Looking forward to move to Sweden? Here is some general information on the kingdom's geography, demographics, economy, etc.
If you have always dreamed of living in a Scandinavian country, why not turn to Sweden? Located in Northern Europe, the Kingdom of Sweden has become a top destination for expatriation. Indeed, in 2015, it ranks as the best destination for quality living in the world. By providing many opportunities to expatriates, quality education and an unparalleled quality of life, it has been attracting many expatriates worldwide since a few years.
Sweden is a constitutional monarchy along with being a parliamentary democracy. In fact, the Monarch, King Carl XVI Gustaf is the Head of the State since the 15th of September 1973. Stefan Löfven (Social Democrat), for his part, is the Prime Minister since the 3rd of October 2014.
Geography and demography
Nicknamed the “Northern Venice”, Stockholm is Sweden's capital city. It is also known to be the country's most densely populated city with some 897,000 inhabitants. Note, however, that the Swedish population consists of some 10 million inhabitants. Most of them live in the Southern third of the country despite the presence of thousands of small islands. Moreover, half of the country consists of beautiful natural landscapes comprising pine forests and lakes.
Stretching over 438,576 km², Sweden is divided into 2 regions, 21 counties and 289 towns. Although the country has joined the European Union since the 1st of January 1995, the Swedish Kingdom has preserved its national currency, that is the SEK, following a referendum. Sweden is also part of the Schengen space along with 24 other countries.
Note that the country is also a member of the United Nations Organization, the Nordic Council, the European Council, the World Trade Organization and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The Swedish population accounts for 1.9% of the European Union population. They are entitled to a social protection system which provides universal health care and education for everyone. In fact, Sweden ranks 8th among the countries worldwide with the highest per-capita income. The country is also very popular in terms of quality living, level of education, protection or civil rights, economic competitiveness, equality, prosperity and human development.
According to the Global Competitiveness 2012–2013 report published by the World Economic Forum, Sweden ranks fourth among the world's most competitive economies. Unemployment rate stood at 7.8% in April 2015. With its mixed economy which is mainly driven by exports, Sweden is the world's 7th richest country in terms of GDP per capita.
Note that the country particularly specializes in timber, hydroelectric energy, iron ore, telecommunications, pharmaceutical industries, automotive construction, as well as research and development. The following are the most prosperous companies operating in the country: Volvo, Ericsson, Vattenfall, Skanska, Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB, Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget, Electrolux, Volvo Personvagnar, TeliaSonera, Sandvik, Scania, ICA, Hennes & Mauritz, IKEA, Nordea, Preem, Atlas Copco, Securitas, Nordstjernan and SKF. Indeed, the country hosts many private companies which actively contribute to its economy.
The Swedish flag was created in 1906, displaying a golden Scandinavian cross (not yellow) on a blue background.
If you have chosen to live and work in Sweden, you will probably want to integrate to its society. You are advised to learn its two official national anthems, namely the Royal anthem and the National anthem titled "Sang till Norden".
Learning Swedish can be a real advantage for expatriates to adapt more easily to their new environment. Although most Swedish nationals understand and speak English, the government has set up a national Swedish learning program called “Swedish for Immigrants” so as to help newcomers.
Education and health
Education and health care are not completely free of charge. In fact, you will have to spend a fixed sum of 1,000 SEK per year, that is around 105 euros, for private health care services. The rest is taken care of by the social protection system.
As regards Swedish universities, these are free of charge for European Union, European Economic Area and Swiss nationals. Foreign students coming from non European countries, for their part, have to pay established fees. Note that these generally vary from one university to another.
July, the holy month
As Swedish workers are entitled to a 4 to 6 weeks holidays per year, they are often likely to take in in July. Therefore, do not be surprised to find your favorite restaurant or shop closes in July.
In general, many shops close early in Sweden, especially on week-ends. As most workers finish by 5 pm, they are likely to rush to shops and boutiques which close at 6.30 pm. So if you wish to avoid the peak shopping hours, you better have a good planning.
Just like in Japan and in some Middle East countries, you are advised to remove your shoes when entering someone's home.
In general, the Swedish people avoid exaggerating, especially in public. They will always say and behave sufficiently, or moderately. This particular state of mind is described as lagom.
Did you know that Sweden is one of the world's greenest economies? Indeed, according to the Global Green Economy Index (GGEI) report 2014, Sweden is a real pioneer in terms of ecology. Fees apply to all plastics and paper bags.
By now, you must be having an idea about what life is all about in Sweden. For more details, feel free to post your questions on the Sweden Forum.