March 22, 2010

For the most current version of this Note, see Background Notes A-Z.

PROFILE

Geography
Area: 449,964 sq. km. (173,731 sq. mi.)--slightly larger than California.
Cities: Capital--Stockholm (city population: 809,072). Other cities--Göteborg (city population: 499,747), Malmö (city population: 285,801).
Terrain: Generally flat or rolling. Three of the principal rivers, the Ume, the Torne and the Ångerman, flow into the Gulf of Bothnia. The highest areas are found in the Kjolen mountain range along the border with Norway, where peaks rise to over 1,500 m; the highest point is at the northern tip of this range, at Kebnekaise, which reaches 2,111 m (6,926 ft.). South of the mountains is the lakeland area, where the Vänern, the largest lake in Western Europe--over twice the size of Luxembourg--is situated. South of the lakes is the infertile Småland plateau, surrounded by the lowland plains that border the sea. The mountainous regions and some northern parts of Sweden are covered in snow for much of the year, and only 8% of the country is given over to agriculture.
Climate: Temperate in south with cold, cloudy winters and cool, partly cloudy summers; sub-arctic in the north. The north of Sweden lies within the Arctic Circle, and continental influences also contribute to the cold climate. In northern areas, winters are usually long and cold. The south of Sweden benefits from maritime influences and the climate is milder. In the capital city of Stockholm, which lies on the south-east coast, daily average temperatures only fall to −3.1°C (27°F) in February, the coldest month, and are 17.8°C (64°F) in July. The mean annual rainfall in Stockholm is 22 in., with the largest amount of rain falling between July and September.

People
Nationality: Noun--Swedes; adjective--Swedish.
Population (January 2010): 9,345,135.
Annual population growth rate (January 2010): 0.93%.
Ethnic groups: Indigenous Swedes, ethnic Finns, and ethnic Sami.
Immigrants (2009): 13.8% of all Swedes are born abroad. In 2009 102,280 people immigrated to Sweden. The immigrant groups are Finns, Iraqis, ex-Yugoslavia nationals, Somalis, Iranians, Norwegians, Danes, and Poles.
Religions: Lutheran (official Church of Sweden) (75%), other Protestant groups (5%), Muslim (5%), Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, Orthodox, Baptist, Jewish, Buddhist.
Education: Years compulsory--9. Literacy--99%.
Health: Infant mortality rate (2008 est.)--2.75/1,000. Life expectancy (2008 est.)--men 78.94 years, women 83.13 years.
Work force (2009 est.): 4.93 million. Agriculture--1.1%; industry--28.2%; services--70.7%. Unemployment (February 2010)--9.3%.
Public holidays (2010): January 1 (New Year's Day); January 6 (Epiphany); April 2 (Good Friday); April 4 (Easter Sunday); April 5 (Easter Monday); May 1 (Labor Day); May 13 (Ascension Day); May 23 (Pentecost); June 6 (National Day); June 25 (Midsummer’s Eve); November 1 (All Saints' Day); December 25 (Christmas); December 26 (Boxing Day). The eve of a holiday is as important--or more so--than the holiday itself. Most Swedes have the day off, including those working in the civil service, banks, public transport, hospitals, shops, and the media. Others have at least a half-day. This applies especially to Midsummer's Eve, All Saints' Day Eve, and Christmas Eve. The eve of May Day is called Valborg Eve or St Walpurgis. When a holiday falls on a Thursday many Swedes have the following Friday off in addition. When a holiday falls on a Saturday or Sunday it is not taken on the following Monday.

Government
Type: Constitutional monarchy.
Constitution: The Swedish Constitution is based on four fundamental laws: the Instrument of Government (originally dating from June 6, 1809), the Act of Succession (1810), the Freedom of the Press Act (1949), and the Riksdag Act. Following partial reforms in 1968 and 1969, a new Instrument of Government and a new Riksdag Act were adopted in 1973 and 1974, and the revised Constitution came into force on January 1, 1975, replacing the Acts of 1809, 1866 and 1949.
Branches: Executive--monarch (head of state); prime minister (head of government); Cabinet, responsible to Parliament. Legislative--unicameral Parliament (Riksdag--349 members). Judicial--84 district courts, 10 appeal courts and two superior courts.
Subdivisions: 21 counties, 18 county councils, 290 municipalities, and two regions.
Political parties represented in Parliament: the Moderate Party (conservative), the Liberal Party, the Center Party, the Christian Democratic Party, the Social Democratic Party, the Left Party, and the Green Party.
Suffrage: Universal, 18 years of age. After three years of legal residence, immigrants may vote in county council and municipal elections, but not in national elections.

Economy
GDP (2009 est., purchasing power parity): $333.2 billion.
GDP (2009 est., official exchange rate): $397.7 billion.
Annual growth rate (2009 est.): -4.9%.
Exchange rate (2009 avg.): Swedish kronor (SEK) per U.S. dollar = 7.821.
Per capita income (2009 est., purchasing power parity): $36,800.
Inflation rate (2009 est.): -0.5%.
Natural resources: Forests, hydroelectric power, iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, gold, silver, tungsten, uranium, arsenic, feldspar, timber.
Agriculture (2009 est.): 1.1% of GDP. Products--dairy products, meat, grains (barley, wheat), sugar beets, potatoes, wood. Arable land--6 million acres.
Industry (2009 est.): 26.6% of GDP. Types--machinery/metal products (iron and steel), electrical equipment, aircraft, paper products, precision equipment (bearings, radio and telephone parts, armaments), wood pulp and paper products, processed foods.
Services (2009 est.): 71.8% of GDP. Types--telecommunications, computer equipment, biotech.
Trade: Exports (2009)--$132.8 billion. Types--machinery, transport equipment, motor vehicles, wood products, paper, pulp, chemicals, iron and steel products and manufactured goods. Major trading partners, exports (2009)--Norway 10.4%, Germany 10.1%, Denmark 7.4%, U.K. 7.0%, U.S. 6.6%, Finland 6.4%, Netherlands 4.6%, France 5.5%, Belgium 3.7%. Imports (2009)--$121.1 billion. Types--machinery, petroleum and petroleum products, chemicals, motor vehicles, iron and steel, foodstuffs, clothing. Major trading partners, imports (2009)--Germany 17.5%, Denmark 9.4%, Norway 8.7%, Netherlands 6.5%, U.K. 5.6%, Finland 5.2%, France 4.9%, United States 4.1%, China 4.1%.

PEOPLE
Sweden has one of the world's longest life expectancies and lowest birth rates. The country counts at least 20,000 indigenous Sami among its population. About one in every five Swedes is an immigrant or has at least one foreign-born parent. The largest immigrant groups are from Finland, Iraq, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Somalia, Iran, Norway, Denmark, and Poland. This reflects Nordic immigration, earlier periods of labor immigration, and more recent refugee and family immigration.

Swedish is a Germanic language related to Danish and Norwegian but different in pronunciation and orthography. English is widely spoken, particularly by Swedes under the age of 50.

Sweden has an extensive child-care system that guarantees a place for all young children ages two through six in a public day-care facility. From ages seven to 16, children participate in compulsory education. After completing the ninth grade, 90% attend upper secondary school for either academic or technical education.

Swedes benefit from an extensive social welfare system, which provides childcare and maternity and paternity leave, a ceiling on health care costs, old-age pensions, and sick leave, among other benefits. Parents are entitled to a total of 480 days' paid leave at 80% of a government-determined salary cap between birth and the child's eighth birthday. The parents may split those days however they wish, but 60 of the days are reserved specifically for the father. The parents may also take an additional five months of unpaid leave.

HISTORY
During the seventh and eighth centuries, the Swedes were merchant seamen well known for their far-reaching trade. In the ninth century, Nordic Vikings raided and ravaged the European continent as far as the Black and Caspian Seas. During the 11th and 12th centuries, Sweden gradually became a unified Christian kingdom that later included Finland. Queen Margaret of Denmark united all the Nordic lands in the "Kalmar Union" in 1397. Continual tension within the countries and within the union gradually led to open conflict between the Swedes and the Danes in the 15th century. The union's final disintegration in the early 16th century brought on a long-lived rivalry between Norway and Denmark on one side and Sweden and Finland on the other.

In the 16th century, Gustav Vasa fought for an independent Sweden, crushing an attempt to restore the Kalmar Union and laying the foundation for modern Sweden. At the same time, he broke with the Catholic Church and established the Reformation. During the 17th century, after winning wars against Denmark, Russia, and Poland, Sweden-Finland (with scarcely more than 1 million inhabitants) emerged as a great power. Its contributions during the Thirty Years War under Gustav II Adolf (Gustavus Adolphus) determined the political as well as the religious balance of power in Europe. By 1658, Sweden ruled several provinces of Denmark as well as what is now Finland, Ingermanland (in which St. Petersburg is located), Estonia, Latvia, and important coastal towns and other areas of northern Germany.

Russia, Saxony-Poland and Denmark-Norway pooled their power in 1700 and attacked the Swedish-Finnish Empire. Although the young Swedish King Karl XII (also known as Charles XII) won spectacular victories in the early years of the Great Northern War, his plan to attack Moscow and force Russia into peace proved too ambitious; he fell in battle in 1718. In the subsequent peace treaties, the allied powers, joined by Prussia and England-Hanover, ended Sweden's reign as a great power.

Sweden suffered further territorial losses during the Napoleonic wars and was forced to cede Finland to Russia in 1809. The following year, the Swedish King's adopted heir, French Marshal Bernadotte, was elected Crown Prince as Karl Johan by the Riksdag (Parliament). In 1813, his forces joined the allies against Napoleon. The Congress of Vienna compensated Sweden for its lost German territory through a merger of the Swedish and Norwegian crowns in a dual monarchy. Sweden's last war was fought in 1814. A brief confrontation with Norway to restrain its demands for independence resulted in Norway entering into a union with Sweden, but with its own constitution and Parliament. The Sweden-Norway union was peacefully dissolved at Norway's request in 1905.

Sweden's predominantly agricultural economy shifted gradually from village to private, farm-based agriculture during the Industrial Revolution. This change failed to bring economic and social improvements commensurate with the rate of population growth; as a result about 1 million Swedes immigrated to the United States between 1850 and 1890.

In the 19th century liberal economic influences emerged, which ultimately led to the abolition of guild monopolies in favor of free enterprise. Other modernizing reforms included new taxation laws, voting reforms, and a national military service. This period of time also marked the birth of Sweden's three major political parties: the Social Democratic, Liberal and Conservative parties.

During and after World War I, in which Sweden remained neutral, the country benefited from the worldwide demand for Swedish steel, ball bearings, wood pulp, and matches. Postwar prosperity provided the foundations for the social welfare policies characteristic of modern Sweden. Foreign policy concerns in the 1930s centered on Soviet and German expansionism, which stimulated abortive efforts at Nordic defense cooperation. Sweden followed a policy of armed neutrality during World War II and currently remains nonaligned.

Sweden became a member of the European Union (EU) in 1995. In September 2003 Sweden held a referendum on entering the European Monetary Union. The Swedish people rejected participation, with 56% voting against and 42% for. No new referendum is currently planned.

GOVERNMENT
Sweden's government is a limited constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system. Popular government in Sweden rests upon ancient tradition. The Swedish Parliament (Riksdag) stems from tribal courts (Ting) and the election of kings during the Viking era. It became a permanent institution in the 15th century.

King Carl XVI Gustaf (Bernadotte) ascended to the throne on September 15, 1973. His authority is symbolic and representational. Executive authority is vested in the Cabinet, which consists of a prime minister and 22 ministers who run the governmental departments. The current "Alliance" government, led by Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, came to power in September 2006.

Sweden has three levels of government: national, regional, and local. In addition, there is a European level, which has acquired increasing importance following Sweden's entry into the EU and the EU’s adoption of the Lisbon Treaty. Parliamentary, municipal, and county council elections are held every four years. The 349-member unicameral Riksdag has legislative powers, and is in session generally from September through mid-June. Proposals for new laws are presented by the government, which also implements decisions made by the Riksdag. The government is assisted in its work by the Government Offices, comprising a number of ministries, and some 300 central government agencies and public administrations.

Sweden is divided into 21 counties (län), 18 county councils (landsting), 290 municipalities (kommuner), and two semi-independent regions. Each county is headed by a governor, who is appointed by the central government. The counties coordinate administration with national political goals for the county. The county council (landsting) is a regional government that is popularly elected with particular responsibility for health and medical care. The municipalities are local governments that deal with issues such as education, public transportation and social welfare. Elected municipal councils are headed by executive committees roughly analogous to the boards of commissioners found in some U.S. cities.

Swedish law draws upon Germanic and Roman traditions. It is neither as codified as French law nor as dependent on judicial precedent as U.S. law. Legislative and judicial institutions include, in addition to the Riksdag, the Supreme Court, the Supreme Administrative Court, the Labor Court, the Law Council, District Courts and Courts of Appeal, and the Public Prosecutor's Office. The parliamentary ombudsmen and the Chancellor of Justice oversee the application of laws with particular attention to abuses of authority.

Principal Government Officials
Head of State--King Carl XVI Gustaf

Speaker of Parliament--Per Westerberg
Prime Minister (Head of Government)--Fredrik Reinfeldt
Minister for Finance--Anders Borg
Minister for the Environment--Andreas Carlgren
Minister for Justice--Beatrice Ask
Minister for Foreign Affairs--Carl Bildt
Minister for EU Affairs--Birgitta Ohlsson
Minister for Social Security--Cristina Husmark Pehrsson
Minister for Agriculture--Eskil Erlandsson
Minister for International Development Cooperation--Gunilla Carlsson
Minister for Health and Social Affairs--Göran Hägglund
Minister for Higher Education and Research--Tobias Krantz
Minister for Education--Jan Björklund
Minister for Culture--Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth
Minister for Elderly Care and Public Health--Maria Larsson
Minister for Local Government and Financial Markets--Mats Odell
Minister for Enterprise and Energy--Maud Olofsson
Minister for Defense--Sten Tolgfors
Minister for Integration and Gender Equality--Nyamko Sabuni
Minister for Trade--Ewa Björling
Minister for Employment--Sven Otto Littorin
Minister for Migration and Asylum Policy--Tobias Billström
Minister for Infrastructure--Åsa Torstensson

Ambassador to the United States--Jonas Hafström
Ambassador to the United Nations--Anders Lidén

Sweden maintains an Embassy in the United States at 2900 K Street NW, Washington, DC 20007. Telephone: 202-467-2600, Internet: http://www.swedenabroad.com/washington

Sweden has a Consulate General in Los Angeles. There also are honorary consulates in 31 other U.S. cities. Contact the Swedish Embassy for locations and telephone numbers.

POLITICAL CONDITIONS
Ordinary general elections to the Swedish Parliament are held every fourth year on the third Sunday in September. County council and municipal council elections take place at the same time. A party must receive at least 4% of the votes in the entire country or 12% in a single electoral district to qualify for any seats in Parliament.

The most recent elections were held on September 17, 2006. The Alliance for Sweden (a coalition of four center-right parties--the Moderate Party, the Liberal Party, the Christian Democrat, and the Center Party) won 178 of the 349 seats, securing Moderate Fredrik Reinfeldt the position of Prime Minister. The 2006 election results for Sweden's major parties were as follows: the Social Democratic Party (34.99%; 130 seats), the Moderate Party (26.23%; 97 seats), the Center Party (7.88%; 29 seats), the Liberal Party (7.54%; 28 seats), the Christian Democrats (6.59%; 24 seats), the Left Party (5.85%; 22 seats), and the Green Party (5.24%; 19 seats).

The Social Democratic Party (SDP) has a base of blue-collar workers and public sector employees. It derives much of its power from strong links with the National Swedish Confederation of Trade Unions (LO), which represents blue-collar workers. The party program combines a commitment to social welfare programs and government direction of the economy. The Social Democratic Party has led the government for 65 of the 78 years since 1932; the 2006 election ended its most recent term of 12 consecutive years in office.

The Moderate Party emphasizes personal freedom, free enterprise, and reduction of the public-sector growth rate, while still supporting most of the social benefits introduced since the 1930s. The party also supports a strong military and Sweden's membership in the EU. Its voter base is urban business people and professionals, but the party also attracts young voters, main-street shop owners, and, to some extent, blue-collar workers. Moderate Party Leader Reinfeldt followed an election strategy that remodeled his party as "New Moderates," moving away from the party's right-wing, upper-class roots to appeal to a large middle ground of voters and successfully winning over many who had until then supported the SDP, as well as others who had previously voted for the smaller, non-socialist parties. Reinfeldt was instrumental in uniting into one party the previously separate four center-right parties. The Alliance offered alternative policies on job creation that persuaded voters.

The Center Party maintains close ties to rural Sweden. The main priorities of the party include providing a sound economic climate for business and job creation, rural development, climate change and environmental concerns, and health and welfare issues.

The Left Party, formerly the Communist Party, focuses on feminist issues, employment in the public sector, and the environment. It opposes privatization, cuts in public expenditure, Swedish participation in NATO activities, and EU membership. Its voter base consists mainly of young people, public sector employees, feminists, journalists, and former social democrats.

The Christian Democrat Party is conservative and value-oriented. Its voter base is primarily among members of conservative churches and rural populations. Christian Democrats seek government support for families and better ethical practices to improve care for the elderly.

The Liberal Party's platform is "social responsibility without socialism," which includes a commitment to a free-market economy combined with comprehensive Swedish social welfare programs. Foreign aid, education and women's equality also are popular issues. The Liberal Party base is mainly centered in educated middle-class voters.

The Green Party is a leftist environmentalist party that attracts young people. The Greens support a phasing-out of nuclear energy in Sweden and hope to replace it with alternative, environmentally friendly energy sources.

ECONOMY
Sweden has used a combination of high-tech capitalism and a comprehensive system of welfare benefits to achieve one of the highest standards of living in the world. Today, privately owned companies account for nearly 90% of industrial output, while agriculture accounts for 1% of GDP and employment.

From the early 1990s until 2008, Sweden enjoyed a sustained economic upswing fueled by strong exports and rising domestic demand. In the fourth quarter of 2008, Sweden entered a recession. Heavily dependent on exports of autos, telecommunications, construction equipment and other investment goods, Sweden was hard hit by the contraction in external demand due to the global financial and economic crisis. Year-on-year exports fell 17% in June 2009. As of November 2009, however, export orders were picking up significantly.

The Swedish economy is currently suffering its most severe decline since the Swedish banking crisis in the early 1990s. GDP fell 1.5% in the fourth quarter of 2009, and fell 4.9% for the year. While household consumption lagged a bit in the final quarter of 2009, it remained steady overall during this recession with median household income actually rising due to wage contracts negotiated before the crisis, record-low interest rates, and government cuts in income taxes for most workers.

The Ministry of Finance predicts a return to GDP growth with 2.4% for 2010 and 3.3% for 2011. Economic growth had been strong leading into 2008, with an annual average GDP growth rate of 2.7% in 2005, 4.1% in 2006, and 2.6% in 2007, before slowing in 2008 to 0.9% then falling 4.9% in 2009. Sweden’s economy will be slow to regain the level of productivity and industrial production it enjoyed before the global crisis, because continued strains in global demand for investment goods will prevent the rapid rise in Swedish exports that lifted the country after previous recessions.

Thanks to economic growth and conservative fiscal policy, Sweden had a budget surplus heading into the global crisis. It is among the countries with the smallest public debt, and enjoys a high ranking by the European Commission for the long-term sustainability of public finances. This stability allowed the government to run only moderate deficits for its ambitious stimulus plan that included cutting personal and corporate tax rates, and additional spending to boost domestic demand. Sweden went from a fiscal surplus of 2.4% of GDP in 2008 to a deficit of 4.4% in 2009. Debt was expected to reach $158.1 billion at the end of 2009, and $164.1 billion at the end of 2010. This equates to an estimated 38% of GDP for both years.

One of Sweden’s tools in maintaining solid public finances is a budget process that calls for spending ceilings set by Parliament. The ceiling was set at $159.8 billion in 2007, $140.6 billion in 2008, and $134.2 billion in 2009. Another measure to stimulate growth and raise revenue is through sale of public assets. The government set a goal of selling some $31 billion in state assets between 2007 and 2010. Major sales have included selling d V&S (Vin & Sprit AB) to French Pernod Ricard for some $8.3 billion, and the Swedish OMX stock exchange to Borse Dubai/Nasdaq for $318 million. Additionally, the government sold most of its 946 apoteket (pharmacy) stores and eliminated its monopoly on pharmacies. The government has also approved the sale of Svensk Bilprovning (the Swedish Motor Vehicle Inspection Company).

As funding in international capital markets became more difficult in 2008, Swedish authorities responded with a bank support package that included guarantees for new debt issuance, increased deposit insurance, and a fund that would provide up to $6 billion in equity injections to systematically important institutions. The Swedish banking sector is highly concentrated, with the four large banking groups (Nordea, Svenska Handelsbanken, Swedbank, and SEB) accounting for roughly 80% of sector assets. All four banking groups continued to see deteriorations in their credit portfolios in the fourth quarter of 2009, primarily due to exposure to the Baltic region and Ukraine; but signs of improvement appeared starting in the third quarter in the form of decelerating credit losses. Market commentators continued to express confidence in the stability of the Swedish banking sector, but noted that significant challenges remained in the form of sizeable credit losses. Swedbank and SEB especially remained at risk of accelerating credit losses as a result of their heavy exposure in the Baltic region. Government-run stress tests, however, revealed that Swedish banks were adequately capitalized even in the event of a severe crisis in the Baltics.

Central Bank policy is guided by inflation targeting to keep the Consumer Price Index (CPI) at or around 2% on an annual basis. Inflation was 1.5% in 2006, 2.2% in 2007, and 1.6% in 2008. The Central Bank predicted mild deflation of 0.5% for 2009, with the Consumer Price Index expected to rise to 0.6% in 2010.

In 2006 the unemployment rate reached 7.1%, but fell to 6.2% in 2007, before rising again. Unemployment is expected to peak in early 2010 at 9.5%. Employment is not expected to grow until 2011. Long-term unemployment was a problem in Sweden even during periods of economic growth prior to 2008. The current crisis will make the problem worse. Employment is expected to fall by 250,000 jobs, compared to 500,000 jobs lost during Sweden’s banking crisis of the early 1990s. Up to one-third of those job losses may be permanent, despite government efforts to boost the percentage of the population active in the labor force.

Almost 80% of the Swedish labor force is unionized; however, membership is decreasing. For most unions there is a counterpart employers' organization for businesses. The unions and employer organizations are independent of both the government and political parties, although the largest federation of unions, the National Swedish Confederation of Trade Unions (LO), always has maintained close links to the largest political party, the Social Democrats. There is no national minimum wage. Instead, wages are set by collective bargaining.

Conditions for doing business in Sweden have improved under the Moderate Party-led coalition government that was elected in September 2006. U.S. direct investment in Sweden was $10 billion in 2006 and $497.7 million in 2007. Net investment was $497.5 million in 2008, and the number of U.S.-owned companies in Sweden totaled 1,253 in 2008. In 2009 there was a net disinvestment of U.S. direct investment in Sweden of $3.4 billion, making total U.S. investment in Sweden for the year $13.4 billion. Major investments have been made in computer software and hardware, IT/telecommunications, industrial goods, and health care.

FOREIGN RELATIONS
For much of the last two centuries, Swedish foreign policy had been based on the premise that national security was best served by staying out of military alliances in peacetime in order to remain neutral in the event of war. However, Sweden has been redefining this position in recent years. In its 2010 Foreign Policy Statement, the Swedish Government said that membership in the European Union means that Sweden is part of a political alliance and that Sweden accepts its share of responsibility for European security. This echoes a 2007 statement that Sweden would not remain passive if another EU or Nordic nation suffers a disaster or an attack and Sweden expects these countries to act the same way. Internationally, the Swedish Government gives special focus to disarmament, arms control, and nuclear nonproliferation. Sweden has greatly contributed to numerous international peacekeeping operations under UN, EU, and NATO auspices, including the NATO-led peacekeeping forces in the Balkans (KFOR). The country contributes to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, and in March 2006 assumed leadership of the Provincial Reconstruction Team in Mazar-e-Sharif. Sweden currently has about 500 troops deployed with ISAF. Sweden also has troops serving in Kosovo (KFOR) and in the EU anti-piracy mission ATLANTA off the coast of Somalia.

Sweden is an active and vocal participant in the United Nations, the World Bank, World Trade Organization (WTO), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Labor Organization (ILO), International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), World Health Organization (WHO), and other international institutions. In January 1995 Sweden became a full member of the European Union after a referendum was passed with a 52.3% majority. Sweden became a member partially because it was increasingly isolated outside the economic framework of the Maastricht Treaty. Sweden is a member of NATO's Partnership for Peace (PFP). Sweden also cooperates closely with its Nordic neighbors, formally in economic and social matters through the Nordic Council of Ministers and informally in political matters through direct consultation.

Government leaders focus political and financial attention on fostering democracy in developing countries, paying particular attention to key African nations. During the Cold War, Sweden was suspicious of the superpowers, which it saw as making decisions affecting small countries without always consulting those countries.

U.S.-SWEDEN RELATIONS
Friendship and cooperation between the United States and Sweden is strong and close. The United States welcomes Sweden's membership in NATO's PFP and our ongoing cooperation in promoting global democracy and freedom. Swedish-American friendship is buttressed by the presence of nearly 14 million Americans of Swedish heritage. In 1988, both countries celebrated the 350th anniversary of the first Swedish settlement in the United States.

Embassy Stockholm’s Clean Technology and Environmental Sustainability Initiatives
In 2006, Embassy Stockholm launched a U.S.-Sweden alternative energy partnership that led to around $200 million in commercial partnerships. In 2010, the Embassy and the Swedish Government expanded that partnership into the Swedish-American Green Alliance (SAGA), which expands cooperation in “sustainability” in the broadest sense: including clean technology; low carbon development; water; environment; commercial partnerships; sustainable forestry; electric vehicles; and energy efficiency. SAGA also seeks to engage the full range of actors in environmental sustainability, including government agencies, researchers, entrepreneurs, policy makers, journalists, legislators, activists, industry leaders, academics, non-governmental groups (NGOs); and more.

On February 18, 2010, the Embassy launched a website, www.sagastory.blogspot.com, to foster partnerships by enabling people to share stories about what is happening with environmental sustainability in Sweden and United States. By March 10, 2010, the website had 70 partners, including universities, government agencies, NGOs, and businesses. At the website, people can sign up to receive an RSS feed to get daily updates, and receive a monthly newsletter highlighting the top successes in Sweden-American cleantech/environmental partnerships.

Principal U.S. Officials
Ambassador--Matthew W. Barzun
Deputy Chief of Mission--Robert J. Silverman
Political Counselor--Marc D. Koehler
Economic Counselor--Laura Kirkconnell
Public Affairs Counselor--Christopher Dunnett
Administrative Counselor--Mary J. Teirlynck
Commercial Counselor--Frank Carrico
Defense Attaché--Col. Bruce H. Acker
Consul--Martin Tatuch
Information Management Officer--Tom Murray
Regional Security Officer--Michael Reimer

The U.S. Embassy in Stockholm is at Dag Hammarskjölds Väg 31, SE-115 89 Stockholm, Sweden. Telephone: 46-8-783-5300, Fax: 46-8-661-1964, Internet: http://stockholm.usembassy.gov/

[This is a mobile copy of Sweden (03/22/10)]