Sweden is one of the largest countries in Europe, with great diversity in its nature and climate. Its distinctive yellow and blue flag is one of the national emblems that reflect centuries of history between Sweden and its Nordic neighbours.
Sweden is situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula in the North of Europe with Norway and Finland being its neighbour states. With a population of 9 million people spread across an area of almost 450.000 sq. km, it is Scandinavia’s most populated country.
Surprisingly, Sweden’s climate is fairly mild which is due to the Gulf Stream’s influence. The climate depends very much on the exact location. In some regions there are barely temperature changes from summer to winter. In the South however, temperature drops to -2 degrees in winter and goes up as high as 17 degrees in summer. Generally spoken, climate is rather moist with a lot of precipitation. Polar climate can be found in the very north of the country. Due to Sweden’s position there is long daylight in summer and the equally long darkness in winter.
Stockholm, the country’s capital, is Sweden’s metropolis. It is also nicknamed “Venice of the North” because it has been built on 14 islands. Stockholm, is also the country’s largest city, with more than 950,000 inhabitants. Other large cities are Gothenburg, in western Sweden (population 570,000), and Malmö (population 340,000) in the south. Uppsala and Lund are well-known university cities.
Sweden joined the European Union on 1 January 1995, but declined NATO membership, as well as Eurozone membership following a referendum. It is also a member of the United Nations, the Nordic Council, the Council of Europe, the World Trade Organization and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Sweden is the seventh-richest country in the world in terms of GDP (gross domestic product) per capita and a high standard of living is experienced by its citizens.
Sweden maintains its own currency, the Swedish krona (SEK), a result of the Swedes having rejected the euro in a referendum.
Swedish is the official language of Sweden. The vast majority of Swedes also speak English, and generally to a very high level. Many Swedish multinational organizations have English as their corporate language, and a large number of university degree programmes and courses are taught in English. Sweden is home to five official national minority languages, and countless other languages are spoken by Sweden’s diverse population. The largest, after Swedish, are Finnish, Serbo-Croatian, Arabic, Kurdish, Spanish, German and Farsi.
Healthcare in Sweden is similar in quality to other developed nations. Sweden ranks in the top five countries with respect to low infant mortality. It also ranks high in life expectancy and in safe drinking water.
Sweden is one of the world’s most innovative nations, and it has been called the most digitally connected economy. Swedes are early adopters of new technology and the country’s non-hierarchical society creates a fertile environment for new ideas. Generations of innovativeness have led to a long list of world-changing inventions like the three-point seatbelt, the pacemaker, the adjustable wrench and safety matches. More recent Swedish inventions include Spotify and Skype.
Children aged 1–5 years old are guaranteed a place in a public kindergarten. Between the ages of 6 and 16, children attend compulsory comprehensive school.
Nine years of compulsory schooling, but most pupils continue to the three-year upper secondary school. Around one-third go on to higher education at universities and colleges throughout Sweden
School lunch is free for all students in Sweden, and providing breakfast is also encouraged.
There are a number of different universities and colleges in Sweden, the oldest and largest of which are situated in Uppsala, Lund, Gothenburg and Stockholm.
Universities in Sweden are free for citizens of the EU/EEA or Switzerland. Since 2011, students from other countries are charged for studying at Swedish universities. The universities set their own fees, which mostly vary between SEK 80,000 and 140,000 per academic year.
Swedes have the second highest proficiency in English as a second language in the world – English is spoken by 90% of the population, allowing students to have a unique European experience without language barriers. Regular interaction with people becomes easier. However, undergraduate medical courses are taught in Swedish but universities offer part time as well as full time language courses to students.
The quality and international standing of the Swedish Educational System is ranked among best in the world.
Students are allowed to work while studying but are expected to complete 40 hours of course time per week.
Several Swedish universities offer a range of different scholarship programs for international students to help cover tuition fees or living costs.
Students have the opportunity to work and settle in Sweden itself, the student can apply to extend their residence permit to look for work. Sweden gives a period of 6 months to do so. The work permit is Schengen in nature, so a student would be eligible to work anywhere within 28 countries of European Union.
Sweden's public transport is very well established. There is extensive network of buses, trains, subways, trams, boats, planes and more, this helps in easy transportation for students.
Universities in Sweden are renowned for their cultural and social diversity. This is far from surprising considering ‘Business Insider’ named Sweden as the most equal country in the world.