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Facts at a Glance
 Area: 450,000 sq km (175,500 sq mi)

Population: 8,850,000

Capital city: Stockholm (pop 736,000)

People: 90% Swedes, 3% Finns, 0.15% Sami (indigenous Lapp inhabitants)

Language: Swedish, but English is widely spoken. Five Samish dialects are still spoken.

Religion: Lutheran

Government: Constitutional hereditary monarchy

Prime Minister: Göran Persson


Sweden is the biggest sausage in the Scandinavian sizzle, covering an area of 450,000 sq km (175,500 sq mi). The dominant characteristics of the landscape can be attributed to glacial activity. The 7000km-long (4330mi) coastline, particularly in the west and near Stockholm, is constantly cut by fjords (long, narrow sea inlets). Lubbers rue that it doesn't get much drier inland, with about 100,000 lakes plugged into Sweden. The islands of Öland and Gotland, south of Stockholm, consist of flat limestone, but they're sand-fringed and have been turned into beachy retreats for urban escapees. Norrland (a practical term for the northern 60% of the country) is sparsely populated, comprising a near uniform expanse of forest, river and rapid. Norway provides a natural frontier to the west on the other side of Skanderna, Sweden's modest mountain range. Sweden's highest peak is the glacier-capped northern peak of Mt Kebnekaise at 2111m (6924ft).

Moose, deer and fox are common throughout Sweden and, of all Sweden's wild creatures, these are the ones you're most likely to spot, though hopefully not as they come through your windscreen. Wolf, lynx and brown bear populations have suffered at the hands of encroaching agriculture and eager hunters, but are making a comeback in some western provinces and the mountain regions. Wolverine survive in the mountains only by preying on domestic livestock, making no friends with farmers in their fight against extinction. Varied bird life twitters, flutters and swoops from seaside to snowline, with the kingfisher perhaps the most beautiful, and the woodpecker the best at carpentry. The northern lakes and streams are choice places to spot Sweden's fisherfolk boasting about big 'uns of the salmon trout clan.

Sunshine junkies should visit Sweden between late May and late July, scooting out before the August rains. Monthly average temperatures in Stockholm are highest in July at about 22°C (70°F), when you can rely on nine hours of tan time. The average temperature in the northernmost mountains at this time is about 11°C (52°F), but you should be prepared for occasional sub-zero temperatures and snow falls, even in summer; the range of temperatures north of the Gulf of Bothnia is almost 30°C (86°F). Sweden's northern latitude means that it never gets really dark from mid-May to late July, with the trade-off being a pervasive December dimness. Annual rainfall is greatest around Gothenburg at well over 700mm (28in) and falls mainly as snow in Lapland, blanketing the region for 200 days of the year. Many coastal ports are frozen all winter, while the Stockholm archipelago can be iced in for a couple of months.

Economic Profile
 GDP: US$250 billion

GDP per head: US$28,283

Annual growth: 1%

Inflation: 2%

Major industries: Forestry, mining, agriculture, engineering and high tech manufacturing, telecommunications, IKEA

Major trading partners: EU, US

Member of EU: yes

Euro zone participant: no

Facts for the Traveler
 Visas: Stays of up to 90 days (unlimited for Nordic citizens) are usually visa free, but South Africans, Hong Kong residents with Chinese passports and residents of many African, Asian, South American and some Eastern European countries should check requirements with Swedish embassies.

Health risks: None

Time: GMT/UTC plus 1 hour

Electricity: 220V 50Hz

Weights & measures: Metric

Tourism: 6 million visitors per year

Money & Costs
 Currency:Swedish krona (Skr)
Relative Costs:

  • Budget: US$5-7
  • Mid-range: US$7-15
  • Top-end: US$15+

  • Lodging

  • Budget: US$10-20
  • Mid-range: US$20-80
  • Top-end: US$80+
  • Sweden is fairly expensive and you can easily spend your money quickly, so it pays to plan your trip carefully. The cheapest way to visit is to camp in the woods for free, eat supermarket food and hitchhike along the roads - this will cost under US$10 per day. If you stay in commercial campgrounds and prepare most of your own meals, you can squeak by on US$25 per person per day. During the low-price summer period, if you stay in a mid-range hotel and eat moderately priced meals, expect to drop over US$50 per day, or closer to US$100 per day if you're traveling solo.

    When to Go

    If you want sunshine, visit between late May and late July, bearing in mind that August can be both hot and wet. Many youth hostels, camping grounds and attractions open only in summer, from late June to mid-August. Summer in Sweden can be hot, sunny and beautiful, but travel in winter should be better planned and restricted. Big cities are in full swing all year-round.

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