A Frequently Answered Questions (FAQ) file for the newsgroup
S O C . C U L T U R E . N O R D I C
*** PART 7: SWEDEN ***
7.1 Fact Sheet
7.2 General information
7.2.1 Geography, climate, vegetation
7.2.5 the Swedish language
7.2.7 Democratic traditions
7.3.1 A chronology of important dates
7.3.2 A list of Swedish monarchs
7.3.3 the medieval time
7.3.4 the consolidation of the state
7.3.5 toward democracy
7.3.6 ! War all around Sweden
7.3.7 social security
7.4 Main tourist attractions
7.4.6 The rest of Sweden
7.5 Swedish literature
7.6.1 Skåne and Skåneland
7.6.2 Miscellaneous facts
7.6.3 A few marks in history
7.6.4 International status
7.6.5 The flag
7.6.8 Membership in the European Union
7.6.9 Cooperation with Sjælland and the bridge over
7.6.10 A politically united region
7.7 Books for learning Swedish
Subject: 7.1 Fact Sheet
Name: Konungariket Sverige
Telephone area code: 46
Area: 449.964 km² / 173.629 sq mi.
Land boundaries: Norway, Finland
Terrain: mostly flat or gently rolling lowlands;
blunt mountains in north and west;
large archipelagos on the eastern coast.
Highest mountain: Kebnekaise, 2,111 m (6,926 ft)
Natural resources: iron ore, zinc, lead, copper, silver, timber,
Population: 8.835.000 (1996)
Population density: 19 persons / km².
Distribution: 83% urban, 17% rural. (1990)
Life expectancy: males: 76, females: 81 (1995)
Capital: Stockholm (pop. 693,000;
Stockholms län 1,686,000 [ the metropolitan area ])
Other major towns: Göteborg (Gothenburg 450,000),
Flag: a yellow Nordic cross on blue background.
Type: constitutional monarchy
Head of state: King Carl XVI Gustaf
(Finnish, Romani and Sami languages
are acknoledged minority languages.)
Currency: krona (Swedish crown, SEK). For the current exchange
rate, see URL http://www.dna.lth.se/cgi-bin/kurt/rates
Climate: temperate in south with cold winters; sub-arctic in north.
Temp. in Stockholm: -5°C - +1°C in Feb.,
+14°C - +22°C in July.
Religion: Evangelic-Lutheran (91%) (official state-religion),
Lutheran free churches (3%),
Roman Catholic (1.5%),
Exports: machinery, motor vehicles, paper products, pulp and wood,
iron and steel products, chemicals, electronics
Subject: 7.2 General information
[ By: Ahrvid Engholm and Antti Lahelma ]
7.2.1 Geography, climate, vegetation
Sweden occupies the Eastern part of the Scandinavian peninsula. It's a long
(1572 kilometers) and rather narrow country, and the largest of the Nordic
countries. It shares a long border with Norway to the west and a shorter
border with Finland in the east; Denmark lies to the south across the Danish
straits, over one of which (Öresund) a huge bridge is being built. The
Baltic Sea islands of Gotland and Öland are integral parts of Sweden.
Northwestern Sweden is crossed by an ancient mountain chain; the remainder
of the north is a southeast-sloping plateau that rises to between 200 and
500 meters. South of the Norrland, forming the region of Svealand in central
Sweden and Götaland farther south, is a varied region of plains and rift
valleys. (The region Götaland should strictly speeking not be used for more
than the provinces Dalsland, Västergötland and Östergötland, but most often
also Bohuslän, Halland, Småland, Skåne and Bleking are understood as
provinces of Götaland, as they are incorporated in the Swedish realm after
being captured in the 17th century.) To the north of the highlands is the
Central Swedish Depression, a down-faulted, lake-strewn lowland extending
across the peninsula from near Göteborg to east of Stockholm and Uppsala. To
the south is Skåne, a low-lying, predominantly agricultural area.
Because of it's large area and latitudinal extent, Sweden has a number of
climate regimes. A cold, maritime climate dominates the country's west
coast. The northern two-thirds of the country has a continental climate
marked by severe winters. The south central areas experience the long,
rather cold winters of the north, but they enjoy milder summers. The
mountain regions remain cool in summer. In January temperatures average
-0.8°C at Lund in the south), -2.8°C at Stockholm, and -13.7°C at Jokkmokk
north of the the Arctic Circle. In July, the temperature variation is lower
because of the sun shines the longer the further north one goes: 15°C at
Jokkmokk, 18°C at Stockholm, and only 17°C at Lund. Snow remains on the
ground for 40 days in southernmost Sweden, 100 days in the Stockholm area,
and 250 days in the northwest mountains.
Forest covers ca. 64% of the land area. It consists of a summer-green forest
of beeches, oaks, and other deciduous trees in the south, a mixed forest of
deciduous and coniferous trees in central Sweden, and a predominantly
coniferous forest of mainly pines and spruce in the north. Mountain birch
and dwarf birch grow in colder upland areas, and tundra covers the highest
elevations. Treeless moors (peat moss and marshland) cover more than 14% of
all Sweden and as much as 40% in western areas of the south and parts of
Norrland. Bears, wolves and lynxes are now found only in isolated woodlands,
elk and deer are the common large animals found elsewhere.
Sweden's most valuable assets are forests, mines (especially iron, but
copper has also been important), and in modern days hydroelectric power. The
metallurgic industry was started in the 16th and 17th centuries, and through
the ages Sweden has been known as one of the biggest iron exporters in the
world. A mechanical industry came with the industrial revolution in the 19th
Century, and Swedish products such as steel (Sandvik), paper (SCA and
others), cars (Volvo and Saab), ball bearings (SKF), electrical equipment
(ASEA, now ABB), telephone equipment (Ericsson) have become well known.
Sweden is a constitutional Monarchy, but the monarch only acts as a
ceremonial head of state. A parliament (Riksdag) composed of 349 members is
elected every four years; it elects the prime minister, passes laws, decides
on taxes and approves the state budget. The cabinet holds office only as
long as it retains the support of a majority in the Riksdag. The state
authorities are comparably independent of the cabinet: their highest
officials being appointed by the cabinet for six years, and usually the term
is extended unless serious problems occurred in the contact between the
authority and the ministry. There are four laws protected as constitutions:
Instrument of Government, Parliament Act, Succession Act, and the Freedom of
the Press Act.
The 286 municipalities are obliged to fulfill services to its inhabitants as
stipulated by law, but are independent to decide the means without
interference from state authorities. Municipalities are mainly responsible
for education and social service. Additionally there are likewisely
independent province councils responsible mainly for hospitals, medical
practioners and other health care.
The democratic councils for municipalities and provinces are elected by the
residents, regardless of citizenship, which in the most extreme cases means
that nearly 20% of them eligible to vote are aliens.
After the era of the Kalmar Union between Denmark and Sweden, king Gustaf
Vasa created a more modern nation and made Sweden Lutheran. After the losses
of territories 1718 and 1809 democratic reforms where made, but it lasted to
1921 until all adult citizens had the right to vote (for men: 1907), and
first 1971 the constitution was changed to reflect the long-time practice of
During the 1990:ies the state church is in the process of liberating itself
from the state, or maybe more accurate: the state is giving up its power
over the church, and the church will lose some of the authority connected to
its status as state church. A decreased number of members is to expect.
Sweden has not been involved in a war since 1814, mainly due to luck and a
strong policy of neutrality. This policy may shift as Sweden in January 1995
joined the European Union (but the future isn't very clear yet).
There are old proto-democratic traditions in Sweden. In the middle ages the
kings were elected for life by representatives of the different "landskaps".
Even when the monarchy was made hereditary after the Kalmar Union, the
elected estates at the Riksdag retained substantial power (though the king
sometimes managed to push this power back). These traditions played an
important role as modern democracy gradually took over in the 19th and early
Two important political concepts emerge from Sweden: the ombudsman, a
representative elected by the parliament to watch public administrations and
with the power to prosecute, and the constitutional principle of official
documents ("offentlighetsprincipen" constituting a part of the Freedom of
the Press Act), which says that all governmental documents are a priori
public (unless declared secret under special laws).
The principal political parties are
* the Social Democratic party (led by the prime minister Göran Persson),
* the "Moderata Samlingspartiet" (the rightest party with liberal policy
but a conservative heritage; led by former prime minister Carl Bildt),
* the Center party (with agrarian dominance and subsequently
* the (social) Liberal party "Folkpartiet",
* the Christian Democratic party,
* the Environmentalists The Green,
* the Left (formerly the Communist) party, and
* the populist "Ny Demokrati" (New Democracy - now committing suicide).
Beginning in the 1930s, the Social Democrats were the dominant party, their
position secured by economic prosperity and a broad program of social
welfare. In the 1970s and 1980s, however, dissatisfaction grew among the
voters over high taxes and a lagging economy. An anti-socialist coalition
governed from 1976 to 1982, and another one under Carl Bildt from 1991 to
1994, when Social Democrats under Carlsson again came to power. When in
trouble, as for the moment, the social democrats have a tradition to lean
against the Center party, with regular negotiations and agreements, but
without forming coalition cabinets.
In the last elections the results has been as follows:
1973 1976 1979 1982 1985 1988 1991 1994
Left 5,3 4,8 5,6 5,6 5,4 5,8 4,5 6,2
Green (1,7) (1,5) 5,5 (3,4) 5,0
Soc.dem. 43,6 42,7 43,2 45,6 44,7 43,2 37,7 45,3
soc.lib. 9,4 11,1 10,6 5,9 14,2 12,2 9,1 7,2
center 25,1 24,1 18,1 15,5 12,4 11,3 8,5 7,7
christ. (1,9) (2,9) 7,1 4,1
Right 14,3 15,6 20,3 23,6 21,3 18,3 21,9 22,4
popul. 6,7 (1,2)
left 48,9 47,5 48,8 51,2 50,1 54,5 42,2 56,5
right 48,8 50,8 49,0 45,0 47,9 41,8 53,1 41,4
In parentheses: results below the 4,0% limit for representation.
Maybe due to the dominant position of the Social Democrats the politic life
in Sweden has been characterized by semi-rigid right and left blocks defined
as oppositional or supporters of the Social Democrats. During some periods
the Social Democrats have succeeded to cooperate with one of the right block
parties, as during 1996 with the Center Party, which the other parties have
seen as weakening of the opposition.
Account over municipal responsibilities
Approximately 50% of the municipal services are financed through direct
taxes, only 15% by direct fees, and about 20% as state contributions. (Don't
ask about the remaining 15% - the municipal trolls might change their
minds.) Totally 350 milliards SEK are used for municipal activities, and 170
milliards SEK for the province councils, of which nearly all goes to the
health care sector.
The main municipal expenditures are:
* Primary and secondary education (21%),
* caring for elderly (17%),
* caring for children (11%),
* support of disabled and poor (8%),
* supply of ground and housing (10%),
* supply of water, energy and garbage disposal (7%),
* public transportations (4%), and
* sport and leisure (4%).
[ Figures above for year 1993 ]
Account over state revenue
Approximately 550 milliards SEK are distributed by the state budget, of
which 75 milliards go straight to the municipalities and provinces as
The rest is distributed on:
(memorizeable figures, in the range +/- 10% of exact figures)
* 100 mill. National debt interest
* 75 mill. pensions to aged and disabled
* 75 mill. state consumption (defence, police, universities etc)
* 75 mill. transfers to families, unemployed, diseased and others
* 45 mill. transfers to private corporations
* 30 mill. transfers to state enterprises
* 15 mill. foreign aid
[ Figures above for the fiscal year 1993/94 ]
The nation has its roots in the different kingdoms of the Viking Age, and is
said to have been created when the King of the Svenonians ("Svearna")
assumed kingship over Goths ("Götarna") as well in early middle ages. The
word Sweden ("Sverige" short for "Svea rike" in Swedish) comes from the
Svenonians ("Svearna"); "Sverige" means the realm of the Svenonians. The
English form of the name is probably derived from an old Germanic form,
Svetheod, meaning the Swedish people. In medieval times the Swedes also
pushed north to colonize the province now known as Norrland, and over the
Baltic Sea to conquer Finland.
Sweden has a relatively homogeneous population in ethnic stock, language,
Because of the country's isolation only few non-Swedes have intermixed with
the Swedes before very recent times; the major groups that have done so were
Finns 1580-1660 and Walloons from present-day Belgium, who settled in the
Bergslagen area in the 1620s.
Groups that maintain their distinct ethnic identity today include a Finnish
minority on the border to Finland, about 15,000 Saami, and recent
Since 1987 the Tornedalen-Finnish, Saami languages and Romani have special
status as minority languages, and since 1993 the Saami minority elects a
representative assembly, the Saami Parliament, which however has limited
power. Constitutionally this assembly, despite its name, is less more than a
lobby organization with authority to distribute the funds the Swedish
government let it dispose.
In the furtest north geographical names make the Lappish heritage obvious.
The following words in Saami languages are usual:
tjuolma= land between rivers,
luokta = bay,
jaure = sea,
jokk = small river,
kaise = steep peak,
tjåkkå = blunt peak,
vare = fjeld mountain,
tuottar= fjeld plain (without trees).
12% of the population are 1:st generation immigrants:
from the Baltic countries (1944); Hungary (1956); Yugoslavia, Greece, and
Turkey (in the 1960s and '70s), Czechoslovakia (1968), Chile (1973), Iran
and Iraq (in the 1980s), Palestina/Lebanon, and recently arrived refugees
from the civil wars in Yugoslavia. A third of the immigrants (4,4%) has
arrived from the neighboring countries Finland, Norway, Denmark, Germany and
Today about half of the immigrants have Swedish citizenship.
7.2.5 The Swedish language
Swedish is a Germanic language, very closely related to Danish and Norwegian
(most Swedes can understand Danish and Norwegian), and somewhat less close
to Icelandic, German, Dutch and English. There are many words borrowed from
German, French (18th Century) and English (later). Except for in Sweden,
Swedish is spoken by a native minority in Finland, and a nowadays very small
minority at the Estonian coast and islands.
Peculiar with the Swedish language is that there exist not only one, but at
least four hight status dialects (and sociolects): One southern, connected
with Scania and the University in Lund, one western spoken by affluent
people in and around Gothenburg/Göteborg, one eastern valid in Finland (for
instance on stage in Helsinki/Helsingfors), and finally the sociolect spoken
by higher officials, actors and others in the capital, which serves as high
status standard for the rest of Sweden, connected with the University in
Uppsala. Besides there exist at least a dozen of still distinguishable
dialects, or dialect groups, but after the breakthrough for radio and TV
these dialects have been heavily influented by the equalizing effect of the
broadcasting media. (A recent unsolved dispute in the newsgroup was whether
the Scanian dialects rightfully is to classify as East-Danish together with
the dialect on Bornholm, or with the dialects of Götaland i.e. in Göteborg,
Småland and Östergötland.)
For non-Nordics who attempt to learn the Swedish language, the pronunciation
might seem rather difficult, since Swedish (at least the "standard" variety
of it spoken in Sweden) has several unusual vowels and consonants, e.g.
retroflexed dentals and the "sj"-sound in sjuk "sick" which are not found in
other European languages. Distinct word tones also characterize certain
elements of its vocabulary, for which reason acquisition of a good Swedish
pronunciation requires a considerable amount of commitment and work. The
serious student of Swedish also has to learn to deal with regional varieties
such as Scanian and Finland-Swedish, both of which differ sharply in
pronunciation from the Stockholm-area oriented standard "broadcast" Swedish.
Erland Sommarskog <firstname.lastname@example.org> replies:
To be fair, dialects of Swedish are not worse than say of Italian.
- Or for that matter, English.
You don't need to bother about the "sj" in "sjuk". While as noted above,
this is a strange creature, it is also subject to huge variation, and if you
get in conversation with some Swedes you might find that every one is
pronouncing the sound differently - even that the same person is chosing
different realiasations on different occassions. Phonemically you would
write them all /S/, you can use the sound for "sh" in "shoe" without being
particularly wrong. You will then have to learn to distinguish this alevoar
fricative from the palatal fricative in "tjuv" - then again, there are
Swedes who don't.
From my experience the retroflexes does not cause much problems either. Odd
as they are, foreigners seem to pick them up quite easily. And, again, it is
possible to avoid them. They arise when 'r' is followed by 's', 'n', 'd',
't' and 'l', but several dialects pronounce them separately. And while in
Sweden this is dialects have an uvular or velar 'r', I know people who speak
with a front 'r' and yet do not use retroflexes without having any
Finland-Swedish ancestry at all. How this has come about I don't know, but
I'm suspecting these individuals to have abandoned their original dialect
for an over-correct standard Swedish.
There are nevertheless some difficult sound in Swedish. 'u' as in "kul" is a
rounded semi-high front vowel which has few equals. To a foreigner it might
seem close to 'y' which is a rounded high front vowel, but I can assure you
to a Swede they are most definitely not.
Then again, I once spoke with a British gentleman who said "Sturegatan". His
'u' was perfect, but the first 'a' in "gatan" revealed him directly. To wit,
the 'a' is the same as in "father" but with slightly different colour.
Anyway, Swedish pronouciation is probably difficult because it is so
irregular. Not so bad as English, but bad enough. One thing we are
particularly fond of are homographs, that is words with the same spelling
but different pronounciation: "vän", "kort", "hov", "vits", "hänger".
Swedes work hard, pay high taxes, try to be open minded to other cultures
(there is much immigration, which most people seem to accept), enjoy their
traditions (around Christmas and Midsummer, for instance), but it is not
true we should be among the heaviest drinkers in the world. Statistics in
the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet January 7th 1995 shows Swedish alcohol
consumption to be on only 21st place among a selection of the industrialized
nations, with 6.1 (100% pure) liters of alcohol/year (after most Western
European countries and USA). On the other hand we do (most of us do) still
follow our old custom to drink only occasionally, but then with the goal to
get drunk. [ For further information, see the article in part 2 about Nordic
alcohol customs. ]
Swedes take pride in making the society friendly to children and their
parents including long government-paid maternal leaves, subsidized
pre-schools and municipal investments for sport and leisure-time activities.
Swedish women have one of the highest fertility rates in the industrialized
world, giving birth to 1.97 child each, and the highest rate of breast
In the same intention to make the society friendly and to lighten the lives
of its members, Sweden has also put certain effort into making public
buildings, and also ordinary tenement houses, available for wheel chairs.
The nature, the big woods and the mountains, have a particular place in the
hearts of the Swedes. The General Right to Public Access ("Allemansrätten")
is unique for the Scandinavian countries, and the most important base for
outdoor recreation, providing the possibility for each and everyone to visit
non-cultivated land, to take a bath in seas, and to pick the wild flowers,
berries and mushrooms.
The religious rites as baptizing, confirmation, marriage and funeral are
deeply rooted in the culture, although only a small minority participate in
ordinary mass. Despite the fact that the Swedes have honored the old
Germanic tradition that the people follow the religion of the king, and
subsequently all Swedes were obliged to communion long into the 19:th
century and to membership in the state church long into the 20:th century,
it can also be noted that Swedes belong to the most secularized people in
The church, and its services, are felt more as a cultural heritage, than as
a religious. As for instance at 1:st Sunday in Advent and at Christmas Eve -
the two days at the year when the churches are filled.
Science and technology also play an important role in the modern Swedish
society. Private companies fund substantial research and development, and
also the government funds research at the universities. Examples are the JAS
Gripen fighter project, and the information technology strategies put forth
by the Bildt (1991-1994) government. (The following cabinets, led by Ingvar
Carlsson and Göran Persson have been less enthusiastic about these
Leading cultural institutions (in Stockholm) are the Swedish Royal Opera;
the Royal Dramatic Theater; the National Touring Theater; and the Swedish
Academy, which awards the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Literature is important in Swedish culture. Authors like August Strindberg
(1849-1912), Selma Lagerlöf (1858-1940) who wrote Gösta Berlings Saga
(awarded with the Nobel Prize) and Astrid Lindgren (1907-) are among the
best known. At the previous century shift public libraries were organized by
different organizations in nearby every village with a church or a school.
Most of them still remain, but now run by the municipalities. A curious
detail is that most Swedes probably would not count authors as Edith
Södergran and Tove Jansson as Swedish authors, despite the fact that they
have written in Swedish - their mother tongue.
There aren't many internationally known Swedish composers, but Swedes have
an ancient fondness for ballads and troubadours (Carl Michael Bellman
(1740-1795) is dearly loved by Swedes), and in the later days Swedish pop
and rock groups have reached international fame (e.g ABBA, Army of Lovers,
Roxette, Ace of Base, etc).
Of the many immigrants very few have yet become popular cultural
personalities. Maybe with exception of the poet Theodor Kalifatides and
Finland-Swedish actors, as Stina Ekblad, Jörn Donner, Birgitta Ulfsson and
Lasse Pöisti. Promising is however how a lot of new Swedish rock bands come
from suburbs with immigrant majorities, and how some of the most popular
rock and pop artists are immigrants, as for instance dr. Alban.
Sweden also has a strong movie tradition, already from the days of the
silent movies, people such as Victor Sjöström (1879-1960), known in the
United States as Victor Seastrom, and Mauritz Stiller (1883-1928). The
director Ingmar Bergman (1918-) is world-famous and actors like Ingrid
Bergman (1915-1982) and Greta Garbo (1905-1990) have played in several of
the classics of the movie history.
Various sports are popular in Sweden, especially team sports like soccer and
ice hockey, but also for example tennis and table-tennis, outdoor activities
like skiing and orienteering.
7.2.7 local democratic traditions
If Swedes aren't proud of the violent past with vikings, wars and conquers
then instead the long and strong democratic tradition is a very important
part of the cultural heritage.
To trace this tradition is almost impossible, since already in the first
written laws (from the 1220:ies) it seems obvious that the customs are
timehonored. Villages had had time at least since the Iron age to develop
traditions. To distinguish Sweden's conditions compared to Finland, Denmark
or the European continent is also hard but a few differences are obvious.
While solitarily living families have been more important in parts of
Finland, villages and works are the most prominent communities in Sweden.
The Danish tradition is influenced by feudalism and the absence of woods and
works. Fishing villages have been of the greatest importance on the long
Norwegian coast and on the many Danish islands. These societal differences
are usable when one tries to analyze the differences between "national
characters" - still one must remember the resemblance is more prominent than
Scandinavia and Finland has had only a rudimentary feudal system. Most land
has been owned by commoners paying taxes to the king and without being
directs subordinates to any lords. The great forests has made it hard for
the lords to pester and punish the commoners.
In Sweden the villages were left to rule themselves without any superior to
interfere. Each villages had, until the 19:th century, one fenced field
precisely marked in shares for each property. (On the rich plains some
villages had two or even three fenced fields where the crops were changed
systematically, but in these cases each farm had property on each field.)
Outside of the fence the cattle had to graze between sowing and harvest. The
farmers were responsible for one part each of the fence. The fence was the
most important subject the villagers had to cooperate about, but as the
field was organized it was also practically and often necessary to do the
work coordinated on the same days. The village meeting had to discuss and
decide about this, but also about the use of woods, fishing water, common
roads, boats and herding.
The village meeting was however not for crofters or other poor. Instead it
often regulated how many lodgers the village could feed, forcing people to
The main rule was, that changes in the statues for a villages were to be
accepted by all farmers unanimous. The statues could however stipulate that
other decisions were to be made by a majority. Unanimity was however the
basic rule for how decisions were to be made at meetings in villages and
This tradition of unanimous decisions must have contributed to the Swedish
custom of adjustment of ones attitudes to the perceived majority. Unanimous
decisions demand a high degree of compromises from the individuals.
The pre-Christian culture was a tribe culture like many other of the
pre-Christian cultures among the indo-Europeans. The members of a tribe were
obliged to avenge injuries against their dead and mutilated relatives. A
balancing structure is necessary to hinder tribe fights to lead to society
destructing anarchy. In the North-Germanic cultures the balancing
institution was the Thing ("ting"). The thing was the assembly of the free
men in an area, as in a hundred ("härad") or in a province / county
("landskap"), at which disputes were solved and political decisions were
made. Before Christianity chieftains where at the same time political and
religious leaders, with the main purpose to bring the people good times
("fred" - nowadays actually the word for peace). The place for the Thing
("tingsplats") was often also the place for public religious rites, and
sometimes the place for commerce.
In case of bad times the people could sacrifice their leader (literally!),
or maybe less violently select another leader. As the Christian missionaries
then convinced the most respected among the viking magnates, an abyss opened
between the ordinary agrarian people an their converted magnates; and the
old order was disrupted.
Free peasants who were used to participate in the decision making in the
village, in the province and in the realm did not easily accept to be left
unquestioned when the Svea kingdom expanded.
The Engelbrecht rebellion is probably the best picture we can get of how
kings had been elected in older times. Engelbrecht was elected to captain
for Dalarna where he and the people had promised each other allegiance, then
he went to Västmanland, where the people summoned to the "tingsplats"
expressed their support and allegiance, then to Uppland where Engelbrecht
and the people promised each other allegiance, then to Östergötland, where
the procedure was repeated, and then to Västergötland where he was honored
by the people, then to Halland (the part which at that time was identified
with Götaland and Sweden). All this occurred in the end of the summer 1434.
In January 1435 a diet appointed Engelbrecht as captain for the Swedish
realm, and as such he that year negotiated with the union-king - with poor
result. In response to demands from the country a new diet was summoned in
1436 where Engelbrecht was elected king. As king he requested the people in
Stockholm to swear allegiance. The Stockholmians had to choose between a
battle and a new king, and accepted the new king.
During the 16th century a lot of land was taken by the state from parishes
and convents. These lands were then often transferred to the nobility,
particularly from 1567 to 1680, which had important consequences for the
peasants. Tenant farmers on state property could be forced to do extra work
in addition to the law-regulated taxes, which was a less favorable situation
than for farmers owning their own land, but farmers on land sold/given to
nobel masters had additionally lost their right to participation in the
elections of peasant representatives at the diets.
Works (bruksorter) is the contrasting element, organized in much as a
manorial estate, where the owner had the duty to act as a good master in a
strictly hierarchical household. The works was a closed society, taking
responsibility for the people living there from the cradle to the grave.
United the people could express their wishes and propositions, and a wise
master would not act against the best of the people. But the power was his.
The rules of order at democratic meetings got changed in the 19:th century.
The villages were split, many farmers' houses were moved away from the
village, each farm got it's field separated from the others, and the village
meeting became obsolete. The traditions from the higher assemblies, where
the majority ruled, were found fit for the parishes also, particularly when
these came to grow due to the urbanization. With the Free Churches, the
Temperance movement and the workers unions foreign influences were added to
the old traditions.
Today fairness and equality are important parts of the order at a meeting.
The word is given to speakers in the order they have asked for it, no-one is
to be unfairly favored. The assembly and the chair are not supposed to
interrupt the speaker, unless he/she breaks any decided rules (as a time
limit) or humiliates others. All who wish to speak are entitled to do so
prior to the voting, all are entitled to put propositions forward, all
propositions are to be equally handled (almost!), and in case of the
majority taking a position one feel impossible to take responsibility for,
then all are entitled to get ones dissentient opinions taken to the records.
But still traces of the unanimity tradition is visible in the attitude that
people who suspect they belong to a minority should better not utter their
opinion - to the best of all - in order to reinforce the feeling of unity
and unanimity. ...and after a decision all participants are expected to
advocate the opinion of the majority - whatever they thought before.
Subject: 7.3 History
A brief chronicle is to find in the sections 7.3.3-7.3.7.
7.3.1 A chronology of important dates
829 The German bishop Ansgar introduces Christianity to Sweden.
Olof Skötkonung was baptized, and made Christianity the official
religion of Sweden. Several pagan kings followed him, though.
1104 With the first bishop of Lund, Scandinavia was made a separate church
province, no longer belonging to Hamburg.
1155 Securing (conquering) of Finland for Catholicism.
1164 A separate arch-bishopric for Sweden was instituted in Uppsala. Until
1152 the archbishop in the Scanian town Lund in Denmark had been the
primate for all of Norden.
1187 Estonians invade and burn Sigtuna.
The Scanian Law is written down 1210. In the 1220:ies also the Swedish
provinces (landskap) start to write down their landskapslagar. 1240 the
movement has reached Västergötland, and Äldre Västgötalagen is written
1226 Falu copper mine is opened.
1250 Stockholm becomes the capital, after Birka and Sigtuna, founded by
Birger Jarl, earl of Sweden and 1250-1266 guardian for the under age
1285 The Swedish king Birger (Ladulås) claims supremacy over Gotland.
1293 Viipuri is established at/as the eastern border of Sweden.
1306 King Birger is imprisoned by his brothers duke Valdemar and duke Erik,
the so called Håtunaleken.
1317 King Birger imprisons his brothers, attempting to let them starve to
death, the so called Nyköpings gästabud, but is forced to escape out of
Personal union with Norway under king Magnus Eriksson.
Scania, Blekinge & Gotland ruled by the Swedish king after the Scanian
Archbishop and magnates had elected Magnus Eriksson, the king of Sweden
to become also king of the Scanian provinces.
1335 Slavery was abolished.
1344 St. Birgitta (1303-1373), Sweden's most important medieval saint,
starts to write down her Heavenly Revelations and decides to start a
convent in Vadstena. The Brigittine Order exists even today in many
1350 The Black Death (the Plague)
The first Swedish national law replaced the local landskapslagar.
1361 The Danish king Valdemar Atterdag conquers Gotland.
The Nordic kingdoms are united as the "Kalmar Union", led by Denmark.
1477 Uppsala university founded; the oldest university in the Nordic
1520 Stockholm blood bath.
1521 Gustav Vasa is elected regent.
1523 Gustav Vasa is elected king of Sweden.
1526 The New Testament and hymnal is printed in the Swedish language - 1541
is the whole Bible ready.
1527 Reformation decided at the diet of Västerås. (Being able to collect
taxes from the Church and pay off national debts had a lot to do with
1542 Nils Dacke leads a rebellion in Småland.
1561 Estonia surrenders to Sweden.
1568 King Erik is imprisoned, and 1577 poisoned.
1593 Lutheranism is confirmed by a Church meeting in Uppsala.
The Catholic Sigismund inherits the throne, Sweden in personal union
1600 Linköping's blood bath.
1613 Sweden pays ransom for the fort at Älvsborg, where 1619 Gothenburg is
1617 Sweden gets the Kexholm province and Ingria ("Ingermanland") in the
peace of Stolbova with Russia.
1629 Poland cedes Livonia to Sweden in the peace of Altmark.
1632 The university in Dorpat is founded.
Gustav II Adolf is killed in the battle of Lützen.
1640 The university in Åbo is founded.
1645 Sweden gets Gotland, Ösel (Saaremaa), Jämtland and Härjedalen from
Denmark in the peace of Brömsebro.
1648 In the peace treaty of Westphalia, Sweden wins the German territories
(Vorpommern, Rügen, Stettin, Wismar, and Bremen-Verden) and becomes a
1658 The peace treaty of Roskilde gives Sweden Bohuslän and the Scanian
provinces of Skåne, Blekinge and Halland. Bornholm is returned to
Denmark after an uprising 1660. The Swedish territory of today is
1668 The university in Lund is founded.
Nobel masters have right to sentence their employees.
1676 The battle at Lund
1679 Gotland is annected by Sweden.
1697 The Stockholm Castle ("Three Crowns") burns down.
The Great Northern War, with the battles at Narva 1700 and Poltava
1709. Sweden loses most of the German and all of the Baltic
territories. The power shifts from the king to the estates.
1742 The estates confirm the democratic forms for decisions at the village
Celsius designs a thermometer.
1757 Storskifte, first reform of Swedish farming decided.
1766 The liberty of Press and "Offentlighetsprincipen" was declared as
1771 Scheele discovers oxygen.
1772 Gustav III performs a coup and restores absolute monarchy.
1773 Torture is abolished in Sweden.
1778 Freedom of religion for aliens.
Bellman publishes Fredman collections.
1792 Gustav III is assassinated at a masked ball.
1807 Enskifte, grand reform of Swedish farming decided. Villages were split
into separate farms, so farmers came to live closer to their land, more
distant from their neighbors.
The War of Finland: the whole of Finland (extended also by a part of
the Swedish county Norrbotten) was joined to Russia. A new constitution
is written that puts an end to autocracy. "Offentlighetsprincipen" and
freedom of press get restored.
1810 One of Napoleon's generals, Jean Baptiste Bernadotte, is elected as the
heir to throne. Despite this Sweden joins the British-led anti-Napoleon
alliance. In 1818, he becomes king Carl XIV Johan.
Göta Kanal is built across Sweden from Söderköping to Gothenburg.
Personal-union between Norway and Sweden.
1841 The parish meetings are reformed by law. It's settled that also
craftsmen, tradesmen and industrial workers should have right to vote
(if they earn enough).
1842 A national compulsory public education system, "Folkskolan", is
introduced, and is to be administrated by the parishes, followed 1843
by law on municipal self rule.
1845 Daughters get equal rights as sons to inherit land.
1848 The first Swedish Free Church congregation and baptizing.
1853 Electric telegraph between Stockholm and Uppsala.
1856 Railroad between Örebro and Ervalla.
1858 The prohibition of religious meetings in the absence of a state church
priest is abolished. 1860 it became allowed for Swedish citizens to
switch religious affiliation from the State Church to certain other
approved (Christian) Churches.
1859 Feminist pioneer Fredrika Bremer publishes Hertha.
1864 The estates refuse to live up to the promise by the king to support
Denmark when attacked by Prussia.
The obligation to yearly communion is abolished.
1866 The parliament is reformed. The system of the four estates is abandoned
and a new system of two chambers is introduced. The right to vote
remains dependent on income and gender.
1871 The parish meeting is reformed, majority decisions are enforced instead
of the former tradition of consensus, disciplinary matters are to be
decided by a committee.
Nordic currency and postal union.
1878 The metric system is introduced.
1896 Hjalmar Branting is elected the first Social Democrat in parliament.
1901 First Nobel Prize award.
The universal military service is organized. All men become trained for
defense of the country.
1902 Railroad from Narvik at the Norwegian coast to Kiruna where iron ore
mines get exploit.
1905 Norway declares itself independent of the Swedish king.
1906 Major spelling reform.
1907 Men get equal rights to vote.
1909 Strike by 300'000 Swedish workers, but no revolution.
1913 Law on public pension.
1918 A Swedish troop of 600 man intervene on Åland, attempting to mediate
when the civil war of Finland led to Finnish troops fighting on Åland.
The Finnish and Swedish troops leave after a German fleet had
1919 Law on eight hours workday (six days a week).
1921 Women get rights to vote equal to men.
1923 A proposition to prohibit alcoholic beverages is narrowly defeated in a
1948 Count Folke Bernadotte was assassinated in Jerusalem by a Jewish
terrorist organization (lead by Yitzhak Shamir) when mediating between
Jews and Arabs.
1951 General right for members of the state Church to submit one's
resignation. General freedom of religion for Swedish citizen.
1953 A Swedish computer, BESK, is for a time the fastest in the world.
1957 A referendum supports a Social Democratic proposal for mandatory
participation in a retiring allowance scheme with minimal funds. The
alternative was a voluntary funding system. 40 years later a mandatory
funding system is decided.
The aircraft of Dag Hammarskjöld, the UN secretary general, is shot
down during mediating in Africa.
1971 The Riksdag becomes unicameral. The king loses his political influence
(including. formation of the cabinet). Parliamentarism is written into
1979 Referendum says nuclear power is to be liquidated.
1981 A Russian submarine runs aground in the Blekinge archipelago.
1986 The prime minister Olof Palme is assassinated Feb 28.
April 26th nuclear radiation is discovered outside of the nuclear plant
Forsmark to the north of Stockholm. After some time it turns out to
come from Ukraine, but large areas of Sweden are struck, with slaughter
of reindeers and restrictions against using wild berries and mushrooms
for many following years.
1994 The ferry Estonia sank in Åland's sea. About 900 drowned.
A referendum supports joining of the European Union.
As of January 1st 1995 Sweden became a full member of the EU.
7.3.2 A list of Swedish monarchs
the late viking age:
ca 990 Erik (the victorious)
ca 995-1020 Olof Skötkonung, baptized as a Christian in 1008
ca 1019-50 Anund Jakob
ca 1050-60 Emund den gamle (the old)
ca 1160 Stenkil
ca 1066-80 Halsten
ca 1080 Blotsven
ca 1080-1110 Inge the elder
ca 1110-18 Filip
ca 1118-20 Inge the younger
ca 1130 Ragnvald
ca 1135-56 Sverker the elder
ca 1158-60 Erik IX den helige (St. Eric)
1160-67 Karl VII Sverkersson
1167-96 Knut Eriksson
1196-1208 Sverker Karlsson the younger
1208-16 Erik X Knutsson
1216-22 Johan Sverkersson
1222-29 Erik XI Eriksson läspe och halte (lisp and limp)
1229-34 Knut Holmgersson den långe (the long)
1234-49 Erik XI Eriksson läspe och halte (lisp and limp)
1250-66 Birger Jarl, earl (regent) of Sweden
1250-75 Valdemar Birgersson, under age until 1266
1275-90 Magnus Birgersson Ladulås
1290-1318 Birger Magnusson, under age until 1298
1290-1317 Duke Erik Magnusson (regent)
1319-64 Magnus Eriksson, under age until 1332.
1363-89 Albrekt av Mecklenburg
the Kalmar Union:
1389-1412 Margareta (regent of the Kalmar Union)
1412-34 Erik of Pommerania (king of the Kalmar Union)
1434-36 Engelbrecht (king of Sweden)
1436-40 Karl Knutsson (king of Sweden)
1441-48 Kristoffer of Bavaria (king of the Kalmar Union)
1448-57 Karl Knutsson (regent of Sweden)
1457-64 Kristian I (king of the Kalmar Union 1448-1481)
1464 Karl Knutsson (regent of Sweden)
1464-66 Erik Axelsson (regent of Sweden)
1466-70 Karl Knutsson (regent of Sweden)
1471-97 Sten Sture the elder (regent of Sweden)
1497-1501 Hans (king of the Kalmar Union 1481-1513)
1501-03 Sten Sture the elder (regent of Sweden)
1504-11 Svante Nilsson Sture (regent of Sweden)
1512-20 Sten Sture the younger (regent of Sweden)
1520-21 Kristian II (king of the Kalmar Union 1513-1523)
1521-23 Gustav Eriksson Vasa (regent of Sweden)
1523-60 Gustav I Vasa (king of Sweden)
1560-68 Erik XIV [ dethroned ]
1568-92 Johan III
1592-99 Sigismund III Vasa of Poland and Sweden [ dethroned ]
1599-1600/1604 Johan, under age [ abdicated 1604 ]
1600-1611 Karl IX
1611-32 Gustav II Adolf
1632-54 Kristina, under age until 1644 [ abdicated ]
1654-60 Karl X Gustav
1660-97 Karl XI, under age until 1672
1697-1718 Karl XII
1719-20 Ulrika Eleonora [ abdicated ]
1720-51 Fredrik I
1751-71 Adolf Fredrik
1771-92 Gustav III
1792-1809 Gustav IV Adolf, under age until 1796 [ dethroned ]
1809-18 Karl XIII
1818-44 Karl XIV Johan
1844-59 Oscar I
1859-72 Karl XV
1872-1907 Oscar II
1907-50 Gustaf V
1950-73 Gustaf VI
1973- Karl XVI Gustaf
7.3.3 the medieval time
Germanic expansion through Scandinavia. Svenonians ("Svear") come to play a
dominating role, and the Goths ("Götar") a subordinate role.
Viking age. It was a prosperous period. Swedish Vikings traveled trading fur
and slave to Russia, Byzantium and all the way down to the Arab caliphate at
Baghdad. The kingdom of Svears gets a leading position, at least they get
best known abroad, its capital is in Gamla ("Old") Uppsala. Svea-Vikings
possibly inhabited also Åland and coastal areas in Finland and Norrland.
Sweden becomes Christian, and the country is united into a single kingdom.
Due to pressure from the mighty Danish kingdom, the warring landscapes of
Sweden settle into an uneasy truce and start to elect a king to rule them as
one kingdom. This kingdom was often called the "Svea kingdom", because
traditionally this was the only stable entity and the only kingdom that
foreigners had heard of. 1076 Bishop Adam of Bremen writes the history of
the bishopric of Hamburg, describing the christianization of Sweden, which
is one of our main sources to the early history of Scandinavia.
Sweden is ruled by kings elected by the nobility - most of the time from two
rival dynasties. The title king of the Svears did however not give much
power. Neither among the Svears nor in more distant parts of the country.
The forces of particularism were very strong during the first centuries and
often there would be two or three claimants to the throne engaged in civil
This time is characterized by the power being divided on so many local
magnates assuring no individual command too much power, and becoming a
threat against the other magnates. A suitable king could well be chosen from
Götaland, perhaps because that person would find it hard to make his power
be felt in Svealand.
Formerly kings were elected by each "landsting" (that was a combined court
and law-giving meeting of the free men in a province). In 1319 the peasantry
is officially, but not in practice, again participating in an election of
1152 a papal cardinal refuse to organize a separate Swedish archdiocese
tired of the quarrel between Götar and Svear, who couldn't agree on one of
the two alternatives Linköping in Östergötland or Uppsala in Uppland.
Sweden conquers the Finnish woods for Catholicism through a series of
"crusades". The plains in southern Finland of today, Åland and most of the
coast on both side of the Bothnic sea is believed to have been colonized by
Svears already. (After the first crusade 1155 Uppland was rewarded with the
archdiocese.) Finland is not yet participating in the elections of kings.
The dominance in the Baltics by the Gutar from Gotland island is competed by
the Germans, who from 1161has an agreement with the Gutar. The situation for
Götar and Svear is not improved, but Gotland gets weaker, with civil war in
the end of the 13:th century, and defeat under the Danish king Valdemar
Atterdag 1361. Swedish kings had ambitions to rule also over Gotland, but
the Gutar were not too interested.
The first one to yield such power that he could issue grants of land in both
Götaland and Svealand (showing that he had territorial power), was Knut
Eriksson (late 12:th century). In his early days this son of Erik the saint
used the title king of Götaland, but after coming out on top in a civil war
he also called himself king of Svealand and also used the titles together.
Before his days the king can be said to have wielded power only with the
consent of the local upper class.
1248 at the church meeting in Skänninge (in Östergötland), on demand from
the catholic pope, the Swedish church introduces celibacy for priests, and
the priests should now be appointed by the bishop. Earlier, priests were
elected by their parish and they married.
After 1397 Sweden and Denmark (including Finland, Norway and Iceland) were
united in the Kalmar Union under the Danish queen Margarethe. Margarethe
never held the title Queen of Sweden, but was instead appointed as
"authorized agent" (Fru och fullmäktige av Sverige). This period is
characterized by struggle between the nobility, the commons and the
The union was a reaction against the strong influence German merchants had
around the Baltics, illustrated by a German being elected king in Sweden in
the late 14th century, but the union gets questioned both by the nobility,
when they are discontent, and by the commons, when they experience worsening
conditions. Germans continue to play a dominating role in towns and mining.
A rebellion led by Engelbrecht is motivated by the king of the Kalmar union
breaking a promise not to change laws or taxes without asking the people. In
January 1435 a diet appointed Engelbrecht as captain for the Swedish realm,
and as such he negotiated with the union-king that year - with poor results.
In response to demands from the country the four estates were summoned to a
new diet in Arboga 1436; which decided to continue the rebellion.
Engelbrecht was elected king. But then the two higher estates (nobility and
clergy) chose to appoint another man as captain for the realm, while the two
lower estates supported Engelbrecht. The result: Engelbrecht being
assassinated, and succeeded by his allied the high-born Karl Knutsson Bonde,
Engelbrecht's "Marsk" (commander-in-chief), who then kills the most famous
supporters of Engelbrecht.
In the following years all four estates are participating in diets.
King Karl is crowned to king of Norway in opposition against the Danish king
Christian, who some months earlier had been elected king of Norway. (King
Christian I was the first in the Oldenburg dynasty, and since the crown of
Norway was to be inherited, the election was regarded as illegal by many
Scandinavian magnates.) 1450 Karl Knutsson is forced by the Swedish state
council to give up the Norwegian crown, after pressure from the Union king
in Denmark. The atrocities calm down after Karl Knutsson has devasted Scania
and put the towns Vä, Helsingborg and Lund to fire.
Swedish peasants formed armies at many occasions, fighting the smaller but
professional troops of the union-king. The peasants were supported, and
often encouraged, by the separatists among the nobility. In 1471 the
election of a separatist as regent for Sweden led to a relative calmness.
The national council tried to depose the separatist regent for Sweden who
declared he had been appointed by all of the people in Sweden through the
estates at the diet. The king of the union, king Hans of Denmark, hired an
army which vanquished the regents separatist army, but the national council
soon accepts the four estates as their in practice highest authority.
When the Danish king Christian II is coronated in Stockholm, he executed a
hundred men, burghers and noblemen, who belonged to the separatist
Sture-party. This so called Stockholm blood bath causes again a rebellion in
Sweden which is led by Gustaf Vasa.
With the help of the Hansa-city of Lübeck, Vasa defeats the Danes and is
elected king. The Kalmar Union ceases to exist. From 1544 the crown is to be
inherited. As a consequence of the civil war in Denmark 1533-36 the German
Hansa loses its strong influence over Scandinavia.
Reformation is confirmed by the diet of Västerås 1527. Sweden becomes
Lutheran and the Church is stripped of its riches.
One of the important consequences of the reformation is the obligation for
the parishes to engage a parish clerk responsible for educating the people
in reading the Bible and/or the catechism, and for the clergy to examine the
peasants yearly in their homes. Many also learned to write.
Gustav Vasa encouraged the mining leading to increased demand on workers
which was satisfied by internal migration - not the least from Finland.
7.3.4 the consolidation of the state
The construction of Sweden as a Great Power of Europe. The nobility fights
for its rights and privileges.
Gustaf Vasa's son, the mentally unstable Erik XIV, becomes king 1560, and in
1561 he starts Sweden's overseas conquests by capturing northern Estonia
from the Teutonic Knights.
During Erik's regime measures against corrupt sheriffs and despotic nobility
were prioritized, and a peasant army was organized (the first time in Europe
on the side of the authorities'). In 1563 the highest nobility, the Danish
king and the Duke Johan (of Åland and parts of Finland) had started a
combined war and coup d'etat. In despise for the peasants (and discontent at
the king) the noble general refuses to use peasant infantry in battle.
(Which saved the Danish army that time.)
King Erik XIV chose a commoner as chancellor, Jöran Persson, and 1568 Erik
married a common soldier's daughter Karin Månsdotter after unsuccessfully
courting e.g Elizabeth I of England and Mary Stuart of Scotland. The Swedish
nobility acts against Erik's plans wishing to get the king closer to them
through marriage with any of their daughters. In the same year his brother
Duke Johan, who had been pardoned after the coup 1563, turns against Erik
and imprisons him. The Duke becomes king Johan III and Erik, having been
sent from one prison to another for nine years, is finally poisoned in 1577
after several death sentences by the national council, however never
executed due to fear of the public reaction.
King Johan doesn't summon the peasantry to the next diets, declares commons
to be unfit as chancellors (Erik's chancellor Jöran Persson get severely
tortured before beheading) and pay back to the nobility by reliefs and more
Skillful smiths were recruited from what today is Belgium; Dutchmen were
recruited to build new towns, particularly Gothenburg; Scottish men were
hired as soldiers. The western parts of the kingdom, great uninhabited woods
around the sea Vänern, were colonized by skillful farmers from Savolax in
Finland encouraged by the kings brother Duke Karl (Duke of Dalarna and other
western parts of Svealand).
The Finns from western Finland, who came to work in Svealand's towns, mines,
industries and agriculture were soon integrated.
A popular tradition represented also in school books describes the relations
between the Swedes and the migrants from eastern Finland as violent.
Established historical science and official sources give no such
indications. The Savolaxians in the woods were isolated and remained
culturally different for hundreds of years (the migration was ended at 1680
when maybe 10'000 Finns had moved to the woods of western Svealand). The
annals from the courts give the impression of the Finns living in peaceful
co-existence with the Swedish peasants.
When the situation had settled after the Thirty Years' War Sweden's
territories were bigger than ever later or before. Inside the new realm
people came to move between the different parts. A policy of swedifying hit
the new provinces, maybe most in Scandinavia, including founding
universities and change of priests and some noble men. The year 1682 the
king decided that Finns had to learn Swedish or to return to Finland. This
official policy was however impossible to enforce in the distant woods, but
has remained until recent days.
Sweden fights a smaller war with Russia that ends with the peace of Teusina
and the recognition of Sweden's right to northern Estonia.
Civil war between king Sigismund of Poland and Sweden and his uncle, Duke
Karl. Most nobility supported the king, but Sigismund is kicked out, and the
Duke becomes king Karl IX. (Appointed by the estates 1600 although the
under-age crown prince Johan, son of king Johan III, rightfully stood closer
to the throne. Prince Johan abdicated 1604.) The brief personal union with
Poland is over. King Karl follows up on Erik's anti-feudal policy, while his
son Gustav II Adolf instead increase the privileges of the nobility for
instance by monopoly to army- and state-offices.
Gustav II Adolf (Gustavus Adolphus) interferes in the Thirty Years' War
(1616-48) and Swedish troops fight in Russia, Poland, Austria and Germany.
The "Lion of the North" achieves legendary status as the defender of
Protestants, he receives crushing victories but his appetite for conquest
grows and eventually the king is killed in the battle of Lützen, 1632, after
which the war fortunes waded back and forth for the following 16 years.
Gustav's daughter Christina becomes queen; as she is still under age until
1644 the country is led by Sweden's perhaps most famous statesman Axel
The year 1638 Sweden's American colony, "New Sweden" (in present day
Delaware) is founded and settled by Swedish and Finnish pioneers. The colony
remains in Swedish hands only for 17 years, and is lost to the Dutch.
The reign of queen Christina, the daughter of Gustav II Adolf, was at the
same time one of favoring arts, culture, science and philosophy, and on the
other hand a period of continued expensive wars on the continent, which had
ruined Sweden's economy by raising hundreds of new families into nobility
who were exempted from taxation. This was more or less made undone by her
followers, her cousin king Karl X and his son Karl XI, in the second half of
The year 1654 the queen converts to Catholicism and gives up the crown. The
conversion of the daughter of the greatest enemy of Catholicism was a
brilliant propaganda victory for the Catholic counter-reformation. She
spends the rest of her life in Rome.
Denmark declares war. King Karl XI, who newly have came to age, discovers
the great fleet and the state finances being ruined. Scania is taken back by
the Danes, then again conquered by the Swedes. The diet 1680 makes the state
council (representing the highest nobility), which was governing when the
king was under age, personally responsible for the bad state finances. The
diet also makes the king independent of the state council, and the diet also
accepted to hand over its lawgiving power to the king. The king Karl XI used
his dictatorship also for radical reforms of the state administration, the
Army and the education of the commoners. On later diets the nobility was
(collectively) forced to give back some of the land which had been given
them as reward for services to the State.
Successive incorporation of the Scanian provinces in the Swedish national
state. 1680 the province Blekinge is declared incorporated in Sweden in
connection with the construction of a navy base. 1682/83 the Scanian civil
and clerical laws were replaced by Swedish laws. 1693 Halland is
incorporated in Sweden.
The Great Northern War. Sweden is attacked by an alliance of Denmark, Poland
and Russia. The young king Karl XII invades Denmark forcing it to accept a
separate peace. He then turns toward Russia, lands in Estonia with 10 000
men and achieves a glorious victory in the battle of Narva against a three
times larger Russian army.
With Russia and Denmark beaten, Karl XII ignores all suggestions of
negotiating peace and attacks Poland. This gives Peter I of Russia time to
raise a new army and to start reconquering the Swedish territories. Karl XII
eventually succeeds in subduing Poland, and starts a new campaign against
Russia heading for Moscow. The troops that were planned to come to aid the
main army, however, never manage to show up, and Karl is forced to turn
south to Ukraine because of problems with supply. There he suffers a
crushing defeat in the battle of Poltava June 28th 1709 and most of the
Swedish army surrenders while Karl XII manages to escape with a thousand men
to Turkey. He spent several years there trying to form a new alliance
With Finland occupied by Russians, most of the Baltic provinces lost and
Sweden itself threatened by a Russian invasion, the estates decide 1714 that
a peace is necessary, but since the king was still in Turkey a messenger was
sent there to inform that Sweden would accept any peace terms given unless
the king soon returns to Sweden. Karl XII reacts immediately, rides through
the whole Europe with only one man accompanying him in 15 days. After the
king had returned, all talk of peace was banned. In 1716 he still manages to
raise an army of 40 000 men, and attacks Norway in 1718.
Karl XII gets killed 1718 while laying siege to Fredrikshald in Norway. To
this date, it isn't known whether the bullet came from the Norwegian or
Swedish side. Whether he was assassinated or not, his death put a welcome
end to the Swedish campaigns and the exhausted nation could eventually
Peace treaties with Hanover, Prussia, and Denmark leave Sweden only
Stralsund, Rügen and parts of Vorpommern of its former "German territories".
The most severe of the peace treaties is, however, the one with Russia
signed in Nystad in 1721. Sweden loses all its Baltic territories, the
southeastern part of Finland, and ultimately its status as a major power.
7.3.5 toward democracy
The so called Age of Freedom. Political power shifts from the king to the
estates. (With the new constitution the incorporation of Scania and other
conquered provinces is completed.)
A two-party system develops, and Arvid Horn, born in Finland and one of king
Karl XII's best militaries and administrators, became the most well-known
prime minister, totally out-shining the king Fredrik I who actually came on
the throne as the consort of the abdicated queen. During the period
1720-1738 Arvid Horn pilots Sweden between Russian and French conflicts, but
resigns finally accused for weakness and exaggerated fear for wars. His
party gets the nickname the "Nightcaps" opposed by the pride "Hats."
In the country the parish meetings are now established as deciding
authority, electing priests, organizing common work and poor relief, and
stating moral and juridical sentences (the latter without formal right). In
1742 the estates confirm the democratic forms for decisions at the village
meeting. The reason is unclear. The institution had worked well for many
hundreds of years. Maybe the lords in the new more feudal southern provinces
made problems, maybe the increase of crofters and impecunious caused
Year 1766 the censure of printed matters is abolished. The campaign is led
by the priest Anders Chydenius from Finland. The liberty of Press was
declared as constitution, including documents of the state administration
with few exceptions made publicly available, the "Offentlighetsprincipen".
"The War of the Hats". The French-minded "Hat party" advocating aggressive
foreign politics became a majority in the Riksdag and declares war on
Russia. The war goes miserably and Finland is occupied by Russia. In the
peace treaty of Turku, Russia however agrees to gaining only fairly minor
territories in eastern Finland because the Swedish estates agree to having
Russian-approved prince-bishop Adolf Fredrik of Lübeck to enter the Swedish
Gustav III performs a coup 1772 and restores absolute monarchy; the
beginning of the "Gustavian era". Gustav's rule is authoritarian and freedom
of speech is limited, but in the spirit of "enlightened autocracy" he pushes
through many important reforms that the estates had been unable to decide on
during the Age of Freedom. Swedish economy strengthens, laws are made more
humane, new towns and roads are built, the navy is reformed and arts are
Gustav's war against Russia. Sweden attacks Russia hoping to reconquer
eastern parts of Finland and Ingria ("Ingermanland"). The troops are poorly
motivated, the war goes badly, a rebellion known as Anjala-alliance rises
among the Finnish officers and Gustav has to stop the Russian campaign.
Meanwhile, Denmark attacks Sweden, but finds England and Prussia opposing
all military actions in the Danish straits, and is forced to accept a truce.
In June 1789 the war in the eastern front is continued, but with no
significant advance on land and several defeats on sea. However, on July 9th
1790 in Svensksund on the Finnish coast, the Swedish navy achieves a
glorious victory in the largest naval battle ever fought on the Baltic sea.
After this, Russia accepts a peace offered by Sweden but the peace involves
no ceding of territories.
Year 1792 Gustav attends a masked ball in Stockholm's opera despite the
several warnings about conspirators planning an assassination. Around
midnight, he is mortally wounded by a certain J.J.Anckarström, and dies a
couple of weeks later. Duke Charles becomes a regent while the young crown
prince Gustav Adolf is under age.
Russia had agreed in the treaty of Tilsit to pressure Sweden to join the
Napoleonic anti-British trade blockade, but Sweden refuses to listen to the
Russian ultimatums and scare-tactics and remains opposed to Napoleon.
Eventually, when all diplomatic means have failed, Russia attacks Finland
1808. Despite brief victories, the war goes badly for Sweden and by the
spring of 1809 the Finnish troops had surrendered, the main army had
retreated to Sweden and in the peace treaty of Fredrikshamn September 1809
the whole of Finland was joined to Russia. With the loss of Finland it is
made evident that the strength of the Swedish army was far more depending on
soldiers from Finland than her 20% share of the population would suggest.
For the defense of Sweden's territories an extra conscription for an extra
army was made among males below the age of 26 years. Unfortunately their
training was far too brief, and then at the fronts in the south and the west
they were left with deficient support, why many died from hunger and
freezing. Because of the disastrous war Gustav IV Adolf loses power and a
new constitution is written that puts an end to Gustavian autocracy.
The constitution was signed June 6th 1809 by duke Charles, again regent
after the king had been dethroned. Duke Charles is elected king, and the
Danish prince Christian August, who led the Norwegian government and army,
was elected to crown prince of Sweden - obviously with a Nordic union
planned, but the Danish king Frederik VI opposed this idea, unless he
himself was elected.
May 1810 the Swedish crown prince dies unexpectedly; his big brother accepts
to succeed him, but suddenly a French Marshall Jean Baptiste Bernadotte
announces his candidacy, and in solely ten days the state council, the king
and the estates change their minds. The election is unanimous.
In return for its anti-Napoleonic stance, Sweden receives Norway in the
treaty of Vienna, and the two countries are united in a personal union, with
Sweden occupying a leading position.
During this period Sweden develops from a poor agrarian country, to a less
poor agrarian country - and then industrialism begins. The old villages are
divided, each farm get its fields collected; the democratic village meeting
loses its function when each farm has its own fences. New methods and crops
(potatoes!) are introduced by farmers now independent of the conservative
neighbors' opinion. The life expectancy rise - as does the number of
crofters and vagrants.
In the beginning of the 19th century the vodka consumption is the highest
ever, estimated to 24 liters 100% pure alcohol per inhabitant. Paradoxally
the slightly improved living conditions, as indicated by longer life
expectancy, lead to a new kind of misery with a growing number of peasants
without property. The crofters, farm-hands etc form a rural proletariat
which grows fast while becoming relatively all more impoverished. As a
reaction Social-purity ideas grow, leading among other things to reforms of
the mandatory schools, of the political representation and of the municipal
responsibilities for poor. 1860 it becomes prohibited for ordinary citizens
to make their own vodka.
In 1831 the newspaper Aftonbladet is founded, important because of it's
struggle to increase the freedom of the press. The king, Karl XIV Johan, at
the time had the right to retract permissions to publish newspapers. When
Aftonbladet criticized the king, he retracted the publish rights - but the
paper immediately reappeared as "The Second Aftonbladet", "The Third
Aftonbladet" and all the way to the "28th Aftonbladet".
About one million Swedes moved to America during this period, but the
emigration slowed after 1900 because of improved conditions of living and
increased industrialization. Norway, industrialized before Sweden, was an
enticements on poor Swedes who couldn't afford the fare to America.
Women get equal rights in society
From 1845 daughters inherit as much land as their male siblings. (Until then
the sons had got twice as much.)
In 1858 unmarried women get right to dispose own incomes and possessions and
also to run enterprises, and come of age at 25 years (including right to
vote at the parish meeting in case they earn enough).
Unmarried women get right to state employment in the 1860:ies. Higher
education for women is organized in some towns.
In 1874 married women get right to dispose their income.
As late as 1921 married women get total right to dispose their own
possessions and act on their own judicial responsibility, and also rights to
vote in parliamentary elections. Finally 1923 also the right to higher
positions in the state administrations.
The Scandinavian democratic traditions develop in the working class -
initially in the free Churches, the temperance movement (IOGT was
established 1879) and the workers unions which all grow to strong democratic
forces. Education extension was an important part of their work. Debates and
proclamations are made, from the 1870:ies public parades are organized to
express the will of the people.
The Social Democratic party is founded 1889.
Sweden manages to stay out of both World Wars, achieves a high standard of
living and becomes an urbanized welfare state.
The parishes are merged to municipalities and then merged again to even
bigger municipalities, and then again.
Until 1917 the governments are mostly Conservative, 1917-1926 Social
Democrats form the Cabinet, sometimes in coalition with Liberals. 1932 the
Social Democrats return to the Cabinet, and except for a few months the
summer 1936 they remain at power until 1976.
The union with Norway is ceased without violence, and almost without
The workers unions organize several massive strikes, frightening the upper
class. The proposal to equal votes for men was made by a conservative
cabinet which feared a revolution as the alternative.
7.3.7 social security
During the 1940'ies the agrarian proletarians are transformed to tenant
farmers, and house maids which now have gotten regulated working hours
become a very rare sight. The Social Democrats continue to dominate the
society, in the parliament in cooperation with the Agrarians when
neccessary. The industry expands. People leave the countryside for the
towns. Sick insurance, pensions, maternal allowance and yearly vacations are
expanded. The urbanization leads to a new kind of social misery with
shortage of housing and "wild" adolescent gangs in the towns. Immigrants are
welcomed by the industries: Germans, Italians, Hungarians, Finland-Swedes
Women participate in the caring for children and elderly as employees by the
municipalities. Taxes rise. A surge of immigrants are engaged in the
industries. Vacations get limited to not less than 5 weeks yearly. 40 hours
working week is enforced. Strong laws against arbitrary sacking of workers
are decided and the unions get right to participate in board meetings for
The educational system is made uniform with 10 years of mandatory
theoretical school with minimized freedom to choose subjects followed by 3
years of specializing ("Gymnasium"). Matriculation examination is abolished,
as are apprentices. All secondary schools give access to higher studies, the
mark system is debated and changed.
The king loses the last executive power. Princesses get equal rights with
princes to inherit the throne.
Swedish politicians tend to start their careers in younger years, before
having accomplished in any profession (Olof Palme is one of the first
examples), and the reduced number of municipal politicians contribute to a
growing alienation between politicians and the electorate.
The Swedish Social Democratic governments are eager to act in international
politics. Preferably on the "anti-imperialist" side against the United
States - and sometimes against the Soviet Union. Olof Palme belonged to the
Swedes who were strongly engaged against the Vietnam war, which led to the
US ambassador leaving Sweden for some years.
In Sweden communists were hunted in the unions and among the employees in
governmental institutions (as hospitals!). In the 1970:ies Jan Guillou, an
investigating journalist at a left-wing periodical, was imprisoned for
revealing the close cooperation between the Social Democratic party and a
secret organization registering people with leftist opinions threatening the
society. Jan Guillou became some 15 years later Sweden's most famous novel
writer with his series about the super-hero baron Carl G Hamilton in the
Swedish secret service.
In elections to the parliament 1973 the left block and the anti-Socialist
block got 175 seats each. Olof Palme remained as prime minister. Many laws
were decided after drawing of lots. The number of seats is made unequal.
The political majority in the parliament changes almost every 6:th year.
Waves of refugees arrive but fail to find employment.
Plans to force companies to give shares to the workers unions every year are
discussed, decided and abandoned.
The defense forces are successively reduced.
In 1976 the leader for the Center party, Thorbjörn Fälldin, becomes the
first non-Social Democratic prime minister since 1936 after an intense
campaign in favor of environment protection and against nuclear power. In a
referendum 1979 between three proposals to close the thirteen nuclear power
plants the Social Democratic version wins a relative majority and is
interpreted as use of all nuclear power is to be liquidated in thirty years.
In the autumn 1981 a Russian submarine runs a-ground in what the military
calls inner security zone of the navy base area in the Blekinge archipelago.
After half a day an inhabitant on the island informs the military about the
unexpected guest. A Russian navy gathers at the territorial border, but
leaves after the Swedish prime minister Thorbjörn Fälldin publicly declared
he had ordered the Swedish defense forces to use all means against further
intruders on the sea or in the air. The Russians denied accusations of
having brought atomic weapons to Sweden, as the US navy always had done when
they had come on (announced) visits. After this perturbing episode the
Swedish navy hunted Russian mini- and macro-submarines intensely for the
following ten years. Then it turned out that some, most or all of the hunted
objects had been minks.
Big devaluations solve some problems and cause other. In the 1980's a lot of
Swedish industrial profits are gambled away on continental real estates.
February 28th 1986, the Social Democratic prime minister Olof Palme, who had
dominated Swedish politics in the 70's and 80's, is assassinated while
returning from movies. A political heir of Tage Erlander (another
influential Swedish prime minister, in power 1946-69), he had an
international reputation as an architect of the Swedish welfare model and an
outspoken advocate of disarmament. He was the first Swedish leader to be
killed since king Gustav III. Despite feverish and almost tragicomic
investigations, the motive and the killer still remain unknown.
At the beginning of the 1990:ies the employment drops drastically, as does
the value of the currency, and the state budget deficit explodes. Subsidies
are diminished for sick insurance, maternal and paternal leave, unemployment
insurance... The bad times result in some changes on higher positions in the
banks and industries, and it turns out that their boards (also state owned
banks and companies) have granted the management fabulous pensions. The
Social Democrats have propagandized much against the Bildt cabinet policy,
populistically claiming it to strike hard against the weakest among the
people. The people got surprised when the Social Democrats, after the
election of 1994 back at power, in the parliament do much harder cuts in the
social security system.
The ferry Estonia en route between Tallin and Stockholm with over a thousand
people on-board sank into the icy Baltic September 28th 1994; only circa 130
were saved. Of the drowned, the vast majority were Swedes, and the disaster
shook the whole nation.
In 1996 The Social Democratic party elected a new chairman, Göran Persson,
namesake to the chancellor of Erik XIV, who becomes prime minister and the
sixth leader of the party in 107 years. Persson's supporters have acted
against Mona Sahlin, proposed by the retiring Ingvar Carlsson, spreading
(true) rumors about her bad capability to take care of her own economy, and
her purchase of diapers and chocolate with a government credit card. Mona
Sahlin is made impossible and leaves the political life. Göran Persson is
caught shop-lifting chocolate, and the former minister of Justice (in mr
Bildt's cabinet) is forgiven purchase of shoes and dresses with her
government credit card. The strongest criticism comes from Per Uncle,
another former minister of mr Bildt's, who turns out to be the one the
prosecutor finds his greatest interest in.
Several municipal politicians and managers leave their positions after
having been too self-indulgent with municipal credit cards on night clubs,
brothels and holiday trips. The unveiling of this habit was introduced by a
Scanian radio journalist, Janne Svensson, who soon got employed as secretary
for the Social Democratic mayor of Malmö.
The former leader for the (Social) Liberal party leads an "independent"
commission investigating espionage on a private TV station where a reporter
had unveiled embarrassing facts about HSB, a national organization for
housing societies, not without ties to the Social Democratic party. The
espionage is ordered by the manager for a public relation firm with close
ties to the Social Democratic party, but the commission declares that HSB
could not be shown to have aimed at espionage - only at a vicious slander
campaign. The HSB manager, who over a bottle of whiskey had commissioned the
PR-firm manager, should not have acted on behalf of HSB.
- The commission worked on the behalf of HSB.
The European Union, which Sweden entered 1995, is among many perceived as
the greatest threat against the Swedish democracy (except for wars).
The alienation between the electorate and the elected becomes worse.
Subject: 7.4 Main tourist attractions
7.4.1 Stockholm area
Stockholm was originally established (c. 1250) by Birger Jarl as a defense
outpost against the Baltic pirates on one of the channel islands that now
make up Old Town. The city gained importance during the late Middle Ages as
an exporter of metals, timber, and furs from its hinterland, but was still
second after Uppsala in importance. Following the Stockholm Bloodbath and
the subsequent overthrow of Danish rule in 1523, Stockholm became the center
of the new Swedish kingdom. Under Gustav II Adolf (ruled 1611-32) Sweden
became a major European power. His daughter and successor Christina (ruled
1632-54) established Stockholm as an intellectual and cultural center.
Stockholm is sometimes known as the Venice of the North. It is the cultural,
educational, and industrial center of Sweden. The heart of the city is built
on 13 small islands at the junction where Lake Mälaren joins the Baltic Sea.
Remnants of medieval Stockholm survive on three small islands known as Gamla
Stan (the Old Town). They are Stadsholmen (The City Island) , Riddarholmen
(Knight Island), and Helgeandsholmen (The Island of the Holy Spirit). The
islands are closely connected and form the "Staden mellan broarna", or "city
between the bridges".
Stadsholmen has old gabled houses and narrow streets not found in other
sections. Facing the water is the Royal Palace, which was completed in 1760,
and is open to tourists. Nearby is the Storkyrkan (cathedral), the oldest
building of the city (although the exterior is baroque), which houses e.g
the famous medieval sculpture of St. Georg and the Dragon by the German
sculptor Berndt Notke.
Cobblestone streets wind up from the palace to the old Stortorget, or Great
Market, the site of the Bloodbath of 1520. Eighty-two Swedish noblemen were
executed in the market by Danish King Christian II. Close to Stadsholmen is
Riddarholmen, where many of the Swedish rulers have been buried in
Riddarholmskyrkan. On the tiny Helgeandsholmen, or Island of the Holy
Spirit, where the House of Parliament stands.
North of the Old Town are Norrmalm, the modern business and theater
district, and Östermalm, a resedential section. Södermalm, a manufacturing
center, is in the city's southern section, across the bridge leading from
Old Town. The Town Hall, which is Stockholm's symbol, and most of the city
government offices are on Kungsholmen, a large island west of Norrmalm.
Stockholm is famous for its cleanliness and for its large number of parks
and open spaces. On Djurgarden (a peninsula reserved for parkland and a
cultural center) is Skansen, an open-air museum.
The University of Stockholm, founded in 1877 as a private institution, was
taken over by the state in 1960 and is now the country's largest university.
The Nobel Prizes are awarded annually in Stockholm, with the exception of
the Nobel Peace Prize, which is presented in Oslo, Norway.
Major museums include the National Museum (of art), the Moderna Museet
(Museum of modern art), the Vasa Museum (where a magnificient, 17th Century
royal warship Vasa is on display; it sunk in the harbour on it's first
journey in 1628 and was well preserved in the water for over 300 years until
it was lifted in 1961. It's a must for every Stockholm visitor), the
Historical Museum, the Nordic Museum, the Museum of Natural History (with
Cosmonova omni theatre), the Museum of Naval History, the Skansen outdoor
museum, the medieval museum, and the Royal Armoury (Livrustkammaren) where
all sorts of fascinating artifacts from the history of the kingdom are on
display, including crown jewels.
In August each year we have the Stockholm Water Festival, an annual cultural
and entertainment event sponsored by the city council and local business
life. The one and a half week festival offers special exhibitions, concerts,
shows, fireworks, an impromptu shopping mall in the Old Town with street
restaurants, outdoor movie shows, activities for children, etc. The offcial
guide of the festival each year lists more than 1 000 festival events.
The Stockholm archipelago with tens and tens of thousands of islands is very
popular in the summer. You can take the white Waxholm boats to the
archipelago. A popular area for summer houses.
Have a tour around Stockholm by sightseeing boat. Or see the city on a
regular boat trip. In that case, note Skeppsholmen and Kastellholmen,
formerly navy base. Then get the most condensed view of the old town.
Further out, note Waldermarsudde, home of artist late Prince Eugen, now
museum. Young artists will give concerts here summertime. Then a white
building with towers, home of late Marcus Wallenberg. Finally two beautiful
houses from baroque era on point Blockhusudden.
Drottningholm. Accessed by land or by boat. Home of the royal family.
Theatre with advanced scene mechanism from 18th century, in use today. Park
in the style of Versailles, with "Kina slott", romantic building in Chinese
Open-air museum Skansen in Djurgården should preferably be seen when all
workshops are open which will not be until the end of August. At least some
of them should however be open every Sunday. Skansen also has a Zoo. You can
get there with the museum tram line leaving from Norrmalmstorg.
Suggested walks or bike rides around Stockholm
* Along shore Norr Mälarstrand. Outdoor cafe. Then one will come to the
City Hall. Enter the tower.
* From Djurgården eastwards along the shore to Blockhusudden. Bring a
picnic basket early in the morning.
* On the hills of Södermalm, with red cottages dispersed among the stone
houses. Fine views over the water.
* Along the shores of Reimersholme. Then, on the way to bridge
Västerbron, pass by 'Lasse i parken' (cafe in a red cottage). Go over
Västerbron and again come to Norr Mälarstrand.
* On Skeppsholmen and Kastellholmen. Museum of Eastern antiques. Youth
hostel and outdoor cafe.
There is no particular restaurant area in Stockholm. Stureplan and around
however is somewhat of a meeting place. It is also close to water. In later
years the south side (Södermalm), especially around Medborgarplatsen, has
emerged as an important area of restaurants and pubs. There are over a
hundred of them within 5 minutes walking distance from Medborgarplatsen.
Plenty of choir concerts are given in the churches and the choirs are
generally very good. There are some places close to Stockholm which should
be seen, if possible.
* Gripsholm castle, accessed e.g. with s/s Mariefred on a one-day trip;
oldest part was built in the 1380's. Interesting because it's different
styles inside reflect different epochs.
* Home and orangery of the famous botanist Carl von Linne in Uppsala.
* Hammarby, east of Uppsala. Summer resort of Linne, used by him for
* Österbybruk, north of Uppsala. The pre-industrial factories called
'bruk' are peculiar for Sweden. A 'bruk' was a complete community. They
are dispersed throughout middle Sweden. Österbybruk is very well
* Skokloster castle at lake Mälaren, from about the same time as
man-of-war Vasa. Armoury collection. (Rent a car in order to visit the
previous four items.)
* The remains of Birka in lake Mälaren. Birka could be considered capital
of Sweden during the Viking age. Best accessed by boat.
Suggested one-day archipelago trips from Stockholm
* Sandhamn on island Sandön. Have beefsteak lunch onboard on the steamer.
From the harbour, walk southwards to village Sandhamn. Then follow the
southern shore of the island to point Trouville. Find a suitable way
back to the village. Be careful to enter the right boat back. Avoid
Saturdays and Sundays.
* Kymmendö. Strindberg's Hemsö. Restricted area. Ask for permission at
the police office.
* Rödlöga. Small formerly fishing village. Forest meadows and hardwood
forest, very impressing that far out in the sea. It will however be at
its best in early summer. The main island of this detached archipelago
is rather small and will be walked around in one hour. Choose between
Saturdays or Sundays.
If you have the time, stay over night somewhere. There are accommodations at
several places. Buy a smoked fish if there are not any restaurants. Check
restricted (military) areas on the map. Ticks is not a big problem, but ask
for advice if you are uncertain.
On a half-day trip from Stockholm one can go to Vaxholm. See the citadel
(open until 16.00) with gunnery museum and minute exhibition about the
Ytterby mine, known for ytterbium, yttrium, terbium, holmium, scandium,
gadolinium and lanthanum. The mine itself may be visited but is hardly worth
seeing and minerals may not be collected. Open air cafe in the citadel.
Check this URL for more info on Stockholm in the www:
The city of Uppsala, a major Swedish cultural center, lies about 70 km north
of Stockholm and can easily be accessed by train. Uppsala has a history
going well into the prehistoric era, it became the seat of the Swedish
archbishop in 1164 and a royal residence in the next century, although it
later lost much of its status and the king moved to Stockholm. The most
important sight is Uppsala cathedral (domkyrkan), Sweden's largest medieval
church, and a national sanctuary where e.g the king Gustav Vasa, philosopher
Emmanuel Swedenborg and the botanist Carl von Linné (Linnaeus) are buried.
The University of Uppsala (1477) is Sweden's oldest institution of higher
learning, and it's main building Gustavianum (1623) houses a couple of
museums. Uppsala castle overlooks the city from a high hill, and beside it
is the symbol of the city, Gunillaklockan (Gunilla's clock), which is played
daily 6 a.m and 9 p.m. Uppland's museum is located in an old mill by the
river Fyrisån. Linné's home museum (Linnés Hammarby) with a garden dedicated
to him are also in the city.
Gamla Uppsala (Old Uppsala), now a suburb five kilometers to the north of
the modern city, was the religious and political capital of the Sveas in the
Viking age. The three high burial mounds (kungshögarna) from the 6th century
belong, according to tradition, to the kings Aun, Adils and Egil; finds from
their excavations are displayed in Stockholm in the Historical Museum
(Historiska Museet). In a 1164 a church was built on the site of the famous
old pagan temple of which nothing remains, as a symbol of the victory of
Christianity in Sweden -- it was the seat of the archbishop until 13th
century when a new cathedral was finished. The restaurant Odinsborg, built
in "viking style", serves mead (mjöd).
Located in Skåne, the southern tip of Sweden, 26 km across the sea (Öresund)
from Copenhagen, Malmö is Sweden's third largest city. It was chartered as a
city during the 13th century, at which time the region belonged to Denmark.
In 1658 it passed to Sweden. Originally, Malmö's harbor was poor, and the
city served mainly as a herring market until 1775, when the port facilities
were improved. After 1800, Malmö began to develop as an industrial city.
The center of Malmö is Stortorget square, by which are located the
governor's house (Residenset, 1720), the City Hall (Rådhuset, 1546) and the
statue of Karl X Gustav, conqueror of Skåne. St Peter's Church (S:t Petri,
1319), with a nicely sculptured interior and a 88m high green spire is also
in the center. The castle Malmöhus was first built 1434, and rebuilt
1537-42; now it houses a museum of archaology, history, natural history and
art. The Small Square (Lilla Torg) is one of the most beautiful in the
country, with it's houses from the 17th and 18th centuries. Other sights
include the Technical Museum, Charlotte Weibull's House, the City Theatre,
the Arts Hall, and the old Market Hall. In the summer, you may want to visit
the beach Ribersborgbadet.
Göteborg (Gothenburg), founded in 1621 by Gustav II Afolf on the site of an
earlier settlement, is Sweden's second largest city and chief seaport. It
prospered during especially during the Napoleonic Wars, when Göteborg
remained open while many other European ports were under the anti-British
trade blockade. Located where the Göta river empties into the Danish
straits, it was designed on Netherlandic fashion, with canals and bridges.
The Göta Gota Canal built in the 19th century runs between Stockholm and
Stockholm, and is a very scenic route indeed.
In the center of the city are Gustav Adolf's square, by which the old Stock
Exchange is located. The City Hall was designed by Nicholas Tessin the
younger in 1672. The Östra Hamngatan and Kungsportavenyn streets lead to
Götaplatsen (Göta Square), in the center of which is the statue of Poseidon
by Carl Milles; the city theatre, concert hall and art musem (Nordic, French
and Dutch art from 19th and 20th centuries) are located by the square.
Ostindiska Huset (the house of the East-Indian Company), built 1750, houses
historical, archaeological and ethnological collections. The city museum is
housed in the oldest house of the city, Kronhuset, from the year 1653.
Kronan is a fortress with a war museum. Off the city lies Älvsborgs Festning
(Ävsborg Fortress), 1670, which can be accessed by boat. The old parts of
the city contain the also the cathedral (1633), Kristine Church (1648), the
law courts (1672), and the opera house (1859). There's a university (1891)
and Chalmers Technical University. The sports stadium Ullevi, with seats for
52,000 people, is Sweden's biggest; the indoors stadium Scandinavium houses
14,000. Two bridges go over the wide Göta River, Götaälvbron and the newer
Gotland is the the largest island (3,023 km²) in the Baltic Sea and has a
population of 56,383 (1989), with the town of Visby as the administrative
center. It lies 80 km off the Swedish coast and can be accessed by daily
boats from the mainland. Close to it are a couple of smalle islands, Fårön,
Gotska Sandön and Karlsö. Gotland is a low limestone plateau with a
temperate, sunny climate. It developed rather early in prehistory etensive
trade contacts with the people of northern Europe, and had a very
distinctive culture, represented by e.g the numerous, beautiful picture
stones erected all over the island. By the 12th century Visby was an
important, independent town and a member of the Hanseatic League. The Danish
king Valdemar Atterdag brutally conquered it in 1361, and after that,
control of Gotland was disputed by several nations. Trade routes shifted,
however, and by the time Sweden gained lasting control in 1645, it had lost
much of its former importance and was impoverished.
Nowadays the island is a very popular summer destination, rich in sights
(including lots of medieval churches) and very good for a cycling holiday.
It has a beautiful, characteristic nature, and the old ring wall around the
medieval city of Visby, no doubt one of the most beautiful towns in
Scandinavia, is almost totally intact. An important event is the Medieval
Week (medeltidsveckan) arranged in Visby in August every year, with knights,
Medieval markets, etc. The Forntidssalen museum in Visby displays the
fascinating prehistory of Gotland, including picture stones and some of the
rich Viking age treasures that are constantly found in the island (metal
detectors are banned in Gotland!) Other absolute "musts" in and around
Gotland include the caves at Lummelunda, the rauk fields (peculiar limestone
formations on the coasts) and Stora Karlsö (an island off the south-west of
7.4.6 The rest of Sweden
In the north, people appreciate the beauty of the mountain range
("fjällvärlden"), where you can hike, fish, pick berries, ski (in the
winter) or see the midnight sun (in the summer and far north). There are
several big national parks here.
The province of Dalarna is the "home" of the traditional Midsummer
celebrations, where people dance around the Midsummer poles in traditional
Jämtland is one of the latest provinces to have been incorporated in the
Swedish realm, and remains almost half-Norwegian both in customs and
language - and a great resort for hiking and skiing.
A popular route is Göta Kanal, on which you can go on boat from Norrköping
to Gothenburg and at the same time see a cross section of the mid-Sweden
Skåne (Scania) is the Swedish province that gives an almost Central European
impression. The landscape is very flat and much of it is farmed. You'll find
beautiful beech woods here and everywhere you see the traditional black and
white houses ('korsvirkeshus'). Many like to rent or own summer houses on
the Scanian country side. For more info on Scania, see section 7.6.
Subject: 7.5 Swedish literature
Swedish writing dates back to 11th-century runic inscriptions, but actual
literature originated in the Catholic Middle Ages. Saint Birgitta
(1303-1373) wrote her Revelations, which became internationally known, in
Latin. Another important work from the 14th century is the Erikskrönikan,
which recounts historical events in poetic form. Most medieval Swedish
writings served nonliterary purposes, with the exception of the folk
Gustav Vasa's reformation of the church contributed to a cultural decline in
the 16th century. However, of vital importance to the development of the
Swedish language were Olaus Petri's Bible translations of 1526 and 1541.
Another important 16th century work, although in Latin, was Olaus Magnus's
Historia De Gentibus Septentrionalibus (History of the Nordic Peoples,
1523). During this period there also appeared Sweden's first lyric poet,
Lars Wivallius. Another significant early poet is Georg Stiernhelm in the
The 18th century, a period of enlightenment, was dominated by prose. Only
toward the close of the century, during the reign of Gustaf III, did other
genres emerge in the wake of French cultural influence. Noteworthy is Carl
Michael Belmman's rococo ballads. Emmanuel Swedenborg's mystical visions
influenced many authors and thinkers around Europe and prompted the
Swedenborgian religion that still exists.
Erik Johan Stagnelius's Neoplatonism, Esaias Tegner's and Erik Gustaf
Geijer's glorification of the nation's past, and Abraham Viktor Rydberg's
idealistic liberalism all reflect the philosophical orientation of Swedish
19th-century romanticism. Carl Jonas Love Almqvist, initially a mystic and
romantic, came later to herald new trends of realism in prose works
characterized by social awareness. The Finland-Swedish poet Johan Ludvig
Runeberg, with his heroic and romantic poetry, had enormous influence in the
Swedish speaking literary circles. But the most important figure of the
century was, however, August Strindberg (1849-1912), Sweden's greatest
writer and the father of modern Swedish drama and fiction. Moving in his
later plays from naturalism to dreamlike symbolism, Strindberg foreshadowed
expressionism. A novelist and playwright, he defied social convention by
writing dramas of sexual conflict and psychological torment, drawn largely
from his personal life. His plays are now esteemed as classics of the modern
stage. Important works include e.g the Red Room (Röda Rummet), Olaus Petri
The socially opinionated prose writers of the 1880s were succeeded by a new
wave of romantics, who preferred verse and emphasized the past (Selma
Lagerlöf) and the countryside (Erik Axel Karlfeldt). About 1900, Hjalmar
Söderberg published exquisite short stories set in the streets of Stockholm;
but the novelists of the next decade favored small-town Sweden. Modernism
was introduced in the 1920s by the Finno-Swedish poets Edith Södergran,
Gunnar Björling, and Elmer Diktonius, and it was affirmed in Pär
Lagerqvist's innovative dramas and Gunnar Ekelöf's surrealistic poetry. A
new social class of self-educated country writers entered Sweden's literary
world in the 1930s, among them the 1974 Nobel laureates Harry Martinson and
Sweden managed to avoid the world wars, but its literature from the 1940s
(Erik Lindegren, Karl Vennberg) reflects the general postwar depression. The
feeling of pessimism and guilt worsened during the following decades because
of the Vietnam War and Third World problems. An intense questioning of
literature's social function and a mistrust of language found many literary
expressions -- from "new simplicity" and "concreteness" in poetry, to
documentaries in prose, but the stories of Astrid Lindgren stand out with
their delighting humor and humanity. Swedish literature of the end of the
1970s was characterized by a new trust in the word and a new delight in
traditional fictio writing.
For electronic versions of some of the works of Nordic literature, see the
collection of Project Runeberg:
* gopher.lysator.liu.se ; path: /project-runeberg
Subject: 7.6 Scania
<This section by Malte Lewan>
7.6.1 Skåne and Skåneland
Ger: die Schonen,
Fr: la Scanie
"Skåne" is old Danish/Scanian and means "the dangerous beach". It is
possibly the same word as modern "skada" / "skade" in Swedish and Danish
respectively which mean "damage".
Skåne is the most southern of the provinces in Sweden. Together with
Blekinge, Halland and Danish Bornholm, it has a unique history while it was
an integral part of Denmark all the years before 1658 except 1332- 1360 when
Denmark had no king and was in chaos and Scania had status as country under
the Swedish king. "Skåneland" in Swedish or "Skånelandene" in Danish is a
name used for the four provinces together. In Latin and English it is
"Scania". In 1658, they all became Swedish, but Bornholm was returned to
Denmark in 1660 while the other provinces remained Swedish.
"Scania" is used for representing "Skåneland" in the text below but not in a
strict sense. Sometimes, the meaning might be closer to the province of
Skåne. And Bornholm will in this use often not be included. When emphasizing
that it is only the southern province that is referred to, "Skåne" is used,
but when emphasizing that all provinces are referred to, "Skåneland" will be
7.6.2 Miscellaneous facts
The populations of the four provinces are today:
Skåne: 1 110 000
Halland: 270 000
Blekinge: 160 000
Bornholm: 50 000
The big cities in Skåne are
Malmö: 250 000
Lund: 90 000
Helsingborg: 110 000
Kristianstad: 70 000
Skåne is sometimes divided into four provinces itself (going from north west
to south east): North Western Skåne, Göingebygden, Sydslätten and Österlen.
The borders of these local provinces are very much disputed though. As a
rule, the historic areas were smaller than some of the uses are today.
"Österlen" for example covers so many positive connotations of semester
paradise that the traditional borders often get transgressed when trying to
sell real estates for example!
The biggest newspaper is "Sydsvenska Dagbladet" that has its base in Malmö
but covers southwestern Skåne equally well. It is independently liberal. In
the same area, there are Social Democratic "Arbetet" and Centre Party
"Skånska Dagbladet". Several other local papers exist like for example
Helsingborgs Dagblad and Nordvästra Skånes Tidningar.
The only university in Scania is Lund University. Other schools for higher
education in the same official university area of southern Sweden are
situated in Växjö, Kalmar, Karlskrona/Ronneby, Kristianstad and Halmstad.
There are also quite big university independent schools in Malmö, and Lund
University offers some courses in Helsingborg and Jönköping (the later
outside Scania) as well.
There are ferries between Copenhagen and Malmö, Helsingborg-Helsingør,
Landskrona-Tuborg (close to Copenhagen) and of course to the islands Ven and
Bornholm. There are also ferries to Germany (Travemünde and Saßnitz) and
Poland and sometimes to Lithuania. A few other ones exist too.
7.6.3 A few marks in history
An event that was in people's minds for a long while was that in 1612,
Gustav II Adolf's troops killed people in 24 congregations in Scania and in
the 1660's, the Scanian rebels - the "snapphanar", a well-known word even
today - were pierced and were put up and made an example of along the
Scanian country roads.
A certain sort of self-governing remained until 1720 but then was abolished.
The last time there was any fighting about the status of Scania was in 1811
in Klågerup outside Malmö. Peasants stood up to get rid of the Swedish
rulers but lost of course.
7.6.4 International status
Scania is a member of the national minority organization FUEV
(Föderalistische Union Europäischer Volksgruppen) which is located in
Flensburg, Germany. Only regions with their own language, clearly defined
border and a history to go back to, are accepted in the FUEV.
It is also a recent member of UNPO (Unrepresented Nations and Peoples
Organization). UNPO is an alternative to the UN for minorities of the world,
which are not represented in there. UNPO is located in Haag, Netherlands
where the Scanian flag now is flying.
7.6.5 The flag
The Scanian flag is red with yellow ribbons and is more square than both the
Danish and Swedish ones. The measurements are based on the old (1748-1926)
Danish measures for its flag. They are 3-1-4.5 in length and 3-1-3 in
The flag is most likely (though not proved) from the archbishop in Lund
Andreas Sunesen (1201-1228) who then was archbishop for all of Norden. (But
the country diocese ("landestiftet") where the Scanian law was in force was
Skåneland). He got the flag pattern from (and used it on) a crusade in
Latvia and a stay in Riga. The fact that the flag is like a Danish-Swedish
combination with what could have been borrowed colors from these flags is a
coincidence. The Swedish flag is younger.
The Scanian flag itself was probably pretty much forgotten (though other
yellow-red symbols existed) until Mathias and Martin Weibull "reinvented" it
around the end of the last century. First, it was used very sparingly but
the use has grown and does so even today. But only outside one of the
Scanian town halls, in Ystad, is the Scanian flag flying so far. It is more
frequently used by the common people, depending on area in Scania. The
Swedish flag is still more common in the province.
As late as in March 1992, the flag was registered in the Scandinavian Roll
of Armor. At the same time, the Scanian coat of arms was registered: a
golden panther on red background with hind legs like a lion and front legs
like an eagle. The day of the Scanian flag is the third Sunday in July.
Scania is associated (mostly nationally) with certain hallmarks like some
types of food: the goose, the smoked eel ("rögad eål") and "spettkaka"
(Swedish spelling) that is a type of cake. Other associations many have (and
also used in the tourist business) are the clogs a lot of people wear even
today and the national costumes containing a certain distinctive pale yellow
color, with the men wearing pants reaching just below the knee followed by
Lately, the Danish red sausage, the "pølse", has made it into the outdoor
food commerce. It was for a long time not allowed in Sweden due to the added
ingredients making the sausage red. When it finally became legal, this was
considerad a great success of the local politicians. Maybe because of the
Scanian habit of eating this sausage when visiting København, it has now
become very popular in Scania too. In Lund there is another sausage called
"lundaknake" that has reached fame, at least locally.
The willows that edges many Scanian roads give the landscape a
characteristic outlook. Scania is like Denmark very flat and without much of
forests (in fact, this was the natural divider before 1658 between Denmark
and Sweden). The willows are supposed to shelter against the wind in an
environment where no other natural shelters exist. Also, the Scanian mills
("möllor") are typical for the province. Often situated on hills, they too
characterize the horizon in the Scanian scenery.
Being a region containing one eighth of the population in Sweden, there
exist of course a great number of nationally famous Scanians, some of these
comedians and singers. There will not be a list here, but the maybe most
famous Scanian, the most Scanian Scanian will be mentioned. His name was
Edward Persson and was the main character and very much dominating
personality in a number of film comedies taken place on some farm in south
eastern Skåne, in Österlen. He more or less established the image of the
Scanian person: fat (!), slow, content with life, felling secure and of
course having the strong accent. He's dead since some years now.
Scanians have often got a bad reputation in Sjælland for going there to get
drunk. The background is different state policies when it comes to the
selling of alcohol. While this is harshly regulated in Sweden and only sold
in certain stores with high prices, it's cheaper and much more easily
accessible in Denmark. The result is irritation between the former fellow
Many people today think that the language spoken today is a dialect of
Swedish (and there are others who disagree saying it's a language of its
own), but there are many differences that are more or less noticable
depending on the speaker. For example:
* Scanians use a glottal stop (stød) though not as prominently as the
* Pronunciation of the "r" is made by the root of the tongue in the
"French way". Like the Danes do it.
* When Swedes use t, k and p, Scanians often use d, g, and b. Like the
* Like in Danish, t and k are pronounced very hard in beginning of words
whereas in Swedish, they are softer.
* None of the vowels are pronounced exactly in the same place of the
mouth they are in Swedish, and you could say that standard Swedish "o"
and "u" simply do not exist.
* Every long vowel in Swedish is a diphthong in Scanian. The Swedish
language lacks diphthongs entirely.
Very dialectal Scanian can be quite difficult even for Swedish speakers to
understand. There are also several examples of grammatical differences and
there are a few hundreds of local words still in use, also by young people.
Just ten examples:
hutta = throw (Sw: kasta)
klyddig = complicated (Sw: besvärlig)
lässa = load, put up (Sw: lasta, lägga upp)
mölla = mill (Sw: kvarn)
nimm = neat (Sw: praktisk, lätt)
påg = boy (Sw: pojke)
rälig = ugly, mean (Sw: ful, stygg, otäck)
sammedant = likewise (Sw: likadant)
titt = often (Sw: ofta)
töj = clothes (Sw: kläder)
There are no original ethnic minorities living in Scania but there are a few
dozens of thousand of Danes that have moved in after World War II. Some live
in Landskrona and others have houses in Northern Skåne. Of foreign citizens,
there are 9800 Danes, 8700 ex-Yugoslavs and 3150 Finlanders in Skåne. (These
are the three biggest groups.)
There are probably three things that are a salient for the Scanian
development today: membership in the European Union, the bridge over Öresund
(the sea between Sjælland and Skåne) to Denmark/regional cooperation with
Sjælland and Skåne becoming one region politically. These things are in
contrast to much of that of history and culture openly discussed and many
times pushed forward by local Scanian politicians:
7.6.8 Membership in the European Union
In October 1995, Sweden voted a slight yes to become a member of the
European Union. In Skåne, the decision was very clear though. It was the
region the most favorable to membership in all of Sweden.
There is hope that Scania being a member of the EU can have positive
implications for reasons of regional strength. There is talk about a Europe
of the regions where the regions are getting more responsibility of
conducting their own affairs and acting independently. The EU will probably
to a certain degree result in the removal of administrative and political
borders to neighbouring regions in other countries surrounding Scania. That
is at least the explicit goal of the EU. In the long term, an abolition of
customs controls and a common currency are discussed. This will especially
benefit border regions.
The EU membership resulted in that Sweden needed to be divided into so
called NUTS regions. These are regions that the EU use for socio- economic
calculations, for example when determining distribution of subsidies from
the EU structural funds. Of three levels 1-3, NUTS 2 is the most important,
often called the "basic region". It's necessary that it has some sort of
political controlling unit, a council or parliament. As a result of these
demands for NUTS regions, Sweden and the EU agreed in 1995 on a division of
NUTS 2 in Sweden into 8 regions. Skåne and Blekinge became one. Halland was
decided to belong to another region. This EU NUTS 2 division has been made a
business separate from the _internal_ regional one described late in 7.6.9
where Skåne _alone_ will constitute one region). Some people are not so
happy with this that the boundaries had to be different, thereby splitting
the regional focus.
The EU subsidizes the Interreg II program that supports border regional
cooperation within the EU. For the Öresund region - that is: Greater
København and all of Skåne - it will cover the years 1995-1999. The sum will
be 13 million ECU for the whole project and 0.2 of these are used for a
specific cooperation between south eastern Skåne and Bornholm. The same
amount that the EU gives must be invested from the two states, thereby
doubling the amount of money available.
Scania is also represented in the EU Committee of Regions in which the
member states' regions have representatives. 2 of the 12 Swedish
representatives are Scanians but that is not the result of any fixed quota
granted to Skåne. The Committee of Regions has no decisional, but only
advisory, powers in the EU. Still, in some EU countries, regional top
politicians are members and have high hopes for the future of the
institution before the EU intergovernmental congress in that started in Mars
7.6.9 Cooperation with Sjælland and the bridge over Öresund
There is since a few years a lot of talk in all kinds of sectors in Skåne
public life about the prospect of a cooperative region involving Sjælland
and Copenhagen. That's a goal every local politician seems to acknowledge
nowadays. There are for example ideas about common transportation cards, a
common TV channel, all kinds of cooperation projects in science, sports etc,
a common labor market, and there has even been spoken of common Olympic
Games in the year of 2008. Skåne was supposed to be a part of Copenhagen's
arrangements as cultural capital of Europe in 1996, but in the end, the
Scanian politicians decided to avoid some of its costs.
But maybe the most discussed project for better communications between
Scania and Sjælland is the bridge over Öresund:
A bridge is being built between a point just south of Malmö and the airport
of Copenhagen "Kastrup" which is the biggest airport in northern Europe. The
bridge will be 16.5 km long and will carry cars as well as trains but not
bikes. The current regional trains in Skåne and in Sjælland (the island on
which Copenhagen lies) will be connected. It will take 28 min to go from
Copenhagen to Malmö and 41 min to go to Lund. The university town of
Roskilde will be on the same connection (26 min west of Copenhagen).
The bridge was planned to be finished 1999, but is not on schedule so
current predictions are mentioning the year after. It will be financed by
the car (and of course truck) traffic whose drivers will pay a few hundred
SEK for a single trip, just below the prices of today's ferries. Train
passengers will only pay the normal price of 50 SEK in today's money. The
Swedish and Danish states will act as guarantors for the project.
The bridge was debated a lot because people were worried about hurting
environmental effects. The flow of water between the Baltic Sea and the
North Sea was one of the problems since it could be altered with damaging
effects. The current solution is supposed to make sure there is no change at
all in the water transportation. Other questions raised involved the
increased car traffic and its environmental consequences.
7.6.10 A politically united region
In Skåne, there is a certain amount of dissatisfaction with the
centralization of a lot of cultural and administrative activities around the
capital Stockholm. For example,there has been a famous research that showed
that Stockholm gets six times higher cultural subsidies than Malmö per
inhabitant. The editorial offices of national radio and TV stations are
usually located in Stockholm which many, not only Scanians, are worried give
a particular Stockholm perspective in produced programs.
But Sweden is slowly in a process of getting a new division into regions.
For the moment there are 24 smaller administrative provinces, "län", whose
borders date back to the 1630's. In the future, there might be less than ten
regions. What was long discussed (not a very loud debate though) was which
areas would belong together and many different alternatives came up. Finally
it was determined that Skåne and Western Sweden (including the second
Swedish city Göteborg) would start out reuniting their respective län into
two big regions (while the other Swedish län not involved would be left
intact for the moment). The Scanian politicians were probably the most eager
for this project and pushed rather strongly for it. (Already in 1992, did
the main political organisations in Skåne submit a request to the government
for a Skåne political region.) In this building of regions, the other parts
of Skåneland - Blekinge and Halland - were omitted from being part of the
new region. For now, they will continue being ordinary län.
So, a state official report in 1995 proposed that Skåne politically should
become one region and that a directly elected regional council should be
formed. The date was in a government proposition in 1996 specified to Jan 1,
1997. When this proposal will be carried through, today's two län councils
will disappear and be substituted by the regional council. Some of the state
administrative powers (concerning regional development) will be transferred
to the region. The Swedish parliament will make a decision concerning this
This report also suggested that the site of state administration would be
Kristianstad in northern Skåne and this soon became a heated issue where the
"capital of Skåne" would be. Malmö politicians were upset about making
Kristianstad the administrative site and the positions seemed to be locked.
Finally, this position was given to Malmö, a fact which of course angered
the Kristianstad politicians much and who threatened to leave the project
Parallel to having this new common political institution, there is also
already a will from the regional politicians to coordinate and integrate
regional decision making. Many different political domains (eg
communications, economic life, education, tourism) are examined one by one
by selected teams on how to improve the way those decisions that concerns
all of Skåne are made. This will be made with or without the help of a
regional parliament. It seems, the theme is always one Skåne institution or
organisation for different activities. This is not least visible in the
names being used.
Sources: "Skånelands flagga", Sven-Olle R Olsson, 1993
Newspaper articles from "Sydsvenska Dagbladet", 1992-95
Brochures by SVEDAB (Svensk-Danska Broförbindelsen AB), 1993-94
Ett enat Skåne: www.skane.se, Öresundskomiteens: www.orestad.com
Subject: 7.7 Books for learning Swedish
* Holmes, Philip and Serin, Gunilla: Colloquial Swedish, New York:
Routledge, 1990, ISBN 0-415-02803-5. Cassette available
* Beite, Ann-Mari, Englund, Gertrud, Higelin, Siv & Hildeman,
Nils-Gustav: Basic Swedish Grammar, 1963
* Hildeman, et al: Learn Swedish, Swedish Reader for Beginners, 1959
* All Almqvist & Wiksell: Practice Swedish, Exercises in the Swedish
* Nyborg, Roger & Pettersson, Nils-Owe: Svenska Utifrån, Lärobok i
svenska, Svenska Institutet, 1991 ISBN 91-520-0268-3
* McClean, R.J: Teach Yourself Swedish, London, The English Universities
Press, 1947. Newer reprint available.
In French: Le suedois sans peine - svenska på lätt sätt
* Part I and II, ed. ASSIMIL, 1986. Easily found in any bookshop. These
two books are a sort of small FAQ about Sverige : *skål*, herrings and
bier, Americans with Swedish backgrounds, etc. Two sets of cassettes
can be bought with the books.
-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=- END OF PART 7 -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
© Copyright 1994-96 by Antti Lahelma and Johan Olofsson.
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