Welfare state Sweden
Sweden is a wealthy country. The people earn a lot, but they also pay high taxes, i.e. contributions to the state. Social benefits are paid for and money is used in good education. The state supports its citizens in emergencies. This is also called a welfare state.
The Swedish economy relies primarily on sales abroad, on export. Wood, iron ore and hydropower play an important role in this. The main industries are automobiles, paper, medicines, machines, and electronics. In the total economic output of the country, services occupy the largest place with 65 percent, industry follows with 33 percent. Only 1.6 percent still come from agriculture.
In the 19th century Sweden developed from a predominantly agricultural state (an agrarian state) to an industrial state. Today only two percent of the working population are active in this area. 90 percent of the agriculture is in southern and central Sweden – in the north it is too cold for that. Above all, cereals such as wheat and barley as well as potatoes and rapeseed are grown. The dairy industry also plays a major role, i.e. keeping dairy cows.
According to computerannals, Swedish companies are not only active in their own country – and that’s why you probably know at least two, namely IKEA and H&M. Both have a large number of shops not only in Germany. Or maybe you know Volvo cars or Ericsson phones. Vattenfall is a Swedish energy company that sells its electricity across Europe. The largest companies in Sweden include banks such as Nordea Bank, Skand Enskilda Bank, Swedbank and Svenska Handelsbanken.
Christmas in Sweden
Christmas is called Jul in Swedish. There are all kinds of customs that are part of Swedish Christmas. As with us, the children receive the presents on Christmas Eve, December 24th. However, this day is the main holiday (and not December 25th and 26th). That’s why many things are prepared on December 23rd, for example the Christmas ham is cooked. It is the traditional main meal. The gingerbread (Pepparkakor) tastes good even in the run-up to Christmas.
The Swedes also have a Christmas tree. A typical decoration is the Yule goat: a billy goat figure made of straw. Before Santa Claus (Jultomte) brought the presents, the Julbock should have done that… Well then: God Jul – Merry Christmas!
History and Politics
First inhabitant of Sweden
Around 11,000 BC The area of today’s Sweden was first settled by humans. They came north from Central Europe. At that time there was a land bridge between what is now Denmark and southern Sweden, which was later washed over by water and thus disappeared. From north-eastern Europe, however, was from about 8000 BC. The far north settled (Komsa culture). From 4000 BC Chr, the hunters and gatherers became sedentary people who practiced agriculture. Different cultures developed.
The time between 550 and 800 is called the Vendelzeit. A specialty of this culture were burials in boats. The people were burned and buried in a boat. A barrow was then built over it. Rich grave goods such as helmets and swords were also found.
Viking Age (800-1050)
The peoples of the north who sailed the North and Baltic Seas in the early Middle Ages are called Vikings. The Vikings were traders and warriors. From southern Sweden they mainly drove eastwards across the Baltic Sea and from there on over large rivers such as the Volga. They played a key role in the creation of the Old Russian Empire.
Birka on an island in Lake Mälaren (west of Stockholm) became one of the most important trading centers. The kingdom of the Svear (a north Germanic tribe) came into being and King Olof Skötkonung became the first Christian king. Gradually the population was Christianized in the 11th century.
Sweden in the High Middle Ages (1050-1389)
In the kingdom of Svear, the king was determined by election (and not by inheritance), which repeatedly led to power struggles. Especially the families of Sverker and Erik fought against each other. Waldemar became king in 1250, and in 1275 his brother Magnus Ladulås deposed him. A medieval class society with an imperial nobility, an ecclesiastical class and the peasantry came into being. In the 12th and 13th centuries, Sweden conquered what is now Finland.
Kalmar Union (1397-1523)
In 1397, Queen Margaret I united Denmark, Norway and Sweden in the Kalmar Union. She had been Queen of Denmark since 1387 and through marriage and inheritance also became Queen of Sweden and Norway. Her nephew Erik VII became the first king of the Kalmar Union. Due to all sorts of power struggles, however, it only worked to a very limited extent. In 1520 the Union King Christian II had rebels arrested and executed in Stockholm.