Sweden

Flag and map courtesy of the CIA World Factbook.



Area north of 60 latitude
Estimated at 70% of the total area (449 964 sq. km.)

Ethnic Mix:
Mainly Swedish, small number of Sami. Immigrants make up 12% of the population (mostly Finns, Yugoslavs, Danes, Norwegians, Greeks, Turks).

Principal industries:
Iron and steel, precision equipment (bearings, radio and telephone parts, armaments), wood pulp and paper products, processed foods, motor vehicles.

Currency: krona (plural is kronor) (Skr) = 100 oere

Aboriginal peoples: Sami

Did you know?
Since World War I, Sweden has followed a policy of non-alignment in world affairs. During wartime it declares neutrality. It does not fight for either side; it maintains diplomatic and trade relations with both sides. Because it is non-aligned, it must be prepared to stand alone if attacked. Sweden maintains modern armed forces and has a weapons industry. In 1995, Sweden became a full member of the European Union and as a result may, in future, need to change its non-alignment policy.

Learn more:
http://www.sweden.gov.se

Sources:
Canadian Global Almanac 2003
The Northern Circumpolar World by Bob MacQuarrie (Reidmore Books)

THE CONTENTIOUS ISSUE OF NUCLEAR POWER

Up until the 1960s hydro electricity was the main source of power to foster Sweden’s industrial growth. In 1965 however, it was decided to supplement this with nuclear power in an effort to avoid the uncertainties of oil prices and increase the security of the national supply.

A decade later, these nuclear projects became a political issue and laws were passed in 1977 to ensure proper management of the waste stream from Swedish reactors. This provided the basis for Sweden’s world leadership in management of spent fuel, showing countries that don’t reprocess their nuclear waste that a different way of proceeding is possible.

That picture developed a new dimension in 1979 when an infamous accident ocurred at the Three Mile Island nuclrear power station in the USA.. Though far away, this incident sparked a public referendum about the future of Sweden’s nuclear program. When asked how quickly the country’s reactors should be shut down, a clear majority of voters favoured running the existing plants and those under construction as long as they made a contribution to the country’s economy, in effect, to the end of their normal operating lives, which was then assumed to be 25 years. The Swedish Parliament voted to halt any further expansion of nuclear power in the country and to aim for decommissioning Sweden’s 12 nuclear power plants by 2010.

The 1986 Chernobyl disaster in the Ukraine (first detected by a Swedish nuclear power station) created significant pressure to speed up nuclear decommissioning. The radiation from Chernobyl was carried far, including to northern Scandinavia, where it settled on lichen, an important food for reindeer. Some reindeer had to be destroyed; others were herded to uncontaminated pastures. In response to the crisis and pressure from European socialists, the Swedish government became solidly opposed to nuclear energy and began passing laws to abandon it without any definite plan for its replacement. More reasoned debate ensued and by 1988, the Swedish government had finally agreed to begin the phase-out in 1995. This decision too was overturned three years later in 1991 following pressure from the trade unions who feared job loss from energy shortages.

The Swedish government closed one nuclear plant in 2002 and had plans to close another in 2003. At the same time however, a national poll showed that 55 percent of Swedes now favour keeping nuclear energy and building new plants.

Sources:
http://www.formal.stanford.edu/jmc/progress/chernobyl.html; http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf42.htm; The Northern Circumpolar World by Bob MacQuarrie (Reidmore Books)