Located in northern Europe on the Scandinavian Peninsula, Sweden became a unified Christian nation in the 11th century after the arrival of the Vikings. During the next several centuries, Sweden either fought with or created alliances with its neighboring countries: Norway, Finland and Denmark. In the Napoleonic Wars, which lasted from 1799 to 1815, Sweden was forced to give up territory and unite with Norway to protect itself from outside aggression. In 1905, this alliance was peacefully dissolved, and Sweden became neutral. Following its Industrial Revolution, there was a shift from village-based to private, farm-based agriculture. However, this economic system could not keep up with the demands of its growing population, so guild monopolies were abolished in order to allow a free market economy to flourish. In both World Wars, Sweden remained neutral, using its status to benefit from trade with warring nations. After World War II, Sweden’s prime minister was murdered, giving rise to a period of instability. An accompanying economic crisis, elevated bankruptcy, and unemployment created further problems. Sweden has since managed to recover from that period, entering the European Union in 1995, but has kept its own currency, the Krona. The 9/11 attacks and the 2003 Iraq War led to some conflict between the United States and Sweden, including the December 2001 rendition of an Egyptian citizen back to Egypt while on Swedish soil at the request of the U.S. Another recent controversial issue was the imprisonment of a Swedish citizen by U.S. personnel in Iraq.
Lay of the Land: Located in northern Europe on the Scandinavian Peninsula, Sweden stretches 977 miles from its northern border above the Arctic Circle to its southernmost region of Skåne. From east to west, it averages 200 to 250 miles across. The country is composed of flat farmlands in the south, rocky and hilly countryside in the center, and forested mountains in the north. Located in the same latitudes as Alaska, Sweden has 9,600 lakes which cover a tenth of its territory, and has about 50 billion trees blanketing half the country.
Archeological evidence shows that Sweden was settled as early as 5000 BC. Prehistoric rock engravings of elk, reindeer, bears, and seals indicate that the country’s early culture centered around hunting and fishing. Carvings from 2300-500 BC reveal images of agriculture, ships, domesticated animals, and home life.
Dagens Nyheter (Swedish)
In 1638, a Swedish merchant company founded the official colony of New Sweden in Delaware. The Dutch overran the colony in 1655, followed by the English a few years later, but nevertheless, an enclave of Swedish-speaking people survived in the Delaware valley until the 19th century.
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The US exported a total of $4.6 billion worth of goods while importing $8.2 billion worth of goods in 2009.
Swedish Citizen Detained by U.S. in Iraq
According to the State Department, “Reported human rights problems included isolated incidents of excessive force by police, prison overcrowding and lengthy pretrial detention, government surveillance and interference, incidents of anti-Semitic and anti-Islamic discrimination and civil disturbances, abuse of women and children, and trafficking in persons.”
Jonas Hafström became Sweden’s Ambassador to the United States on August 29, 2007. Born in Stockholm on February 27, 1948, In 1974, he received a Bachelor’s in law degree from Lund University and was President of the Student Union.
Attorney and lobbyist Mark Brzezinski was nominated on September 6, 2011, by President Barack Obama to be the next U.S. ambassador to Sweden, replacing Matthew Barzun, who was one of Obama’s biggest campaign bundlers during the 2008 presidential campaign. Brzezinski was confirmed by the Senate on October 18.
What Matthew W. Barzun lacks in terms of diplomatic experience, or knowledge about Sweden, he makes up with having supported President Barack Obama’s election—to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. The former CNET executive was one of Obama’s key bundlers, helping to funnel at least $500,000 towards the campaign. He was sworn in as U.S. ambassador to Sweden August 12, 2009.