Travel Guides: Incursion In Sweden’s History
Sweden is a beautiful and interesting country. Over time, it has seen many changes in its status. Today, Sweden is a country known all around the world, but especially by Europeans. From a troubled history, Sweden has become today one of the most visited countries in Europe because its history is written in ruins.
Half of the country is covered by forests (birch, pine, spruce). Less than 10% is agricultural land. In northern and central part of the country there are coniferous forests, mixed forests in the south and in the southern extremity there are beech and oak forests. In high mountainous grows the tundra vegetation. The fauna is remarkable: bears (protected by law), elk, weasel, ermine and waterfowl. There are 16 parks and 753 state nature reserves and other reserves that protect flora typical of tundra and taiga, temperate forest or polar fauna.
Sweden is rich in pine forests, in iron ore, copper, zinc, gold, silver, lead, tungsten, uranium and other minerals, but no oil or coal, but has hydroelectric power. The most important reserves of iron in the far north are mainly exported. Vast coniferous forests of Sweden, in combination with good hardwoods are used to supply a highly developed industry: sawmills, pulp, paper and wood-based finished products. Sweden is a leading provider of paper and wood products in international markets. In 1997, its exports of forest products industry amounted to 91 billion.
Cheap hydropower was a critical factor in industrial development of the country. Approximately 15% of Sweden’s energy is supplied by hydroelectric plants, located on the main rivers in the north. Oil provides 40% of imported energy consumed imported coal and coke and provides 7%. Sweden’s twelve nuclear reactors provide 15% of the country’s total energy or 50% of electricity. The remainder comes from bio-fuels.
Sweden is traditionally divided into three historical regions (landsdelar):
• Götaland – Sweden South, including Scania, former Danish territory Västergötland city of Gothenburg.
• Svealand – Central Sweden, the oldest part of the country, including the city of Stockholm.
• Norrland – the northern half of the country, comprising 59% of the area of Sweden, but only 12% of the population, including a substantial part of Lapland, inhabited by the Sami population.
The fourth historical region of Sweden was up in 1809, Österland, Finland today.
Until the administrative reform undertaken in 1634 by Axel Oxenstierna, Sweden was divided into 25 regions (landskap). According to a 2010 census, the total population of Sweden was estimated at 9,347,899 people. According to statistics published by government agency Statistiska Centralbyrån threshold was reached nine million for the first time in the history of the country in August 2004. Population density is only 20.6 / km² and there is a clear difference in favor of the south.
About 85% of the population lives in urban areas. The capital, Stockholm, has about 800,000 inhabitants (1.3 million with all the urban area, with 2 million metropolitan areas). The second and third largest cities are Gothenburg and Malmo, respectively. A 2007 census showed that 13.4% (1.23 million) of Swedish citizens were born in another country. This reflects migration between the Nordic countries and periods of migration to seek employment and, in recent decades, immigration of refugees and members of families already established in Sweden. Thus, Sweden has transformed from a country of immigrants (up to World War I), in a country that receives immigrants (from WWII).
In 2007, immigration has peaked, 99,485 people settled in Sweden. Among immigrants, the largest ethnic group in 2007 was Finns, followed by people born in the former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Poland, Iran, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Turkey, Chile, Lebanon, Thailand, Somalia, United Kingdom Syria, China and the United States. In the last decade, most immigrants came from Iraq, Poland, Thailand, Somalia and China.
Immigration from other Northern countries reached its peak (over 40,000 people per year) in 1969-1970, when immigration laws were issued in 1967 imposed heavy conditions for immigrants who did not come from northern Europe. Those laws were motivated by labor market policies. Immigration refugees and relatives of refugees from outside Northern Europe has increased dramatically in the late 1980s, many refugees from Asia and America, especially in Iran and Chile. Since the 1990s, a large number of immigrants came from former Yugoslavia and the Middle East.
On December 15, 2008, new rules on labor migration have been implemented, making it easier for workers from outside the European Union to reach Sweden. Most immigrants from the labor market are computer specialists and engineers from India, China and the United States. Sweden has an economy based on industry and services.
• GDP (1995): 2% agriculture, 32% industry, 66% services.
• It has large deposits of iron ore, oil shale, copper, zinc, tungsten, uranium, and gold, silver.
• Advanced Industry: mining, metals (iron, steel, aluminum, etc.), machinery (ships, lanes, cars, rolling stock), energy (over 1000 hydropower, nuclear power plants), forest Pulp and paper, chemical and petrochemical, textile, food.
• Agriculture specializes in breeding for milk and meat (cattle, sheep, swine, poultry) and production of cereals (wheat, barley, oats, rye). It is also growing potatoes, sugar beet, vegetables, fodder plants.
• Exports vessels, vehicles, industrial equipment, mining and chemical products, paper, wood, manufactured articles, food.
• Imports fuels, industrial machinery, fruits and vegetables.
• Foreign trade with Germany, Britain, Norway, USA, Denmark, France, Netherlands, Finland .
• Currency: Swedish Krona (SEK)
• Major Tourism.
• Marine Fisheries.
• Maritime Commercial Fleet.
• Inland waterways.
• Railroads: 11,285 km.
• Roads: 135,859 km.
• In the early twentieth century, Sweden was a predominantly agrarian country and one of the poorest European nations.
• Its vast internal resources (iron ore, timber and hydro power), enabled the rapid industrialization that has turned Sweden into a modern welfare state.
• Sweden is an industrial-agrarian country developed a strong mining, steel, nonferrous metallurgy and shipbuilding have a great development (in Malmo and Gothenburg).
• Most important is the construction machinery industry (cars, diesel engines, aircraft, boats, equipment) with the main centers: Stockholm, Gothenburg, Vasteras).
• Sweden is on 4th place worldwide in the furniture industry, 5th place in the production of timber and 7th on boards and fiberboard.
• Stockholm is an important industrial and commercial center of Sweden (industrial machinery, electronics, shipbuilding, printing industry, chemical, light industry, leather and food).
• One of the most favorable development experienced high-tech sectors such as telecommunications and pharmaceutical industries, export oriented.
• Since 1995, Sweden is a member of the European Union.
In Sweden, most holidays are celebrated on the eve (Christmas celebrations were held on 24 December, the 25th of December was much quieter). In addition to traditional Christian holidays like Christmas (Dec) and Easter (Paskal), are important festivals of St. Lucia (December 13) as Valborg (April 30). Christian traditions are entwined with the pagan, for example, at the Valborg, the commemoration of the saint is not the main proto-Christian, but spring had just begun, Christmas is based on the lighting of huge fires around which the whole community gathers.
Remains the most important holiday of the summer solstice (Midsommer), celebrated the first Saturday after June 20 in the form of huge celebrations around pillars traditional peasant ornaments (majstång). Other major civil holidays are on the king (who, during the reign of Carl XVI Gustaf coincides with Valborg) and May 1, when the left parties (SAP Vansterpartiet) and labor parades, rallies and celebrations.
National Day, June 6 (enthronement of King Gustav Vasa in 1523) is the least celebrated holiday, declared only in 2005. During national holidays, flying the flag all institutions (except those days, very few institutions do so), and its citizens are encouraged to do the same thing (a large proportion of people flying flags in the courtyards and apartment windows throughout the year).
Sweden is a constitutional monarchy. The parliament is unicameral. The Prime Minister and the parliament (Riksdag) with 349 members are elected for four years by direct voting and proportional representation. King (1975) is Carl XVI Gustaf, who today meets only ceremonial functions as Head of State. All political functions were transferred to King’s Spokesperson. Carl XVI Gustav of Sweden, whose full name is Carl Gustaf Folke Hubertus (born April 30, 1946), is the son of Gustav Adolf of Sweden (1906-1947) and Sybilla of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha (1908-1972).
He is the direct grandson of King Gustav VI Adolf of Sweden. Carl XVI Gustav of Sweden Silvia Sommerlath married on June 19, 1976, with three children: Princess Victoria, Duchess of Västergötland (b. 1977); Prince Carl Philip, Duke of Värmland (b. 1979); Princess Madeleine, Duchess of Hälsingland and Gästrikland (b. 1982).
Swedish Crown Princess Victoria is heir to the eldest of King Carl XVI Gustav.
The political system is parliamentary, proportional representation on party lists. For over 50 years the Swedish Social Democratic Party (Sveriges socialdemokratiska arbetareparti), known popularly as Socialdemokraterna or SAP, dominated the political system, governing the total time of 47 years, with only three interruptions ( 1976-1982, 1991-1994 and 2006) from 1950 until today.
Right-wing parties at the power in 2006 grouped in an alliance (Allians för Sverige – Alliance for Sweden “) and are known popularly as” bourgeois “- Borgerliga partier, this term having negative connotations in any way. In addition to SAP and the Alliance, there are two parties, the Environmental Party – The Greens (Miljöpartiet of Gronau, m), ecological orientation, that the Left Party (Vänsterpartiet, v), former communist party, now the Democratic Socialist. These two parties have never been in government, although they supported SAP while they were in government.
Newspapers are generally political party-political orientation – so serious newspapers (known as “the morning newspaper” Dagens Nyheter as well) are right on the tabloids (or “evening newspapers” and Aftonbladet) are predominantly left. How much of Swedes read a daily newspaper in both categories, most are exposed to the views coming from both sides.
Swedish vision of equitable and egalitarian treatment involving state, powerful and universal social services in the context of a strong economy, based largely on free markets and private capital without state intervention, but substantial charge (to support social services) was implemented mainly between 1950 and 1960. This vision (folkhemmet – in free translation “home for all”, sometimes called Swedish model) was taken by the other North countries, and today remains a major part of Swedish policy.
The state is conceived as a support for people in all phases of life, being obliged to provide, free of charge, to all social services as well, regardless of income or social class. In exchange for these services residents pay high taxes – which, however, get back in the form of various social assistance packages (schooling, hospitalization, pension, training, subsidized rent).
Elections are very important for Swedes, political participation is considered very important (over 30% are members of different parties and over 80% are members of various unions). The legislative and local elections (held every four years); over 80% of voters turnout, many previously participated in organizing and carrying out campaign policy platforms.
Voter turnout and debates are regarded by most civilized people as essential for democracy, violation of rules or discussions civilization is regarded as a highly undemocratic and reprehensible act. Moreover, politics is not confined to elections “large” – in Sweden, and elections are held to lower levels and church elections (in each parish) or university elections (in which teachers and students vote to elect the leadership, the Senate and Councils) involved in all the seven major parties.
Sweden’s history begins in the Allerod era when it was warm, around 12,000 BC, when the camps of reindeer hunters were found at the ice edge in what is now the country’s most southern province.
This period was characterized by small groups of hunter-gatherer-fishermen, who used the cremen technology. Agriculture and livestock, with funeral ceremonies, made of flint axes and decorated pottery, arrived in Sweden from the Continent brought by Funnel-Beaker culture around 4000 BC. The south trinity of Sweden was included in the area of agriculture and transhumance of Nordic Bronze Age culture, much of it being at the periphery from the center of Danish culture.
The period began around 1700 BC, when bronze imports from Europe began. Copper mines were not used during this period, and Scandinavia did not have deposits of tin, so all metals had to be imported. Once made, the metal was processed according to the local tradition. Northern Bronze Age was entirely pre-urban, people living in hamlets and farms with some long wooden houses with one floor.
Not being ever occupied by the Romans, Iron Age in Sweden lasted until around 1100, when they were introduced stone buildings and monastic orders. Most written sources from this period have low credibility. That is because the text fragments dating from a time much later than the period described have been written in a totally different region, or they are too short. Climatic situation has worsened, forcing farmers to keep their cattle in a shelter during the winter, which had the positive effect of the annual accumulation of fertilizer that could be used to improve the soil.
An attempt to move the Roman imperial frontier from the Rhine to the Elbe was interrupted in 9 AC, when the Germans, military educated by Roman legions, defeated Varus’ legions at the Battle of Teutoborg Forest. At this time, was going a major change in the material culture of Scandinavia, a reflection of increased contact with the Romans.
From the second century AC, most of the agricultural area of southern Sweden was divided, using stone walls. The land was divided, one side of the wall in the drill fields and pastures surrounded the winter, and in other places where cattle grazed.
This principle of landscape organization lasted until the nineteenth century. The Romans held the first massive expansion of agricultural activities to the Baltic coast, belonging to the northern two-thirds of the country. Sweden joins the proto-history with the work of Tacitus “Germany” in 98 AC. In “Germany, 44, 45” he mentions the Swedish (suiones) as a powerful tribe (recognized not only for its fighters and weapons, but also for powerful ships), which had ships that had a bow at both ends. There are not known the kings (kuningaz) who led the suiones but in north mythology lays a long dynasty of legendary and semi-legendary kings, down to the last centuries before our era.
As their system of writing, runes alphabet was invented by the elites of southern Scandinavia in the second century. However, what has survived from Roman times are the inscriptions on the artifacts, especially men’s names, which shows that when people in southern Scandinavia spoke Proto-Nordic language, a precursor of Swedish and other North Germanic languages. In the sixth century Jordanes referred to the two tribes, which he called suetidi suehans and which according to him, lived in Scandza.
It is considered that they are actually two versions of the same tribe. Suehanii, he asserted, had very good horses, like Thyringi tribe. Snorri Sturluson wrote that the king Adils (Eadgils) of his time had the best horses he knew of. Suehans were those who supplied the roman market with black fox skin. It is considered as Latin’s suetidi svitjod. It is said that suetidi are the highest among men, along with Dani, which were closely related. He later notes that other Scandinavian tribes were the same height.
Swedish Viking Age lasted roughly between VIII and XI centuries. It is considered that by this time the Swedes have spread from eastern Sweden, and incorporating the geatas, who lived further south. It is likely that the Vikings traveled to Sweden and gotlands especially east and south, arriving in Finland, the Baltic countries, Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Black Sea and even Baghdad. Their routes crossed the Dnieper River, down to Constantinople (Byzantine Empire), which was often subject to their raids.
The Byzantine Emperor Theophilos recorded their warrior skills, and invited to be part of his personal guard, known as Varangians guard. Swedish Vikings, called the Russians (or Russian Varangians), are considered the founders of Kievan Rus. The adventures of these Swedish Vikings are commemorated on many runes in Sweden, as well as Greek and Varagians runes. They also participated in expeditions to the West that are commemorated by English runes for example.
Last major expedition of Swedish Viking appears to have been Ingvar’s Long-traveler, to Serkland, south-east region of the Caspian Sea. Members of the runes that are commemorated in Ingvar expedition make no mention of survivors. No one knows exactly what happened to the crew, but is believed to have died from an illness. It is not known when and how the kingdom of Sweden was founded, but the list is composed of the first Swedish monarch kings who ruled Svealand (Sweden) and Götaland (Gothia), along with Erik the Victorious.
Sweden and Gothia were two different countries long before that. It is not known how much countries have lasted, but Beowulf described semi-legendary wars between the Swedes and Goths, in the sixth century AC. In the early stage of the Scandinavian Viking Age, there were two thriving centers of commerce in Ystad in Scania and Gotland Paviken in what is now Sweden. Ruins of what is deemed to have been a great deal have been found in Ystad, and dates from 600-700 AC. In Paviken, an important center of trade in the Baltic region, the X-XI centuries, have found remains of a large port in the Viking Age, which built ships and craft activities were taking place.
Between 800 and 1000 AC, trade was a large amount of silver to reach Gotland, and according to some scholars, the population of Gotland has gathered more silver than the rest of the population of Scandinavia combined. St. Ansgar (Academy) brought Christianity in 829, but the new religion was not completely replaced by pagan beliefs than in XII century. In the eleventh century, Christianity became the dominant religion, and in 1050 Sweden was considered a Christian country. The period between 1100 and 1400 was characterized by internal power struggles and competition among the Northern kingdoms.
Swedish kings took control of Finnish territories, entering into conflict with Russian Varangians, which then no longer had any connection with Sweden. In the fourteenth century, Sweden was hit by bubonic plague. However, there was a time when the Swedish cities started to receive more rights, and were deeply influenced by German merchants of the Hanseatic League, which was mainly active in Visby. In 1319, Sweden and Norway were united under King Magnus Eriksson and in 1397, Queen Margaret I of Denmark has managed the personal union of Sweden, Norway and Denmark, in what was called the Kalmar Union.
However, followers of Margaret, who had royal headquarters in Denmark, have proved unable to control the Swedish nobility. Power was most often in the hands of regents (notably those of family Stura), the Swedish parliament elected regents. King Christian II of Denmark, who urged rights over Sweden after victories on the battlefield, ordered the massacre of Swedish nobles at Stockholm in 1520. The massacre came to be known as “Stockholm blood bath“, and led the rest of the Swedish nobility to organize a new resistance and, on June 6 (currently Sweden’s national day), 1523, called him King Gustav Vasa.
Proclamation of King Gustav Vasa is considered a founding document of modern Sweden. Shortly after, the king rejected Catholicism, and encouraged the Protestant Reformation in Sweden. In fact, Gustav Vasa is considered the “father of the nation” in this country. In the seventeenth century, Sweden has become a major European power. Before forming Swedish Empire, Sweden was a very poor country, in the north, little known, without power or a great reputation. Sweden has risen in power on the continent during the reign of King Gustav Adolf, thanks to the territories gained at the expense of Russia and Poland-Lithuania, and thanks to the Thirty Years War.
These military victories have turned Sweden into the Protestant leader of the country on the European continent to break Swedish empire in 1721. Gustav Adolf’s war against the Holy Roman German Empire was an expensive one, during the Thirty Years War, a third of German Roman Empire died and the empire lost its status as the most powerful country in Europe. Sweden managed to win about half of the empire. Gustav Adolphus had plans to become the new Roman Emperor, reigning over a united Scandinavia and the States making up the Holy Roman German Empire, however, following his death in 1632, the Battle of Lützen, the plan collapsed.
After the Battle of Nördlingen, one of Sweden’s military disasters, the feeling among pro-Swedish German states has diminished considerably. The German provinces were separated from Swedish power one by one, leaving Sweden with only a few provinces in northern Germany: Swedish Pomerania, Bremen-Verden and Wismar. In the mid-seventeenth century Sweden was the third country in Europe as the land area, surpassed only by Russia and Spain. Sweden reached its largest territorial extent during the reign of Charles the Tenth (1622-1660), following the Treaty of Roskilde in 1658.
Swedish success is due at the time of Gustav I made major changes in the Swedish economy and encouraged Protestantism. In seventeenth century Sweden has been involved in many wars, for example with Poland-Lithuania, fighting for territory belonging to the Baltic States today, the disastrous Battle of Kircholm is an important moment in that war. In this period took place what the Poles called “Swedish deluge” (Flood szwedzki), the invasion of Poland-Lithuania to Sweden.
After more than half a century of protracted war, the Swedish economy deteriorated. It then became the life mission of Charles XI (1655-1697) to recover the economy and modernize the military. Legacy to his son Charles XII included one of the best military arsenals in the world, a large land army, and a redoubtable fleet. The biggest enemy of Sweden at that time, Russia had more soldiers, but was lower in the training and equipping their concern.
After the Battle of Narva in 1700, one of the first of the Great Northern War, the Russian army was decimated, and Sweden had the chance to invade Russia. However, Carol decided not to pursue the Russian army, preferring to attack Poland-Lithuania and the Polish king defeating Augustus II (Saxon and his allies) in the Battle of Kliszow in 1702. The offensive gave him time to reorganize the Russian tsar and to modernize its military. After the success of the Polish campaign, Carol decided to invade Russia, but was decisively defeated at the Battle of Poltava, in 1709. After a long march in which they were exposed to attacks by Cossacks, and tactics of Peter the Great “scorching the fields of grain” and very cold climate in Russia, the Swedes have been significantly weakened and demoralized, as well as in numerical inferiority to Russian army at Poltava.
That defeat marked the Swedes actually beginning to decline their empire. Charles XII of Sweden attempted to invade Norway in 1716, however, was shot dead in the city of Fredriksten, in 1718. The Swedes were not militarily defeated in Fredriksten, but the whole structure and organization of the Norwegian campaign fell apart after the death of the king, so the army withdrew. Forced to cede large territories after the Treaty of Nystad in 1721, Sweden lost its status as empire and the dominant state in the Baltic. With the loss of status of Sweden, it was possible for Russia to become an empire, from the European powers.
In the eighteenth century, Sweden has not had enough resources to retain the conquered territories outside Scandinavia, which are mostly lost, all culminating in the loss to Russia the Eastern Sweden (1809); that territory became the Duchy of Finland Russian Empire, with a semi-autonomous status. In the interest of restoration of Swedish domination in the Baltic region, Sweden was allied against France, which traditionally was her protector and ally, during the Napoleonic Wars. The role of Sweden in the Battle of Leipzig gave it authority to compel Denmark-Norway, allied with France, for the king to cede Norway to Sweden, on January 14, 1814 (the Treaty of Kiel), in exchange for the German northern provinces.
Norwegian attempts to preserve the sovereign state were rejected by Charles XIII of Sweden. It has launched a military campaign against Norway on July 27, 1814, which ended with the Convention Moss, which forced Norway to enter into a personal union with Sweden, in Swedish krona, a situation which lasted until 1905. The campaign of 1815 was the last war that formally participated Sweden. Swedish troops were still engaged in battle afterwards.11