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Sweden

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Sweden enjoys a mostly temperate climate despite its northern latitude, mainly due to the Gulf Stream. In the south of Sweden leaf-bearing trees are prolific, in the north pines, spruces and hardy birches dominate the landscape. In the mountains of northern Sweden a sub-Arctic climate predominates. North of the Arctic Circle, the sun never sets for part of each summer, and in the winter, night is unending for a corresponding period. The country is similar in size to the U.S. state of California, and has nearly the same population as the Californian city of Los Angeles.

East of Sweden lies the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Bothnia, providing a long coastline, and mellowing the climate further yet. To the west is the Scandinavian mountain chain, a range that separates Sweden from Norway.

The southern part of the country is predominantly agricultural, with forests covering a larger percentage of the land the further north one goes. Population density is also higher in southern Sweden, with centres being in the valley of lake Mälaren and the Öresund region.

Although having been a military power and spanning about three times its current size during the 17th century, Sweden has not participated in any war in almost two centuries. Having long remaining outside military alliances (including both World Wars), the country has a high peace profile, with internationally renowned names such as Raoul Wallenberg, Dag Hammarsköld, Olof Palme and Hans Blix. Sweden is a monarchy by constitution, but king Carl XVI Gustaf has no executive power. The country has a long tradition of Lutheran-Protestant Christianity, but today's Sweden is a secular state with few church-goers.

Sweden has a capitalist system and is a developed post-industrial society with an advanced welfare state. The standard of living and life expectancy rank among the highest in the world. Sweden joined the European Union in 1995, but decided by a referendum in 2003 not to commit to the EMU and the euro currency. Leadership of Sweden has for the larger part of the 20th century been dominated by the Social Democratic Party, which started out at the end of the 19th century as a labour movement, but today pursues a mix of socialism and social-liberalism.

Sweden has a strong tradition of being an open, yet discreet country. Citizens sometimes appear to be quite reserved at first, but once they get to know who they are dealing with, they'll be as warm and friendly as you'd wish. Privacy is regarded as a key item and many visitors, for example mega-stars in various lines of trade, have many times realised that they mostly can walk the streets of the cities virtually undisturbed.

Information provided by Wikipedia

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