Sweden is located in Northern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea, between Finland and Norway. It’s capital, Stockholm, lies on the east coast of the country, where Lake Malaren flows into the Baltic. Sweden is in fact Europe's fifth largest country in terms of surface area. It’s 1,573 km long, and more than half of its territory is covered by forest and woodland. Indeed timber is a major natural resource, as are zinc, iron ore, lead, copper, silver, and uranium. Sweden has over 100,000 lakes, 22 of which are larger then 100 sq kms, and an enormous coastline of 3,218 kilometres. Sweden is generally flat with a mountainous region to the west. Temperatures vary greatly through the year, from as low as -30°C in the winter in northern areas, to +30°C in the summer.
Sweden’s capital, Stockholm, lies on the east coast of the country, where Lake Malaren flows into the Baltic. The city is spread over fourteen islands, which are connected by over fifty bridges, and form part of an enormous archipelago of some twenty thousand islands.
More than a fifth of Sweden’s population of nine million resides in Stockholm and apart from the omnipresent water the city is also remarkable in terms of the juxtaposition of ancient and modern: the history of the medieval old town of Gamla Stan goes back 750 years, but Stockholm is also a city at the cutting edge of fashion, telecommunications and contemporary culture (the island of Södermalm, for example, is known for its thriving fashion and entertainment scenes). Stockholm’s residents will be proud to tell you that the water around the city is so clean that you can eat the fish swimming in it – a fact which has recently been disputed, but certainly the almost total absence of heavy industry in the regin makes the city one of the cleanest in the world.
As with most of Scandinavia there is a stark contrast between summer and winter in terms of hours of daylight in Stockholm. In June and July it doesn’t really get completely dark during the night, while in January (which is typically grey and dull anyway) the sun sets around 3pm. As depressing as winter may seem, two world famous events do light up the season: the awards ceremony of the Nobel Prize in the Konserthuset in December, and the Stockholm design fair in February. Summers are warm in Stockholm though, warm enough to comfortably swim in the surrounding lakes.
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