Sweden has the largest population of the Nordic countries. It is separated in the west from Norway by a range of mountains and shares the Gulf of Bothnia to the north of the Baltic Sea with Finland.
The southern part of the country is chiefly agricultural, with forests covering an increasing percentage of the land the further north one goes. Population density is also higher in southern Sweden, with many people living in the valley of Lake Mälaren and the Öresund region.
In 1971 the Riksdag became a single-chamber Parliament. Its 349 members are elected on the basis of proportional representation for a four-year term.
The country has at least 17,000 indigenous Samis among its population – a community that derives most of its income from reindeer. Sweden is also home to a small number of ethnic Finns.
Sweden exports cars, engineering products, steel, electronic devices, communications equipment and paper products.
Swedes played a pioneering role of the early days of cinema. Leading the way were Mauritz Stiller and Victor Sjöström. Later on, directors like Ingmar Bergman and actresses such as Greta Garbo, Ingrid Bergman and Anita Ekberg made careers abroad. Swedish music is in many minds synonymous with the ’70s pop group ABBA.
Swedish cuisine is known for its Smorgåsbord (a buffet of savory delicacies), Baltic herring, pea soup and pancakes.