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Sweden, officially the Kingdom of Sweden, is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden is the third largest country in the European Union; it has land borders with Norway to the west and Finland to the northeast, and maritime borders with Denmark, Germany, Poland, Russia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. Sweden is connected to Denmark by the Oresund Bridge in the south.
The standard of living and life expectancy rank Sweden among the highest in the world. Although Sweden joined the European Union in 1995, it was decided by a referendum in 2003 not to commit to the European Monetary Union and the euro currency.
Sweden is the 21st most visited country in the world, with more than 7,6 million arrivals in a year. The Kingdom is mostly visited by tourists from its neighbouring countries Denmark, Norway and Finland. Thereafter follow tourists from Germany and the United Kingdom. Once an extremely expensive destination, travel in Sweden has become economically much more attractive in recent years. Now that the nation's midnight sun, slick cities and historical sites can be enjoyed at a more affordable price, tourism is likely to be on the way up for the Scandinavian state. Stockholm, the capital, hits all the right spots: at once modern and medieval, the city bears testimony to its 13th century origins, as medieval streets are woven together through a myriad of stairways, arches and lanes; and a fine collection of museums, including a hugely popular open-air museum, accent the city's appreciation of the past. At Gothenburg, however, we find Sweden's most popular destination: Liseberg, Scandinavia's largest - and one of the world's best - amusement parks.
Sweden is great for outdoor activities - skiing, skating, hiking, canoeing, cycling and berry-picking depending of season. Stockholm and Gothenburg have great nightlife and shopping opportunities. Every winter, the IceHotel is built near the northern town of Kiruna. Kiruna is also a good place from which to see the Aurora Borealis or Northern lights. Tourists in the north of the country in winter often enjoy trips in reindeer sleighs with Sami drivers, or in dog sleighs.
Many tourists wonder where they can see real Vikings. Unfortunately, they have not been around for a thousand years. "Viking" is not the name of a separate tribe or nation - it is simply a word meaning "sailor" or "navigator of the fjords". Most Swedes are proud of their Viking roots, though they don't take it very seriously. A good place to see Viking artifacts is The Museum of National Antiquities ("Historiska museet") in Stockholm. A modern unofficial national symbol, the Dala Horse is the souvenir of souvenirs to bring from Sweden. These small wooden horses have are fairly expensive: expect to pay around SEK 100 for a very small one or several hundred crowns for bigger versions.
449,964 sq km (173,731 sq mi)
Parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy
Swedish is the national language of Sweden (but not the official). About 3% of population speak Finnish as their native tongue. Finnish is recognised as a minority language as well as four other minority languages (Meankieli, Sami, Romani and Yiddish).
An estimated 89% of Swedes can speak English thanks to their education, trade links, the popularity of overseas travel, a strong Anglo-American influence and the tradition of subtitling rather than dubbing foreign television shows and films. Older people born well before the World War II usually learned German as their first foreign language, and generally speak that better than English. Today students learn a third language in school, most commonly German, French or Spanish.
75% of Swedes belong to the Church of Sweden (Lutheran), but the number is decreasing by about 1% every year, and Church of Sweden services are sparsely attended. About 1% of the population are Roman Catholics and 1.1% are Eastern Orthodox Christians. There are almost half a million Muslims (5.5%) in the country but approximately 5% of them actively practice Islam.
Swedish Krona (SEK)
230V / 50Hz (European plug)
on the right
When dining out, a service charge is often included in the bill, and there is generally no reason to tip, unless you're very satisfied with the service.
Sweden is a member of the European Union and the Schengen Agreement. If you are a European Union (EU) citizen, you may enter without any restriction as per your EU citizenship rights. Most citizens of industrialized nations do not need a visa to enter Sweden for tourism or short business trips. If you are not an EU citizen, you will need to obtain a Schengen visa. This visa is valid for any country in the Schengen zone.
The largest airports include Stockholm-Arlanda Airport (ARN), Gothenburg-Landvetter Airport (GOT), and Stockholm-Skavsta Airport (NYO) which serves mostly low fares airlines. Copenhagen Kastrup Airport (CPH), located on an island between the capital of neighbouring Denmark and Malmo, is ideal for travelling in southern Sweden.
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