SwedenCopyright: scanrail 23rf.com

Sweden

Capital: Stockholm
Currency: Swedish krona (SEK)
Language: Swedish
Listen to the national anthem

Evidence of human settlement in Sweden can be traced back to around 12,000 years, living at the edge of the ice sheet that covered much of the northern regions.

When the Romans met the Swedes who they called Souines, in AD 98, they mentioned powerful ships and and the fact that they many. Even then, 700 years before the rise of the Vikings, the technology was there and with it an impressive power. When we look at the Vikings we assume that they are all big hairy Scandinavians that set sail just to raid, plunder and kill. Recent archaeological evidence and finds can disprove that theory. Swedish Vikings are now known to have travelled as far as Constantinople and not to plunder. How do we know this for sure? Well runic marks have been found inside the Hagia Sophia and it is known that Swedes travelled east but this confirms their reach.

Runic marks in the Hagia SophiaCopyright: Not home Flickr

Runic marks in the Hagia SophiaCopyright: Not home Flickr

The Danish Vikings travelled west as far as Ireland and the Norwegians travelled as far as Newfoundland and thought that they might have travelled along the east coast of America!

In the early 17th century, Sweden's Empire covered areas of Norway, all of Finland, parts of Denmark, Germany, Estonia and Latvia! The Battle of Poltava with Peter The Greats Russia in 1709 brought an end to Swedish dominance.

Because of Sweden's position it gets the benefit from the Gulf Stream, meaning that the southern half is relatively milder than parts of Russia, Canada and even the USA on the same latitude. The temperature difference between north and south can be as much as 55.4℉ (13℃) in the winter to 42.8℉ (6℃). As well as the Gulf Stream the weather is also in part due to the large expanse of the Scandinavian land mass and the super continent of Eurasia.

Sweden is said to have around 30,000 islands although some of these are mere rocks breaking the surface of the Baltic Sea. The more accurate number is more like 24 and as a result Sweden and for that matter all of the Scandinavian states depend heavily on bridges.

The Øresund BridgeCopyright: Steven Richman Flickr

The most impressive bridge can be found connecting Sweden with Denmark - The Øresund Bridge which connects Malmo in Sweden to Denmark crossing the strait or Øresund between the two countries.

When we think of music and popular artists and bands we look towards the USA but Sweden has towards the end of the 20th century become recognised, especially after ABBA won the Euro vision Song Contest with Waterloo in 1974 and then went on to pops tar status.

ABBA WaxworksCopyright: Danny15 Wikimedia Commons

ABBA went on to become one of the biggest names in pop music and still to this day have the effect of getting people singing or humming to their songs. The name ABBA is an acronym of their names Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad.

Today, music is still a big part of Swedish culture and hold music festivals throughout the year and these attract big names in the music world. The biggest and most popular festivals are those that feature Heavy Metal bands like Metallica, Alice Cooper, Slayer and Anthrax to name a few. There is also a Jazz festival and a Melody Festival that features Jazz and more traditional artists.

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