Sweden at a Glance
Moving to Sweden
- The Swedish climate varies greatly depending on where you choose to live.
- The visa and work permit application process is relatively straight-forward.
- You can travel to and around Sweden both by ferry and train, as well as by plane or car.
- Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö are all lovely destinations of varying size.
When you move to Sweden, one of the first things you will probably recognize is the egalitarian spirit prevalent in the country. While Sweden used to be a significant military power throughout the 17th century, it has, in fact, not participated in a war in over two hundred years.
Once you arrive, you will discover that there is a lot more to this Scandinavian country than the welcoming nature of its citizens. Beautiful archipelagos, breathtaking coastlines and vibrant cities await expatriates in Sweden.
Great Contrasts: Climate and Location
Sweden is a country in Northern Europe, located right at the Baltic Sea between Norway and Finland. Because of its strategic location, it forms a link between the Baltic Sea and the North Sea.
The climate in the South is temperate with cool, yet often bright summers and cold winters. The climate in the north is subarctic with extremely long days in the summer and long, cold periods of darkness in the winter, so you might want to move to Sweden’s south if you’d rather experience regular days and nights! The urbanization in Sweden is quite high. As of 2016, 85% of the population's 9.7 million inhabitants are living in major urban areas such as the capital Stockholm.
A Small and Aging Population
Sweden is famous for its calm and often introverted people. What many expatriates moving to Sweden perceive as shyness, however, mostly stems from a strong sense of politeness and rationality. Although most Swedes do not like to draw attention to themselves, individualism is strong, especially among younger generations.
You may soon realize, though, that the younger generation is not that large in Sweden. In fact, at the age of 41, Swedish people have a rather high median age with a high life expectancy to boot. Sweden’s population itself is not that big, though, with only a little over 9.7 million inhabitants. That’s why you will find a lot of open space, and peace and serenity when moving to Sweden.
While there is a small Finnish and Sami minority, most expatriates in Sweden are immigrants from other European countries. Most Swedes are Lutheran, and Swedish is the only official language. Despite the lack of significant cultural diversity, however, Swedes are a people for whom equality and fairness is essential.
The Sami People
The Sami are an indigenous people living in the Northern part of Scandinavia, who have a rich cultural and traditional background. There are only about 70,000 Samis living in Sápmi, which today stretches across Sweden, Norway, Finland and Russia. About 20,000 of them have settled in Sweden, maintaining their cultural heritage alongside modern Swedish society.
The Sami were nomadic hunters who once followed reindeer herds until the 17th century when they increasingly domesticated these animals. Aside from reindeer herding and meat production, arts and crafts are considered traditional Sami trades. Many Sami nowadays run traditional agricultural farming alongside their reindeer herding (from which now only 10% of Samis earn a living) or sell the product of their arts and crafts to tourists. The younger generations of Sami are also working in more “modern” jobs alongside the family business. This also applies to the accommodation of today’s Sami who only use tents as very temporary accommodation, preferring modern housing.
The Sami Parliament was established in 1993 and functions both as a state authority and a publicly elected body. It promotes the Sami culture but is not a body for self-government. There is no political representation of the Sami within the Swedish government although there are some local politicians in the northernmost Swedish municipalities.
An Introduction to Swedish Politics
Sweden is a constitutional monarchy with a legal system influenced by Romano-Germanic and customary law, which has been independent since 6 June 1523.
Aside from the presence of the monarchy, the Swedish government functions in a similar way to many other European countries. Sweden’s King is considered the head of state, while the Prime Minister and deputy Prime Minister form the head of Sweden’s government. The legislative branch of Sweden’s government consists of the unicameral parliament or Riksdag. The parliament has 349 seats. Its members are elected by popular vote and serve a four year term.
Whilst the monarchy is, of course, hereditary, the leader of the party with the majority of votes usually becomes the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister personally chooses the ministers who form the cabinet. The Supreme Court or Högsta Domstolen makes up the judicial branch of the government. Its judges are appointed by the Prime Minister and the cabinet.
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