The Cold Wind of the North. Sweden

The Scandinavian Peninsula has always attracted the imagination of many people. Whether it’s the people, the culture or the nature, the North of Europe has used its qualities and transformed them into money by having large numbers of foreign tourists come there to visit. One of the best examples for this strategy is Sweden. Situated roughly in the middle of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Sweden is today one of the richest and most developed countries in the world - with what is probably the best social security ever seen on this planet. Swedish culture has its origins in the old Viking times when Northern people sailed and conquered territories far and wide. Stockholm is the capital and largest city. Situated in the homonymous archipelago, it is split by the waters of the Baltic Sea almost everywhere. This combined with the numerous well-preserved medieval buildings in the Old Town give Stockholm a special charm of its own. Other big cities in Sweden include Goteborg, Malmo and Uppsala. All three have a special heritage of their own, either economical (old port buildings in places like Goteborg) or academic (the university in Uppsala is one of the oldest in the world). Outside urban areas, Sweden still has a lot to offer to its visitors. Natural beauty is probably what attracts most people to this Nordic country. Lots of folks fly in to Kiruna, a settlement located further North from the Artic Circle, so they can see the spectacular Aurora Borealis. Moreover, each winter, local authorities organize the building of an ice hotel - the first one of its kind - where visitors can spend one of two nights (in the cold, of course). Skiing, trekking, hiking and taking trips with a reindeer or a dog sleight are other outdoor activities available in the North. Coming back to the South, Sweden's lakes and fast rivers are perfect for watersports lovers - kayaking, surfing and kite surfing are very popular activities here. One might even find some of the country's many islands surprisingly beautiful. Gotland and its regional seat Visby provide for a true "Hanseatic" experience, with old fishing houses, windmills and large stonewalls spread around the patch of land. The island of Oland, the second biggest one in Sweden, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in the world (ever since 2000 BC). Looking at the bigger picture, Sweden is definitely not a place where you will get bored. Its interesting culture, wild and beautiful nature, as well as some historical sites will provide plenty of opportunities to fill your time while you're in this magnificent Nordic country.

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