Friday, March 9, 2012

Kingdom of Sweden

The Kingdom of Sweden is the third-largest country in the EU.  It is slightly larger than California.  Most of Sweden's 9.4 million inhabitants live in the southern half of the country.  Stockholm is the largest city as well as the capital.

About 15% of the country lies north of the Arctic Circle while 65% is covered by forests.  The country shares borders with Norway and Finland.  A bridge connects Sweden with Denmark.

The Swedish Empire was one of Europe's super powers during the 17th and early 18th centuries but it fell in to serious decline during the 18th and 19th centuries.  Sweden has not been at war since it fought with Norway in 1814 and it officially remained neutral during both world wars.  Even while being neutral during WWII, Sweden helped Norwegian resistance fighters and, in 1943, it helped rescue Danish Jews from being deported to concentration camps.

How can you not love a country that gives out Nobel prizes?

Today Sweden is a constitutional monarchy with a highly developed economy.  The average income tax is 58% which pays for the country's comprehensive social welfare system that affords its people with one of the world's highest standards of living.  Swedes have one of the world's longest life expectancies and lowest birth rates.  Refugees and asylum seekers make up about 10% of the population.

Sweden finally joined the European Union in 1995.  Although it must eventually adopt the Euro it currently still uses the Swedish Krona (SEK) as its official currency.

I'm really looking forward to next week's trip to ScandinaviaCopenhagen, Denmark and Malmö, Sweden.

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