Tribal kings and varagans
Archaeological finds point to the settlement of
today's Sweden as early as 7000 BC. there. Around 1800
BC old Germanic tribes immigrated from Eastern Europe.
In the 6th century AD tribal kingdoms had formed,
whereby the Svaer, after whom the country was later
named, were able to assert themselves against the Gauter
(gods) living further south and subjugate them. At the
end of the first millennium AD the Ynglingar dynasty of
the Svaer united the area of today's central and
southern Sweden as well as the Baltic islands of Öland
and Gotland into one empire. Swedish Vikings penetrated
into what is now Russia, where they founded Novgorod and
Kiev , for example. From these cities, trade with
Byzantium and Asia Minor was carried out via the Eastern
European rivers. The local Slavs gave the Swedish
Vikings the name "Waräger".
From the 11th to the 14th century
As a result of Christianization by missionaries from
Germany, King Olaf III. in 1008 AD the first Swedish
ruler to be baptized. Under Erik IX. the conquest of
Finland began, which was annexed to the "Svea-Rike"
(Sweden Empire) in 1266. From the middle of the 13th
century, the Folkung dynasty ruled in Sweden, King
Magnus II. Eriksson united the Norwegian and Swedish
crowns in the 14th century. In the same century, after
the wars with Denmark, Sweden had to give up the Baltic
islands of Öland and Gotland and the southern tip of the
The Kalmar Union
In 1389, Margaret of Denmark, regent of Norway and
Denmark, was elected Queen of Sweden by the Swedish
nobility. It united the three countries in 1397 to form
the Kalmar Union. In the 15th century, parts of the
Swedish population rose against Danish domination and
the Swedish Reichstag and the respective administrators
gained more political power. The Danish king Christian
II tried to strengthen the Danish influence in Sweden
again and ordered mass executions among the members of
the Swedish independence movement ("Stockholm
Sweden as a great power
Under the leadership of the administrator of the
empire Gustav Wasa, Sweden succeeded in separating from
the Union with Denmark in 1523. Gustav Wasa was crowned
King of Sweden as Gustav I and declared Lutheran
Protestantism to be the state religion. In 1544 the
hereditary monarchy was introduced in Sweden.
Under the rule of the Wasa House, Sweden became a
major European power. At the beginning of the 17th
century, large parts of Denmark, Estonia, Livonia and
parts of Russia were occupied by Swedish troops. King
Gustav II Adolf intervened in the Thirty Years' War
(1618-48) in 1630 and advanced with his troops in
Germany to the Main. The Peace of Westphalia of 1648
awarded Sweden the possession of Western Pomerania,
Wismar, Bremen and Verden. In the middle of the 17th
century, the Wasa dynasty was replaced by the
Palatinate-Zweibr¨ącken house. In this century, the
Swedish kingdom reached its greatest expansion (and even
had a settlement in North America for almost 20 years).
Territory losses after the "Great Northern War" and
the Napoleonic Wars
In the 18th century, Sweden suffered large losses of
territory: After Russia, Poland, Denmark and Poland
united against the Swedish kingdom, the country lost its
supremacy after the "Great Northern War" (1700-21). The
conquered German, Danish, Russian and Polish areas had
to be returned. A little later, Sweden also lost
southeastern Finland (Karelia) to Russia.
In Sweden itself, the estates represented in the
Reichstag (nobility, clergy, citizens, peasants)
increasingly gained power and limited the power of the
king. King Gustav III went against it. before, he ended
the sovereignty and reintroduced absolutism. The Swedish
Academy of Sciences was founded under his aegis in
Uppsala (1786), and the economic reforms he has carried
out are now considered one of the foundations for the
development of modern Sweden.
In 1809, Sweden lost Finland to Russia, which had
allied itself with France, as part of the Napoleonic
Wars. King Charles XIII made the French Marshal
Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte his successor, who as crown
prince took over the reign over Sweden in 1811 (crowned
as Charles XIV Johann in 1818). He allied with Russia
and Britain against France. The decisions of the
Congress of Vienna (1814/15) led to a reorganization in
Europe after the end of the Napoleonic wars. Finland was
awarded to Russia, while Sweden received Norway from
Denmark (which had allied itself with France).
Reforms and industrial age
According to AbbreviationFinder,
a number of reforms took place in Sweden during the
19th century, such as the introduction of freedom of
trade (1841) and free trade (1860), instead of the
Estates Day, a new constitution in 1865 introduced the
bicameral parliament and the right to choose a census.
In terms of foreign policy, the country adopted a
neutral stance that became a state doctrine from the end
of the Crimean War in 1856.
The industrial age began in Sweden from the middle of
the 19th century, leading to the formation of the
working class (proletariat). The Social Democratic Party
of Sweden (SAP) was founded in 1889. In 1905,
neighboring Norway became independent as a parliamentary
democracy with the consent of Sweden. In 1909 universal
suffrage was introduced in Sweden (initially only for
the second chamber and for men). New constitutions of
1919 and 1921 established the form of government of the
parliamentary hereditary monarchy for Sweden, whereby
the king increasingly had only a representative
function. In 1919 universal suffrage was introduced for
both chambers of parliament and also for women. The
social democratic party SAP won the 1920 elections.
Modernization measures and social reforms in the
1920s and 1930s laid the foundations for the Swedish
welfare state through the social democratic governments
("Swedish model"). For example, families were supported
not only with child benefit, but also with vacation pay,
free kindergarten places and extensive housing help.
From the end of the Second World War, the social
democrat Tage Erlander continued to expand the welfare
state as the head of the Swedish government.
Sweden after 1945
Sweden had managed to maintain its foreign policy
neutrality in both the First and Second World Wars.
After 1945 the country joined the UN, in 1949 it became
a member of the Council of Europe, but did not join the
North Atlantic Defense Alliance (NATO). In 1951, Sweden
founded the "Nordic Council" together with Denmark and
Norway (Iceland joined in 1952, Finland in 1955). The
aim of the organization was to improve cooperation
between the Scandinavian countries. In 1960 Sweden was
one of the founding members of the EFTA (European Free
Trade Association), which was founded as a counterweight
to the "European Economic Community" (EEC).
In 1969 the Swedish bicameral parliament was
converted into a unicameral system. Erlander's successor
as Prime Minister of the country was the social democrat
Olof Palme. He also clung to the so-called Swedish
model, although in the course of the 1970s,
cost-intensive government support had an increasingly
negative impact on the economy. Palme's social
democratic government was replaced in 1976 by a
coalition of conservative and liberal parties, Thorbjörn
Fälldin became the new prime minister (from 1982 again
Olof Palme, who was assassinated in 1986).
At the beginning of the 1990s, Sweden was in a severe
economic crisis. In 1991 the Social Democrats lost the
elections and Carl Bildt of the Moderate Samlingspartiet
(MS) became the new Prime Minister. In order to reduce
the high level of public debt, a drastic austerity
package was decided, which included a reduction in
social spending and tax increases.
In 1993 the roughly 16,000 Sami (rags) living in
Sweden, who had already requested their own territory in
the early 1980s, were allowed to form their own
parliament in Kiruna. This gave the minority cultural
autonomy, but it did not extend to the language (Swedish
is the only official language in the country).
In 1994 the Social Democratic Party was again able to
win the parliamentary elections. A year later, Sweden
became a full member of the European Union (EU). The
Social Democrats suffered heavy losses in the September
1998 elections, but remained the strongest political
force in Parliament. Göran Persson continued to serve as
Prime Minister. The government was formed by a coalition
of Social Democrats, Left Party and Greens.
Sweden still did not belong to any military alliance
and maintained neutrality as a foreign policy doctrine.
Following the collapse of the Eastern Bloc and the end
of the Soviet threat, Sweden's armed forces have been
reduced by around 50% since the early 1990s.
International peacekeeping operations were defined as a
new task for the troops.
In January 2001, Sweden took over the presidency of
the European Union (for six months). 44-year-old Swedish
Foreign Minister Anna Lindh became EU Council President.
An estimated half of the Swedish population is in favor
of the EU. So far, however, membership in the European
monetary union has been rejected by a large majority.
In June 2001, there were serious riots at the EU
summit of heads of state and government from the 15
member countries and the candidate countries in
Gothenburg. Some of the roughly 100,000 opponents of
globalization and the Swedish police fought street
battles, and around 600 people were arrested.
The Swedish government announced in February 2002
that it would abandon political and military neutrality.
In the parliamentary elections in September 2002, the
ruling Social Democratic Party received 53% of the vote.
The Social Democratic Party lost a lot of votes in the
2006 elections, but was again the strongest party at
just under 35%. The bourgeois parties formed an
"Alliance for Sweden" and since then have been acting
Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt (Moderate Collection
Party). In 2010, the conservative Reinfeldt won the
election again, but the right-wing populists entered the
parliament for the first time after this election.