Sweden, formally the Kingdom of Sweden, is a northern European Scandinavian nation. It is bounded on the west by Norway and on the east by Finland, and on the southwest by Denmark through a bridge-tunnel across the resund. Sweden is the third-largest nation in the European Union by size, covering 450,295 square kilometers (173,860 square miles), and has a population of over 9.9 million. As a result, Sweden has a low population density of 21 people per square kilometer (54/sq mi), with the southern part of the nation having the greatest concentration. Around 85 percent of the population lives in cities.
Since prehistoric times, Germanic peoples have inhabited Sweden, developing as the Geats/Götar and Swedes/Svear and becoming the sea people known as the Norsemen. Southern Sweden is mostly agricultural, while the northern part of the country is largely wooded. Sweden is located within the Fennoscandia geographical region. Due to considerable marine influence, the climate is often very moderate given its northerly latitude, yet maintains warm continental summers. Sweden is now both a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy, with a monarch serving as head of state. Stockholm, the capital city, is also the country’s most populated city. Legislative authority is vested in the Riksdag, a 349-member unicameral legislature. The government, headed by the prime minister, exercises executive authority. Sweden is a unitary state comprised of 21 counties and 290 municipalities at the moment.
During the Middle Ages, Sweden became an autonomous and united nation. It extended its holdings in the 17th century to create the Swedish Empire, which remained one of Europe’s major powers until the early 18th century. Swedish holdings beyond the Scandinavian Peninsula steadily dwindled during the 18th and 19th centuries, culminating in Russia’s acquisition of modern-day Finland in 1809. Sweden’s last active involvement in a war was in 1814, when Norway was forced forcefully into personal union. Since then, Sweden has remained at peace, adhering to an official posture of foreign policy neutrality. Sweden’s union with Norway was peacefully dissolved in 1905, resulting in the establishment of the country’s present boundaries. Though Sweden maintained a nominal neutral position throughout both world wars, it participated in humanitarian initiatives, such as accepting refugees from German-occupied Europe.
Sweden joined the European Union on 1 January 1995, but rejected NATO and Eurozone membership after a vote. Additionally, it is a member of the United Nations, the Nordic Council, the European Council, the Council of Europe, the World Trade Organization, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Sweden maintains a Nordic social welfare system that offers universal health care and access to post-secondary education for its people. It has the eighth-highest per capita income in the world and scores highly on a variety of performance indicators, including quality of life, health, education, civil rights protection, economic competitiveness, equality, prosperity, and human development.