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 Upland 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 meters (6,950 ft) above sea level.
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.
Stockholm is the capital and the largest city of Sweden. Administratively, the “City of Stockholm” is a Swedish municipality within Stockholm County. It is, without doubt, one of the most beautiful national capitals in the world. The Old Town is particularly spectacular. Spread across little islands and laced with numerous waterways on the southeastern coast of Sweden, Stockholm enjoys one of the most stunning locales of any capital city in the world. Over 30% of the city area is made up of waterways and another 30% is made up of parks and green spaces, giving Stockholm perhaps the freshest air and widest lungs of any European capital
Stockholm is generally referred to as Beauty on Water, or Venice of the North which is understandable, as the city is built upon 14 islands. It is surrounded by Lake Mälaren, and by the Baltic Sea. The mixture of old and new, greenery and water, picturesque narrow streets and engaging modern broad ones provides an attractiveness you rarely meet elsewhere. By steamboat you can take trips out into the archipelago, or go in the other direction to Lake Mälaren with its characteristic and amazing nature. The city grew up around the Old Town, as Stockholm emerged as a key trading center, with influence all over the Baltic Sea region and further afield. Today, Stockholm is a thriving modern European city that dispels all of the anachronistic images about dull Scandinavians.
In the late 20th century, Stockholm became a modern, technologically-advanced and ethnically diverse city. Throughout the century, many industries shifted away from work-intensive activities into more high-technology and service-industry knowledge-based areas. The city continued to expand and new district were created, for example Rinkeby, Tensta, and Sollentuna, some with high proportions of immigrants.This lovely, lively city, with its maritime bent and international flavor, is a magnet for immigrants as well as tourists. Over 15% of greater Stockholm’s population are immigrants.
Stockholm is an easy city for tourists to visit. The centre of the town is is largely flat and strolling around is a pleasure. For journeys further beyond the centre, there is an excellent public transport system with trams, underground trains, buses and ferries servicing all areas of the city and the surrounding towns and villages.
Stockholm has been described by poets, historians, and foremost by the Stockholmers themselves in poetic and vivid descriptions. They all have one thing in common; they all agree that wherever you stay at the time, however beautiful this spot might be, no place is like Stockholm. The Old Town was perfectly preserved by Sweden’s neutrality in World War II. This Old Town (or Gamla Stan) is the epicentre of the city, which boasts many historical buildings, tourist shops, cafés, as well as the impressive Royal Palace – the largest royal palace still in use in the world. North of the Old Town is the main part of the more modern city, whose districts are home to numerous attractions, such as the impressive City Hall, the Museum of National Antiquities and the Stringberg Museum. Across the water, via ferry, is Djurgarden – a playground with a funfair park, Stockholm Zoo and Sweden’s most visited museum, the Vasa Museum, which is home to a 17th-century galleon that has been impressively raised from the chill waters of Stockholm’s harbour.
Away from the charms of the Old Town, the modern city showcases the neat and innovative design standards for which Sweden has become globally renowned. Much of Stockholm’s present day wealth comes from the new light industries, such as information technology and computing, with world leading companies often occupying prime real estate in the city center or filling up the new business parks on the city fringes. Many museums are closed on Mondays. The city has recently gained a reputation for stylish shops, bars and restaurants, making it the Scandinavian capital of cool. Beyond the center of the city, over 10,000 islands and rocky islets in the Stockholm Archipelago wait to be explored.
Göteborg is the second largest city in Sweden ( after Stockholm )with over 600,000 inhabitants. and the seat of residence for the county. Gothenburg is in the historical province of Västergötland.
The present-day city of Götenborg was founded in 1621 by the Swedish King Gustav II Adolf, although the region itself is an old and exciting cultural area. The many ruins in the area prove that people were already living here 8.000 years ago. The city was developed largely by city planners and canal experts from the Netherlands and Germany. In the early 17th century Sweden controlled only one point on the western coastline. An attempt in 1607 to found a city by the name of Gothenburg on the nearby island of Hisingen had failed due to the Kalmar War, but the second attempt in 1621, by King Gustavus Adolphus (known commonly as Gustaf II Adolf), was successful. Following the successive wars, by 1658 all the Danish eastern provinces were ceded to Sweden, by the Treaty of Roskilde.
During the 18th century the city became an important center in the international trading, guided by British and Scottish merchants and industrialists. At times the city was the European center of goods from the far east and China.Later, Göteborg became an important city in trade and shipping. The largest shipyard in Sweden was located here and made a strong impact on the trade and industry in the city for more than a century. The appearance of the city changed dramatically during the 19th century. The fortresses were demolished and made way for the Kungsparken park and the Horticultural Society. The city expanded, some of the canals were filled in, the harbors and quays were extended. Famous buildings which have been preserved from this century are the Stock Exchange, the Central Railway Station, the Stora Theater, the Feskekörka fish hall and the Saluhallen indoor market.
Göteborg harbor is one of the largest in northern Europe. But nowadays, the old docks and harbor quarters in the city center has moved closer to the sea. In the end of the seventies and eighties the large shipyards disappeared, and today, only Stena Lines ferry terminal and Göteborg fish harbor remains. During the 20th century the manufacturing of Volvo cars as well as as the industry of Svenska Kullagerfabriken employed many citizens. To this day the city owes much to the influence of people from abroad. Tourists and other visitors return year after year – the Göteborg region is one of the most polar tourist areas in Scandinavia.
Malmö is the third largest city in Sweden. It is located in the southernmost province of Scania . The city is a commercial hub and a cosmopolitan metropolis. But with a population of some 270,000 people who between them speak more than 100 languages and have roots from many different countries. It has more parks, gardens and restaurants per capital than any other city in Sweden. Malmö also features many attractions dating back to the Middle Ages. Throughout Skåne there are more than 200 castles and manor houses, many of them open to tourists, and the many inns offer the province´s delectable cuisine.
Malmö has been founded in 1254, the year of Copenhagen’s first town privileges, or in the immediately following years, as the archbishop’s of Lund fortified quay or ferry berth, It was the good fishing that atracted peoplehere, and for many hundreds of years the locals exported salt herring from here. In the 16th century Malmö and Copenhagen would rise in economic importance, and until this day this pattern has persisted. Despite Lund (and to lesser degree Roskilde) being culturally of much greater importance, Malmö and Copenhagen have been centers for industrious and economic success. The disunity between the burghers of Lund and Malmö has remained a fundamental characteristic, the former relying on tradition the latter on modernity and adaption. Malmö was, for instance, a leading hanseatic town during the decades of the Hansa’s dominance in the region, and leading the process of Protestant Reformation in Denmark of the 1530s. Even after the secession to Sweden, in 1658, Malmö continued to hold its dominant role.
Malmö is not an “old” city, although much of its history is preserved in its architecture. It has undergone massive change at several levels, and will continue to do so. The most notable of these changes is the city’s transformation from industrial city into a seat of higher learning, technology and modern housing. Malmö University, which first opened its doors in 1998, has in just a short period of time become Sweden’s eighth-largest institution of higher education, with more than 21,000 students.
The city is gaining in popularity as a tourist destination. It retains much historical charm with an “old town” section filled with small shops. Malmö also offers a late-medieval castle, housing a small city museum and a fairly large art gallery. Nightlife and music scene are mainly centered around two places: Lilla Torg (“Little Square”) is encircled by trendy pubs and upmarket night clubs, while the district of Möllevången (“the Mill Meadow”) houses hang-outs for artists and good opportunities for live music.
Västra Hamnen (The Western Harbor) used to be the location for heavy industry but in 2001 it was rebuilt as a neighborhood of exclusive apartments, including those in the Turning Torso. The tower is a spectacular twisting skyscraper of 190 meters (623 feet). Its silhouette can be seen from anywhere in Malmö. It is the second highest residential building in Europe. The long boardwalk at the beach has become a new favorite summer hang-out for the people of Malmö and is a popular place for bathing.