(pronounced "YUR-an PERSH-on")
"The strength of democracy is determined in the meeting between people. Democracy does not only confer rights. It also entails obligations. Each and every one of us must always refuse to choose indifference or oblivion. Each and every one of us must take an active stand."
The Kingdom of Sweden, situated in northern Europe between Norway and Finland, is part of the Scandinavian peninsula. The total area is 449,964 sq km (173,731 sq mi) with an estimated population of 8.9 million in 2002. Approximately 80% of the people live in urban areas. Stockholm, located on the eastern Baltic coast, is the capital and largest city.
Sweden is ethnically and culturally homogeneous, but much less so than a generation ago. Although virtually everyone speaks Swedish, post-1945 immigration has introduced significant multicultural elements. Two traditional minority groups are the Sami (formerly known as Lapps) and Finnish-speaking Swedes in the northern provinces. In addition, another 10% of the population is foreign born and 5% are foreign nationals. While many come from neighboring countries (including 103,000 immigrant Finns), almost 100,000 are from former Yugoslavia, with significant numbers from the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and even Latin America. The Swedish Lutheran church is nominally the faith of 87% of the population.
Famous for adopting a "middle way" between state socialism and competitive capitalism, Sweden enjoys a high living standard coupled with one of the most extensive social security systems among developed welfare states. Nevertheless, slow economic growth, coupled with economic turmoil in the early 1990s, has reduced Sweden's relative economic prosperity. Per capita gross domestic product (GDP) is approximately US $24,500 (2001 estimate). Unemployment, long among the lowest in Europe, soared to nearly 13% in the early 1990s but then declined to 4.5% and went up again in 2003 to around 6%. Sweden's wealth was built first on its rich natural resources, including minerals, timber, and fish. Its economic prosperity rests on exports, which amount to more than 30% of GDP. In addition to raw materials, Sweden has a sophisticated industrial sector, known for its automobiles, specialized machinery, and biotechnology products. The Swedish currency unit is the krona .
Office of the Prime Minister