Sweden is the 3rd largest EU country in land area, after France and Spain.
Sweden is one of the homelands 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).
Society & People
In 2010, 2011 and 2012, Sweden was ranked third in the world for the inequality-adjusted Human Development Index (HDI) defined by the United Nations Development Programme.
In 2006 Swedish people had the longest life expectancy in Europe (80.51 years). As of 2010 they were fifth (80.88 years), overtaken by Switzerland, Italy, Iceland and France.
Swedish people have the lowest income inequality in the world, with a Gini index of 23 in 2005.
Sweden has the smallest gender employment-rate gap in the developed world, with only 4% more men in employment than women.
Swedish women have their first child in average at 30 years old, the oldest in Europe along with Ireland and the Netherlands.
Sweden has the highest percentage of working mothers in the developed world, no less than 76% of them.
The Swedes spend the longest time in tertiary education with an average student age of 25.5 years old.
40% of Swedish women and 32% of Swedish men aged 25 to 64 participate in education or training. Compare it to the EU average is 10% for women and 9% for men.
Sweden has the highest proportion of personal computers per capita in Europe, with 500 P.C.'s per 1,000 people.
A 2007 UNICEF report on child well-being in rich countries ranked Sweden as the best country on 3 out of 6 dimensions (children's material well-being, health & safety, and behaviours & risks), and second best country overall after the Netherlands.
As of 2006, Sweden was the most generous country in the world regarding aid to poor countries. It is the only nation where donations exceed 1% of the GDP.
The Swedish maternity and paternity leave is one of the longest and most generous in the world, allowing the the father and mother to take a shared total of 480 days (16 months) off at 77.6% of their salary.
Sweden has given the world some of the greatest pop bands and singers, including Abba, The Cardigans, Roxette, Ace of Base, Carola Häggkvist, Army of Lovers, Robyn, A*Teens, Europe and Alcazar.
The astronomical lense is a Swedish invention.
As of late 2012, Sweden had obtained 30 Nobel prizes, including 5 Peace prizes. This is the 5th highest number of laureates in the world, and the highest per capita ratio for any country with over 1 million inhabitants. Of course Nobel Prizes are awarded by Sweden (except the Peace Prize, awarded by Norway).
Sweden has the highest number of McDonald restaurants per capita in Europe (although that is only about half of the US ratio).
Economy & Politics
With 47% of female parliamentarians (in 2006), Sweden has the highest proportion of women lawmakers in the world.
In 1862, Sweden became the first country to grant suffrage for (married) women, although only for local elections.
Sweden is set to become the first country in the world to phase out petrol for biofuel.
Sweden has the highest number of nuclear plants per capita, with 10 reactors for 9 million inhabitants.
Sweden has the highest number of patents granted per capita of any European country, with 271 patents per million people.
Sweden ranks second in Europe (after Finland) in terms of technological achievement.
Founded in Stockholm in 1995, the Metro newspapers has quickly become the world's leading free newspaper intended for commuters.As of late 2009, there were 56 daily editions in 19 countries in 15 languages across Europe, North and South America and Asia.
Sweden has, along with Denmark and Hungary, the highest standard V.A.T. rate in the world (25%).
Total taxation in Sweden amount to 54.2 % of GDP, the highest level worldwide.
In 2012 the Swedish company Ericsson was the world's largest manufacturer of mobile telecommunications networks, with 38% of global market share.
Sweden has an excellent reputation as a car maker with Volvo and Saab. Scania trucks are also Swedish.
The world-famous discount furniture chain IKEA was founded in Sweden in 1943.
The Swedish company Electrolux holds 28% share of the household appliances market in the world. It owns over 40 brands, including AEG-Electrolux, Zanussi, Eureka and Frigidaire.
Europe's largest shopping mall is the Nordstan in Gothenburg, with approximately 180 shops and 150 offices on 320,000 m².
The Stockholm Globe Arena is the world's largest hemispherical building, with a diameter of 110 meters, an inner height of 85 meters, and a total volume of 600,000 m³. It is also the world's largest scale model of the Solar System.
The Royal Palace of Stockholm could be considered the world's largest palace still used for its original purpose. With a total area of 61,210 m² (658,850 sq ft), it is slightly larger than the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg and only a bit smaller than the Palace of Versailles in France. The construction of the Stockholm Palace started in 1697, before Versailles was completed.