Sweden is the largest of the Nordic countries and borders Norway, Finland and is connected to Denmark via the bridge of Öresund (combined for trains and autos). Sweden has a population density of 54 people every square mile, the smallest ration in the world. Because Sweden has a non-aligned foreign policy in peacetime and remains neutral in wartime, the country has been at peace since 1814. Sweden is a constitutional monarchy with a democratic government. Modern Sweden has a highly developed economy, low unemployment, a low birthrate, and one of the world’s highest life expectancies.
The population of Sweden is 9 million and that is small compared to the area. With fewer people in the country, Sweden is able to have ample open space and is perfect for those who love nature, space, clean air, beautiful scenery and outdoor activities. Even though it has a northern latitude, Sweden has a moderate climate. In winter there is always snowfall but the summers are sunny with an average temperature of 22°C (71°F). There are many hours of daylight in the summer months to enjoy Sweden.
The national language is Swedish, a Germanic language related to Norwegian and Danish. Most Swedes speak very good English. The crown or krona is the Swedish currency.
Sweden’s capital is Stockholm, which is also the largest city. Upon arriving in Stockholm, I recommend taking the environmental friendly speed train Arlanda Express into Grand Central Station. From there you can take a cab or the underground to your hotel. Stockholm is a place of cultural heritage and modern design set along the water and built among 14 different islands. It has a great transportation system and is very clean and “green.”
The old Town of Stockholm shows the symbols of Sweden as a great power during the 17th and 18th centuries. The rich history of the area can be seen with its Baroque style architecture evident by narrow alleys and cobbled streets. Old Town (Gamla Stan) includes the Royal Palace and many museums like Livrustkammaren (the Royal Armory), Skattkammaren (the Royal Treasury), Nobelmuseet (the Nobel Museum) and Riddarhuset (the House of Nobility). With 608 rooms, the Royal Palace is the largest palace in the world still used by a head of state – King Carl XVI Gustav. The palace houses several of the most interesting sights in Stockholm. During the summer months at around noon, tourists can witness the changing of the Royal Guard (part of the Swedish Armed Forces) at the Royal Palace. This free event takes about 40 minutes but is worth the time. History lovers can take a guided city tour, offered in many different languages.
Stockholm City Hall is the building of the Municipal Council and it stands on the eastern tip of Kungsholmen island, next to Riddarfjärden’s northern shore. It houses offices and conference rooms as well as ceremonial halls. It is the venue of the Nobel Prize banquet and one of Stockholm’s major tourist attractions. Stockholm City Hall is an example of national romanticism in architecture and was finished in 1923. The building is made from eight million bricks, and the 106 meter tall tower has the three crowns (Swedish national coat of arms) at its top.
About 82 miles north of Gothenburg are the rock carvings in the Tanumshede area, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1994. The magnificent pictures, some carved 3000 years ago tell us something about the Bronze age; they make vivid the time that has passed. About 30 km south of Stromstad is the Vitlycke Museum, which contains extensive information about the rock carvings and features reconstructed Bronze buildings, slide shows and a café.