Sweden has 10.2 million people. It borders other Nordic or Scandinavian countries of Norway, Finland and Denmark. Sweden’s capital and largest city is Stockholm. An independent Swedish state emerged in the 12th century. However, the Black Death (bubonic plaque pandemic) in the 14th century killed a third of the Scandinavian population. In 1523, Gustav Vasa (regarded as the founding father of Sweden) became King and due to his efforts, the peasantry later became free, meaning more of the economic benefits flowed back to them rather than going to a feudal landowning class. The Swedish empire became a great power in Europe in the early 18th century. It is said that Sweden is the first country with “Freedom of the press” (since 1766). But Swedish territories were gradually lost during the 18th and 19th centuries, ending with the annexation of present-day Finland by Russia in 1809. The last war in which Sweden was directly involved in was in 1814 when Norway was militarily forced into a personal union, which peacefully dissolved in 1905. Due to late industrialisation, between 1850 and 1910 more than one million Swedes moved to USA for a better life. When Sweden eventually industrialised, its economy took off within a democratic system, and it is a rich country today. Sweden maintains a Nordic social welfare system that provides universal health care and tertiary education for its citizens. It has the world’s 11th highest per capita income and ranks very highly in quality of life, health, education, protection of civil liberties, economic competitiveness, income equality and prosperity.

  1. In about 2,000 words, I will describe major events that affected Sweden from 1900 to the present.
  2. 1901 – The first Nobel Prizes are awarded for peace, chemistry, physics, medicine, and literature. When dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel of Sweden died in 1896, he had bequeathed all his assets to establish the Nobel Foundation. A Dutch, Jacobus Henricus van’t Hoff won the first Nobel Prize in chemistry for his work on the relationship of volume, pressure and temperature in gases which became known as van’t Hoff’s Law.
  3. 1903 – Svante Arrhenius (1859-1927), Swedish scientist, won the Nobel Prize in chemistry.
  4. 1905 – Norway gains its independence from Sweden – Norway was forced into a union with Sweden in 1814 (after 400 years of domination by Denmark).
  5. 1914 (to 1917) – World War One. Sweden remains neutral.
  6. 1917 – The harvest failed which, in combination with the decline of import, almost caused a famine. This, however, was avoided thanks to an agreement with the Allies, which allowed Sweden to import food and supplies.
  7. 1920 – Sweden joins the League of Nations. During the 1920s Sweden develops from an agricultural into an industrial society. Social democratic governments enact various social reforms. Sweden becomes a refuge for Danes and Norwegians trying to flee from the Germans.
  8. 1921 – Sweden abolished capital punishment.
  9. 1922 – Total prohibition of alcohol was narrowly defeated in a Swedish referendum.
  10. 1920 (to 1933) – The Depression and the difficult economic situation resulted in nine governments during these 13 years.
  11. 1921 – Women were finally allowed to vote for the first time in the elections.
  12. 1927 – The first Volvo car, nicknamed “Jakob”, is produced.
  13. 1932 – The Social Democrats, because of the high unemployment-rate, formed a new policy. The unemployed should be provided with meaningful jobs by the State. This would vitalise the economy and create new jobs, all in the spirit of Meynard Keynes. Several social reforms were introduced in the mid-thirties. An important part of the Swedish model, the agreement at Saltsjöbaden, meant that the Confederation of Trade Unions (LO) and the organisations of the employers, solved their differences between themselves. This reduced the risk of conflicts and strikes, which earlier had been common.
  14. 1939 (to 1945) – World War Two. Sweden remains neutral, but following the German occupation of Denmark and Norway, Sweden is forced by Germany to allow troops to pass through. Sweden’s defence was in poor condition, mainly because of the reduction in the forces in 1925. This led to a need for immediate rearmament. This rearmament continued right throughout the war. Sweden was never attacked by Germany. This was probably because Germany did not have to. Germany was dependent upon Swedish metal ore from the mines in northern Sweden. Throughout the entire war, the Germans had no trouble in getting this metal ore. Sweden also exported ball bearings to the Germans, vital for their production of tanks and aeroplanes. German troops were transported to Norway and Finland on the Swedish railroad system during the war. A 1997 report said that Sweden received some 38 tons of gold from the Nazis in payment for exports.
  15. 1943 – Furniture company IKEA is founded.
  16. 1943 – Over 7,000 Danish Jews crossed to Sweden to escape the Nazis.
  17. 1945 – Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, credited with saving tens of thousands of Jews, disappeared in Hungary while in Soviet custody. Raoul Wallenberg was jailed by the Soviets who believed he was an American spy. He had saved more than 20,000 Hungarian Jews from Nazi death camps. In 2000 a Kremlin commission believed that he was shot in a KGB prison.
  18. 1945 – Sweden returned about 14 tons of presumably looted gold to Belgium and the Netherlands that it had received from the Nazis in payment for exports.
  19. 1946 – When the war was over Sweden was in a very favourable situation. Industry was intact and ready to start manufacturing products that the devastated Europe desperately needed. This caused an economic boom in Sweden; a boom that made the rapid development of the Swedish welfare-state during the fifties and sixties possible.
  20. 1946 – Scandinavian Airlines began as a co-operative venture between the airlines of Denmark, Norway and Sweden. In 1951 they merged.
  21. 1946 – Sweden joins the United Nations.
  22. 1946 – Social Democrat Tage Erlander becomes prime minister and stays in the post until 1969. Successive governments develop a comprehensive welfare state, introducing a national health service in 1955 and a state pension scheme in 1959.
  23. 1947 – Sweden began requiring all citizens to have a national ID number.
  24. 1947 – The first Saab automobile, a prototype, was produced. In 1949 Saab, a Swedish aircraft maker, began full-scale production of the Saab 92 automobile.
  25. 1953 – Swedish diplomat Dag Hammarskjöld becomes secretary-general of the United Nations; he stays in the post until 1961. Sweden contributes troops towards UN peace-keeping missions. Dag Hammarskjöld won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1961. Dag Hammarskjöld was killed in a plane crash in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) in 1961. He was flying to negotiate a cease-fire in the Congo.
  26. 1954 – Sweden conducts its first television broadcast.
  27. 1965 – IKEA opened its first retail store in Stockholm.
  28. 1967 – Motorists in Sweden began driving on the right-hand side of the road instead of the left.
  29. 1968 – The Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences was first endowed by Sweden’s central bank. It is the only Nobel Prize that was not created by Alfred Nobel in 1901.
  30. 1967 – Växjö University was founded in southern Sweden. In 2005 the rapidly developing knowledge centre had about 15,500 students enrolled in undergraduate studies with 900 people employed as researchers, teachers or administrators.
  31. 1970 – Professional boxing was banned in Sweden after a study found that it involved severe and even life-threatening injuries, had a brutalizing effect on the audience and was governed by unsound economic interests.
  32. 1970s – The growth in Swedish economy gradually reduced. The situation worsened because of the worsening economic situation in Europe and USA. The demand for Swedish products on the international market diminished. The steel and shipping industries are examples of branches that received massive economic help from the Swedish State. In 1974 the Social Democratic Government began to borrow money to sustain private and public consumption. This policy was continued by the Conservative/Liberal Government that came to power in 1976. In the beginning of the 1980s, Sweden borrowed more money and imported more than the country earned and exported. This was the beginning of the financial problems that Sweden suffers from even today.
  33. 1972 – Famous pop music band ABBA is formed.
  34. 1973 – A bank robbery-turned-hostage standoff began in Stockholm, Sweden; by the time the crisis ended, the four hostages had come to empathise with their captors, an occurrence that came to be known as “Stockholm Syndrome.”
  35. 1974 – The group ABBA of Sweden won the Eurovision song contest with their song “Waterloo”.
  36. 1980s – In the 1980s Sweden began to receive an increasing number of asylum seekers from Asian and African countries such as Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey, and Somalia, as well as from Latin American countries that were suffering under repressive governments. Then, from 2010 to 2014 the number of people seeking asylum in Sweden expanded dramatically, reaching more than 80,000 in 2014, and that number doubled to more than 160,000 in 2015. Many of these people were fleeing the Syrian Civil War. From the beginning of that conflict, Sweden had granted residency to any Syrian seeking asylum (some 70,000 in total). Thus, by 2016 one in six Swedish residents had been born outside the country, and Sweden, feeling the strain of the mass influx of migrants, enacted new and more stringent immigration restrictions.
  37. 1982 – Ingrid Bergman (born 1915), Swedish film star, died in England.
  38. 1986 – The Prime Minister of Sweden, Olof Palme, is assassinated on a street in Stockholm by a gunman who fled the scene. The crime was surrounded with mystery. In June 2020, police conclude that the killer was Stig Engstrom, a troubled man who disliked the prime minister and committed suicide in 2000.
  39. 1988 – Mats Wilander of Sweden won the men’s US Open title in New York.
  40. 1993 – In Sweden 97,008 people died this year from the seasonal influenza.
  41. 1995 – Sweden joins the European Union.
  42. 2000 – Official opening of new bridge and tunnel linking Malmo in southern Sweden and Danish capital Copenhagen. The new road and rail link makes it possible to travel between the two countries in just 15 minutes.
  43. 2002 – It was reported that Sweden had fallen to 17th place among the world’s wealthiest nations in per capita income from 3rd or 4th in the 1970s.
  44. 2007 – Sweden removed its 1970 ban on professional boxing.
  45. 2008 – In Sweden world chess star turned political activist Garry Kasparov [born in 1963, in USSR Baku, Azerbaijan, (now Baku, Azerbaijan)], told world news industry leaders that prime minister Vladimir Putin had assaulted press freedoms in Russia, and urged them to challenge Kremlin leaders over the issue.
  46. 2008 – Spotify, a Swedish Internet music streaming service, was founded.
  47. 2009 – Swedish retailer IKEA announced that it was suspending its investment in Russia because of “the unpredictable character of administrative procedures”, a euphemism for graft.
  48. 2010 – Zhejiang Geely Holding Group signed a binding deal to buy Ford Motor Co’s Volvo Cars unit for $1.8 billion, representing a coup for the independent Chinese automaker which is aiming to expand in Europe.
  49. 2010 – Sweden’s population stood at 9.4 million, of whom 14 percent was foreign-born. Some 71 percent of Swedes nominally are members of the Lutheran Church of Sweden, although few attend church regularly. Literacy is virtually 100 percent. Life expectancy is among the world’s highest, 79 years for men, 83 for women.
  50. 2011 – Swedish car maker Saab files for bankruptcy after failing to attract a buyer for the ailing business.
  51. 2011 – Swedish wireless equipment maker LM Ericsson said it is suing Chinese rival ZTE Corp. for alleged infringement of several of its patents in handset and network technology.
  52. 2003 – Foreign Minister Anna Lindh dies from stab wounds after being attacked by an assailant in a Stockholm department store.
  53. 2003 – Referendum vote goes against joining the single European currency.
  54. 2004 – Man who confessed to killing Anna Lindh on impulse is convicted of her murder. The Supreme Court confirms his life imprisonment, overturning a ruling that he should be sent to a psychiatric hospital.
  55. 2016 – Sweden said it intends to expel up to 80,000 migrants who arrived in 2015 and whose application for asylum has been rejected.
  56. 2018 – In Sweden IKEA founder Ingvar Kamprad (91) died at his home in Smaland. He founded the company on the family farm when he was 17 years old.
  57. 2020 – In France Max von Sydow (90), the tall, blond Swedish actor who brought gravitas to arthouse dramas, horror movies and Hollywood blockbusters, died. His films included “The Exorcist” (1973).
  58. 2020 – Sweden said it would impose a ban on Huawei’s 5G technology. The Chinese firm’s products were considered too much of a security risk to be used in the new 5G mobile networks.
  59. 2020 – British-Swedish company AstraZeneca became the third major vaccine developer to announce promising results, saying that its coronavirus vaccine is 70.4 percent effective on average. AstraZeneca’s vaccine is expected to come with relatively simple storage requirements. AstraZeneca said its COVID-19 vaccine could be as much as 90% effective, giving the world’s fight against the global pandemic a new weapon, cheaper to make, easier to distribute and faster to scale-up than rivals.
  60. 2020 – Sweden is rare among European countries in avoiding a full lockdown in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
  61. 2020 (to 2022) – COVID-19 pandemic caused more than 18,500 deaths in Sweden.
  62. 2021 – Sweden-based Volvo said it will sell only electric vehicles by 2030.
  63. 2021 – It was reported that China is orchestrating a boycott of H&M over the Swedish fashion giant’s decision to stop sourcing cotton from Xinjiang because of forced labour concerns.
  64. 2022 – Sweden has 10.2 million people.

© Comasters July 2022.

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