Mountains form much of the northwest, but most of Sweden is relativelyflat with some rollling hills. Many rivers flow from the mountainsthrough the forests and into the Balitc Sea. Sweden is dotted withlakes, which, with the rivers, provide ample water for the country. More than half of the land is forested. North of the Arctic Circle,winters ar long and relatively cold while summers are short and pleasant.
But summer’s “midnight sun” makes the days long. Although Swedenis located far to the north, most of the country has a relatively temperateclimate, moderated by the warm Gulf Stream. July temperatures inStockholm average sixty four degrees ferenheit. Sweden has been inhabeted for nearly fivethousand years and is the home of the Gothic peoples who battled the RomanEmpire. In the ninth century, Rurik, a semilegendary chief of theSwedes, is said to have founded Russia. Christianity was introducedin the 11th century adn adopted by the monarchy.
During the 20thcentury, neutrality and nonalignment were cornerstones of Sweden’s foreignpolicy, keeping it out of both world wars and allowing it to transformits rather poor society into a prosperous social welfare state. TheSocila Democratic Party dominated politics and led every governmentuntil 1976, when it’s rule was interrupted until 1982. With the endof the Cold War, and increased European Union in 1995. Sweden’s image as a peaceful, egalitariansociety, with relatively low crime, was shaken in 1986 when Prime MinisterOlof Palme was assassinated on the streets of Stockholm. Palme wassucceeded by Ingvar Carlsson of the Social Democratic Party. Afterrejection of his austerity package in 1990, Carlsson resigned and led aminority government until elections in 1991.
The new prome minister,Carl Bildt of the Moderate Party, formed a coalition government. Bildt’s administration concentrated on economic challenges and negotiatedSweden’s entry into the EU.