Sweden, officially the Kingdom of Sweden, is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. It is surrounded by Norway (west), Finland (northeast), the Skagerrak, Kattegat and Öresund straits (southwest) and the Baltic Sea (east). It has maritime borders with Denmark, Germany, Poland, Russia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, and it is also linked to Denmark (southwest) by the Öresund Bridge. It has been a member of the European Union since 1995. Its capital city is Stockholm.
At 449,964 km² (173,720 square miles), Sweden is the third largest country in Western Europe. Sweden has a low population density except in its metropolitan areas; 84 percent of the population lives in urban areas, which take up only 1.3 percent of the total land area. The citizens enjoy a high standard of living and the country is generally perceived as modern and liberal, with an organizational and corporate culture that is non-hierarchical and collectivist compared to its Anglo-Saxon counterparts. Nature conservation, environmental protection and energy efficiency are generally prioritized in policy making and embraced by the general public in Sweden.
Sweden has a long tradition as a major exporter of iron, copper and timber. Improved transportation and communication allowed more remote natural assets to be utilized on a larger scale, most notably timber and iron ore. In the 1890s, universal schooling and industrialization enabled the country to develop a successful manufacturing industry and by the twentieth century, Sweden emerged as a welfare state, consistently achieving a high position among the top-ranking countries in the UN Human Development Index (HDI). Sweden has a rich supply of water power, but lacks significant oil and coal deposits.
Modern Sweden emerged out of the Kalmar Union formed in 1397 and by the unification of the country by King Gustav Vasa in the 16th century. In the 17th century Sweden expanded its territories to form the Swedish empire. Most of these conquered territories had to be given up during the 18th century. In the early 19th century Finland and the remaining territories outside the Scandinavian peninsula were lost. After its last war in 1814, Sweden entered into a personal union with Norway which lasted until the early 20th century. Since then, Sweden has been at peace, adopting a non-aligned foreign policy in peacetime and neutrality in wartime.