Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Stockholm History

It's Sweden history and thank you for my helpful resource Travelbook Europe (AAA).

The settlement of Sweden began about 12,000 B.C. when hunter/gatherers crossed a land bridge from continental Europe. By 1500 B.C. the population was trading with central Europeans in the Danube Basin and the Mediterranean. In A.D.98 the Roman historian Tacitus noted the strength, horses and trading pelts of the Sviones. From the 9th to the 11th centuries Swedish Vikings controlled trade across the Baltic Sea and used fortified trading posts to control Continental trade routes to the Baltic Sea and Constantinople.
In the 19th century missionaries reached Sweden, and by the end of the 11th century Christianity had replaced paganism and helped to unify the country under a single ruler. Medieval Sweden, a loose federation rife with civil wars, saw an increase in the number of settlements, with the village replacing the clan as the basic social unit. In the mid-1400s a constitution delineating the powers of the monarch, ruling council and people was established. The 1st Swedish parliament, the bicameral Riksdag, was established in 1435.
During the 1523-60 reigns of King Gustav 1 Vasa, the power of the Catholic Church was broken and the principle of a hereditary monarchy was established. In the early 1600s Sweden became a great northern European power seeking control over the Baltic Sea and the western trade routes of the Russian empire and for more than a century engaged in nearly continuous warfare.
The Age of Liberty began following the death of Charles XII in 1718 and saw the abolition of absolute monarchy, the drafting of a new constitution and an increase in parliamentary power. The Coup d’├ętat by Gustav III re-established a strong monarchy, and Sweden embarked on a bellicose, expansionistic foreign policy which lasted until the end of the Napoleonic Wars. For Sweden’s participation in the 3rd Coalition against France, it received dominion over Norway in 1814. Improvised by wars, Sweden adopted policies of non-alignment and neutrality that continue unbroken.
19th-century Sweden was a poor country whose population more than doubled 1815-1900. Nearly one in 4 19th-century Swedes emigrated: 850,000 of them went to the United States. Many democratic reforms were enacted during this period, however, including compulsory free education, equal rights of inheritance for men and women, religious freedom, local self-government, penal code and parliamentary reforms, and free trade. In the last half of the century Sweden’s industrialization began, based upon its iron ores and great forests.
In the 20th centuries Sweden has experienced almost continuous economic growth and increased prosperity. Norway peacefully gained independence in 1905. During World War 1 Sweden maintained its neutrality and invoked its right to trade with all belligerents, although a British blockade against Germany caused food shortages. Parliamentary reforms in 1907 and 1918 and universal suffrage completed the democratization of the country.
In 1932 the Social Democratic Party gained control of the government, a control that, except for a 4-year period from 1975 to 1980, it has maintained since. The 1932 administration led Sweden out of the worldwide depression earlier than other nations through implementation of public works programs and agricultural supports. The political atmosphere of the ‘30s was one aimed at establishing folkhemmet, or “a home for the people”; in other words, the purpose of society was to meet the needs of the people in times of unemployment, illness and old age. The outbreak of World War II, however, forced the postponement of much social welfare reform.
After the war, comprehensive laws were enacted establishing old-age pensions, child and rent allowances, health insurance, a tax reorganization which redistributed wealth, and educational and research reforms and expansions. Sweden chose not to become a member of the European community because it feared membership would compromise its traditions of non-alignment and neutrality; it is, however, a member of the European Free Trade association. Norway, Denmark and Sweden form the Nordic Council, which coordinates the economic and social legislation of its members and forms a frontier-free labor market.
In 1980 the country experienced its worst labor dispute when, during one 2-week period, 25% of the population was either on strike or locked out. In 1982 the social Democrats returned to power following a 4-year hiatus. In 1986 Prime Minister Olof Palme was assassinated; the 1989 conviction of the alleged assassin was unanimously overturned by a court of appeal. No motive for the assassination was established, nor was a weapon found.
That contemporary Sweden is one of Europe’s most socially advanced nations can be attributed to 2 factors: It has been at peace since 1815, and it has had an ethically homogeneous citizenry. Sweden is poised to enter the 21st century as a demographically aging country whose birth rate will begin to fall below the death rate. Population growth is largely due to immigration—one in 8 school children are the child of immigrants. In this highly regulated society, workers are beginning to chafe under the high taxation that supports social welfare programs. The social changes of the 20th century occurred in a homogeneous society; those of the future will occur in a heterogeneous society.

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