On Sunday, September 9, the Kingdom of Sweden held its general elections. Held every four years, Sweden’s elections choose the composition of the legislative body that governs the country. The outcome of last Sunday’s elections demonstrate that not even a progressive Scandinavian country like Sweden is exempt from the nationalist wave that has surged throughout Europe in recent years. Even though they arrived in third place, the Sweden Democrats have gained a strong electoral base in the span of a few years by running a campaign on an anti-immigration agenda.

Policy and Economics in Northern Europe

Sweden is a mid-sized country located along the eastern half of Scandinavia in northern Europe. Sweden has a total territory of 450.295 square kilometers, which is somewhat larger than California. Geographically, Sweden is mostly flat with rolling lowlands and mountains along the western parts of the country. Moreover, Sweden has 3.218 kilometers of coastline as well as a temperate, seasonal climate along the south and a subarctic climate in the north.

Currently, Sweden has a total population of almost 10 million citizens with an average age of 41 years. Likewise, about 87% of the Swedish population lives in an urban setting, notably the capital Stockholm with its 1.6 million inhabitants. In economic terms, the country has a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of US$521 billion (PPP), which is divided into approximately 2% agriculture, 33% manufacturing, and 65% services. Simultaneously, Sweden has experienced economic growth over 2.4% throughout the last three years. Moreover, it is estimated that the agricultural industry employs 2% of the national labor force, while manufacturing employs 12% and services employ another 86%. Furthermore, in Sweden, the agriculture industry utilizes 8% of the national territory, while another 68% is forested.

In terms of trade, Sweden is the thirty-second largest export economy in the world and has been a member of the European Union since 1995. During 2016, the country imported US$131 billion worth of goods and exported US$133 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of US$2.4 billion. Moreover, Sweden’s main export, representing 5.4% or US$7.2 billion of the country’s total in 2016, were cars. Similarly, the country’s main import that same year, representing 6.8% or US$9 billion of all international purchases, were also cars. Meanwhile, Sweden’s main trading partners are fellow members of the European Union, such as Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands, as well as Norway and the United States.

In recent years, the average per capita protein intake of animal origin amongst the Swedish population has been 70 grams daily. Meanwhile, land distribution and productivity in the country has evolved throughout the last half century. Back in 1961, permanent pastures and meadows in Sweden covered 684.000 hectares, while arable land covered 3.5 million hectares and permanent crops accounted for 4.000 hectares. More recently, in 2015, permanent pastures and meadows had decreased to account for 450.000 hectares, while arable land represented 2.6 million hectares and permanent crops covered approximately 9.000 hectares. Lastly, in 1961, the cereals market in Sweden utilized 1.4 million hectares of land and yielded some 3.9 million metric tons annually. Meanwhile, in 2016, the country devoted 1 million hectares of land to cereals production and yielded almost 5.5 million metric tons.

(Read more about Economics and the G20 Summit in Argentina)

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