Sweden is the largest country in the Northern Europe and is situated on the Scandinavian Peninsula. It has the lowest income inequality rate in the world. It shares boarders with Germany, Denmark, Russia, Lithuania, Poland, Latvia and Estonia. The country is predominantly agricultural, and it is notable for its wide forest resource when compared to other European nations. As Schack-Nielsen points out, “around 4% of Sweden’s workforce relies on primary sector” and around 6% of total land is used for agricultural purposes (Schack-Nielsen 34). Sweden has 21 counties and 25 provinces, and these divisions serve political and administrative purposes in the region. As per the official website of Sweden, the country has 9.8 million inhabitants (‘Sweden, official site’). The territory of the nation is characterized with thousands of kilometers of costal area and mountain ranges.
The history of Swedish immigration to the US can be traced back to centuries and this was the result of multiple reasons. Among them, the crop failure of 1800s was an important reason. Between 1845 and 1849 Sweden underwent serious crop failures, especially the potato blight (“Scandinavian Immigration”). This led the entire nation to great poverty. Admittedly, the crop failures swept across the entire Europe during this period and the adverse condition in the country forced Swedish people to migrate to American states, especially to Illinois and Iowa which were predominantly agricultural. Major cities in the US also provided the immigrants with good employment.
When the recent past is concerned, country has been facing new challenges with regard to income equality. According to the SGI Report, the new challenge is mainly attributed to deregulation of wage bargaining and recent tax reforms (“Sweden. Key Challenges”). To illustrate, the deregulation of wage bargaining replaced its former ‘collective wage determination’ nature with ‘individualized patterns’ of income earnings (“Sweden. Key Challenges”). The report also affirms that the issue will mount fast to be a political challenge for the country in the near future.
Sweden has marked unbeatable position in the field of art and literature. It has a proud history of winning 7 Nobel Prices on literature and 25 Oscars on films. When it comes to sports, Sweden has won 625.5 Olympic medals in total. The nation has its own unique role in music also. Pop bands like The Cardigans, Carola Häggkvist, Ace of Base, Roxette are some examples. In relation to GDP, Sweden is the number 1 exporter of Chart music, and this achievement is highly attributed to the music schools run by Swedish municipalities. Christmas and Easter are the most important festivals in Sweden. I addition to these, the country has several spring and summer festivals. Among them, Walpurgisnacht, peace and love, Summerburst, Gothenburg Culture Festival, Stockholm Early Music Festival, and Parkteatern are important. Sweden has shown undeniable competitiveness in fashion industry for decades. Its clothing has influenced the clothing behavior of people across the globe. Hennes & Mauritz and Acne Jeans are some brand examples in this regard. Food of the North and South Sweden varies to some extents. However, meat, fresh vegetables, and roots are widely included in their dishes. Meatballs, sauce with tart, and pungent lingonberry jam are some of the traditional dishes. When compared to other European countries, alcohol consumption is less in Sweden.
Lutheran Christianity, headed by the Church of Sweden constitutes the major religion in Sweden. Other Christian groups including the Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox Church also have their own influence in the region. Islam is the second largest religion in the country.
Majority of people in Sweden speak Swedish, the official language of Sweden. However, there are many other minority languages also like, Finnish, Meankieli, Sami, Romani, Yoddish etc. Foreign languages like English, German, Chinese, etc are also spoken by many people, mainly the immigrants.
Years Total Immigrants
(Source: US Department of Homeland Security, Office of Immigration Statistics, 2009)
As per the data, over the last 19 decades, Swedish immigration to the US fluctuated greatly due to numerous reasons. 1880s witnessed the most significant growth in the Swedish immigration rate with a total number of 401330. This rampant increase can be mainly attributed to the European industrialization, which replaced human labor with machines and thereby caused severe unemployment in the country. Like many other European counterparts, Sweden also had to find shelter in the United States to accommodate its jobless civilians. On the contrary, 1970s marked the lowest number of Swedish immigration to the US, with only 6371 immigrants in total. The major reason for this downfall was nothing other than the development of Sweden in terms of GDP. After the World War II, Sweden underwent several social reforms, which enhanced the overall development of the country. This new scenario encouraged many immigrants to return home and settle in their homeland.
As stated in the Library of Congress website, the Scandinavian immigrant, especially the Swedish “helped create a particularly Scandinavian way of life” in the US, “melding the varied religious, culinary, literary, and linguistic traditions that they brought with them” (Library of Congress). They brought a couple of languages with them and contributed much to the field of education and literature. They opened their own institutions, and contributed greatly toward the improvement of literacy rate in the country. The Swedish immigrants took part in social activism and community building. Joe Hill was one of the famous Swedish IWW member and activist who wrote many of the union’s rallying songs (Library of Congress). The Swedish American Museum is an excellent source that demonstrates the Swedish immigrants’ contribution to the field of art (“Swedish American Museum”).
In total, Swedish immigrants have an undeniable part in the history of modern America. The nation has been served by the immigrants for centuries in the field of art, culture, sports, education, literature, music, agriculture etc. According to the current statistics, Sweden has the lowest income inequality rate in the world.
“Scandinavian America”. Library of Congress. Web. 7 February 2016. http://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/presentationsandactivities/presentations/immigration/scandinavian7.html
“Scandinavian Immigration”. Harvard University Library. Web. 7 February 2016. http://ocp.hul.harvard.edu/immigration/scandinavian.html
“Swedish American Museum”. Official website. Web. 7 February 2016. http://www.swedishamericanmuseum.org/
Schack-Nielsen, Leif. Sweden. US: Evans Brothers, 2005. Print.
“Sweden. Key Challenges”. SGI. . Web. 7 February 2016. http://www.sgi-network.org/2014/Sweden/Key_Challenges
Sweden. official site. Web. 7 February 2016. https://sweden.se/quickfact/population/
US Department of Homeland Security, Office of Immigration Statistics. “2008 Yearbook of Immigration Statistics” (2009). Web . 7 February 2016 http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/statistics/yearbook/2008/ois_yb_2008.pdf