Sweden is traditionally divided into 25 provinces that roughly match the 21 administrative län. These provinces are grouped into 3 regions:
Although having been a military power and spanning about three times as large an area during the 17th centry, Sweden has not participated in any war in almost two centuries. Having long claimed its neutrality, the country has a high peace profile, with recognized international affairs names such as Dag Hammarsköld, Olof Palme, Hans Blix (IANA, UNMOVIC) and the late Anna Lindh. The country has a large proportion of immigrants, of which many live in city suburbs. Sweden is a monarchy by constitution, but king Carl XVI Gustaf has no executive power. The country has a long tradition of Lutheran-Protestant Christianity, but today's Sweden is a secular state and few church-goers.
Sweden has a long and successful capitalist system interlarded with substantial welfare. The high level of welfare has proven hard to maintain during the economic decline of the 1990s. Again - since the start of a new downturn 2000 - welfare is experiencing further cuts. Sweden entered the European Union in 1995, but decided by a close referendum in 2003 not to commit to the EMU and the euro currency. The democracy of Sweden has for the larger part of the 20th century been dominated by the Social Democratic Party, which started out at the end of the 19th century as a labour movement, but today pursues social-liberalism.
Sweden houses the Nobel prize committee.
You can find great flight prices to Sweden at Ryanair.
Swedes speak Swedish, but you will find that a lot of people also speak English quite well. Other languages to try may be Finnish, French and German.
The national currency is the Swedish krona (SEK). 1 USD is about 7.5 SEK, 1 EUR is about 9 SEK. Automatic teller machines commonly take Visa cards. It is not common to bargain in shops but it might work in some instances.
Traditional every-day dishes are called "husmanskost" (pronounced whos-mans-cost). This could be meatballs with potatoes and lingonberry jam, fried diced meat, onions and potatoes or pea soup followed by thin pancakes.
Access to alcoholic beverages is, as in Norway and Finland, quite restricted. The only place to buy liquor over the counter is in one of the state owned shops called Systembolaget. Though the Systembolaget shops sometimes seem to be closed more often than they are open, they do have a fantastic selection and a knowing staff. The most famous Swedish alcoholic beverage is the "Absolut" vodka, but there is a wide range of other Swedish vodkas, aquavits and snaps. Sweden does not produce any outstanding beer, nor does it produce wine at any notable scale.
You are not likely to be exposed to crime, although, keep a watch over your hand-bag in major cities. The phone number to dial in case of fire, medical or criminal emergency, is 112.
The pharmacies - controlled by state monopoly - carry a sign spelled "Apoteket".
Sweden has a good wireless (GSM) coverage, the major networks being Telia, Comviq and Vodafone. The country calling code number is 46. Sweden is the world's second most Internet connected country (second to Finland). The post system is highly reliable and efficient. Inter-European stamps for ordinary letters are 10 SEK.