The Kingdom of Sweden is the largest of the Nordic countries. It has borders with Norway to the west and north, and Finland to east, and is connected via road and rail to Denmark in the southwest by the 10.5km Oresund Bridge and Drogden Tunnel across the Øresund Strait.
It is a Scandinavian nation, made up thousands of islands and inland lakes, with all of its main cities – the capital of Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö – being on the coast. The majority of the country’s landscape is boreal forests and glaciated mountains, with the northernmost part of the country belonging to the Arctic. The interior areas of the north are sparsely populated, with most of the population living in the south of the country and along the Baltic coast, where the climate is milder, with easier travel links to the rest of mainland Europe.
The country is a Constitutional Monarchy – although the monarch has no executive power – and Parliamentary Democracy consisting of 21 counties, sub-divided into 290 municipalities. Sweden joined the European Union in 1995, but rejected the Euro by public referendum in 2003. It is one of two European countries (the other being Switzerland) that have not been at war since 1815 – staying neutral during both World Wars. It also declined membership to NATO. Sweden has the world’s eighth-highest per capita income and an advanced welfare state – with universal health care and tertiary education for all. It ranks among the highest in the world in terms of standard of living, civil liberties, education and life expectancy.