Nature and people

 

Sweden lies on the edge of the northern Europe and is the fifth largest country on the continent. It stretches west of the Baltic Sea along which runs its long eastern coastline, in the southwest it is confined by the Atlantic Ocean. Its border with Norway (1,619 km long) is the longest uninterrupted border within Europe. More than half of Sweden’s surface is covered in forests, around 10 % of it is taken up by its 100.000 lakes. The distance between the northern and the southern border of Sweden is around 1.600 kilometres, the same distance as from the suthernmost tip of Sweden to Rome.

Forests are, with the exception of the southernmost tip, coniferous, consisting primarily of pines and spruce trees. Agricultural areas represent only 7 % of the dry land, the most fertile are those in the south and in the middle third of the country. Along the coasts there can be found numerous archipelagos with 10.000 islands, among which Gotland and Öland are the largest ones in the Baltic Sea.

 

In the Scandinavian mountain chain, separating Sweden from Norway, the mountain tops reach above 1.500 metres of altitude. From there many rivers run towards the Gulf of Bothnia, and are a major source of electric energy for Sweden. South of the Swedish-Norwegian partition we find Vänern, the largest lake in western Europe. The highest peak of Sweden, Kebnekaise, is in the province of Lappland in the extreme north and is 2.097 metres high.

 

The forests, water power and iron ore are the country’s largest natural resources. Although the industry and unfavourable climatic conditions dictate the use of great amounts of energy, the consumption of fossile fuel is thanks to the water and atomic power relatively small and presently tends to decrease even further.

With the average population density of 22 inhabitants per square kilometre, Sweden is a relatively sparcely populated country. From among 9,5 million of inhabitants ca. 85 % live in the southern third of the country. Almost 20 % of the population were born abroad or have non-Swedish parents. Due to the long life expectancy and extensive immigration the population growth has been historically high ever since the second half of the 20th century, just as the average age of the inhabitants. Out of a very homogeneous society has Sweden in the past few decades begun turning into a multi-cultural society with immigrants from other Scandinavian states and from the south of Europe, recently the majority of them coming from the critical areas of Asia and Africa.

 

Around 20.000 Swedish indigenous Sami people, whose languages belong to the Uralic linguistic family, live far north in the Swedish Lappland province. Traditionally the Sami people were fishermen and breeders of reindeer. Today a large part of this ancient minority has integrated into the society and has assimilated the customs of the majority population.

Together with the Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic and Faroese, the Swedish language belongs to the Nordic group of Germanic languages. Throughout the centuries and primarily during the Middle Ages it was influenced mainly by the Germanic dialects, later by the French and most recently by the English language.

People are truly the greatest capital of this country. It is true that the Swedes often give the impression of being rigid, introverted, sullen, non-charismatic, without personal initiative and self-confidence. If all these stereotypes are valid is another question. It could also be true that a Swede is more reserved, that he/she has a preference for a more concrete approach, that he/she is more structured and has a practical, logical mind. We could say that he/she is open to progress and changes, under the condition that these are implemented through law and order, the technology, research and the mind. The reason why he/she appears to be reserved and have less initiative is also that he/she chooses not to raise his/her voice and put himself/herself into the foreground, if compared with the more hot-tempered and passionate members of other nations. 

Narava in ljudje

 

Švedska leži na robu severne Evrope in je površinsko peta največja dežela na kontinentu. Na vzhodu ima dolgo obalo ob Baltiku, na jugozahodu pa proti Atlantiku. Več kot polovica površine pokrivajo gozdovi, okrog 10 odstotkov pa približno sto tisoč jezer. Razdalja od severne do južne meje Švedske je približno 1.600 km ali približno toliko, kot od južne točke Švedske do Rima.

 

Gozdovi so, razen na skrajnem jugu, iglavci, predvsem bor in smreka. Kmetijskih površin je le 7 odstotkov kopnega ozemlja, najrodovitnejše so na jugu in v srednji tretjini ozemlja, vzdolž obal pa so arhipelagi z deset tisoči otoki med katerimi sta Gotland in Öland največja v Baltskem morju.

 

V skandinavski gorski verigi, ki deli Švedsko in Norveško, segajo vrhovi tudi nad 1.500 metrov nadmorske višine. Od tam tečejo številne reke proti Botnijskemu zalivu, ki so velik vir električne energije. Južno od Švedsko-norveške pregrade najdemo Vänern, največje jezero zahodne Evrope. Najvišja gora Švedske, Kebnekaise, leži v provinci Lappland na skrajnem severu in je visoka 2.097 metrov.

 

Gozd, vodna energija in železova ruda so bili največji naravni viri. Čeprav energetsko zahtevna industrija in neugodne klimatske razmere zahtevajo veliko porabo energije, je poraba fosilnih goriv prav zaradi vodne in atomske energije relativno majhna in se še zmanjšuje.

 

Švedska je s povprečno gostoto 22 prebivalcev na kvadratni kilometer redko poseljena. Od skupaj 9,5 miljona ljudi živi približno 85 odstotkov prebivalcev v južni tretjini dežele. Skoraj 20 odstotkov je rojenih v tujini ali pa sta oba starša tujca. Zaradi dolge življenjske dobe in številčnega priseljevanja je prirastek prebivalstva zgodovinsko visok že od druge polovice dvajsetega stoletja, povprečna starost pa prav tako. Iz zelo homogene družbe se je Švedska v zadnjih desetletjih začela spreminjati v multikulturno deželo s priseljenci iz drugih skandinavskih držav in južne Evrope, v zadnjem času pa so to predvsem priseljenci iz kriznih področij Azije in Afrike.

 

Okrog 20 tisoč švedskih staroselcev Samov, ki govorijo ugro-finski jezik, živi daleč na severu v provinci Lappland. Tradicionalno so bili Sami ribiči in rejci severnih jelenov. Danes se je velik del te prastare manjšine integriral v družbo in prevzel navade večinskega prebivalstva.

 

Švedščina spada skupaj z danskim, norveškim, islandskim in ferskim jezikom v nordijsko skupino germanskih jezikov. Skozi stoletja so v času srednjega veka na razvoj jezika vplivali nemški dialekti, kasneje francoščina, zadnje čase pa angleščina.

 

Prav ljudje pa so največje bogastvo te dežele. Švedi sicer pogosto dajejo vtis, da so okorni, zaprti vase, čemerni, brez karizme, osebne prodornosti in samozavesti; pravo nasprotje Američanom. Če to res drži je drugo vprašanje. Mogoče je tudi res, da je Šved bolj zadržan, da je raje bolj konkreten, bolj strukturiran in da je usmerjen proti praktičnemu in logičnemu. Lahko bi rekli, da je pripravljen na spremembe in napredek, predvsem pod pogojem, da veljata zakon in red, skozi tehniko, raziskave in razum. Pri tem pa daje vtis, da je manj prodoren, preveč zadržan, ker ne dviga svojega glasu in se ne postavlja v ospredje, tako kot bolj vročekrvni in temperamentni narodi.