For a sparsely populated country in the far north of Europe, Sweden has done remarkably well in establishing and maintaining an outstanding reputation abroad, based on many and varied commercial, technological, cultural and political achievements.
Swedish consumer goods are household names the world over. Swedish cars move people and freight from Alaska to Adelaide. Abba and Pippi Longstocking took the world by storm and continue to delight people on all continents. The Nobel Prize is an institution that needs no introduction.
Sweden is a Scandinavian kingdom of 9.6 million inhabitants, of which almost 2 million live in and around the capital, Stockholm. Urban Sweden is modern, stylish and safe. Rural Sweden breathes tranquility and natural Sweden harbours some of the largest uninhabited expanses in Western Europe.
Sweden is a country where winter is winter and summer is summer. Although the northern tip of the country lies above the Arctic Circle, its climate is tempered by the Gulf Stream.
A leading country in environmental conservation, Sweden boasts great scenic beauty, and was the first country in Europe to protect the most vulnerable parts of its natural heritage. More than half of the country is covered with forest while lakes and rivers make up 10% of its surface area.
In international politics, Sweden has built a reputation as a nation of mediators. The country pursues non-alignment in international conflicts and strives to offer a safe haven for diplomatic debate among warring factions the world over. As a result, the Swedes have seen a long list of important international positions entrusted to their fellow citizens.
Despite its natural riches, Sweden is a country built on people. Over the last century, Swedish dependence on timber and iron ore has given way to an emphasis on human resources. Today, knowledge is Sweden's prime asset, with education kept in the public domain and developed to a standard that ranks consistently among the highest in OECD statistics.
For more information on Sweden please see Sweden.se – the official gateway to Sweden.
Photos: Jonathan Hall, Hans Svensson and Hans Bjurling