The Swedish Flag.
Facts About Sweden
The Greater Coat of Arms
The Lesser Coat of Arms
This website was developed by Devon Hylander, graduate student, American University, for the final project of Dr. Zaharna’s International Public Relations class. 23 October 2004.
The Land and People
Sweden is a relatively small country with the population not quite at 9 million, about the same size population as the state of New Jersey (U.S. Census Bureau). Yet, the Swedes have almost 280,000 square miles of land and water to live on and New Jersey-ians have only 9,000 square miles. To give you another comparison, Sweden is just larger than Texas. Sweden is located in Northern Europe and shares borders with Finland and Norway. The capital of Sweden is Stockholm with a population of 1.8 million. Other large cities include Göteborg, 766,000 people, and Malmö, 550,000 people.
Symbols of Sweden
To the right is a picture of the Swedish flag, blue background with a yellow cross. The origins of the flag can be traced back to the mid-15th century where it was most likely an emblem of resistance during the Kalmar Union battles.
Read more about the Swedish flag.
Again to the right are the two National Coat of Arms, Greater and Lesser. The Greater National Coat of Arms has remained the same since the 1440’s when it was created by King Karl Knutsson Bonde. The symbolism of the Lesser National Coat of Arms is founded in religion. The three crowns on the coat of arms symbolizes the Three Wise Men, also known as the Three Kings. Eventually, these three crowns became synonymous with the Swedish Royalty.
Read more about the Greater and Lesser National Coat of Arms.
Swedes’ governmental system is a limited constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system. The king of Sweden, currently King Carl XVI Gustaf, has formal, symbolic and representational authority. The cabinet, totaling the Prime Minister and 20 ministers, have executive authority. The Riksdag, or Swedish parliament, is the legislative branch of the government and has 349 members each elected every four years.
For Sweden with the times
För Sverige i tiden
Royal Motto of His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustav (1973-present)
Sweden has a multitude of political parties ranging the full spectrum of right to left wing. In fact, having only two political parties, as the U.S. does, seems strange to the Swedes (Janson). Presently, the Social Democratic Party is in power holding 144 seats in the Parliament. The Moderate Party is the next largest political group holding 55 seats in the Parliament. The Green Party, which favors environmentalism, holds 17 Parliament seats. Other political parties include the Left Party (formerly the Communist Party), the Christian Democrats, the Center Party and the Liberal Party. Because of the great number of political parties in Sweden, a party is required to receive at least 4% of the votes across the country or 12% of the votes in a single electoral district in order to obtain any Parliament seats. At 18 years of age, a Swede can vote and nearly 90% voted in the 2002 elections (Svensson, 1996, p. 32).
Sweden is an industrial country oriented toward foreign trade. Hydropower and iron ore have helped Sweden become strong in international exports. Agriculture consists of only 2% of the economy, while services consist of 69%. These are dramatic statistics because at the beginning of the 20th century, most of Sweden’s population were farmers. Sweden excels in the IT industry and telecommunications. These industries are quickly replacing iron, steel, paper and pulp production. Motor vehicles production is also a large Swedish industry (Saab, Volvo). Sweden joined the European Union in 1995, but did not elect to participate in the European Monetary Union (the Euro).
Nearly 100% of the Swedish population is literate due to free compulsory education through the age of 15. As of 1997, 4.6 million Swedes had televisions and 8.25 million had radios. In 2002, the estimated amount of internet users was 5.1 million, over half the country’s population.
Sweden is very rigorous when it comes to environmentalism, as shown through their third place ranking in 2002 Environmental Sustainability Ranking. Swedes see the importance of leaving their land undamaged for future generations. Recycling is widespread through the country. Farmers do not feed steroids to their livestock. And there are many outdoor recreation groups Swedes can join for enjoyment. All land is available for the use of the citizens under the tradition of Allemänsträtten, or “every man’s right,” and it is an unwritten rule that you always leave nature the way you found it (Svensson, 1996, p. 68-72).
The political arena in Sweden is very aware of environmental protection. The Green Party is gaining popularity and all other political parties usually have an environmental platform. In 1999, Sweden developed and began implementing 15 national environmental quality objectives to be reached by 2020. The purpose of these objectives is to provided a usable, visible framework for various environmental programs and efforts. It serves as a guide for the nation and all factions of environmental protection groups. Each objective must be reached in such a way that neither the human population nor the environment is jeopardized. The 15 environmental quality objectives are:
1. Reduced climate impact – stabilize concentrations of greenhouse gases
2. Clean air – should not present risk to human, animal or plant health
3. Natural acidification only – not to exceed the limits of soil and water toleration
4. Non-toxic environment – free from man-made or extracted compounds that threaten human health or biological diversity
5. Protective ozone layer – replenishment to protect against UV radiation
6. Safe radiation environment – protect human health and biological diversity
7. Zero eutrophication – balanced levels of nutrients, plants and oxygen in the water
8. Flourishing lakes and streams – ecologically sustainable; preserve variety of habitats
9. Good quality groundwater – safe and sustainable supply
10. Balanced marine environment, flourishing coastal areas and archipelagos – aimed at the North Sea and Baltic Sea
11. Thriving wetlands – preservation of ecological and water-conserving functions
12. Sustainable forests – protect for biological production, diversity, cultural heritage and recreation
13. Varied agricultural landscape – protect farmed landscape for biological and food production
14. Magnificent mountain landscape – preserve pristine mountain environment for biological diversity, recreation and cultural value
15. Good built environment – healthy living environment provided by cities and towns
Read more about Sweden’s environmental objectives
Swedes care about the environment not only for the purposes of resources, food and water, but also to preserve cultural history and have places to play.