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Sweden Geography

Geography

During the last Ice Age, much of Sweden was covered by a thick layer of ice. By 6,000 BC, when that ice finally retreated ( or melted) it left in its wake a deeply-indented coastline (in the south) with many islands, and innumerable lakes, rivers and streams spread across the entire country.

In the north ( above the Arctic Circle) Sweden is rugged with snow-covered mountains and thick forests, while central Sweden is dominated by lower mountains in the west that give way to heavily forested hills and ridges, dozens and dozens of rivers and an estimated 101,000 lakes. In the south, large lakes (some linked by canals) and widely cultivated plains stretch across the land.

Sweden's border with Norway is covered by the Scandinavian Mountains, or in Swedish, the Kolen (or Kjolen) Mountains. These are relatively low-level mountains, as Sweden's highest point, Kebnekaise, stands at just 2,111 meters (about 7,000 ft.)

Sweden's coastal areas include several small islands and reefs, especially in the east and southwest. Directly south of Stockholm ( a city of islands) are Gotland and Oland, Sweden's largest islands. White sandy beaches are common along the southern coastline.

Significant lakes include Siljan, Storsjom, Varern and Vattern, and with few exceptions, the balance of Sweden's lakes are on the small side.

Sweden's largest rivers include the Angerman, Eman, Indal, Lagan, Ljusnan, Lule, Osterdal, Skellefte, Storuman, Torne and Ume.

Geography Sweden
Location: Northern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea, Gulf of Bothnia, Kattegat, and Skagerrak, between Finland and Norway
Geographic coordinates: 62 00 N, 15 00 E
Map references: Europe
Area: total: 449,964 sq km
land: 410,934 sq km
water: 39,030 sq km
Area - comparative: slightly larger than California
Land boundaries: total: 2,233 km
border countries: Finland 614 km, Norway 1,619 km
Coastline: 3,218 km
Maritime claims: territorial sea: 12 nm (adjustments made to return a portion of straits to high seas)
exclusive economic zone: agreed boundaries or midlines
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
Climate: temperate in south with cold, cloudy winters and cool, partly cloudy summers; subarctic in north
Terrain: mostly flat or gently rolling lowlands; mountains in west
Elevation extremes: lowest point: reclaimed bay of Lake Hammarsjon, near Kristianstad -2.41 m
highest point: Kebnekaise 2,111 m
Natural resources: iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, gold, silver, tungsten, uranium, arsenic, feldspar, timber, hydropower
Land use: arable land: 6.54%
permanent crops: 0.01%
other: 93.45% (2001)
Irrigated land: 1,150 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards: ice floes in the surrounding waters, especially in the Gulf of Bothnia, can interfere with maritime traffic
Environment - current issues: acid rain damage to soils and lakes; pollution of the North Sea and the Baltic Sea
Environment - international agreements: party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - note: strategic location along Danish Straits linking Baltic and North Seas

Note: The information tabled directly above was researched by and provided by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

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This page was last modified on August 13, 2015.