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Sweden:
Swed. Sverige, officially Kingdom of Sweden, constitutional monarchy (1995 est. pop. 8,822,000), 173,648 sq mi (449,750 sq km), N Europe, occupying the eastern part of the Scandinavian peninsula. It borders on Norway in the west, on Finland in the northeast, on the Gulf of Bothnia in the east, on the Baltic Sea in the south, and on the Øresund (The Sound), the Kattegat, and the Skagerrak in the southwest. The country includes several islands, notably Gotland and Öland, in the Baltic. Stockholm is Sweden's capital and largest city.

Sweden falls into two main geographical regions: the north (Norrland), comprising about two thirds of the country, which is mountainous (except for a narrow strip of lowland along the Gulf of Bothnia); and the south (Svealand and Götaland), which is mostly low-lying and where most of the population lives. About 65% of Sweden's land area is forested, and less than 10% is arable. The country has several large rivers, which generally flow in a southeastward direction; these include the Götaälv, the Dalälven, the Indalsälven, the Ångermanälven, the Umeälv, the Skellefteälven, the Luleälv, and the Torneälv. There are also a number of large lakes, including lakes Vänern, Vättern, Mälaren, Storsjön, Hjälmaren, Siljan, and Uddjaur. The highest point in Sweden is Kebnekaise (6,965 ft/2,123 m), located in the Kölen (Kjölen) Mts. in Lapland. The country is divided into 24 provinces (län).

The great majority of the nation's population speaks Swedish and is descended from Scandinavian tribes (see Germans); there is a sizable Finnish-speaking minority and a small Lapp-speaking minority. About 12% of the population is foreign born. Most Swedes belong to the Evangelical Lutheran Church; the metropolitan see is at Uppsala.

The educational and cultural level in Sweden is high, and the school system is outstanding. There are universities at Göteborg, Karlstad, Linköping, Lund, Örebro, Stockholm, Umeå, Uppsala, and Växjö. The Nobel Prizes (except the Peace Prize) are awarded annually in Sweden. Social welfare legislation has long been advanced and comprehensive, providing for pensions, maternity benefits, health insurance, and allowances for all children.


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