Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Sveriges lantbruksuniversitet
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Sweden and the Swedes

Geography
Population
Language
Religion
Climate
Time zone
Public Right of Access
Courses in Basic Swedish
Banks
Public holidays
Driving
Electricity
Pharmacies
Post Offices
Shops/stores
Trains
Swedish Institute

Geography
Sweden is situated between the Baltic Sea and the North Sea and is the fifth largest country in Europe. In terms of area it is similar to for example Spain, Thailand or the state of California. The distance between the northern tip and the southern tip is nearly 1,600 km (1,000 miles), and this means that its natural features are quite varied. Half of the land surface is covered with forest and less than 10% is farmland. Nearly 100,000 lakes are connected in a lacework of waterways, and many large rivers flow from the northwestern mountains through the forests to the sea. The mountains in northwest reach heights of up to 2,100 m (7,000 ft). A long coastline with thousands of islands also contributes to the character of the country.

Population
Sweden has a population of 9 million. About 80% of the inhabitants of Sweden live in cities and urban areas. About 20% of the labour force work in industry, more than 30% in the public sector, and only 4% in agriculture. The central and southern parts of Sweden are the most densely populated. However, as the area of Sweden is large, the overall density is only 54 inhabitants per square mile (20 per km2). For many years, Sweden was ethnically very homogeneous. One special exception is an ethnic and linguistic minority in the north, 15,000 of the Sami people (Lapps), some of whom still make their living by herding reindeer. During the 1960s and 1970s more than half a million immigrants moved to Sweden to work, mostly people from Finland but also people from the Balkan countries, Greece and other countries. In addition, Sweden has received refugees from many troubled corners of the world and still receives refugees in acute need of protection.

Language
Swedish belongs to the North Germanic branch of the Germanic languages, along with Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic, and Faroese, and is the largest of the Nordic languages. In addition to the people living in Sweden, Swedish is today spoken by about 300,000 Finns in Finland. Some 300,000 Swedish immigrants in the United States and Canada can also speak Swedish. English is taught as a second language in Sweden and most people can speak and understand English. Quite a few Swedes can also get along well in German and some in French or Spanish.

Religion
90% of the population in Sweden belongs to the Church of Sweden, which is Lutheran. Around 160,000 Catholics are registered in Sweden. The Muslims make up the largest single group of non-Christians.

Climate
Sweden is located so far north in Europe that the Arctic Circle slices through its northernmost province, Lapland. But it is not an Arctic country. Thanks to the warm Gulf Stream in the Atlantic, Sweden has a rather mild climate considering its location.

The difference between the southern and northern parts of Sweden is slight during the summer but greater during the other seasons. Northern Sweden is snow-covered at least between December and March, while elsewhere it varies from region to region. In the far south it often rains during the winter season. In Uppsala seasons are very distinct from one another:

  • Autumn begins in late September and brings colder weather and shorter days but also beautiful colour changes of the leaves.
  • Winter with the first snow in early December brightens up the country although the days get even shorter (at the shortest 6 hours of daylight). The average temperature in February is -3°C (26°F), although it may vary a lot from one day to another.
  • Spring, with its longer days and spring flowers that everybody longs for, arrives in March-April. In Sweden, and especially in Uppsala, we celebrate the arrival of spring, the so-called Valborgsmässoafton (Walpurgis Night), on April 30.
  • Summer lasts in general from May to mid-September, with an average temperature in July of 18°C (64°F). It is the season with long days when in June the sun does not set until 10 p.m. and rises at 2.30 a.m., which means that it really does not get dark at all. In the far north, above the Arctic Circle, the sun never sets during this time.

Time zone
Swedish time is the same as in most Western European countries. It is one hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) in the U.K. From late March to late October Sweden is on daylight saving time.

Public Right of Access 
The Scandinavian rule of Allemansrätt/Public Right of Access gives Swedish citizens and their guests the right of access to privately owned land – provided they abide by the rules – and thus to the pleasures of the forests and countryside from one end of Sweden to the other.  

Courses in Basic Swedish
The Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences do not offer any courses in Basic Swedish. You can apply for a Swedish course at Folkuniversitetet and pay for it yourself. The cost for one course is approximately SEK 2,000. Courses at Folkuniversitetet are offered at different levels.

Banks

All banks have one or several branch offices. All banks are closed on Saturdays. Many offices close at 3 p.m.

What to bring to the bank:
- Your “personbevis”, issued by the Swedish tax office ( if you stay more than 1 year ).
- Your “Letter of acceptance“. The letter must state when your program/course starts and when you will be finished. The letter must be presented in original with a school-stamp, signed and dated.
- Identification i.e. passport and id-card.

Some shops agree to let you withdraw some money in cash if you pay your purchase with a credit card.

Public holidays

  • Sweden's National Day is celebrated on June 6th, in memory of King Gustav Vasa's accession to the throne in 1523 and the signing of the Government Act in 1809
  • New Year's Day (Jan 1st) (nyårsdagen)
  • Epiphany (Jan 6th) (trettondagen)
  • Good Friday (långfredagen)
  • Easter Monday (annandag påsk)
  • May 1st (första maj)
  • Ascension Day (the 39th day after Easter Sunday) (Kristi himmelsfärdsdag)
  • Whit Sunday (pingstdagen)
  • Midsummer's Day (celebrated on the Saturday between the dates 20-26th June) (midsommardagen)
  • All Saints' Day (celebrated on the Saturday between Oct 31th and Nov 6th) (allhelgonadagen)
  • Christmas Day (Dec 25th) (juldagen)
  • Boxing Day (Dec 26th) (annandag jul)

Most State employees are also free on weekends, on Midsummer's Eve, Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve.

All Sundays and holidays are marked in red on a Swedish calendar. Check with your department for exact vacation days. 

Driving
Sweden, like most European countries, has right hand traffic. In Sweden you have to be 18 and hold a driver's licence to drive a car. You must have the licence with you whenever you drive. You can use a foreign driver´s licence for a year in Sweden. Before the end of this one-year period, you can apply for a Swedish licence. You apply at the County Name Commissioner's Office (Länsstyrelsen, körkortsavdelningen).

Electricity
In Sweden the current from wall outlets is 220 volt, 50 cycles (Hz). The outlets or plugs might also be different. Hence, in order to use your computer, electric razors, hair dryers, radio etc, you may have to use an adapter and/or converter.

Pharmacies
Hotline to pharmacy consultation 24 hours a day: 0771-450 450.

Prescriptions and over-the-counter medicine are only available at local state-run pharmacies called "Apotek" in Swedish. These are open during normal shopping hours. A 24-hour service is available in the major cities. If you take medication, it is a good idea to make sure that you have an adequate supply before leaving for Sweden.

Post Offices
The post offices in Sweden have been replaced by stores or petrol stations that have Postal services. Sending or picking up packages and parcels can be done at various places, usually grocery stores or petrol/gas stations with long opening hours. Official postal boxes for sending pre-postage letters are yellow and grey and are found on street corners. Stamps can be bought at stores responsible for package handling.

Shops/Stores
Open 9:30-18:00 weekdays, 9:30-14:00/16:00 Saturdays. Some stores downtown are open on Sundays and a number of food markets and/or supermarkets have varying hours.

Supermarkets are usually open from 8 in the morning until 22 approximately. There are of course exceptions to this. Larger stores are open longer and stores that are near student areas usually are open even later than that.

Alcohol is only sold in special shops called Systembolaget Monday -Friday 9.00 (or 10) a.m. - 6.00 p.m and Saturday morning. Some stores are open until 7 p.m.

Trains
Student discount applicable upon presentation of a special card received a few weeks after the student fees have been paid. For further information, phone (toll-free): 020-75 75 75 or (local) 0771-141414.

Swedish Institute
The Swedish Institute has a large number of information booklets about Sweden. Please visit their home page www.si.se and www.studyinsweden.se.  

 

In case of emergency

In case of emergency, dial 112 and ask for ambulance, fire brigade, police, or doctor on call.

Police
See website.

In case of Illness
In non-emergency situations, you can call 1177 to speak to a registered nurse for medical advice and a referral to the nearest clinic if your condition calls for care by a physician.

The local health clinics (Vårdcentralen) are usually only open weekdays from 8-17.

Page updated: 2010-05-20.

SLU, the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, has its main locations in Alnarp, Skara, Umeå and Uppsala.
Tel: +46 18-67 10 00 • Fax: +46 18-67 20 00  • VAT nr: SE202100281701 • webbredaktionen@slu.se