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SWEDEN

Sweden is one of the countries of the Scandinavian part of Europe. The Swedish summer blossoms in hundreds of colors. Behind every hill another landscape with lovely lakes and rough rocks appears. Sweden has almost 3.000 kilometers of beaches. The salmon swims in front of your own jetty and the midnight sun is one of the most fascinating natural events in Sweden.

A military power during the 17th century, Sweden has not participated in any war in almost two centuries. An armed neutrality was preserved in both World Wars. Sweden's long-successful economic formula of a capitalist system interlarded with substantial welfare elements has recently been undermined by high unemployment, rising maintenance costs, and a declining position in world markets. Indecision over the country's role in the political and economic integration of Europe caused Sweden not to join the EU until 1995, and to forgo the introduction of the euro in 1999.  

Sweden has 25 provinces. Each of them has its own special character, culture and traditions. The country's landscape is highly varied, which is not surprising, given its 2,000 km (1,240 miles) length from north to south. Skåne in the south is flat and fertile, Småland is a region of deep forests, and Bohuslän in the west has a rocky coastline. In the east Södermanland and Uppland share a unique archipelago, while further north are the region of Dalarna with its delightful Lake Siljan, the gentle mountains of Jämtland and the high peaks of Lapland. Sweden's highest mountain is Kebnekaise, 2,117 metres (6,950 ft) above sea level.

The country  has a population of 8.9 million, with about 85% living in the southern half of the country. Around 85% belong to the Church of Sweden, which is Lutheran. Swedish is a Germanic language.

Like other industrialized countries, Sweden has a low birth rate. It rose during the 1980s and early 1990s but is now in decline again. Life expectancy is high—about 76 years for men and 82 for women. Since the 1940s, immigration—mostly from neighboring Scandinavian countries but also from elsewhere in the world—has accounted for over 40% of the population growth. Sweden has two minority groups of native inhabitants in the north: the Finnish-speaking people of the northeast and the Sami (Lapp) population

The capital of Sweden is Stockholm. Both Swedes and non-Swedes agree : it is the most beautiful city of the country and also a trendy city. The atmosphere in Stockholm is very relaxed and international. The city has a certain "grandeur" because of the many lakes, parks, broad avenues, palaces and other monumental buildings. Everywhere there are nice shops, cafés, restaurants, theatres and museums. For those who visit Stockholm in the winter : don't forget you ice-scates.


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