Sweden

Full name: Kingdom of Sweden

Population: 9.4 million (UN, 2011)

Capital: Stockholm

Area: 449,964 sq km (173,732 sq miles)

Major language: Swedish

Major religion: Christianity

Life expectancy: 80 years (men), 84 years (women) (UN)

Monetary unit: 1 Swedish krona = 100 ore

Main exports: Machinery and transport equipment, paper products, chemicals

Land & History

Sweden is the 3rd largest EU country in land area, after France and Spain and is the homeland of the Germanic ethnicity and culture. The Goths, the Suevirs and the Norses (Vikings) all trace their origin back to Sweden (as well as Norway and Denmark for the latter).

In the 9th and 10th centuries, Swedish Vikings invaded and settled in parts of Eastern Europe as far as Constantinople and the Caspian Sea. They founded the first kingdom of Russia. All the Tsars of Russia until the last one, Nicholas II, were of Swedish Viking descent.As of 2006, Sweden had won 588 (winter and summer) Olympic medals, a feat only excelled by 6 much more populous countries (the USA, the USSR, Italy, France, Germany and the UK).

Swedish society

Sweden remains one of the most egalitarian countries in terms of income distribution, and has one of the world’s lowest levels of poverty. It’s no surprise that Sweden consistently appears near the top of the Human Development Index, which ranks countries according to life expectancy, education and standard of living.

Sweden has succeeded in creating a balance between social equality and economic success. Education is free (except for nursery schools and higher education, which are partly funded by the government), healthcare is cheap, childcare is universal and the streets are clean – but there is still the opportunity to control your own economic destiny.

The driving forces behind “the Swedish model” were the Social Democratic Party and the trade unions, although it has its roots in the 19th century when “poor relief laws” were passed. There is greater privatization in the healthcare sector and the number of private schools is growing rapidly. But not even parties on the right of the political spectrum talk of dismantling the welfare state, as Sweden’s voters would simply not stand for it

Swedish lifestyle

The Swedish lifestyle brings together a love of nature, good housing, environmental thinking and lots of culture – all tied up with awareness of health and a strong sense of equality. Efficiency is combined with a laid-back attitude, and old traditions blended with openness for new technologies. Swedes in general work hard but treasure their free time and enjoy long relaxing holidays.

The Swedish lifestyle varies greatly with the seasons. During the darker winter months, there are lights in the windows, evenings in the cinema, and winter sports during the day. In spring and summer, life is lived outdoors: music festivals, outdoor theatres and open-air museums are popular. Not only are the flowers blooming, the Swedes themselves are too.

Traditions such as June’s Midsummer and December’s Lucia are of great importance to Swedes and are celebrated just as enthusiastically today as they have been for generations. This sense of heritage is mixed with an open-mindedness for other cultures, due to the facts that one-fifth of the population has roots in other countries, that Swedes travel a great deal, and that they speak other languages. The most innovative country in the world, as highlighted by numerous reports, is not only the home of inventors and entrepreneurs but also a creative hub for fashion, music and food.

Tourism in Sweden

The Arctic wilderness of the far north; ultra-cool urban fashion shows; five-star culinary adventures – tourism is Sweden’s fastest-growing sector.

"Nature tourism" remains Sweden’s biggest attraction, with visitors from around the world drawn by the country’s stunning nature and untouched wilderness. Top of many travelers’ wish list is Lapland, with its unique scenery and once-in-a-lifetime experiences such as the midnight sun, the aurora borealis (northern lights), winter’s deep, pure Arctic chill and a mystical silence.

Contrasting with the solitude of the north is the buzz and bright lights of Sweden’s cities. The capital, Stockholm, has long been famed for its idyllic setting – sprawled across 14 islands – and its rich cultural heritage. Today the city has also built a reputation as a global center of dynamic design, cutting-edge fashion, and innovative cuisine, music and art.

On the west coast, Sweden’s second-largest city, Gothenburg, has plenty to offer with its own flavor of entertainment and cultural experiences.

Cosmopolitan and bustling Malmö, in the far south of Sweden, forms part of a thriving metropolitan region together with the Danish capital, Copenhagen, with which it is linked by the mighty Öresund Bridge.

Business with Sweden

The Swedish business climate is known for flat organizational structures and managers who are not afraid to roll up their sleeves. Business in Sweden is constantly evolving, becoming more competitive — but always with people and the environment in mind.

The future of Swedish business is said to lie primarily in knowledge-intensive industries, where Sweden can take advantage of its advanced technological development, sophisticated infrastructure and high general educational level. Information technology (IT) and biomedicine are two such knowledge-intensive sectors in which Sweden has been among the global leaders for years.

During the 20th century, what is often described as the "Swedish economic miracle" occurred. In the space of a few decades, a poor agrarian country was transformed into one of the world's most prosperous and sophisticated industrial nations.

The foundation for this rapid growth was northern Sweden's enormous wealth of forests, ore and hydroelectric power, combined with a long series of ingenious Swedish inventions such as the ball bearing, the gas-powered beacon and the adjustable wrench, to name only a few.

Even today, this kind of engineering brilliance remains at the core of the Swedish business sector. Look at IT inventions like Skype, that enables people to call each other for free over the internet, and the online music service Spotify.

Trade between Sweden and Pakistan

Bilateral trade between Sweden and Pakistan dates back to the founding of Pakistan. During recent years economic reforms, privatizations and liberalization of trade have started to bear fruit. In spite of the current difficult security situation the economy as well as the external trade is now growing.

The value of Swedish export to Pakistan was approx. SEK 2 805 million (USD 440 million) in 2010 and the Pakistani export to Sweden amounts to approx. SEK 780 million (USD 120 million). It should also be mentioned that Swedish international chain-stores buy Pakistani goods for export to other markets than Sweden.

Major Swedish export sectors are paper and pulp, telecommunication equipment, machinery, trucks, chemicals, metals and defense equipment. Swedish multinational companies such as Ericsson, Saab, Tetrapak, Volvo, ABB, Atlas Copco, Oriflame and Alfa Laval dominate the Swedish exports.

Pakistan exports to Sweden consist mainly of textile, garments, leather and sports goods. Ikea, H&M and Lindex are major buyers of textile products and have their own offices in Pakistan. The following Swedish companies have made direct investments in Pakistan: Tetrapak, Millicom, Saab and GAC. Sweden and Pakistan have concluded agreements on mutual protection of investments (1981) and avoidance of double taxation (1986).