Sweden

Driving Directions Sweden

Sweden is less mountainous than neighboring Norway, although the high mountain ranges that are such a dominant feature of the Scandinavian Peninsula extend across much of Sweden’s western boundary.

The highest mountains are north of the country, with Mount Kebhekaise (2,111 meters or 6,926 feet) reaching the most significant elevation. Glaciers occur at some of the higher levels.

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East of the mountains, there is a plateau region with the land sloping gradually eastwards towards the sea. The southern part of Sweden consists mainly of lowland plains interrupted only by an isolated upland area, called the Smaland Highlands, which reaches 380 meters or 1,250 feet.

There is a low-lying area called the Plain of Skane or Scania in the far south and southeast. Most of the population lives in southern Sweden, the vast majority in cities, towns, or urban areas.

Among the most striking features of the Swedish landscape are the numerous lakes, numbering more than 96,000, which are a relic of the last Ice Age. In the lowland areas in the east and south, many lakes left when the ice retreated, and the largest of these are Málaren near Stockholm, Váttern to the south, and Vánern.

The country is crossed by numerous rivers and streams, the largest of which is used as a hydroelectric power source. They include the Tome, Skellefte, Osterdal, and Ume. Sweden is also fortunate in retaining many of its natural forests, which extend over about 60 percent of the country. These are mainly of conifers that grow below the treeline in all but the far north and south of the country, the main species being pine and spruce.

There are some scrub birch and willow trees at higher levels that give way to moorland vegetation and then bare rock on the high mountain summits. The far north of Sweden lies within the Arctic Circle and contains the Swedish part of Lapland. Here, there are no trees but an Arctic/tundra type of vegetation with lichens and mosses and specialized plants adapted to a short growing season.

In the south, a region of farmland interspersed with woodland areas, deciduous trees can grow, although some of the wooded areas have been cleared for farming.

The climate is relatively moderate because of Sweden’s northerly position, with considerable variations between north and south. In the south, the Gulf Stream and prevailing westerly winds have an ameliorating effect on temperatures. But, farther north, the mountains, higher altitudes, and proximity to the Arctic Circle block these influences. In winter, Sweden is affected by cold air from Russia and the east, and temperatures, even in the south, are often below freezing. The northern part of the country within the Arctic Circle experiences two months of perpetual daylight in the summer and a similar period of continual darkness in the winter. These effects were gradually lessening towards the south. Because of its position on the eastern side of the peninsula’s mountains, precipitation is moderate in Sweden, except in the southwest and the mountain regions, and rainfall is most generous in late summer and early autumn. There is considerable snowfall in winter, particularly at higher altitudes.

Swedes take pride in the natural beauty of their country and are a very environmentally conscious people.

Of considerable concern is that a proportion of Sweden’s lakes and forests have been affected by acid rain caused by industrial pollution generated in the British Isles. Also, algal blooms off the southwestern North Sea coastline and the decimation of the seal population by a virus have been causing further alarm. Environmental concerns are high on the agenda of the Swedish government. The country intends to close its nuclear power stations and is actively engaged in developing renewable energy sources.

The best soils and most favorable conditions for agriculture are found in the south of Sweden. Most agricultural production is for the home market, and Sweden is more or less self-sufficient in dairy products, grains, and vegetables. Livestock rearing, particularly for the production of dairy produce, is an essential aspect of farming. The principal animals are cattle, pigs, poultry, and sheep. Mink are also reared for their fur. Fields are intensively fertilized and cultivated to produce various crops (wheat, oats, barley, rye), sugar beet, and vegetables, especially potatoes.

Sweden makes full use of its extensive forests to produce large quantities of cut timber for export and as a basis for its wood pulp and paper industries. Most of the mills are located on the coast of the Gulf of Bothnia, and lumber is extracted from forests on the mountain slopes, with rivers being used for transport and as a source of hydroelectric power.

Sweden has a crucial marine fishing industry that supplies the domestic market. The most important species are herring, but mackerel, cod, sprats, and sea trout are also caught. Göteborg is the principal fishing port. Besides, there is a variety of freshwater species in good numbers in Sweden’s lakes and rivers.

Sweden lacks oil or coal reserves and is mainly dependent upon imported petroleum. Still, it has fully exploited its potential for hydroelectric power, which supplies about 47 percent of the country’s electricity needs. A further 40 percent is provided by nuclear power, although the plan is to phase this gradually. Iron ore, uranium, silver, lead, copper, gold, and zinc are among the extracted minerals. Manufactured goods include paper, furniture, wood products, iron and steel, machine products, vehicles and vehicle parts, electrical goods, chemicals, textiles, and fine crafts such as glassware, ceramics, silverware, and items made from stainless steel.

Sweden attracts many tourists each year, and the country’s excellent road, rail, canal, and ferry networks make it easy for visitors to travel to even the more remote parts of the country.

Google maps™ Sweden

The largest of the Scandinavian countries and the fourth-largest country in Europe, Sweden is one of the countries located farthest from the equator. It extends from north to south at roughly the same latitude as Alaska, with about 15 percent of its total area situated north of the Arctic Circle. The most notable of Sweden’s geographical features is its length, which the Swedes speak of as vart avlanga land (our long, drawn-out land). It shares this and many other components with its western twin in Scandinavia, Norway, but Sweden is a land of lower altitudes and less dissected relief than Norway. Four topographical divisions can be discerned in the country, although they are of unequal size. The largest is Norrland, the northern three-fifths of Sweden. Characterized by a landscape of hills and mountains, forests, and large river valleys, it stretches roughly from the Dal River’s lower reaches northward. Svealand, or central Sweden, constitutes the second region. It is made up of lowlands dotted with thousands of lakes. Småland in the south is the third region. It is an area of forested hills. The fourth region is in the southernmost part of the country and is known as Skåne (Scania). Topographically, it is a continuation of the fertile plains of Denmark and northern Germany. Sweden is located on the Eurasian Tectonic Plate.

The east and south coasts of Sweden lie on the Baltic Sea, linked to the North Sea by the narrow and shallow straits of the Kattegat and the Skagerrak. The Gulf of Bothnia, between Sweden and Finland, is the northernmost extension of the Baltic Sea. All of these bodies of water are considered to be extensions of the Atlantic Ocean.

Did you know about Sweden?

The Arctic Circle is the imaginary line that circles the globe at about 66.5°N latitude. Areas north of the circle experience the phenomenon known as midnight sun, which is a period when the sun is visible for twenty-four hours or longer. During the summer solstice (usually on June 21 or 22), the sun is visible on the horizon at midnight from all Arctic Circle points. As you move further north, seasons of sunshine get longer, so that at the North Pole, there are six months of continuous sun, from the vernal equinox (usually on March 21 or 22) until the autumnal equinox (generally on September 21 or 22). The Arctic Circle also serves as a boundary between the North Temperate and the North Frigid climate zones.

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