Sweden is the largest country in Northern Europe with a population of around 10 million, most of whom live in the southern part of the country. Vast tracts of Northern Sweden are sparsely populated and covered by large areas of forest. The largest urban areas are Stockholm (1.5 million), Goteborg (600,000) and Malmo (317,000) – all in the south.

The image of Stockholm as being a flat and heavily forested country is only partly true because the northern and western central areas of the country are hilly and mountainous with several peaks reaching just under 7,000 ft.

About 15% of Sweden lies within the Arctic Circle which means that the northern part of the country can become bitterly cold with long winters and short summers. On the other hand, the flatter southern part of the country has relatively mild weather in comparison, due to the influence of the gulf stream, and much of the land is used for agriculture.

There’s certainly no shortage of water, with something like 95,700 lakes if you believe Wikipedia’s figures, and there are also thousands of islands that form archipelagos along the 1,300 miles of Baltic coastline. Gotland and Oland are the two largest islands belonging to Sweden.

Politically, the country is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary democracy and non-alignment policy, being neutral in recent conflicts.

The standard of living and life expectancy is amongst the highest in the world, with a welfare system developed by the Social Democrats over a 70 year period. Relative to its population size however, Sweden has taken in far more migrants that any other European country during the current migrant crisis, putting a strain on public services and a swing towards the right-wing Democrats party.