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Sweden

Highlights in Sweden

Geography of Sweden

Sweden is located in the north of Europe in the region of Scandinavia. About half of the country is covered by lush forests and over 100,000 lakes with more than 24,000 islands characterise the landscape. In total, Sweden stretches over 1,600 km from north to south and around 500 km from east to west.

Sweden lies between Norway, to the west, and Finland, to the east. A long, rocky and rugged coastline forms Sweden's eastern border with Finland and runs along the Gulf of Bothnia and the Baltic Sea. The three bodies of water of the Skagerrak, the Kattegat and the Øresund Strait separate Sweden from Denmark to the south. Sweden, however, occupies most of the Scandinavian peninsula, shared with Norway.

In the north you can find the Norrland region, characterised by seemingly endless mountain and forest areas. In the far north, the Norrland region overlaps with the Lapland region and Northern Finland. The Svealand region is located in central Sweden and in the south is the Götaland region. This also includes the highlands of Småland and, at the southern end, plains of Skåne.

A long mountain range runs along the western border with Sweden. The east, on the other hand, is flatter and characterised by low plains. Many small rivers rise from springs in the mountains and then flow to the southeast.

A special feature are the northern lights which can be observed – with a little luck – during the winter months, especially in the north. In the northern part of Sweden, there are up to 20 hours of darkness during the winter months, which is alleviated by a twilight period of just under four hours.

In the south of the country, darkness is less severe, with daylight appearing for about 5 to 6 hours. On the other hand, north of the Arctic Circle there is daylight around the clock, without interruption, from the end of May to mid-July. In southern Sweden, the nights are also short at this time of year and there are only a few hours of semi-darkness.

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Geomorphology/Geology

Sweden is geologically one of the oldest parts of the earth's crust. The surface structure and soils were formed by the receding glaciers of the Pleistocene (about 2,600,000 to 11,700 years ago).

Norrland is the most sparsely populated region and covers about three-fifths of the country. The landscape consists of rounded hills and mountains, large lakes and extensive river valleys and forests.

In the west of Norrland you can find the Kölen mountains. The border with Norway runs though them. Characterised by numerous glaciers, Sweden's highest peak is located in the north of the region: Mount Kebne, which is just over 2000 metres high.

The Småland region in the inner south of Sweden is quite flat, with an altitude of 300 to 400 metres. The forested highlands are characterised by very stony and infertile soils and have been little cultivated in the course of Sweden's settlement.

The Bothnian Coastal Plain is also low-lying, apart from a high coastal section, and stretches from Norrland to Svealand. Most of the flat surface of eastern Svealand and northern Götaland was forced below sea level by glaciers. This created a landscape of fragmented bedrock, numerous lakes and fertile clay areas. Today, visitors find mixed forests and farmland here.

The plains of Skåne, which have very fertile soil, are the longest settled areas in Sweden. Even today, a lot of farming is still done here. Apart from this fertile region, which is suitable for agriculture, the soils in Sweden are mostly poor and stony. In addition, almost one fifth of the country is covered by marshland and peat. Especially in the rainy southwest of Sweden and in the cold far north.

The Swedish coast is typically very rocky and there are numerous small, partly forested islands. The islands of Öland and Gotland, made of sandstone and limestone, jut out off the southern coast of the Baltic Sea.

The longest river in the country is the Klar Göta River. It rises in Norway and flows for about 720 km until it reaches Lake Väner. The course of the river continues from the southern end of the lake southwards to the North Sea. The waterfalls of Trollhättan lie along the southernmost course.

Most of Sweden's rivers have their source in the mountains of Norrland. Characterised by waterfalls and rapids, they flow towards the southeast and into the Gulf of Bothnia or the Baltic Sea.

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Travel Tips and Trivia for Sweden

Climate in Sweden

Sweden has a cool and inland dry continental climate. The interaction between Atlantic and continental influences causes periodic climate changes. The winds coming from the North Atlantic Current from the southwest warm up the air and produce a mild but changeable climate. Continental high-pressure areas come from the east, resulting in strongly marked seasons.

Summers are hot and sunny, winters very cold. The mountains in the north and the long stretch of the country from north to south also strongly influence the weather and lead to considerable local differences, especially in winter. In the northern part of the interior, for example, temperatures drop as low as -30 to -40°C in winter. In southern Sweden, on the other hand, snowfall is irregular and temperatures range from -5 to 0°C.

There are significantly smaller local differences in summer temperatures. However, it should be remembered that the summer is much shorter in the north. If the average daily temperature is considered, "spring" begins in southern Skåne in February, but not until the end of May in northernmost Norrland. In the north, the average summer temperature is 15°C and in the south of Sweden it is 17°C.

Late summer and autumn are the rainiest seasons, with annual rainfall averaging 600 mm.

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Flora and Fauna in Sweden

Sweden is known for its endless forests and lakes. Almost a tenth of the country's surface is covered by lakes. These shape the country's flora and fauna and attract numerous birds.

In addition to the large number of lakes, forest areas cover more than two thirds of the country. The majority of these forests consist of conifers such as fir, spruce and pine. In the south, in addition to conifers, there are other tree species such as beech, ash, oak and elm, which, however, make up a very small proportion of the native tree species. Birch forests also grow in higher regions. The mixed forests in the south are rich in various types of berries such as cranberries and blueberries as well as different types of mushrooms. In addition to forests and lakes, wetlands also characterise the Swedish landscape. Bogs and marshes are vital for many birds, such as the Eurasian curlew, which finds sufficient food and nesting opportunities in these areas.

In contrast to the flora and fauna of the interior are the coastal regions: The coast of Skuleskogens, the sandbanks of the Haparanda archipelago and the salty rocks of Kosterhavets provide habitats for more animal and plant species above as well as below the water.

Due to the limestone soil and very mild climate, the islands of Gotland and Öland have a special feature: visitors can marvel at numerous orchids that have adapted to the local conditions and thrive there.

The vastness and solitude of the northern forests provide ideal conditions for many wild animals.

Moose, bears, lynx, wolverines and foxes are native to Sweden. Wolves can also be found again, although they are more common in south-central Sweden. In the north, the Sámi, the indigenous people of Lapland, breed reindeer.

Hunting and fishing are strictly regulated in Sweden and many animal species are fully protected.

In winter there are only a few bird species in Sweden, but in summer visitors can admire the avifauna all the more. Migratory bird species such as cranes and wild geese come from Africa or southern Europe to spend the summer months in Sweden. Birdwatchers can see the red kite and even the white-tailed eagle in southern Sweden, as well as the golden eagle or the eastern imperial eagle.

Native fish species include cod and mackerel, which are found in the Atlantic. Salmon and pike prefer the less salty Baltic Sea and inland lakes and rivers.

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Social geography of Sweden

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