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Country profile: Sweden
language: Swedish Prime minister: Fredrik Reinfeldt
Kingdom of Sweden
Sweden is almost self-sufficient in many
agricultural products, although the sector
employs no more than 2 percent of the labor
force and contributes 2 percent of GDP. About 7
percent of Sweden's land is cultivated, mostly
in the southern plains. Modern farming,
including fertilization and mechanization, make
high yields possible although soils are
generally poor and the cold climate renders the
growing season much shorter than elsewhere in
Europe. Farms vary in size from large to small
ones, many of which combine into various larger
units and cooperatives. Traditionally important
sectors such as dairies have declined in the
1990s compared to grain and vegetable
production, but livestock and animal products
remain among the main commodity items. Other
crops include wheat, barley, oats, rye,
potatoes, and sugar beets. In 1997, livestock
included 1.8 million cattle, 2.4 million pigs,
470,000 sheep, and 11.2 million poultry. The
country also exports some fur pelts, notably
Agriculture, forestry, fisheries
Agriculture is an important part of Sweden. It
provides us with food, open landscapes and a
living countryside. Sweden is the most densely
forested country in Europe, with forests
covering more than half the country's surface.
Forestry activities are to be carried out in a
manner that produces high and profitable returns
while the nature value is preserved. The overall
goal of the new Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) is
sustainable exploitation that takes into account
economic, environmental and social perspectives.
The subject area Agriculture, forestry and
fisheries also includes issues concerning
animals and foodstuffs.
Sweden's position as one of the world's most highly developed post-industrial societies looks fundamentally secure.
Unemployment is low and the economy strong. Public-private partnership
is at the core of "the Swedish model", which was developed by the Social Democrats, who governed for most of the last 70 years until 2006.
This mixed economy traditionally featured centralised wage negotiations and a heavily tax-subsidised social security network. The Swedes still enjoy an advanced welfare system, and their standard of living and life expectancy are almost second to none.
Stockholm: The capital's old town is well-preserved
The country is also a common destination for refugees and asylum seekers - immigrants make up more than 10% of its population.
Swedes voted in a referendum in 1980 to phase out nuclear power, and the country began to decommission reactors in 1999. However, fears over climate change and energy security persuaded the government to reverse the decision in 2009, and plans are on the table to replace the country's 10 remaining reactors.
Sweden is known throughout the world for its neutrality. This policy has led to a number of Swedish politicians taking on international roles, often mediating between conflicting groups or ideologies. With the ending of the Cold War, Sweden felt able to join the European Union in 1995 although it still declines to become a Nato member.
Sweden was one of three EU countries not to join the single European currency. In the first referendum on membership after the euro's introduction in 12 of 15 EU countries, Swedish voters rejected it by a clear majority in September 2003.
Mr Persson was one of Europe's longest-serving leaders, having spent 10 years in the job. The Social Democrats governed Sweden for much of the period since World War II.
The Alliance for Sweden has a slim seven-seat majority in the 349-seat parliament. It campaigned on a platform of streamlining the welfare state and cutting taxes, in order to create jobs.
Since becoming party leader in 2003 Mr Reinfeldt has moved the Moderates towards the political centre. He forged a four-party alliance with the Christian Democrats, the Liberals and the Centre Party. He supports Sweden's entry into Nato, provided there is cross-party support.
Born in 1965, Fredrik Reinfeldt joined his party's youth wing in 1991. He is married and has three children.
Swedish audiences enjoy a wide variety of public and commercial broadcast services, though until relatively recently public TV and radio, funded by a licence fee, had a near-monopoly of the airwaves.
Public television is run by Sveriges Television (SVT). Its main competitor is TV4, a commercial station which launched in 1992. The country is home to the regional media giants Bonnier and the Modern Times Group (MTG).
Most households have cable or satellite TV and can choose from among dozens of channels. Digital terrestrial broadcasting was launched by SVT in 1999; pay-TV channels are also broadcast in the format. The analogue TV signal was switched off in late 2007.
Public radio is run by Sveriges Radio. Commercial radio began in 1993, and there are nearly 100 stations. Some of them have consolidated into near-national networks.
Most Swedish households take a daily newspaper and the country is among the top consumers of newspapers in the world. Many titles have a regional readership. The government subsidises newspapers regardless of their political affiliation.