Sweden History

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History[edit | edit source]

Germanic peoples have inhabited Sweden since prehistoric times, emerging into history as the Geats and Swedes and constituting the sea peoples known as the Norsemen. Southern Sweden is predominantly agricultural, while the north is heavily forested. Sweden is part of the geographical area of Fennoscandia.

Today, the sovereign state of Sweden is a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy, with a monarch as head of state, like its neighbor Norway. The capital city is Stockholm, which is also the most populous city in the country. Legislative power is vested in the 349-member unicameral Riksdag. Executive power is exercised by the government chaired by the prime minister. Sweden is a unitary state, currently divided into 21 counties and 290 municipalities.

An independent Swedish state emerged during the early 12th century. When Sweden became involved in the Thirty Years War on the Reformist side, an expansion of its territories began and eventually the Swedish Empire was formed. This became one of the great powers of Europe until the early 18th century. Swedish territories outside the Scandinavian Peninsula were gradually lost during the 18th and 19th centuries, ending with the annexation of present-day Finland by Russia in 1809. The last war in which Sweden was directly involved was in 1814, when Norway was militarily forced into personal union. Since then, Sweden has been at peace, maintaining an official policy of neutrality in foreign affairs The union with Norway was peacefully dissolved in 1905. Sweden was formally neutral through both world wars and the Cold War.

After the end of the Cold War, Sweden joined the European Union on 1 January 1995, but declined NATO membership. Sweden maintains a Nordic social welfare system that provides universal health care and tertiary education for its citizens. It has the world's eleventh-highest per capita income and ranks highly in numerous metrics of national performance, including quality of life, health, education, protection of civil liberties, economic competitiveness, equality, prosperity and human development.

Timeline[edit | edit source]

1397 - The Union of Kalmar united Sweden with Denmark and Norway
1477 - The University of Uppsala was founded
1523 - The Union of Kalmar dissolved, and Gustaf Vasa was elected King of Sweden
1527 - The Lutheran Church becomes the state religion of Sweden
1753 - Sweden changed from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar
1809 - Sweden lost Finland to Russia
1814 - Norway united with Sweden
1905 - Norway dissolved the union with Sweden
1914 - World War I started. Sweden was neutral
1939 - World War II began. Sweden remained neutral

Additional Resources[edit | edit source]

The Family History Library has some published histories of Sweden, such as:
Den Svenska historien (Swedish History). Stockholm: Albert Bonniers Förlag, 1966. 10 vols. (FHL Scand book 948.5 H2dh.)
Scott, Franklin D. Sweden, The Nation's History. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1977. (FHL book 948.5 H2sc.)

Local Histories[edit | edit source]

Local histories should be studied and enjoyed for the background information they can provide about your family's life-style and environment. Published histories of parishes, towns, and counties often contain genealogies and family histories.

An important association founded in 1916 to preserve traditional culture is:

Riksförbundet för Hembygdsvård (The National Association for the Preservation of Local Nature and Culture)
Box 30193
S-104 25 Stockholm

Local societies publish their own histories, including stories of emigration and genealogical research done.

The Family History Library has many local histories for Swedish towns. They are listed in the catalog under the above headings. Some of these histories are also available at major public and university libraries in the midwestern United States.

Calendar Changes[edit | edit source]

The Gregorian calendar, the calendar in common use today, corrected the Julian calendar that had been in use since A. D. 46. Leap years had been miscalculated in the Julian calendar, and by 1582 the calendar was ten days behind the solar year.

Sweden changed from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian calendar on 17 February 1753. At that time, eleven days were omitted to bring the calendar into line with the solar year. The day after 17 February 1753 became 1 March 1753.

Sweden Timelines[edit | edit source]