Located on the eastern half of the Scandinavian Peninsula lays Sweden, Europe’s fourth largest country. Modern, yet rich in history, Sweden waits to be rediscovered by world travelers. Roughly 14,000 years ago, the ice that completely covered the island that is Scandinavia began to melt. The Vikings were the first individuals that inhabited the region, who used the land to hunt and fish. The region was comprised of multiple settlements and by the 10 century, these settlements converged to become what is modern day Sweden. During the 12th and 13th centuries, Sweden also was comprised of the country of Finland. Shortly, the countries of Denmark, Norway, Sweden were united under Danish Queen. Eventually this union disintegrated, yet Sweden continued to battle and attempted to conquer much of Scandinavia and northern portions of Europe. At one point, portions of Russia, Saxony-Poland, Denmark and Norway were considered part of Sweden. During World War I and World War II, Sweden remained a neutral country. Additionally, they have remained neutral throughout most conflicts during the last century. In 1995, Sweden officially became part of the European Union.
The land area of Sweden is approximately 450,000 square kilometers. More than 50% of Sweden is covered in forests. The landscape is composed of mountains and hills in the west, plains and farm land in the south, and a combination of mountains and plains in the north. During the winter, much of the land is covered with snow. There are multiple islands off the coast of Sweden; the two major islands are Gotland and Oland. The country of Sweden has over 95,700 lakes and more than 10% of the country is covered in water. Sweden is separated into 25 provinces and 21 counties. The main cities of Sweden are Stockholm, Gothenburg, Umea and Malmo. The capital of Sweden is Stockholm.
Traditional Swedish food is typically simple and hearty. Meats such as reindeer as consumed often being ground into foods such as meatballs. Additional game, which roam in the far North region of Sweden, are exclusively Scandinavian sources of proteins. The Swedish culture often pickles their vegetables along with fish such as herring. Another culinary form that is traditionally Swedish is the use of lingonberries in the source of jam. One of the most recognized forms of Swedish cuisine is the smörgås or the open face sandwich. The Swedish culture is known for being active and healthy and this is typically reflected in their food. Additionally, the country embraces its oceans and rivers, and seafood is often present in Swedish dishes.
Some of the most famous landmarks in Sweden are the Bohus Fortress, Drottningholm's Palace, the Royal Palace, Nya Alvsborgs Fastning, the Turning Torso, the Ice Hotel and Vaxholm Castle.
One location that used to be closed to foreigners until the end of the Cold War is the Stockholm Archipelago. The Archipelago is the biggest in Sweden and one of the largest in the Baltic Sea. It was restricted to foreigners due to the risk that they imposed upon the security of Sweden. Now the area, which is composed of 24000 islands and inlets, is open to tourist. Notable people from Sweden include Greta Garbo, Ingrid Bergman, Alfred Nobel, Carl Larsson, Stieg Larsson, and Björn Borg.
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