Best of Stockholm Local Tours


About Sweden


When you visit Sweden, you visit the land of the Vikings, even though the country as a whole was populated long before that, from  8000 BC on by hunters and fishermen, using simple stone tools. During the Viking Age (800–1050), many expeditions set off from Sweden, mostly going east, to plunder and trade along the coasts of the Baltic Sea and the rivers of today’s  Russia. Graffiti in churches in today’s Istanbul state a visit by Vikings.

Around the same period or towards the end of the Viking era, Sweden’s provinces were more closely connected, but not until the late 13 th century an actual kingdom was formed , with a feudal system and a noble class.

Trade grew during the 14th century, under the influence of the Hansa and the German town of Lübeck and the Hansa continued  to dominate Swedish trade until the mid16 th century. But the Black Death struck Sweden as well as other countries in the mid14 th century, affecting both population and the economy

In the late 14 th century Denmark, Norway and Sweden were united under the rule of the Danish Queen Margareta and the Kalmar Union was formed. The union was never a peaceful one,  marked by many and severe conflicts, culminating in the  “Stockholm Bloodbath” in 1520, when more than 80 Swedish noblemen were executed at in the centre of Stockholm, ordered by the Danish union king, Kristian II. This led to a rebellion against the Danish king and in 1523 a Swedish nobleman, Gustav Vasa, was elected king of Sweden. During his reign (1523-60), the foundations of the Swedish state were laid, the Protestant Reformation was introduced, the church turned into a national institution and its estates confiscated. and hereditary monarchy came into force.

Relations with Denmark did not necessarily improve after the dissolution of the union. Sweden aimed for domination of the Baltic Sea, with repeated wars with Denmark from the 1560s onward. In the 17 th century, the Swedish king Gustav II Adolf became one of Europe’s most powerful monarchs. Sweden was a great power in northern Europe. Finland, as well as a number of provinces in northern Germany and the present-day Baltic republics, also belonged to Sweden. However, Sweden was an agrarian-based country and lacked the resources to maintain its position as a great power in the long run. After its defeat in the Great Northern War (1700–21) against the combined forces of Denmark, Poland and Russia, Sweden lost most of its provinces and was reduced to essentially the same frontiers as today’s Sweden and Finland.  Finland was eventually surrendered to Russia in the early 19 th century and the union with Sweden, which Norway was forced into in 1814 was peacefully dissolved in 1905 after many internal disputes.

Even though cultural development characterized the century, in the late 19th century, 90 percent of the people still earned their livelihood from agriculture and there was not enough for everyone.  From the mid-19th century to 1930, about 1.5 million Swedes emigrated. Industrialization did not really pick up until the 1890s, but then transformed Sweden into one of Europe’s leading industrial nations after World War II. The late 19 th century was also the era of popular movements like free churches, women’s movements, and last but not least the labour movement. Universal suffrage was introduced for men in 1909 and for women in 1921.

What Swedes Are Like

What are Swedish people like? Is everyone blond and shy? Do they ski to work? Do polar bears walk the streets of Stockholm? Or do you see a moose using the highways during rush hour? Generally, you might meet a moose on the highway, but preferably not. Polar bears are not generally encountered.

But Swedes can be perceived as shy or maybe reserved, might listen before they speak. The strong sense of equality does also manifest itself in that you should not appear to be better than others, so Swedes prefer not to draw attention to themselves and they don’t cut in line before it’s their turn. But this is changing, even though Swedes still try to treat everyone equally, regardless of job titles or social status. Swedes like consensus rather than disagreement.

Swedes are friendly and generous.

Sweden Today

Area: 174,000 sq mi (450,000 km²), the third largest country in Western Europe
Longest north-south distance: 978 mi (1,574 km)
Longest east-west distance: 310 mi (499 km)
Capital: Stockholm
Population: 9.4 million inhabitants
Languages: Swedish; recognized minority languages: Sami (Lapp), Finnish, Meänkieli (Tornedalen Finnish), Yiddish, Romani Chib
Form of government: Constitutional monarchy, parliamentary democracy
Parliament: The Riksdag, with 349 members in one chamber
Religion: In practice, Sweden is very secularized. The Church of Sweden is Evangelical Lutheran; co-exists with many other beliefs
Life expectancy: Men 79 years, women 83 years