Sweden has achieved an enviable standard of living under a mixed system of high-tech capitalism and extensive welfare benefits. It has a modern distribution system, excellent internal and external communications, and a skilled labor force.
A military power during the 17th century, Sweden has not participated in any war in almost two centuries. An armed neutrality was preserved in both World Wars.
Sweden is a large, geographically varied and strangely little-known country whose sense of space is one of its best features. Away from the relatively densely populated south, travelling without seeing a soul is not uncommon. The west coast harbours a host of historic ports - Gothenburg , Helsingborg and Malmö , which is now linked by bridge to Copenhagen.
Stockholm , the capital, is the country's supreme attraction, a bundle of islands housing monumental architecture, fine museums and the country's most active culture and nightlife.
Central and northern Sweden, is the country of tourist brochures: great swathes of forest, inexhaustible lakes - around 96,000 - and some of the best wilderness hiking in Europe. Two train routes link it with the south. The eastern run, close to the Bothnian coast , passes old wood-built towns and planned new ones, and ferry ports for connections to Finland. In the centre, the trains of the Inlandsbanan strike off through lakelands and mountains, clearing reindeer off the track as they go.