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Sweden is the largest of the Nordic countries in Northern Europe, with a population of about 9,3 million. It borders Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark via the bridge of Öresund (Öresundsbron). The Baltic Sea lies to the east of Sweden, as well as the Gulf of Bothnia, which separates Sweden from most of Finland.
Sweden is great for outdoor life - skiing, skating, hiking, canoeing, cycling and berry-picking depending of season. Stockholm and Gothenburg have great nightlife and shopping opportunities. Most cities have well-preserved pre-industrial architecture.
The ancient right of public access (allemansrätten) grants everybody a right to move freely in nature on foot, horse, ski, bicycle or by boat, even on others' private property. With this right comes an obligation to respect the integrity of nature and the privacy of others. It is therefore important to understand the limitations.
Swedish weather is best during the summer (late May to early September). If you like snow, go to Norrland or Dalarna in November to April.
Be aware that daylight varies greatly during the year. In Stockholm, the sun sets at 3 PM in December. North of the Arctic Circle one can experience the midnight sun and Arctic night. However, even at Stockholm's latitude, summer nights exist only in the form of prolonged twilight during June and July.
The major holidays are Easter, Midsummer (celebrated from the eve of the Friday between June 19 - 25), Christmas (Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day are all considered holidays), and the "industrial vacation" throughout July. Expect closed establishments, heavy traffic (for the holidays) and crowded tourist resorts (for July).
Note that most Swedish holidays are celebrated on the day before (Midsummer's Eve, Christmas Eve etc), while Swedish people do hardly anything on the holiday proper.
the sparsely populated, northern part of the country (about two-thirds of the total area), with nine provinces. Lots of wilderness, with forests, lakes, big rivers, enormous marshes and high mountains along the border to Norway. Great for hiking. Largest cities are Gävle, Sundsvall, Umeå and Luleå.
the central part of the country, includes Stockholm, Uppsala and the provinces of Dalarna, Närke, Värmland, Södermanland, Uppland and Västmanland.
comprised of the ten provinces in the southern part of the country, including the islands (and provinces) of Öland and Gotland. The largest cities in Götaland are Gothenburg in Västergötland and Malmö in Skåne.
Stockholm - The capital, spread out over a number of islands.
Gothenburg (Göteborg in Swedish) - On the west coast.
Linköping - The 5th most populous city of Sweden. University city.
Kiruna - a mining town in Lappland, and the northernmost city in Sweden.
Luleå - Industrial city in northern Norrland, with a technical university.
Malmö - Down south, not far from the Danish capital Copenhagen.
Umeå - University city in Norrland.
Uppsala - lively pretty old university city. Fourth largest city in Sweden.
Örebro - Old shoe manufacturing center, halfway between Stockholm and Oslo.
Åre - One of Sweden's largest ski resorts, with 44 lifts.
Esrange - A rocket launching facility near Kiruna.
Gotland - Sweden's largest island, as well as the largest island of the Baltic Sea, situated in the Baltic Sea. Its capital Visby is on UNESCO's World's heritage list. It's a common vacation spot for Swedes from the mainland.
Kebnekaise - Sweden's highest mountain surrounded by vast wilderness areas and a popular trail to Abisko National Park.
Holiday homes and vacation rentals (Stugor) are often situated in the beautiful swedish nature. Fishing and boating is possible directly from or nearby many of these accomodations.
Swedish is the national language of Sweden, but you will find that people, especially those born since 1945, also speak English very well - an estimated 89% of Swedes can speak English.
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