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Swedes

Underpinned by a culture of cooperation and social progress, the Swedes possess leading welfare systems, personal freedoms, and scientific discoveries.

Having avoided involvement in European conflicts since the Napoleonic Wars, the Kingdom of Sweden continued its policy of neutrality during the two world wars and the Cold War. The gradual rise to preeminence of parliament over monarchical power at the turn of the 20th century formed the basis of a welfare state model that gave pride of place to scientific research and education.

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From 1932 until 1976, Swedish political life was dominated by the powerful Social Democratic Workers’ Party. The reforms implemented by the governments of Tage Erlander (Prime Minister of Sweden from 1946 to 1969) gradually resulted in a universal social welfare model that supported and regulated large parts of citizens’ lives in the areas of education, labor, and health care. Although this system was called into question from the 90s onwards, the “Swedish model” of the welfare state has allowed the kingdom to remain one of the most developed countries in the world today. A direct neighbor of the USSR, Sweden spent the Cold War period endeavoring to maintain a policy of neutrality toward the world's two superpowers. On becoming the UN Secretary General in 1953, Dag Hammarskjöld fought to strengthen the international institutions created in the postwar period and was an ardent defender of peaceful conflict resolution. After coming very close to possessing an atomic weapon, the country ended up reversing course and was actively involved in negotiating the treaty on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, which was signed in 1968. A continuing focus on the education system and direct consultation with the public and private sector has allowed Sweden to conduct innovative and extensive research in all scientific fields. Starting in the 1960s, the industrial sector called on its many young and well-trained engineers to manage its research and development departments.

Did you know?

We can thank the teams of Dr. Åke Senning for perfecting the first battery-powered pacemaker in 1958. It is estimated that today over one million of these devices are implanted annually.