Swedes - Orientation

Identification. The origin of the name "Swedes" ( svenskar ) is swaensker, which means "from Svealand."

Location. Sweden is located between 55° and 69° N and 24° E. Sweden lies in northwestern Europe in the Scandinavian Peninsula bounded by Norway in the west, Finland in the northeast, Denmark in the southwest, the Gulf of Bothnia in the east, the Baltic Sea in the southeast, and the North Sea in the southwest. Sweden's main regions are, from the north, the northern mountain and lake region named Norrland; the lowlands of central Sweden known as Svealand; the low Småland highlands and the plains of Skåne, both areas in Götaland. Sweden has a coastline that is sometimes rocky and consists of large archipelagoes, skärgård. About 15 percent of the country lies within the Arctic Circle, and the climatic differences in the country are substantial. Snow is found in the mountainous regions in the north for approximately eight months out of the year, but in the south only about one month. The waters of the west coast are almost always ice-free, but the northern Baltic is usually icecovered from November to May. The growing period is about three months in the north and eight in the south.

Demography. In 1990 the Swedish population was about 8,590,630, including a Saami population in Lappland and a Finnish-speaking group, Tornedalians, along the border of Finland, both consisting of approximately 15,000-17,000 persons.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Swedish language belongs to the North Germanic (Scandinavian) Subgroup of the Germanic languages. It is related to Norwegian, Danish, Icelandic, and Faroese. It has been influenced by German, French, English, and Finnish. The Saami and the Tornedalians understand and speak Swedish, but they form special linguistic groups. Immigration to Sweden after World War II has created many new language groups.

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