront/Front_COM) and TT-Line (http://www.ttline.com/ENGLISH/reisen_start.htm)
Norway
  • From Kristiansand to Gothenburg by DFDS Seaways (http://www.dfdsseaways.com/dfdsseaways/choose.html)
Poland
  • From Gdansk to Nyn�shamn by Gdansk to S'winoujs'cie to Ystad by Stockholm to St. Petersburg by Newcastle to Gothenburg (via Kristiansand) by DFDS Seaways (http://www.dfdsseaways.com/dfdsseaways/choose.html)

Get around

Sweden has an extensive railway network. Most major lines are controlled by SJ (http://www.sj.se). Regional public transport is usually operated by private companies contracted by the counties. For instance, when travelling regionally in the province of Scania (Sk�ne in Swedish), one should refer to Sk�netrafiken (http://www.skanetrafiken.se). Connex (http://www.connex.info/ConnexTemplates/Page____5320.aspx) provides affordable railroad transportation up north. The national public transport authority is called Rikstrafiken (http://www.rikstrafiken.se) whose online timetable (trains, buses and ferries) includes an English language version and is called Resplus (http://www.resplus.se). Swebus Express (http://www.swebusexpress.se/english/index.asp?mainid=418&subid=0&subsubid=0) runs a number of bus lines through the middle and southern parts, they tend to be a little cheaper if you can't take advantage of SJs youth discounts. To buy a railway ticket, or to obtain information, phone +46 771 75 75 75.

By thumb

Hitchhiking is very rare, ordinary people are often afraid to pick up strangers. Truck-drivers are probably most likely to pick up hitchhikers, so target them. Bus-stops are common places to attract attention, position yourself before the actual bus-stop so the vehicle can stop at the stop. This works best if the road is widened at the bus-stop, allowing cars to pull off easily.

Talk

Swedish is the national language of Sweden, but you will find that a lot of people, especially those of an age below 70, also speak English quite well. Older people born well before the Second World War usually learned German as their first foreign language, and generally speak that better than English. Today students learn a third language in school, usually German or French. Regardless of what your native tongue is, however, Swedes greatly appreciate any attempt to speak Swedish and beginning conversations in Swedish, no matter how quickly your understanding peters out, will do much to ingratiate yourself to the locals.

Buy

The national currency is the Swedish krona (SEK). 1 USD is about 7.7 SEK, 1 EUR is about 9.3 SEK. See Forex (http://www.forex.se) for exchange rates. Automatic teller machines commonly take Visa cards. It is not common to bargain in shops but it might work in some instances. Tip is not required in bars or restaurants, but is appreciated if you consider the service to have been particularly good.

Costs

Sweden is considered an expensive country to live in, though you can find cheap alternatives if you look around. Recently opened discount stores such as "Lidl" and "Willy's" offers a wide range of items, why not buy a sewing machine while doing the weekend grocery shopping?

Eat

Swedish cuisine is mostly hearty meat or fish with potatoes, derived from the days when men needed to chop wood all day long. Traditional everyday dishes are called husmanskost (pronounced whos-mans-cost). This could be meatballs (k�ttbullar) with potatoes and lingonberry jam, fried diced meat, onions and potatoes (Hash, or "Pytt i Panna") or pea soup followed by thin pancakes. Besides the ubiquitous potatoes, modern Swedish cuisine is to a great extent based on pasta products like spaghetti.

Pickled herring ("sill"), available in various types of sauces, is commonly eaten with bread or potatoes for summer lunch or as a starter. Adventurous diners might want to try surstr�mming, which is (coastal) central and northern Sweden's entry in the revolting-foods-of-the-world contest. It's herring which is fermented in a can until it's about to burst, and so foul-smelling that it's eaten only outdoors in the summer so as not to stink up the house. Surstr�mming is mostly available in August.

Typical Swedish "gourmet" restaurants serve steaks or other grilled dishes garnished with fragrant herbs such as dill, and vegetables such as pumpkin and bell peppers.

As in most of Europe, inexpensive pizza and kebab restaurants are ubiquitous in Swedish cities. Sushi and Thai food are also quite popular.

You can get a "cheap" lunch if you look for the signs with "Dagens R�tt" (meal of the day), it normally costs about 50-70 SEK and almost everywhere includes 1 bottle of water or light beer, bread & butter, some small salad and coffee afterwards. Dagens r�tt is served Mon-Fri.

Drink

Access to alcoholic beverages is, as in Norway and Finland, quite restricted and more expensive than in other countries. The only place to buy liquor over the counter is in one of the state owned shops called Systembolaget (http://www.systembolaget.se/english/xindex.htm). Though the Systembolaget shops sometimes seem to be closed more often than they are open, they do have a fantastic selection and a knowing staff. The most famous Swedish alcoholic beverage is the "Absolut" vodka, but there is a wide range of other Swedish vodkas, usually spiced aquavits and schnapps. Sweden does produce some outstanding beers like the dark Carnegie Porter, but most beers are rather nondescript lagers. The wine production is miniscule.

The agelimit is 18 to bars and beers in shops, but 20 in Systembolaget. The beer you get in shops is called Folk�l and has 3,5% alcohol. Many bars have the age limit of 20, mostly in the big cities.

Sleep

Look for the sign "Rum" (Room) if you go by car, or else "Vandrarhem" (Youth hostel). Sweden also has a Right to access law, allowing camping in uncultivated areas, within certain limitations.

Learn

All education in Sweden is free, except for the universities or schools of higher education, where you are required to register in the Students' Union (usually a fee of less than 500 SEK). Although the government has subsidized schools and classes, there also exist many private alternatives, where a tuitition fee is required.

Work

Go to the public "Arbetsf�rmedlingen" ('The Job Agency') and give it a try, it might work!

Stay safe

You are not likely to be exposed to crime, although, keep a watch over your hand-bag in major cities. Items most likely to be stolen: unlocked bikes. The phone number to dial in case of fire, medical or criminal emergency, is 112.

Stay healthy

The pharmacies - controlled by state monopoly - carry a sign spelled "Apoteket".

Smoking

Smoking is not allowed in restaurants and bars if not in open-air.

Respect

There is nothing to pay major respect for in Sweden. Keeping the noise level down - whereever you are - is appreciated though.

Contact

Sweden has an excellent wireless GSM coverage even in rural areas except in the central and northern interior parts of the country. The major networks are Telia, Tele2/Comviq and Vodafone. The UMTS coverage is also good, with the major networks hold by the earlier named and "3". The country calling code number is 46. Sweden is the world's second most Internet connected country (second to Finland). The post system is often considered efficient but not always reliable. Inter-European stamps for ordinary letters are 11 SEK and the letter usually need 2 days within EU.

External links