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Sweden Information - Page 2
Swedish Vikings travelled great distances to trade. Between the ninth and eleventh centuries expeditions were made to Eastern Europe and Asia.

Sweden gradually became a united country, adopting Christianity as the official religion. In the twelfth century Finland came under Swedish rule, eventually becoming part of the kingdom.

At the end of the fourteenth century Denmark, Norway and Sweden united under the leadership of Queen Margaret of Denmark to form the Kalmar Union. Sweden left the Union in 1523. A period of expansionism, led by Gustav Vasa, ensured control of Finland and the countries of the Baltic. Sweden remained a great power in Europe until its supremacy waned at the beginning of the eighteenth century.

During the Napoleonic era Sweden opposed Napoleon and the French. Following Napoleon's defeat, Sweden ceded Finland to Russia and union of Sweden and Norway (1814-1905) was recognised by the Congress of Vienna.

Sweden remained neutral during the two World Wars of the twentieth century. In 1995 Sweden joined with its neighbours in Western Europe in membership of the EU.

Sweden's neutrality in the twentieth century contributed towards its economic growth and high standards of living. However, a financial crisis in the 1990s needed an injection of government capital into Sweden's largest banks; most of the money was regained and the economy recovered.

The farming sector is highly modernized accounting for a small percentage of the country's employment. Dairy produce is important. Other products from the farming sector are grains, sugar beets, potatoes and meat.

Industries include iron and steel products, ball bearings, wood pulp and paper products, processed foods, electrical goods (Electrolux), telephones (Ericsson), motor vehicles (Saab and Volvo), furniture and glass products (Orrefors).

Tetra Pak, packaging for liquids, was developed in 1944 by Erik Wallenberg and Ruben Rausing and is one of Sweden's success stories. A more recent success is IKEA, the furniture company, which has retail outlets in Europe, North America and Asia.

The Swedish tourist industry provides employment in many regions. Interest in the country as a tourist destination is growing steadily. (2008)

Early art, which includes scenes of longboat voyages, can be seen at the Bronze Age rock art site at Vitlycke.

Well known Swedish artists of the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century were Carl Larsson and Anders Zorn. Carl Larsson often painted his home and family and Anders Zorn worked on portraits and landscapes, as well as etchings and sculpture.

Swedish writers who won the Nobel Prize for Literature were Selma Lagerlof (1909), Verner von Heidenstam (1916), Erik Axel Karlfeldt (1931), Par Lagerkvist (1951), Eyvind Johnson (1974) and Harry Martinson (1974). August Strindberg (1849-1912) who wrote over fifty novels, short stories and essays is considered to be Sweden's most influential author.

Astrid Lindgren, the children's author, is well known for her book Pippi Longstocking written in 1945 and her stories about Lotta.

Ingmar Bergman was Sweden's most famous stage and film director who started working in the film industry in 1944. Greta Garbo and Ingrid Bergman are two of Sweden's most famous film stars.

The well known Swedish opera singer Jenny Lind (1820-1887) spent much of her later life in England. A more recent contribution to international music has been made by Abba.

Swedish song writers include Anders Bagge and Arnthor Birgisson, Herbie Crichlow, Max Martin, Paul Rein, Fredrik Thomander and Anders Wikstrom who have written songs for a number of popular singers in countries such as the UK and USA.

Swedish sport is particularly well known for the tennis players: Bjorn Borg, Mats Wilander and Stefan Edberg.

Football and ice hockey are both played at international level. Skating and skiing are popular winter sports.

Sweden's rivers, lakes and coastline provide plenty of opportunities for fishing. Other water sports, such as swimming and sailing are also popular.

The Christian holidays of Easter and Christmas are celebrated. Walpurgis is one of several pagan festivals still observed in Sweden. Independence Day on 6 June is also the day of the Swedish Flag.

News from Sweden is available from Newslink.

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