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Background:    
A military power during the 17th century, Sweden has not participated in any war in almost two centuries. An armed neutrality was preserved in both World Wars. Sweden's long-successful economic formula of a capitalist system interlarded with substantial welfare elements was challenged in the 1990s by high unemployment and in 2000-02 by the global economic downturn, but fiscal discipline over the past several years has allowed the country to weather economic vagaries. Indecision over the country's role in the political and economic integration of Europe delayed Sweden's entry into the EU until 1995, and waived the introduction of the euro in 1999.  

Location:  
Northern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea, Gulf of Bothnia, Kattegat, and Skagerrak, between Finland and Norway  

Climate:  
temperate in south with cold, cloudy winters and cool, partly cloudy summers; subarctic in north  

Population:    
9,001,774 (July 2005 est.)  

Ethnic groups:  
indigenous population: Swedes and Finnish and Sami minorities; foreign-born or first-generation immigrants: Finns, Yugoslavs, Danes, Norwegians, Greeks, Turks  

Religions:  
Lutheran 87%, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Baptist, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist  

Languages:  
Swedish, small Sami- and Finnish-speaking minorities  

Government  Sweden
Country name:  
conventional long form: Kingdom of Sweden
conventional short form: Sweden
local long form: Konungariket Sverige
local short form: Sverige  
Government type:  
constitutional monarchy  

Capital:  
Stockholm  

Administrative divisions:  
21 counties (lan, singular and plural); Blekinge, Dalarnas, Gavleborgs, Gotlands, Hallands, Jamtlands, Jonkopings, Kalmar, Kronobergs, Norrbottens, Orebro, Ostergotlands, Skane, Sodermanlands, Stockholms, Uppsala, Varmlands, Vasterbottens, Vasternorrlands, Vastmanlands, Vastra Gotalands  

Executive branch:  
chief of state: King CARL XVI GUSTAF (since 19 September 1973); Heir Apparent Princess VICTORIA Ingrid Alice Desiree, daughter of the monarch (born 14 July 1977)
head of government: Prime Minister Goran PERSSON (since 21 March 1996)
cabinet: Cabinet appointed by the prime minister
elections: the monarchy is hereditary; following legislative elections, the prime minister is elected by the parliament; election last held 15 September 2002 (next to be held NA September 2006)
election results: Goran PERSSON reelected prime minister with 131 out of 349 votes  

Flag description:  
blue with a golden yellow cross extending to the edges of the flag; the vertical part of the cross is shifted to the hoist side in the style of the Dannebrog (Danish flag)  

Economy  
Aided by peace and neutrality for the whole 20th century, Sweden has achieved an enviable standard of living under a mixed system of high-tech capitalism and extensive welfare benefits. It has a modern distribution system, excellent internal and external communications, and a skilled labor force. Timber, hydropower, and iron ore constitute the resource base of an economy heavily oriented toward foreign trade. Privately owned firms account for about 90% of industrial output, of which the engineering sector accounts for 50% of output and exports. Agriculture accounts for only 2% of GDP and 2% of the jobs. The government's commitment to fiscal discipline resulted in a substantial budgetary surplus in 2001, which was cut by more than half in 2002, due to the global economic slowdown, declining revenue, and increased spending. The Swedish central bank (the Riksbank) focuses on price stability with its inflation target of 2%. Growth remained sluggish in 2003, but picked up in 2004. Presumably because of generous sicktime benefits, Swedish workers report in sick more often than other Europeans. On 14 September 2003, Swedish voters turned down entry into the euro system, concerned about the impact on democracy and sovereignty.  

Disputes international: none




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