Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Preindustriai Sweden was an agrarian country. Farming was the most Common subsistence activity, always combined with stock raising and often with forestry, handicraft, trade, and transportation. Farming was combined with fishing along the coasts and around the many big lakes. Today agriculture has diminished. In 1990 it employed only 3.3 percent of the working population. The main agricultural products are dairy produce, meat, cereals, and potatoes.
Industrial Arts. Iron ore and lumber are the basic raw materials. Besides lumber, the modern forest industry produces paper, board, pulp, rayon, plastics, and turpentine. Sweden also is able to exploit hydroelectric power thanks to its many rivers with waterfalls. The country has two big car manufacturing companies (Volvo and Saab), a telecommunications industry (Ericsson), a manufacturer of roller and ball bearings (SKF), a producer of household appliances (Electrolux), and a company producing electric motors, steam turbines, and equipment for hydroelectric power plants (ASEA-Brown Bovery).
Trade. About one-half of the industrial production is exported. Iron, steel, and forest products—such as paper and paper board—are important as well as different kinds of manufactured commodities, especially machinery and Transportation equipment. Sweden's largest export markets are Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Norway, in that order. Engineering products, cars and other motor vehicles, machinery, computers, chemical products, fuel, and crude oil dominate the imports to Sweden. The supplying countries are Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Denmark.
Division of Labor. In the old peasant society, cattle raising was female work, while horses were part of the male world. Threshing was regarded mainly as men's work, but in eastern Dalecarlia it belonged to the women's sphere. Women from this area even worked as professional threshers during seasonal work periods. Textile production has been a female job, except in Halland, where men, boys, and women traditionally produced knitwear for sale. The general tendency is that in areas where agriculture has been a sideline, women have carried out several tasks that traditionally belonged to the male sphere in typical agricultural areas. Child labor was usual in preindustrial Sweden as well as during the first period of industrialization (1850-1900). Children worked in the sawmills, factories, glassworks, and ironworks. In contemporary Sweden, ethnic niches have started to emerge. There are restaurants owned by Chinese, pizza shops, sweet stalls, and small grill-restaurants owned by immigrants from the Middle Eastern countries. Assyrians and Syrians are involved in traditional trades such as tailoring and shoemaking. Together with Kurds and Turks, they also trade in fruit and vegetables. Land Tenure. Before 1827, when a statute on enclosures ( foga skifte ) was passed, the fields of each farm were split up in several small lots in various places. The agricultural modernization of 1827 meant that the fields of each farm could be assembled together in a compact area. These enclosures of land took place during the entire nineteenth century and changed the countryside radically. At the end of 1940, a new wave of structural rationalization began with the goal of creating larger and more productive units. In 1988 only 8.7 percent of Sweden's land area was utilized for agriculture. The majority farms are privately owned. An estimated 69.6 percent of the country's area is covered by forest and woodland. Corporations and other private owners control at least three-quarters of the nation's forest land and timbering.