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An Introduction to Sweden

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Sweden

When people hear about Sweden, they think about IKEA. However, there is much history and depth behind the country besides a large home goods store chain. The relationship between the US and Sweden is close and mutual, as Sweden had settlers in the some the 13 colonies and was one of the very first countries to recognize that the US was becoming independent from England. Although many people compare the size of Sweden to the size of California, as they are roughly the same size, Sweden actually has the fourth largest land size and area in Europe. Many interesting features of Sweden are its physical features, agriculture, and its diverse cultural features.

Sweden is officially called the Kingdom of Sweden, and is also sometimes called Mother Svea by its inhabitants. Sweden is located on the European continent, and is one of the northernmost countries, bordering Finland and Norway. Sweden is large, compared to countries in Europe, and has an area of 441,370 km². California is roughly the same size as Sweden, although Sweden is 1.04 times bigger, as California has an area of 423,970 km². Compared to the United States, Sweden is diminutive, as Sweden is 0.04 times bigger than the US. The US has an area of 9,833,000 km², including Hawaii and Alaska. Although Sweden is a small country, it grows and produces many products.

Sweden primarily grows crops such as oats, wheat, barley, rye, potatoes, root crops, vegetables, fruits, and sugar beets. This is vital to the country, as Sweden needs to have copious amounts of food to survive the long, sunless winter. Sweden has a diverse range of industries, but the main industries are telecommunications, pharmaceuticals, industrial machines, precision equipment, chemical goods, home goods and appliances, forestry, iron, and steel. Sweden remains an independant country, as everything they need is mainly produced in their country. Sweden has a stable economy, with one of the lowest poverty rates on the European continent at 3.7%, compared to Spain, having one of the highest rates at 9.8%. The main exports of Sweden are the products of their industries, and they import many items, such as petroleum, cars, vehicle parts, and computers, all products that are difficult to make in their countries. Even though Sweden seems like a great place to live in, the relatively cold climate may influence your opinion.

Sweden has a mild climate compared to its neighboring countries, having an average summer temperature of about 55.4-62.6℉, although it has had a high of 68℉ recorded. In the winter, much of Sweden is dark, as the sun only stays for a few hours before it becomes dark. Because of this, Sweden has temperatures of below 32℉, and has reached an all-time low of -7.6℉. Heavy amounts of snow shower Sweden's landscape from December to April, and icebreakers ships have to break up all of the ice in order to keep the major ports open in visitors and cargo.  Although Sweden is mild in terms of temperature to its brethren, it has a vast amount of different landforms than its neighbors.

Sweden's landforms vary drastically from the north to the south. In the north, tall mountains and dense forests dominate much of the landscape, making the area almost inhospitable. In central and southern Sweden, up to 100,000 lakes have been documented, with some of the largest ones connected by canals, with lower mountain ranges scattered across the landscape. The diverse amount of landforms means that Sweden has copious amounts of natural resources, such as iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, gold, silver, tungsten, uranium, arsenic, and feldspar, as well as large freshwater lakes and forests. This helps Sweden produce many of its products that it exports, allowing for the government and country to benefit from their surroundings. The distinct landscape and natural resources means that Sweden has developed an interesting culture.

Sweden has its own language, Swedish, but also has 5 other official languages, which include Finnish, Yiddish, Sami, Meänkieli and Romani. Along with their many official languages, they celebrate many holidays, which range from New Year's, Epiphany, Good Friday, Easter Day and Easter Monday, May First, Ascension Day, Whit Sunday, National Day, Midsummer Day, All Saints' Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and Boxing Day. There are many more holidays that Sweden celebrates, but the holidays listed above are the most important cultural holidays. Education is very important to the Swedes, as you are required to attend at least nine years of school after children turn the age of seven.  There are many recreational activities to do in the countryside, such as skiing, hunting, and horse riding. Sweden's history shaped the foods that the Swedish traditionally eat.

Traditional foods include meatballs, black pudding, pink cured salmon, pickled herring, and crispbread. A common condiment is lingonberry jam, and accompanies many foods and snacks. Many sandwiches are made with only one slice of bread, from the Medieval tradition of using bread as a plate; Ever since World War II, Swedes grew up eating pea soup and pancakes. Sweden loves pastries, as they have a whole day dedicated to cinnamon bun, appropriately called Cinnamon Bun Day, as well as other pastries, such as their famous princess cake. Princess cake is not only for the royal family, as people can eat it whenever they want. Besides pastries, Sweden also loves seafood, regularly consuming crayfish and fermented 'sour' herring.

Many of these interesting foods and dishes help make Sweden unique, along with it being one of the last countries that still has a monarch, although the king doesn't have a lot of power over the country, and is mainly just there as a symbol of the days of old, when Sweden was ruled by kings and queens.

As you have read, Sweden is a country with a deep and rich history, originating from the early Bronze, spanning over 3,000 years, from 1000 A.D, where Sweden was unified, until the 21st century. Sweden has many physical features and culture that is not present in the US, and may seem strange to us. For example, Sweden speaks six official languages: Swedish, Finnish, Yiddish, Sami, Meänkieli and Romani. The illustrious tale of the history of Sweden can make you look at the country differently, instead of thinking of them as the founder of a furniture store.


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