Sweden country profile - Overview
- 3 December 2014
- From the section Europe
Sweden's position as one of the world's most highly developed post-industrial societies looks fundamentally secure.
Unemployment is low and the economy strong. Public-private partnership is at the core of "the Swedish model", which was developed by the Social Democrats, who governed for most of the last 70 years until 2006.
This mixed economy traditionally featured centralised wage negotiations and a heavily tax-subsidised social security network. The Swedes still enjoy an advanced welfare system, and their standard of living and life expectancy are almost second to none.
The country is also a common destination for refugees and asylum seekers - immigrants make up more than 10% of its population.
Swedes voted in a referendum in 1980 to phase out nuclear power, and the country began to decommission reactors in 1999. However, fears over climate change and energy security persuaded the government to reverse the decision in 2009, and plans are on the table to replace the country's 10 remaining reactors.
Sweden is known throughout the world for its neutrality. This policy has led to a number of Swedish politicians taking on international roles, often mediating between conflicting groups or ideologies. With the ending of the Cold War, Sweden felt able to join the European Union in 1995 although it still declines to become a Nato member.
Sweden was one of three EU countries not to join the single European currency. In the first referendum on membership after the euro's introduction in 12 of 15 EU countries, Swedish voters rejected it by a clear majority in September 2003.