Sweden – The Elongated Country (Det avlånga landet)
Sweden has a population of 10,402,070 (est. February 2021), 85% of whom live in urban areas. The most populated area is the capital city of Stockholm, which is located on the south-eastern coast and is inhabited by 2,415,139 million people (Metro region, est. December 31st, 2021). Other notable cities are Gothenburg and Malmö, which have 1,025,355 (Metro region, est. 2019) and 749,427 respectively (Metro region, est. September 2021). Its territory covers 450,295 km2 (173,860 sq mi), 8.7% of which is made up of waterways. Sweden shares its borders with two countries: Finland to the east and Norway to the west. While ferries traveling across the Baltic Sea allow Poland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania access.
The Kingdom of Sweden is divided into 21 counties, each with a separate county administrative board appointed by the government. Sweden’s central government is based on constitutional democracy, with the Riksdag (Parliament) electing a new Prime Minister every four years. Sweden became a fully-fledged member of the European Union in 1995 but has opted out of joining the euro (EUR) currency after a referendum held in 2003; it uses the Swedish Krona (SEK) as its current currency.
Economy of Sweden
Sweden enjoys a stable and robust economy, with a 2022 GDP of $537,6 billion. Most of the total GDP is accounted for by the service sector, followed by the industrial sector, with Iron, steel, and wood being significant exports. Despite Sweden being self-sufficient in its agricultural supplies, the agricultural sector is small and only accounts for 1.6% of the GDP; grains, barley, and wheat make up almost half of all cultivated products. The industry sector brings a significant percentage into the Swedish economy, around 33%. The most important sector, the services sector, brings around 65.4% into the Swedish economy.
Stockholm is Sweden’s central commercial and economic capital, with many high-profile multi-national companies choosing to have their headquarters in the area. Technological and financial institutions are particularly prominent in this city. The biggest employers in Sweden are Securitas, Volvo, Ericsson, Skanska, Electrolux, SCA, and SKF.
According to CIA – The World Factbook, Sweden exported $254.25 in 2018 billion worth of goods in 2018, $254.53 billion in 2019, and $240.08 billion in 2020. The major trading partner countries for exports were Germany 10%, Norway 9%, United States 8%, Denmark 7%, Finland 6%, United Kingdom 5%, Netherlands 5%, China 5% (2019).
Infrastructure of Sweden
Sweden has 231 airports (est. 2013), with three major international airports: Stockholm-Arlanda Airport, Gothenburg-Landvetter Airport, and Stockholm-Skavsta Airport. The largest is Stockholm-Arlanda airport, which handles 25.6 million passengers annually (2019) and is the third-largest airport in the Nordic region. Most flights are to European countries, with several flights to global destinations like New York, Bangkok, and Beijing. From 2012-to 2019, passenger numbers steadily. However, the amount dropped to 6.5 million in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. In 2017 the number decreased by 4%, but then it bounced back up again, remaining stable until 2018, after which tickets fell by 6%.
The railway transportation system in Sweden is privatized, and the majority of services are operated and run by the Swedish Rail Administration. 15006.25 km of railways span the country (the 22nd largest in the world), and major routes are served by X2000 high-speed trains, which can travel up to 200 km/h (124mph), and allow quick and comfortable travel between Swedish cities. Modern buses run throughout Sweden and allow access to parts of the country that are not accessible by the railway network. The Eurolines bus company also connects Stockholm to other Nordic cities like Oslo and Helsinki.
Nine major ports service the country: Brofjorden, Gothenburg, Hensilborg, Lulea, Malmö, Stenungsund, Stockholm, Trelleborg and Visby.
The energy infrastructure is efficient, with the Swedish government being committed to phase-out nuclear and fossil fuels and replacing them with a more environmentally-friendly system that includes renewable energy. As of 2019, 42% of the nation’s electricity needs were generated by hydro-power, 32% from renewable sources, 22% from nuclear power and the remaining percentage from other methods (fossil fuels, and so on).
Sweden has a labor force of 5.029 million (est. 2020). Sweden’s unemployment rate was 6.78% (2019).
The official language is Swedish, with Finish being recognized and spoken by around 3% of the population. Other languages include Sami and Romani. The English language is widely spoken and understood by many Swedish nationals, partly because it is a compulsory subject that is taught in all schools.
Sweden has a strong education ethic; 7.8% of Sweden’s GDP (est. 2018) is re-invested back into the educational system. People must attend school until the age of 16, when they may choose to further their education in one of the many universities. The majority of primary and secondary schools are publicly funded and accessible to citizens of the country.
Business Costs in Sweden
The average office rental costs $59.29, roughly equivalent to office prices in Sydney and Dublin. Stockholm has the highest rates for office rentals in the country.
Sweden has a fixed competitive corporate tax rate of 20.6%.
Individual tax is levied on both a federal and municipal level, with each municipality controlling its tax rates. Personal taxes work on a progressive scale, but for high-income earners, they are some of the highest rates in the world. Any individual who earns more than Kr538,800 ($74,058) may be required to pay up to 59.17% tax on all income, depending on what municipality they reside in. VAT rates in Sweden are also amongst the highest in Europe, with a fixed 25% for most general items, a discounted rate of 12% for some foodstuffs, and 6% for newspapers and books.
You can find more about the Sweden Tax Rates here: Sweden.se
Wages are higher in Sweden than the European average, with the highest salaries being found in and around the capital city of Stockholm. Although the state sets no minimum wage, many laws in place protect employees and their rights. The average wage for December 2021 reached 183 SEK/Hour (around $14/h). The maximum rate was 184 SEK/Hour and minimum 134 SEK/Hour. On average, the minimum (un-official) wage in Sweden is over $3000/month.