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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



the main inhabitants of Sweden, accounting for about 96 percent of the population and numbering 7.9 million persons in 1975 (estimate). They speak Swedish and profess Lutheran-ism. More than a million Swedes, descendants of immigrants, live in the USA and Canada, and about 370,000 reside in Finland. Small numbers of Swedes are also found in other countries.

The Swedish nationality evolved during the formation of the early medieval Swedish kingdom between the ninth and 11th centuries—the Viking age—through the unification of the northern Germanic tribes, principally the Svear and Götar, who inhabited Scandinavia in the first millennium A.D. The Finns and Lapps also played a definite role in the ethnogenesis of the Swedes. The struggle of the Swedes against German and Danish domination in the Middle Ages, the wars for supremacy on the Baltic, the rapid growth of the country’s economy and trade, and the formation of a national market promoted the emergence of capitalist relations and the amalgamation of the Swedes into a modern nation in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Today, most Swedes are employed in industry; only 6 percent of the population is engaged in agriculture. Traditional occupations are still followed, namely, the production of agricultural equipment and fishing nets, pottery, coopering, and the artistic working of wood, leather, and bone. Popular handicrafts include spinning and weaving, lace-making, and fur dressing. The old dwellings and clothing have been preserved in the folk culture. Swedish folklore includes tales, legends, and ballads.


Narody zarubezhnoi Evropy, vol. 2. Moscow, 1965.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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