Sweden, located in Northern Europe, is bordered by Finland and Norway, and is connected to Denmark by way of a bridge-tunnel. Sweden, a country of low population density, covers an area of over 450 thousand square miles (173 thousand sq. km.) and has a population of 9.4 million people, with more than 14% born outside of Sweden. Around 85% of the country’s inhabitants live in urban areas. The largest city is the capital, Stockholm.

The official language of Sweden is Swedish, a North Germanic language that is closely related to Danish and Norwegian.

The Swedish economy, which is the world’s 8th richest by GDP, is extremely export-oriented, centering on timber, hydropower, iron ore, engineering, telecommunications, the auto industry and pharmaceutical industries, as well as agriculture and various service industries. The country’s economy is dominated by major corporations, which include internationally renowned names like Volvo, Sony Ericsson, SCA, Electrolux, IKEA and Securitas.

Swedish food, like that of its Nordic neighbors, still contains elements from a diet that goes back to the 19th century, with major foods being fish, meat, potatoes and dairy products. Typical Swedish foods include meatballs, pancakes, and the ‘Smorgasbord, a sumptuous, buffet-style meal, although as is the case with many other countries, modern cuisine has assimilated several elements and dishes from foreign cuisine. ‘Kräftskiva’ is a festival that takes place in August celebrating the crayfish, when boiled crayfish and potatoes with dill are eaten.

Sweden, a particularly liberal country, has occupied a major position in various areas of the arts. Within the world of music, there is an eclectic mix of different genres, ranging from folk, through to pop, techno, rock and death metal. In the 19th century, Jenny Lind – known as the “Swedish Nightingale” – was a Swedish opera singer whose talent was acknowledged at a very early age. She gained international acclaim, first in Europe and then later in the United States. The emergence in the 1970s of the pop group ABBA, unquestionably the country’s most famous music export, paved the way for several international acts from Sweden in later years, such as Roxette, Ace of Base, The Cardigans, Basshunter and The Hives. Sweden has recently become renowned for indie pop bands, while one of the most popular groups in Sweden at the moment is rock band Kent. Cinema is another field in which Swedes have excelled, with actors including Ingrid Bergman and Greta Garbo and directors of international renown including Ingmar Bergman and Lasse Hallström.

Famous Swedes (recent and current) include champion tennis players Bjorn Borg and Stefan Edberg, the writer Stieg Larsson, ice hockey player Henrik Lundqvist and soccer manager Sven-Göran Eriksson.