The Swedish economy emerged from the financial crisis as one of the strongest in Europe. A high-tech local economy and a comprehensive system of welfare benefits allow Sweden to enjoy one of the highest standards of living in the world. Sweden has one of the most globalized and competitive economies today.
From the early 1990s until 2008, Sweden enjoyed a sustained economic upswing fueled by strong exports and rising domestic demand. In the fourth quarter of 2008, Sweden entered a recession. Heavily dependent on exports of autos, telecommunications, construction equipment, and other investment goods, Sweden was hit hard by the contraction in external demand due to the global financial and economic crisis. As a result, GDP fell 4.9% in 2009.
GDP grew by 5.5% in 2010, beating expectations. It is expected to grow 4.2% in 2011. The Swedish economy bounced back more quickly than other similar economies due to strong public sector finances and a reliable export-driven economy. Main Swedish exports include machinery and transport equipment, chemical and rubber products, food, clothing, textiles and furniture, and wood products. Exports and investments are rapidly increasing, and the Swedish export market is expected to grow by 8% each year through 2013.
Central Bank policy is guided by inflation targeting to keep the Consumer Price Index (CPI) at or around 2% on an annual basis. To meet the monetary policy target, the Central Bank recently raised the main steering rate to 2%.
One of Sweden’s tools in maintaining solid public figure finances is a budget process that calls for Parliamentary-designated spending ceilings. The ceilings are set for SEK 1.024 trillion (U.S. $144.7 billion) in 2010, SEK 1.063 trillion (U.S. $150.3 billion) in 2011, SEK 1.083 trillion (U.S. $153.1 billion) in 2012, and SEK 1.093 trillion (U.S. $154.5 billion) in 2013. While spending ceilings can technically be surpassed, they represent a promise the government makes to the people and they are adhered to.
Sweden entered the financial crisis with a budget surplus due to prior economic growth and conservative fiscal policy. This was a key factor that allowed Sweden to ride out the crisis better than most other economies. In 2008, Sweden had a surplus of SEK 58 billion (U.S. $8.2 billion). By 2009, the surplus dipped into a deficit of SEK 176 billion (U.S. $24.8 billion). The budget showed only a slight deficit for 2010, and the budget will go back into surplus again for the full year 2011. The Swedish Government released a conservative budget for 2011 aimed at reestablishing a surplus and consolidating the economic recovery. The budget contains new spending aimed at job creation, maintaining the welfare state, promoting exports and tackling climate change. A series of additional reforms, such as lowering taxes on low and middle income earners, may be implemented if economic conditions allow.
One of the ways Sweden stimulates growth and raises revenue is through the sale of public assets. The government set a goal of selling some $31 billion in state assets between 2007 and 2010. Major sales have included selling V&S (Vin & Sprit AB) to French Pernod Ricard for some $8.3 billion, and the Swedish OMX stock exchange to Borse Dubai/Nasdaq for $318 million. Additionally, the government sold most of its 946 apoteket (pharmacy) stores and eliminated its monopoly on pharmacies. The government has also approved the sale of Svensk Bilprovning (the Swedish Motor Vehicle Inspection Company).
The Swedish banking sector is highly concentrated, with the four large banking groups (Nordea, Svenska Handelsbanken, Swedbank, and SEB) accounting for roughly 80% of sector assets. Swedish banks are heavily invested in the Baltic states, some of the countries hardest hit during the financial crisis. Swedish banks suffered considerably as a result, forcing authorities to respond with a bank support package in 2008. The package included guarantees for new debt insurance, increased deposit insurance, and a fund that would provide up to $6 billion in equity injection to systemically important institutions. In August 2010, the government revoked the license of the embattled HQ Bank, as risky securities deals and an over-valued trading portfolio threatened its survival. The bank was subsequently purchased by investment bank Carnegie. Despite this, the Swedish banking industry is strong. All Swedish banks passed summer 2010 EU stress tests with wide margins.
Profit returned to the Baltic states in the third quarter of 2010, as the economies stabilized and funding costs to Swedish banks in the Baltic region decreased. Swedbank, one of the Swedish banks most heavily invested in the Baltics, showed a net interest income rise in the third quarter of 2010, the same time that the Baltic market began to turn. This was the first such rise in six quarters and growth has continued.
Unemployment is slowly falling and was at 7.9% as of May 2011. Continued decline is expected, to an estimated 7.2% in 2012 and 6.4% in 2013. Youth unemployment is disproportionately high at around 28% for those between 15 and 24. The 2011 budget includes programs designed to better prepare young people to enter the work force and bring the economy into full employment.
Over 70% of the Swedish labor force is unionized; however, membership is decreasing. For most unions there is a counterpart employers' organization for businesses. The unions and employer organizations are independent of both the government and political parties, although the largest federation of unions, the National Swedish Confederation of Trade Unions (LO), always has maintained close links to the largest political party, the Social Democrats. There is no national minimum wage. Instead, wages are set by collective bargaining.
The World Bank ranked Sweden 18th in “ease of doing business” and 43rd in “ease of starting a business” in 2010. Starting a business in Sweden takes 15 days and costs 0.57% of GNI per capita. The World Bank ranking data set included 183 economies worldwide, including 27 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) high-income economies. As of 2009, there were 1,100 American companies operating in Sweden. American companies in Sweden employed 101,700 Swedes in 2008--the largest number of employees of all foreign countries doing business in Sweden. The majority of employees in Swedish-controlled affiliates abroad are in Europe and America, although the number of employees in America was decreasing as of 2008.
GDP (2010 est., nominal): $455.8 billion.
GDP (2010 est., per capita purchasing power parity): $39,100.
GNI (2009, per capita purchasing power parity): $38,560.
Annual GDP growth rate (2010): 5.5%.
Exchange rate (September 2010): Swedish kronor (SEK) per U.S. dollar = 7.073.
Exchange rate (January-September 2010 avg.): Swedish kronor (SEK) per U.S. dollar = 7.3475.
Inflation rate (2010 est.): 1.4%.
Natural resources: Forests, hydroelectric power, iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, gold, silver, tungsten, uranium, arsenic, feldspar, timber.
Agriculture, forestry, and fishing (2010): Approximately 1.7% of GDP. Products--dairy products, meat, grains (barley, wheat), sugar beets, potatoes, wood. Arable land--9 million acres.
Industry (2010): Approximately 26.1% of GDP. Types--machinery/metal products (iron and steel), electrical equipment, aircraft, paper products, precision equipment (bearings, radio and telephone parts, armaments), wood pulp and paper products, processed foods.
Services (2010): Approximately 72.2% of GDP. Types--telecommunications, computer equipment, biotech.
Trade: Exports (2010)--SEK 728.2 billion (U.S. $102.9 billion). Types--machinery and transport equipment, 44.1%; chemical and rubber products, 13.4%; food, clothing, textiles, and furniture, 12%; wood and paper products, 11.7%; minerals, 10.7%; mineral fuels and electric current, 8.1%. Major trading partners, exports (2010)--Germany 10.1%, Norway 9.9%, U.K. 7.6%, U.S. 7.3%, Denmark 6.5%, Finland 6.2%, France 5.1%, Netherlands 4.7%, Belgium 3.9%, China 3.1%. Imports (2010)--SEK 687.6 billion (U.S. $97.2 billion). Types--machinery and transport equipment, 41.8%; food, clothing, textiles and furniture, 19.6%; mineral fuels and electric current, 13.5%; chemicals and rubber products, 12.8%; minerals, 9.2%; wood and paper products, 3.1%. Major trading partners, imports (2010)--Germany 18.3%, Norway 8.7%, Denmark 8.5%, Netherlands 6.4%, U.K. 5.7%, Finland 5.2%, Russia 4.9%, France 4.8%, Belgium 3.9%, China 3.9%.
Northern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea, Gulf of Bothnia, and Skagerrak, between Finland and Norway
total area: 449,964 sq km
land area: 410,928 sq km
comparative area: slightly smaller than California
total 2,205 km, Finland 586 km, Norway 1,619 km
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
exclusive economic zone: agreed boundaries or midlines
territorial sea: 12 nm
temperate in south with cold, cloudy winters and cool, partly cloudy summers; subarctic in north
mostly flat or gently rolling lowlands; mountains in west
zinc, iron ore, lead, copper, silver, timber, uranium, hydropower potential
arable land: 7%
permanent crops: 0%
meadows and pastures: 2%
forest and woodland: 64%
1,120 sq km (1989 est.)
current issues: acid rain damaging soils and lakes; pollution of the North Sea and the Baltic Sea
natural hazards: ice floes in the surrounding waters, especially in the Gulf of Bothnia, can interfere with maritime traffic
international agreements: party to - Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulphur 85, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Marine Dumping, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Wetlands, Whaling; signed, but not ratified - Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Desertification, Law of the Sea
strategic location along Danish Straits linking Baltic and North Seas
Sweden's government is a limited constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system. Popular government in Sweden rests upon ancient tradition. The Swedish Parliament (Riksdag) stems from tribal courts (Ting) and the election of kings during the Viking era. It became a permanent institution in the 15th century.
King Carl XVI Gustaf (Bernadotte) ascended to the throne on September 15, 1973. His authority is symbolic and representational. Executive authority is vested in the Cabinet, which consists of a prime minister and 22 ministers who run the governmental departments. The current "Alliance" government, led by Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, came to power in September 2006.
Sweden has three levels of government: national, regional, and local. In addition, there is a European level, which has acquired increasing importance following Sweden's entry into the EU and the EU’s adoption of the Lisbon Treaty. Parliamentary, municipal, and county council elections are held every 4 years. The 349-member unicameral Riksdag has legislative powers, and is in session generally from September through mid-June. Proposals for new laws are presented by the government, which also implements decisions made by the Riksdag. The government is assisted in its work by the Government Offices, comprising a number of ministries, and some 300 central government agencies and public administrations.
Sweden is divided into 21 counties (lan), 18 county councils (landsting), 290 municipalities (kommuner), and two semi-independent regions. Each county is headed by a governor, who is appointed by the central government. The counties coordinate administration with national political goals for the county. The county council (landsting) is a regional government that is popularly elected with particular responsibility for health and medical care. The municipalities are local governments that deal with issues such as education, public transportation and social welfare. Elected municipal councils are headed by executive committees roughly analogous to the boards of commissioners found in some U.S. cities.
Swedish law draws upon Germanic and Roman traditions. It is neither as codified as French law nor as dependent on judicial precedent as U.S. law. Legislative and judicial institutions include, in addition to the Riksdag, the Supreme Court, the Supreme Administrative Court, the Labor Court, the Law Council, District Courts and Courts of Appeal, and the Public Prosecutor's Office. The parliamentary ombudsmen and the Chancellor of Justice oversee the application of laws with particular attention to abuses of authority.
Principal Government Officials
Head of State--King Carl XVI Gustaf
Speaker of Parliament--Per Westerberg
Prime Minister (Head of Government)--Fredrik Reinfeldt
Minister for Finance--Anders Borg
Minister for the Environment--Andreas Carlgren
Minister for Justice--Beatrice Ask
Minister for Foreign Affairs--Carl Bildt
Minister for EU Affairs--Birgitta Ohlsson
Ambassador to the United States--Jonas Hafström
Ambassador to the United Nations--Marten Grunditz
Sweden maintains an Embassy in the United States at 2900 K Street NW, Washington, DC 20007. Telephone: 202-467-2600, Internet: http://www.swedenabroad.com/washington
Sweden has a Consulate General in Los Angeles. There also are honorary consulates in 31 other U.S. cities. Contact the Swedish Embassy for locations and telephone numbers.
Ordinary general elections to the Swedish Parliament are held every fourth year on the third Sunday in September. County council and municipal council elections take place at the same time. A party must receive at least 4% of the votes in the entire country or 12% in a single electoral district to qualify for any seats in Parliament.
The most recent elections were held on September 19, 2010. The Alliance for Sweden (a coalition of four center-right parties--the Moderate Party, the Liberal Party, the Christian Democrats, and the Center Party) won 173 of the 349 seats, securing Moderate Fredrik Reinfeldt the position of Prime Minister. The 2010 election results for Sweden's major parties were as follows: the Social Democratic Party (30.66%; 112 seats), the Moderate Party (30.06%; 107 seats), the Green Party (7.34%; 25 seats), the Liberal Party (7.06%; 24 seats), the Center Party (6.56%; 23 seats), the Sweden Democrats (5.70%; 20 seats), the Left Party (5.60%; 19 seats), and the Christian Democrats (6.60%; 19 seats).
The Social Democratic Party (SDP) has a base of blue-collar workers and public sector employees. It derives much of its power from strong links with the National Swedish Confederation of Trade Unions (LO), which represents blue-collar workers. The party program combines a commitment to social welfare programs and government direction of the economy. The Social Democratic Party has led the government for 65 of the 78 years since 1932; the 2006 election ended its most recent term of 12 consecutive years in office.
The Moderate Party emphasizes personal freedom, free enterprise, and reduction of the public-sector growth rate, while still supporting most of the social benefits introduced since the 1930s. The party also supports a strong military and Sweden's membership in the EU. Its voter base is urban business people and professionals, but the party also attracts young voters, main-street shop owners, and, some blue-collar workers. Moderate Party Leader Reinfeldt has remodeled his party as "New Moderates," moving away from the party's right-wing, upper-class roots to appeal to a large middle ground of voters. In 2006, Reinfeldt was instrumental in uniting into one party, the Alliance, the previously separate four center-right parties.
The Green Party is a left-leaning, environmentalist party that attracts young people. The Greens strongly support greater public transportation and environmental taxation, and replacing nuclear energy in Sweden with alternative, environmentally friendly energy sources.
The Liberal Party's platform is "social responsibility without socialism," which includes a commitment to a free-market economy combined with comprehensive Swedish social welfare programs. Foreign aid, education, and women's equality also are popular issues. The Liberal Party base is mainly centered in educated, middle-class voters, and is pro-EU.
The Center Party maintains close ties to rural Sweden. The main priorities of the party include providing a sound economic climate for business and job creation, rural development, climate change and environmental concerns, and health and welfare issues.
The Sweden Democrats gained representation in Parliament for the first time in 2010. It is a nationalist, right-wing party. Its main priority is to protect Swedish culture and values, mostly by reducing immigration to Sweden. In the 2010 elections, the Sweden Democrats were particularly successful in getting votes from the unemployed, laborers, men, and those between 18 and 30 years old.
The Left Party, formerly the Communist Party, focuses on feminist issues, employment in the public sector, and the environment. It opposes privatization, cuts in public expenditure, Swedish participation in NATO activities, and EU membership. Its voter base consists mainly of young people, public sector employees, feminists, journalists, and former social democrats.
The Christian Democrat Party is conservative and “value-oriented”. Its voter base is primarily among members of conservative churches and rural populations. Christian Democrats seek government support for families and better ethical practices to improve care for the elderly.
Type: Constitutional monarchy.
Constitution: The Swedish Constitution is based on four fundamental laws: the Instrument of Government (originally dating from June 6, 1809), the Act of Succession (1810), the Freedom of the Press Act (1949), and the Riksdag Act. Following partial reforms in 1968 and 1969, a new Instrument of Government and a new Riksdag Act were adopted in 1973 and 1974, and the revised Constitution came into force on January 1, 1975, replacing the Acts of 1809, 1866 and 1949.
Branches: Executive--monarch (head of state); prime minister (head of government); Cabinet, responsible to Parliament. Legislative--unicameral Parliament (Riksdag--349 members). Judicial--84 district courts, 10 appeal courts and two superior courts.
Subdivisions: 21 counties, 18 county councils, 290 municipalities, and two regions.
Political parties represented in Parliament: the Moderate Party (conservative), the Liberal Party, the Center Party, the Christian Democratic Party, the Social Democratic Party, the Left Party, and the Green Party.
Suffrage: Universal, 18 years of age. After three years of legal residence, immigrants may vote in county council and municipal elections, but not in national elections.
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During the seventh and eighth centuries, the Swedes were merchant seamen well known for their far-reaching trade. In the ninth century, Nordic Vikings raided and ravaged the European continent as far as the Black and Caspian Seas. During the 11th and 12th centuries, Sweden gradually became a unified Christian kingdom that later included Finland. Queen Margaret of Denmark united all the Nordic lands in the "Kalmar Union" in 1397. Continual tension within the countries and within the union gradually led to open conflict between the Swedes and the Danes in the 15th century. The union's final disintegration in the early 16th century brought on a long-lived rivalry between Norway and Denmark on one side and Sweden and Finland on the other
In the 16th century, Gustav Vasa fought for an independent Sweden and crushed an attempt to restore the Kalmar Union and laid the foundation for modern Sweden. At the same time, he broke with the Catholic Church and established the Reformation. During the 17th century, after winning wars against Denmark, Russia, and Poland, Sweden-Finland (with scarcely more than 1 million inhabitants) emerged as a great power. Its contributions during the Thirty Years War under Gustav II Adolf (Gustavus Adolphus) determined the political as well as the religious balance of power in Europe. By 1658, Sweden ruled several provinces of Denmark as well as what is now Finland, Ingermanland (in which St. Petersburg is located), Estonia, Latvia, and important coastal towns and other areas of northern Germany.
Russia, Saxony-Poland, and Denmark-Norway pooled their power in 1700 and attacked the Swedish-Finnish empire. Although the young Swedish King Karl XII (also known as Charles XII) won spectacular victories in the early years of the Great Northern War, his plan to attack Moscow and force Russia into peace proved too ambitious; he fell in battle in 1718. In the subsequent peace treaties, the allied powers, joined by Prussia and England-Hanover, ended Sweden's reign as a great power.
Sweden suffered further territorial losses during the Napoleonic wars and was forced to cede Finland to Russia in 1809. The next year, the Swedish King's adopted heir, French Marshal Bernadotte, was elected Crown Prince as Karl Johan by the Riksdag. In 1813, his forces joined the allies against Napoleon. The Congress of Vienna compensated Sweden for its lost German territory through a merger of the Swedish and Norwegian crowns in a dual monarchy, which lasted until 1905, when it was peacefully dissolved at Norway's request.
Sweden's predominantly agricultural economy shifted gradually from village to private farm-based agriculture during the Industrial Revolution, but this change failed to bring economic and social improvements commensurate with the rate of population growth. About 1 million Swedes emigrated to the United States between 1850 and 1890.
The 19th century was marked by the emergence of a liberal opposition press, the abolition of guild monopolies in trade and manufacturing in favor of free enterprise, the introduction of taxation and voting reforms, the installation of a national military service, and the rise in the electorate of three major party groups--Social Democratic Party, Liberal People's Party, and Conservative Party.
During and after World War I, in which Sweden remained neutral, the country benefited from the worldwide demand for Swedish steel, ball bearings, wood pulp, and matches. Postwar prosperity provided the foundations for the social welfare policies characteristic of modern Sweden. Foreign policy concerns in the 1930s centered on Soviet and German expansionism which stimulated abortive efforts at Nordic defense cooperation. Sweden followed a policy of armed neutrality during World War II and currently remains non-aligned.
Sweden became a member of the European Union (EU) in 1995. With the prospect of the enlargement of the EU from 15 to 25 countries on May 1, 2004, concerns arose that the Swedish welfare system would be unduly burdened by an influx of workers from the new member states. In March of that year, following similar action by other EU member states, the Swedish Government introduced legislation in the Riksdag proposing welfare and labor restrictions for migrant workers from the 10 accession countries for at least two years. However, the Riksdag rejected the bill at the end of April. This defeat was seen as a major reverse for the government and meant that Sweden was one of the few EU countries without any restrictions limiting access to jobs or social security to citizens of the new member states.
The perceived failure of the main political parties to adequately address the strong current of EU skepticism expressed in Sweden's rejection of the euro led to the February 2004 formation of a new political grouping, the Junilistan (June List), which opposed further integration with the EU, but did not advocate withdrawal. The grouping stressed that it was not itself a political party, and went as far as appending its candidates' usual party affiliation to their names on the ballots for the forthcoming elections to the European Parliament. In this way voters would be able to support the June List on the issue of the EU while not altogether abandoning their usual party. This strategy proved successful, allowing the June List to draw support from across the political spectrum. It was widely believed that the June List's success in the European elections might increase pressure on the government to consider holding a national referendum on the ratification of the EU constitutional treaty, which had finally been approved by the Council of the EU in June 2004. Instead, the government chose to present the treaty for approval (or otherwise) in the Riksdag; legislation was to be presented by September 2005, with a view to adoption in December of that year. However, following the rejection of the treaty at national referendums in France and the Netherlands in mid-2005, Sweden was one of several member states to decide to delay the ratification process indefinitely.
In May 2005 the UN Committee against Torture ruled that Sweden had violated the 1984 UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in December 2001 by returning an asylum seeker to Egypt, where he had been convicted in absentia of membership of a terrorist group. Human rights groups had earlier expressed concern at the treatment of the asylum seeker and another Egyptian national deported at the same time; the two men had controversially been flown to Egypt in a U.S.-leased aircraft, having been handed over to U.S. security officials by the Swedish authorities. In November 2005 the Swedish Government ordered the Civil Aviation Authority to investigate media reports that aircraft used by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had landed at Swedish airports while transporting suspected terrorists to third countries for interrogation. In the following month the Authority, which examined the period from January 2002, reported that it could not substantiate the claims.
In September 2005 the Riksdag rejected a proposed amnesty for illegal immigrants living in Sweden, despite considerable public support for such a measure. Following the vote, a number of protests took place and 150,000 signatures were collected in favor of an amnesty. In November the Riksdag approved legislation allowing failed asylum seekers to reapply for a residence permit before the end of March 2006. It was estimated that 20,000 asylum seekers whose deportation orders had not been carried out due to conditions in their home countries or who had gone into hiding after having their original applications refused would be eligible to submit new applications under the law.
In February 2006 the government announced its intention for Sweden to overcome its dependency on petroleum within 15 years, without constructing any further nuclear power stations. A committee of industrialists, academics, farmers, vehicle manufacturers, civil servants, and others was charged with devising a plan to achieve this, and was to report to the Riksdag later that year. The government hoped to protect Sweden from the adverse economic effects of climate change and from fluctuations in the price of petroleum, which had increased substantially in recent years.
In March 2006 Laila Freivalds resigned as Minister for Foreign Affairs, following criticism of her ministry's involvement in forcing the temporary closure, in February, of the website of SD-Kuriren--the newspaper of the far-right SD (Swedish Democrats)--which had asked readers to submit cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. (The publication of caricatures depicting the Prophet in a Danish newspaper in late 2005, and in a number of other European newspapers in early 2006, had led to world-wide protests by Muslims.) Freivalds had initially denied responsibility for the decision to intervene, which Prime Minister Goran Persson had denounced as being contrary to the freedom of the press. She had already come under pressure to resign in December 2005 after an independent commission held her partly responsible for the government's slow response to the tsunamis in Southeast Asia on December 26, 2004 (which killed more than 500 Swedes). Jan Eliasson, the President of the UN General Assembly, was appointed as the new Minister for Foreign Affairs and held both positions until the expiry of his UN term in September 2006.
Elections to the Riksdag were held on September 17, 2006. The Alliance for Sweden (a coalition of four center-right parties--the Moderate Party, the Liberal People's Party, the Christian Democrat, and the Center Party) won 178 of the 349 seats, securing Fredrik Reinfeldt the position of Prime Minister, while the Swedish Social Democratic Party (SAP) coalition took 171 seats. Taking a cue from the British Labor Prime Minister's electoral strategy a decade earlier, Reinfeldt remodeled his party as 'New Moderates,' moving away from the party's right-wing, upper-class roots to appeal to a large middle ground of voters, and successfully winning over many who had until then supported the SAP, as well as others who had previously voted for the smaller, non-socialist parties. Reinfeldt was instrumental in uniting the notoriously divided four-party, center-right opposition. The Alliance managed to offer a cohesive campaign and a set of alternative policies that persuaded the electorate that change was both possible and desirable. The Social Democratic Party had been predominant in government for 65 of the 74 years since 1932, and the 2006 election ended its recent term of 12 years in office.
Sweden has one of the world's longest life expectancies and lowest birth rates. The country counts at least 20,000 indigenous Sami among its population. About one in every five Swedes is an immigrant or has at least one foreign-born parent. The largest immigrant groups are from Finland, Iraq, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Somalia, Iran, Norway, Denmark, and Poland. This reflects Nordic immigration, earlier periods of labor immigration, and more recent refugee and family immigration.
Swedish is a Germanic language related to Danish and Norwegian but different in pronunciation and orthography. English is widely spoken, particularly by Swedes under the age of 50.
Sweden has an extensive child-care system that guarantees a place for all young children ages two through six in a public day-care facility. From ages seven to 16, children participate in compulsory education. After completing the ninth grade, 90% attend upper secondary school for either academic or technical education.
Swedes benefit from an extensive social welfare system, which provides childcare and maternity and paternity leave, a ceiling on health care costs, old-age pensions, and sick leave, among other benefits. Parents are entitled to a total of 480 days' paid leave at 80% of a government-determined salary cap between birth and the child's eighth birthday. The parents may split those days however they wish, but 60 of the days are reserved specifically for the father. The parents may also take an additional 5 months of unpaid leave.
Nationality: Noun--Swedes; adjective--Swedish.
Population (July 2011 est.): 9,088,728.
Annual population growth rate (2011): 0.163%.
Ethnic groups: Indigenous Swedes, ethnic Finns, and ethnic Sami.
Immigrants (2010 est.): 14.1% of all people living in Sweden are born abroad. In 2009 102,280 people immigrated to Sweden. The immigrant groups are Finns, Iraqis, ex-Yugoslavia nationals, Somalis, Iranians, Norwegians, Danes, Turks, and Poles.
Religions: Lutheran (official Church of Sweden) (75%), other Protestant groups (5%), Muslim (5%), Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, Orthodox, Baptist, Jewish, Buddhist.
Education: Years compulsory--9. Literacy--99%.
Health: Infant mortality rate (2010 est.)--2.75/1,000. Life expectancy (2010 est.)--men 78.59 years, women 83.26 years.
Work force (2009 est.): 4.93 million. Agriculture--1.1%; industry--28.2%; services--70.7%. Unemployment (May 2011)--7.9%.