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.