A crash course in Swedish geography, climate, flora and fauna…
How big is Sweden?
Covering an area of nearly half a million square kilometres, Sweden is the fifth largest country in Europe and the largest of the Northern European countries, over one thousand miles from end to end. With a population of just over 9 million, Sweden has an average population density of just 20 people per square kilometre, compared to the UK with a density of 246 people per km – more than 20 times as much! This means that if you’re looking for the great wide open, Sweden is the place to be!
Photo: Nils Torbjorn Nutti
So, if there aren’t that many people, what is there in Sweden?
About three fifths of the country is made up of the region of Norrland, with its expansive mountains and vast areas of forest, and about 15% of the total area of Sweden lies within the Arctic Circle. Further south Svealand is an area of undulating hills formed by glaciers and is home to the majority of Sweden’s lakes. Sweden has no shortage of water, and the country as a whole contains over 90,000 lakes, including the two largest Vänern and Vättern. Finally, the southern part of the country is a mix of rocky highlands, forest and rich, fertile plains. Off the east and west coasts lie archipelagos consisting of tens of thousands of islands, rocks and skerries.
I’ve heard it’s cold and dark all the time. Is that true?
No. Sweden has a generally temperate climate in spite of its northerly latitude thanks to the warming effects of the Gulf Stream. While it is certainly true that in the far north temperatures drop well below zero in the winter, in the Stockholm area average temperatures vary from around -3.5 degrees C in the depths of winter to around 21 degrees C in the height of summer. Daylight hours are very variable, and though you need to go north of the Arctic Circle to experience the Midnight Sun, even in Stockholm the days around midsummer seem almost endless and the sun barely sets before starting its ascent once more for a new day.
Photo: Nils Torbjorn Nutti
What kind of flora and fauna are found in Sweden?
More than half of the country is forested, varying from the deciduous forests in the south to coniferous pine and spruce forests in the north. In the far north, the landscape is dominated by the hardy birch.
Wildlife in Sweden is rich and varied. The country has 26 national parks and a large number of nature reserves and other protected areas, and is home to some of Europe’s most exciting large mammals, including the brown bear, the lynx, the wolverine and the wolf. These magnificent, if elusive, creatures, along with the majestic Golden Eagle, make up Sweden’s Big Five.
As well as the Golden Eagle, Sweden is home to many other exciting birds of prey including the white-tailed sea eagle and the osprey, and is an excellent place to spot owls. One of the most instantly recognisable and iconic species must of course be the elk, of which there are about 350,000 during peak season in Sweden.
It sounds wonderful? When can I go?
Anytime! Sweden is an ideal destination for the outdoor enthusiast year-round, and the “Every Man’s Right” system of public access allows travellers intimate experiences with its vast wilderness. Nature Travels is the UK specialist for outdoor holidays in Sweden, with activities ranging from canoeing to dog sledding. Browse our range of experiences at www.naturetravels.co.uk and or contact us to discuss your requirements.
The Nature Travels Team
For more general information about Sweden, please see www.naturetravels.co.uk/about-sweden.htm