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Saturday 13th July
Sweden Information - Page 1
The Kingdom of Sweden is in northern Europe, located in the Scandinavian Peninsula, between Finland and Norway. Sweden's sea borders are with the Baltic Sea, the Gulf of Bothnia, Kattegat and Skagerrak. Sweden has many islands; the largest is Gotland. The Oresund Fixed Link connects Sweden with Denmark.

Stockholm is the capital city and a major port. Gothenburg, Sweden's second city is also a port. Other ports and harbours are Gavle, Halmstad, Helsingborg, Hudiksvall, Kalmar, Karlshamn, Malmo, Solvesborg and Sundsvall.

Sweden is divided into twenty-one counties: Blekinge, Dalarnas, Gavleborgs, Gotlands, Hallands, Jamtlands, Jonkopings, Kalmar, Kronobergs, Norrbottens, Orebro, Skane, Ostergotlands, Sodermanlands, Stockholms, Uppsala, Varmlands, Vasterbottens, Vasternorrlands, Vastmanlands and Vastra Gotalands.

The Kolen mountain range forms a natural boundary between Sweden and Norway. There are central lowlands and a southern plain.

The climate is temperate in the south and sub-arctic in the north.

Sweden has a long coastline, sandy beaches and many lakes. Forests and woodlands cover a large percentage of the country. Trees include ash, beech, birch, oak, maple, pine, and spruce.

A significant percentage of Sweden's environment is protected. There are a number of National Parks. Kristianstads Vattenrike, located in Skane, and the Lake Torne Area, north of the Arctic Circle, are UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserves. Over fifty areas are Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance.

The lake of Hornborgasjon, in Vastergotland, is a Ramsar site where thousands of cranes arrive in the spring on their way to the north.

The National Parks are home to Sweden's wildlife: reindeer (Bjornlandet National Park), elk (Sanfjallet National Park), lynx, bears (Pieljekaise National Park ) and wolves.

The World Heritage site of Visby, on the island of Gotland, is an example of a fortified commercial city. During the twelfth to fourteenth centuries, Visby was the centre of the Hanseatic League in the Baltic.

The Royal Domain of Drottningholm, on an island in Lake Malar outside Stockholm, is another World Heritage site. Built in the eighteenth century, the residence was constructed on the site of a former royal palace.

One of Sweden's most famous architects was Erick Asplund. His works included the Stockholm Library and the layout for the Stockholm Exhibition in 1930.

Sweden is a leading country in the development of the hi-tech "House of the Future" featuring the Electrolux Screenfridge in the kitchen. The fridge has a touch sensitive screen on its door which is a control panel for electronic devices throughout the house; it also stores data such as shopping lists and refrigerator contents. Entrance is gained to the house through the use of fingerprint scanners.

The Swedish population was estimated at 9,045,389 in 2008.

Swedish is spoken and many Swedes speak English. There are Lapp and Finnish speaking minorities.

The majority of the people are Protestant (Lutheran). There are some Roman Catholics, Muslims, Jews and Buddhists.

The smorgasbord was originally an appetiser before the main course. Today it consists of a number of dishes including fish, meat and salad.

Favourite fish dishes are pickled herring with onions, and marinated salmon. Crayfish is on the menu in August and September. Other traditional Swedish recipes are for Swedish meatballs, potato pancakes and fruit soup.

Cloudberries, which grow wild in parts of Sweden, are used in desserts and to make jam.

National breads include crisp breads, rye breads and sweet breads.

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