Sweden has an area of 450,000 km 2. Half its land surface is covered with forest. Less than 10% is farmland. Nearly 100,000 lakes dot the countryside, which is relatively flat. Sweden has a population of 8.9 million, with about 85% living in the southern half of the country. Around 85% belongs to the church of Sweden, which is Lutheran. Sweden is a military non-allied country and has been a member of the European Union since 1995. The state is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary form of government. The King, Carl XVI Gustaf, today has only cermonial funktions. Parliament consists of one charmber, whose members are directly elected by proportional representation for four-year tearms. Prime Minister is Göran Persson. The Social Democratic Party has held power alone or in coalitions during the periods 1932-1976 and 1982-91 as well as from 1994 and onwards.
At the beginning of this century Sweden was a largely agrarian economy, and one of the poorest nations in Europe. However, a rich domestic supply of iron ore, timber and water power and a rapid industrialisation transformed Sweden into a modern welfare state. In the last twenty years, however, Swedish GNP per capita has declined and the jobless rate has risen from 1990. About 4 million people are in the labour force. Roughly 22% of the labour force mainly women, work part-time. 69% of all women aged 16- 64 are gainfully employed. Forestproducts, chemicals, fabricated metal produkts, telecommunication equipment, motor vehicles and pharmaceutical produkts are important in Swedish production.
Health care and social welfare are seen as public sector responsibilities, and are supported by a national social insurance system..Eduction is free and all residents in Sweden are covered by the national health insurance. When for example a child is born, the parents are entitled to a total of fifteen months' paid leave from work, which can be shared between them and used any time before the child's eighth birthday. One month is reserved specifically for each parent and is forfeited if it is not used. In 1999, 12% of the days for parental leave were used by fathers.
(Source: The Swedish Institute Fact Sheets on Sweden and SCB)
Last Modified: 15.04.2002