Sweden Geography

Sweden Geography and Population

Sweden – geography

The old Swedish core country consists of the area around Uppsala and the Central Swedish Sound, today the Stockholm region. From here, the country expanded especially to the north and east to the west coast of Finland, later also to the west (Jämtland, Härjedalen and Bohus län) and south (Skåne, Halland and Blekinge). An important natural and cultural boundary is formed by the previously impenetrable Småland forests; south of this lies Scania with moraine soils to the west and south; the area north of the forests is characterized by the subsoil (the Baltic Shield) and the very large land uplift since the ice age.


The population has increased fivefold since the first reliable estimates from the 1700’s. The development in the frequency of births and deaths as well as life expectancy is reminiscent of that experienced by other developing countries, but in Sweden the emigration to the USA was from the mid-1800’s. to 1930 very large; for some years more than 1% of the population emigrated. Since World War II, immigration has been greater than emigration for most years. The vast majority have come from Finland, and in 2000 the Finnish minority was approximately 300,000. A special group are the approximately 50,000 Tornedal Finns, descendants of those who by the peace of 1809 did not come under Russian rule. In addition, there are recent immigrants and refugees, especially from the Middle East and the Balkans, and in total about 15% of the population are of foreign origin; the vast majority live in big cities. Northern Sweden’s indigenous population, the Sami, make up approximately 17,000.

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On average, the population density is approximately 20 residents per km2, but there are very large variations: Half of the residents live on 3% of the area, especially the large concentrations around Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö. In addition, there are fairly densely populated areas on Skåne’s fertile plains, in the Central Swedish Sound and around Siljan and Storsjön. Norrland is very sparsely populated, and it is difficult to maintain the population there. Many government initiatives, financial support and relocation of institutions seek to slow down relocation. For culture and traditions of Sweden, please check aparentingblog.

Medieval market towns were located as centers in the earliest agricultural areas or on the coasts, where they benefited fishing, shipping and trade. In the 1600’s. new cities were built on royal orders where they could serve business or military purposes. Later, industrialization and railway construction brought about many new settlements, as in the 1800’s and 1900’s. developed into actual cities.

Although several of the Swedish cities are from the Middle Ages, they rarely bear traces of this in their street network. The houses were mostly made of wood, and since the Renaissance, after the great city fires, the cities have in most cases been rebuilt in stone and with straight streets at right angles.

Second half of 1900-t. was marked by significant relocations. In the 1960’s there was a large influx to the three metropolitan areas, in the 1970’s a minor outflow and in the 1980’s another influx.

Sweden continues to be characterized by very unequal regional development; The Stockholm region is growing strongly, while the sparsely populated areas (rural municipalities) are being depopulated. Sweden has an active regional development policy that provides support for the infrastructure of sparsely populated areas and moves state institutions out of the big cities. In addition, there are EU funds that, among other things, finances projects in the most sparsely populated areas.

Swedish business is growing well, especially industries such as biotechnology and IT, but also the old cornerstones of the Swedish economy, forestry, wood industry, paper and cellulose, are solid. In addition, there is the traditional mining, which in northern and central Sweden continues to play a role. New ores worthy of mining are still to be found, gold.

With the stricter laws on immigration in several European countries, Denmark, there is an increase in immigration to Sweden and with this also increased discussion about refugees and immigrants.


Characteristic of Swedish nature is the bedrock which lies close below the earth’s surface in most of Sweden. The country has temperate climates except in the high mountain areas.


The climate is characterized by its northern location on the west side of the continent and partly sheltered by the Norwegian mountains. Westerly winds from the relatively warm Atlantic Ocean cause winter temperatures to be quite high. Apart from the high mountain areas, the whole of Sweden lies in the temperate and coniferous forest belts of the temperate zone. The winters are snowy, and the Swedish mountains offer good opportunities for ski tourism in several places. In summer, the coastal areas of southern Sweden have average temperatures above 16 °C, and even as far north as the Finnish border it is 15 °C; here the sheltered coastal areas are also sunny, it is bright for a long time, and bathing life abounds in the Gulf of Bothnia, in Pite havsbad, “Norrlands riviera”.

The annual rainfall varies greatly; Småland gets up to 1200 mm, and in some places in the high mountains up to 2000 mm. The eastern regions are covered in rain, and in many places do not get more than 600 mm. Western Lapland is on average. snow covered for 225 days, while the west and south coasts are for less than 50 days. The large temperature differences in the north make it difficult to foundation the houses and maintain the road network, which even in the sparsely populated areas is well developed. Sweden has more road per. per capita than almost all other countries. The Gulf of Bothnia has low salinity and is frozen for long periods, at Haparanda from December to May. It has significance for the export of iron ore from Luleå and was a significant reason for the construction of the Ore Line to Narvik.


In most of Sweden, bedrock is encountered close to the surface of the earth. This forms part of the intricately constructed Baltic Shield and has been the subject of mineral extraction since the Middle Ages. At first, the young iron ores from lakes and bogs (bog ore) were exploited, but especially in Bergslagen, these were replaced from the 1100’s. of the more difficult fragile but more valuable iron luster (hematite) from the solid rock. Extraction, smelting and processing required large amounts of energy, which in the first centuries was obtained from the forests on the site. Hydropower was early involved in operating pumps and hammers, just as the rivers in combination with dug canals served to carry the products to markets and shipping ports. This company, which included iron, copper, silver and goldThe Falu mine, as the best-known example, provided a significant economic background for Sweden’s great power era.

After World War II, a great demand on the world market for iron led to several of Bergslagen’s mines being modernized, and in the 1950’s Sweden accounted for 10% of the world’s iron ore production. The quarry reached its peak in the 1970’s, but increased competition from other continents has since meant that all mines in the area are now closed. Lapland’s rich deposits of iron ore had been known for a long time, but due to the harsh climate and difficult transport conditions, they were left unused until the Ore Line was established in 1891. As Sweden does not contain coal of the right quality for modern blast furnace processes, the iron ores were. for the most part exported as ore concentrate (pellets). However, a fifth of Lapland’s iron ore is melted in the blast furnaces in Luleå and Oxelösund. FromThe Skellefte field with the mining town of Boliden has been mined sulphide ores with gold, silver and lead since the 1920’s, and Aitik near Gällivare is one of Europe’s largest copper mines.

From the Cambrian to the Silurian (540-420 million years before now) large areas were sea-covered. Deposits are preserved in a zone at the edge of the mountain range towards Norway and also in the fertile Siljan Ring and on the Billingen between Vänern and Vättern. Uranium has been extracted here from alum shale (see Ranstad). The limestone landscapes of Öland and Gotland are also from Silur, while Skåne’s coal-bearing formation at Höganäs is from the Jura-Trias transition (205 million years before now). Thanks to the company of refractory clay, the coals here have been mined for over 200 years.

During the alpine folding, the northwestern part of the continent and thus Sweden was lifted into the air, and during the Quaternary, the whole of Sweden and the Gulf of Bothnia was gradually covered by an ice sheet that slid towards the surrounding lower country, including Denmark. Under the ice, rock sections were planed off, older fracture zones were cleaned up, and in front of the ice, the central Swedish moraines were deposited and, where the ice reached the sea, terrace-camped delta formations. Behind the ice edge, elongated pebble ridges formed. When the ice finally released its roof, in Scania 14,000, in Lapland 8500 years ago, it left a moraine layer of varying thickness and composition. Thus, urbergs-the moraines in large parts of inner and northern Sweden are coarse-grained and barren, while the plains of Skåne with materials from calcareous subsoil and from the bottom of the Baltic Sea are fertile. The ice sheet had pushed the whole country down, and when it disappeared, the country began to rise. At the same time, the melting of ice led to an increase in sea levels. The combination of land uplift and water level rise resulted in a shift of the coastline, alternating in a positive and negative direction and with widely varying consequences for the extent and salinity of the Baltic Sea. The highest level that the water reached, the highest coastline, is now almost 300 masl on the coast of Ångermanland (see Höga coast). Even today, land uplift continues, up to 8 mm per. year. Against this background, many Swedish port cities have had to move outwards over the years. In southernmost Sweden, sea level rise has been greater than land uplift. Areas that have been covered by sea for a shorter or longer period of time have thus been given a fine-grained sediment cover; this applies the fertile Central Swedish Sound and the depression with Linköping and Norrköping, which appears as a contrast to Småland’s barren highlands, characterized by the Urberg moraine.


In 1870, 75% of the active population was employed in the primary occupations (agriculture, forestry, fishing and mining), 15% in the secondary (crafts and industry), and 10% in the tertiary (other/service); during the process of industrialization and urbanization, the numbers were changed to 30, 35 and 35 (1940) to 4, 28 and 68 in 1990, and this trend has continued ever since.

Previously, one was relegated to living where natural resources made it possible to earn a living; agriculture thus made demands in terms of climate and soil, forestry was also dependent on the possibilities of transporting the timber to the rivers, and mining depended on the presence of easily accessible ores, fuel for extraction and processing as well as the possibilities for transport.

The last 100 years have brought about a radical change in this pattern. In most industries, due to technical advances and changes in the economic systems, both housing and jobs have been relocated. The decline in rural mortality in the early 1800’s. made it necessary to include new land by deforestation, and by changing the groundwater level in meadows and bogs, the cultivated area doubled from 1800 to 1930. The land was replaced and the farms moved out into the fields. But not everywhere were production under the prevailing market conditions profitable in the long run; many emigrated, and lands were given back to nature. In the 1900’s. the use of improved varieties, fertilizers and spraying, together with extensive mechanization, led to an increase in harvest yields, at the same time as the number of professionals fell drastically. A society that was only partly based on money economy, in the same period converted to money economy and a gradual transition to urban business.

The industrial production of many goods as well as the expansion of the infrastructure made it possible for the individual to obtain goods that one had previously had to produce himself. This reduced the workload in the individual household, which especially in the 1970’s meant that women in an unprecedented number got work outside the home, which necessitated and made possible the emergence of a number of new service occupations. The migration from country to city had a self-reinforcing effect, as depopulated areas often could not form the basis for basic services such as grocery stores and schools (the sparsely populated area problem).

Agriculture and food industry

Sweden’s large variation in terms of soil, amount of light and climate, including the length of the vegetation period, means that agriculture has very different development possibilities. Many cultivated plants have their growth limit in Sweden, and fluctuations from year to year in temperature and soil moisture conditions can affect the harvest yield. The vegetation period is almost twice as long in Scania as in the north; to the south, therefore, agriculture and horticulture dominate, in the north cattle breeding. Historically, agriculture has developed from livestock farming, and in step with the strong growth in plant production, work was done extensively to refine animal production. Today’s surplus production has led to a further expansion of livestock farming, and where cattle breeding was previously referred to the inferior soil, eg in forest areas, the former arable land is now often used for cattle grazing.forested. A consequence of this is the abandonment of large areas, fewer farms, large-scale farming and specialization, especially in the plains, and with Sweden’s accession to the EU in 1995, many family farms have been hit to death. From 1927 to 1995, the number of farms under 10 ha fell from 200,000 to 30,000, while the number of larger farms decreased from 100,000 to 50,000. The system of yesteryear with the combination of agriculture and forestry no longer exists.

From being localized to raw material production, the food industry was moved in the direction of population concentrations. The development of packaging and storage methods has since led to significant business combinations. In connection with this, there has been an increase in the market for the individual company.

Forestry and forest industry

55% of Sweden is covered by forest; this varies in growth rate and species composition greatly from south to north. Most are under forest management; only the forest in the mountainous part as well as on moist soil is still in a state of nature. In order to preserve parts of the natural landscape, numerous localities have been protected, the largest of which are the national parks Stora Sjöfallet, Sarek, Padjelanta and Muddus.. The coniferous areas dominate, but the beech can grow in Scania as well as near the west and south coasts, and its own northern border runs north of Vänern and Gävle. The spruce thrives on bedrock moraines and in the “snow forest climate”, tolerates shade and requires some moisture. Pine generally grows on drier soils and requires a lot of light. Above the coniferous border, birch dominates. Past hard progress towards the forests of southern and central Sweden in the form of sweat farming, production of charcoal and tar, fuel for ore mining and metal processing, grazing, etc. as well as the pioneering intensive logging of northern Sweden in northern Sweden has gradually been replaced by forest management and replanting. The poverty of the forest on species has thus become even more pronounced, and in recent years the desire to also increase the recreational values ​​of the forest has, after strong breaks, led to the introduction of more ecological and landscaping methods. It is more difficult to counteract the effects of the pollution with sulfur compounds from precipitation that has particularly affected SW Sweden.

The vast majority of Sweden’s forests are privately owned; several companies own large areas in central and northern sweden, but are also dependent on deliveries from private individuals. In the past, rivers served as important transport routes for timber from the interior. In the winter, the farmer went to his forest, felled and branched off the trunks, and transported them to the river. When the ice broke in the spring, the river led the logs to sawmills at the mouth. Among other things. Due to the use of the rivers for hydropower purposes, the transport now takes place mostly along the expanded road network or by rail. 60-70% of the annual growth is utilized by the wood industry, which employs a total of approximately 90,000 people; 80% of the timber industry’s production is exported and accounts for 14% of Sweden’s total exports. The raw materials are used partly in sawmills and partly in the pulp industry, where they are processed into paper and cardboard;

The sawmills are relatively scattered, while the paper and pulp industries are predominantly on the coast; these differences are due to the energy technology used. In the mid-1800’s. the steam engine made it possible to move the sawmills from their connection to the hydropower in the middle course of the rivers down to the mouth, which offered better transport options for the processed products; therefore, the paper and pulp mills, which to some extent used residues from the timber production, were also located here. In the 1900’s. Transformation of energy from hydropower to electricity has made the establishment of small and medium-sized sawmills inland profitable, especially in the southern part of the country.

The fishery

The fishery is much smaller than, for example, Norway and Denmark and is only of local importance. Due to changes in the maritime conditions, the former dominant fishing area in the Skagerrak with adjacent waters has now been replaced by the Baltic Sea, especially east of Gotland; the high seas fishing off Iceland and the Shetland Islands is completely abandoned. The main catches are cod and herring. The preserved fishing ports on the Kattegat coast and in southernmost Sweden have been the basis for the construction of a number of guest harbors and are visited during the season by numerous tourists.

The metal industry

Companies within the Swedish iron and steel industry have historically developed from a fairly uniform production to in the period 1850-1950 to develop a wide range of production methods and goods. Competition in the world market has forced companies to give up diversity and instead concentrate production on individual product groups.

The steel industry has from ancient times been linked to Bergslagen, but after the cessation of ore mining here, 50% of the production is now based on scrap. It is still in the existing buildings and utilizing the professional competencies of the local population. In recent times, smelting has also been developed in the export ports of Oxelösund and Luleå as well as in Skelleftehamn.

Half of the country’s exports today come from the metal industry. This is characterized by a high degree of technical know-how and in several industries by a high degree of research and development. The localization pattern is characterized by a large regional spread, but also by a certain predominance in the densely populated areas and in areas with a tradition of processing.

The metal goods industry

The metal goods industry has primarily emerged as a natural refinement of iron and steel production, above all in the central Swedish ironworks, but the metal processing also gained a foothold in the cities, often by virtue of an individual’s initiative. Thus, Eskilstuna came to constitute a favorable environment for many Swedish inventors. Similarly, the Småland metal industry grew out of a craft-based home industry (see Gnosjö). The industry is still dominated by many small companies, but is now in decline due to competition from plastic materials.

The machine industry

The machinery industry is a child of the metal goods industry. Significant were SKF in Gothenburg and Alfa Laval in Lund; in addition, companies in Malmö. For all three metropolitan areas, the lack of space soon forced companies to move to the city’s suburbs. Although there are still many small companies in this industry, it is characterized by a number of larger ones such as the Electrolux Group.

Developments in the transport industry have been an important element in Sweden’s economic expansion after World War II. However, the series of large shipyards from Uddevalla to Malmö ran into serious difficulties during the oil crises of the 1970’s, which reduced the need for new oil tankers, and at the beginning of competition from shipyards in East Asia. From being one of the world’s leading shipbuilding nations, the country’s production has now been reduced to include special ships and vessels for the navy. In contrast, the automotive industry (Volvo and Saab) managed to survive, both domestically and through exports, although it is now predominantly foreign-owned. Production is largely based on subcontractors at home and abroad; The focus of production is in western Sweden (Gothenburg and Trollhättan). Both car manufacturers also make aircraft and aircraft engines for both military and civilian use (Linköping).

The electrical industry and instrument manufacturing

The electrical industry and instrument manufacturing are growing strongly, as a result of developments in telecommunications. The industry is dominated by a few large companies (Ericsson and Asea Brown Boveri as well as the foreign-dominated IBM, Siemens and Philips), and the location is linked to the important customers with the weight in Stockholm and Västerås, just as the great demands for research and development require the presence of other advanced companies and research centers. The high state of the industry has enabled significant exports.

In addition to the metal industry, Sweden has a broad-spectrum chemical industry (eg pharmaceuticals, explosives, rubber and plastics), mineral wool production, brickworks and the glass industry (“Glasriket” in SE-Småland) as well as textile and clothing industries, centered around Borås. The latter has, however, after World War II been noticeably weakened due to the freer world trade with consequent competition from low-wage areas. As in Denmark, there has been a reaction with flagging out companies and specialization of domestic production.

Energy and transport

Sweden’s easy access to wood has not only been used for residential and shipbuilding, but also to a large extent for heating, both of homes and in industry. Wood could be converted to charcoal, in western Skåne hard coal (though of poor quality) was extracted, and peat from bog areas was used locally. To a certain extent, the wind drove turbines, and it was technically possible to utilize the power from smaller streams. Around 2000, almost half of the total energy supply comes from imported oil and oil products, a fifth from hydropower, somewhat less from nuclear power and most of the rest from domestic fuels, while coal and coke play a more modest role and the natural gas network is expanding. The oil crises of the 1970’s hit hard and showed society’s vulnerability to global crises. As a result, interest in harnessing nuclear power grew, and facilities were built for open water at Ringhals, Barsebäck, Oskarshamn and Forsmark. However, it became similarly difficult to comply with environment-based wishes to close down these facilities again.

In the first half of 1900-t. there was an impressive intake of energy from the rivers; Due to its significant catchment area, the Torne River at its mouth has the largest flood water flow, while the Göta River, Ångermanälven and Indalsälven accounts for the highest mean water flows. Many of the rivers are heavily exploited, but Torneälven-Muonioälven and Vindelälven are exempt from exploitation. While hydropower for the first many years could only be utilized on site (eg Trollhättan), it is now possible in a big way to move energy from the sparsely populated Norrland to the consumption centers to the south. In addition, electricity is transported between the Nordic neighboring countries. As the nuclear power plants have taken their place as the basic supplier (over 40%) in the electricity area, the expansion of the hydropower plants in recent years has taken place with regard to the ability to drain large amounts of energy in short periods of time. The homes are largely heated via municipal district heating systems.

Until the introduction of the railway for approximately 150 years ago, a lot of passenger and goods transport was based on sailing, partly along painstakingly established waterways. In 1853-54, the Riksdag decided to build and operate a network of main lines for railway traffic. These lines were not to be laid in parallel with other traffic systems, but instead to be carried inland at some distance from the coast (for military reasons) and inland waterways (for competitive reasons); furthermore, there was a notion that a railway could breathe life into a backward area; this was background for the construction of the Inlandsbanan. The railway network reached its maximum in 1937; it has since been cleared of unprofitable stretches, while the more significant ones have been modernized. This happened at the same time as the road network was greatly expanded. In recent years, the total transport volume has decreased somewhat, but the transport work has increased appreciably due to larger transport distances; this has resulted in a change in the competitive situation.

The country’s large extent has favored air traffic, and Sweden has several airports, of which Arlanda near Stockholm and Landvetter near Gothenburg account for the largest international scheduled traffic.

In 2000, the Øresund connection between Malmö and Copenhagen was ready. There are high expectations that the fixed link between Sweden and Denmark will contribute to making the Øresund region a dynamic growth center.

Tertiary professions

An expression of a country’s economic development is the size of the tertiary sector; It is this part of the Swedish business community that has shown the fastest growth since the Second World War, and it now accounts for more than 70% of employment. Contrary to what is the case in industry, work in the tertiary sector is difficult to rationalize and mechanise, which has contributed to the sector’s numerically dominant role. Changes in the production of goods lead to changes in requirements for trade and transport, and the growing need for information dissemination increases the demand for new employees. The increasing business activity of women increases the need for childcare, etc., desires for more education of young and old as well as demands for better housing conditions and care for the elderly open up opportunities for jobs in this sector. In addition, there are the requirements for the hotel and restaurant industry, which the business restructuring and the increased leisure time open up for. The location pattern of the tertiary sector largely coincides with the geographical distribution of the population, although the large cities and in particular Stockholm have a level of activity that exceeds the population base. However, certain types of service are not directly dependent on or of special importance to the local community and can therefore be moved to areas that lack employment opportunities. In order to contribute to active regional development in this way, the Swedish state has moved a number of large companies in the field of services to distressed parts of Norrland. As in Denmark, Sweden is also seeking to assess the consequences of a possible privatization of parts of the public sector in the service area. “The Swedish model” has in the years after World War II for many around the world stood as the ideal for the development of a society, and by the early 1970’s Sweden emerged as a country with a generally high and fairly evenly distributed income. Developments in the 1990’s led to increased unemployment, just as increased immigration has eroded resources, which is why the picture has now faded somewhat.

Tourism and outdoor life

Sweden is rich in recreational natural resources, wilderness, mountain landscapes and archipelagos, and with the right of public access, they are accessible to everyone. This stipulates that private landowners must provide access to nature areas, and Sweden’s landscapes and lake and sea areas are accessible to an extent that is unique in Europe. The boundary between nature tourism and outdoor life is slippery; thus, many urban dwellers return for a while during the autumn moose hunt, and the increasing prosperity, the longer holidays and the depopulation of former agricultural and forestry areas have led to the establishment of 700,000 holiday homes.

Prominent tourist areas include Gotland, Dalarna and Jämtland; in addition, the border areas to especially Norway and Denmark, which visited by the neighbors on day trips. Tourists from the rest of the world especially seek out the big cities with their museums and cultural events.

Sweden Geography