Sweden, country in northern Europe, occupying the eastern portion
of the Scandinavian Peninsula. Sweden has a total area of 449,964
sq km (173,732 sq mi). Stockholm is the capital and largest city.
Sweden's topography consists of high mountains in the northwest,
bounded on the east by a plateau that slopes down to lowlands and
plains in the east and south. Many rivers flow southeast from the
mountains to the Gulf of Bothnia, providing abundant waterpower.
One-seventh of Sweden is above the Arctic Circle, where daylight
is continuous for about two months in the summer and darkness is
continuous for about two months in the winter.
Despite the northern latitude, warm ocean winds keep temperatures
moderate, except in the north, where mountains block the moderating
influence. The principal natural resources are the forests, which
cover about two-thirds of the country. Most of Sweden's cultivated
land is in the south.
Sweden has large deposits of iron and other minerals and an estimated
15 percent of the world's uranium deposits. Alpine and arctic vegetation
prevail in the north and at higher altitudes.
The climate is comparatively moderate, considering that Sweden is
located at a very northern latitude. The principal moderating influences
are the Gulf Stream and the prevailing westerly winds, which blow
in from the relatively warm North Atlantic Ocean.
In winter these influences are offset by cold air masses that
sweep in from the east. The climate of northern Sweden is considerably
more severe than that of the south primarily because it has higher
altitudes and because the mountains cut off the moderating marine
The average temperature in February, the coldest month, is below
freezing throughout Sweden, with an average temperature range in
Stockholm of -5° to -1°C (22° to 30°F), in Göteborg of -4° to 1°C
(25° to 34°F), and in Piteĺ, in the northern part of the country,
of -14° to -6°C (6° to 22°F).
In July, the warmest month, the average temperature range is 14°
to 22°C (57° to 71°F) in Stockholm, 14° to 21°C (57° to 70°F) in
Göteborg, and 12° to 21°C (53° to 69° F) in Piteĺ.
The proportion of daylight hours increases in the summer and decreases
in the winter as the latitude becomes more northerly. In the one-seventh
of Sweden above the Arctic Circle, daylight is continuous for about
two months in the summer, and continuous darkness occurs for about
two months in the winter.