Geographically Sweden is one of Europe’s largest countries. However, the country has a relatively small population of 9.5 million inhabitants. Most people live in the southern, urban areas within the three largest cities; Stockholm, Göteborg and Malmö. Sweden is known for its natural beauty with large forests, mountains and lakes. It is a modern welfare state and it is famous for clean and simple design and environmentally friendly attitudes. Sweden has many natural resources, hence the mining and heavy industry. Other dominant sectors include IT and web design.
Government: Parliamentary Democracy and Constitutional Monarchy
Prime Minister: Stefan Löfven, Social Democratic Party
Head of State: King Carl XVI Gustaf
Population: Approximately 9.6 million
Area: 449,964 km. (173,732 sq mile)
Population Density: 23,4 people per km. (60 per sq mile)
Official Language: Swedish
Currency: Swedish krona, SEK
Dialling code from abroad: +46
Business hours in Sweden differ noticeably from those in the Netherlands. There is widespread use of flexible working hours and most offices work shorter hours during June, July and August.
Business normally starts around 08.30 (sometimes earlier). Lunchtime is between 12.00 and 13.00. Normal closing time is 17.00 and during July and August is 16.00. Banks are open from 10.00 to 15.00 and are closed on Saturdays and Sundays. Most banks stay open until 17.30 once a week. Shopping hours are 10.00 to 18.00; Saturdays 10.00 to 15.00. Some of the major department stores are open until 20.00. In the big cities, the shopping hours are 10.00 to 19.00; Saturdays 10.00 to 16.00 and Sundays 12.00 to 16.00.
In Sweden more and more “corner shops” and some major department stores (especially food departments) are open on Sundays – normally between 10.00 and 18.00 and in the big cities 10.00 to 23.00.
Schools close for the summer holidays in early in June and do not reopen until the end of August. Most companies have summer hours, closing around 16.00. The most popular holiday month is July.
Christmas and New Year
The Christmas period begins with Lucia in the early hours of 13 December, and lasts until the Twelfth Night. Depending on the calendar, most offices are closed between 23 December and 7 January, others open part time between the three major holiday days; Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and the Twelfth Night.
Winter Holidays and Easter
Business people very often take their holidays to coincide with the various school breaks or half-term holidays. In February and early March (depending on where in Sweden) all schools have one week “sports leave”. Some schools also have a one week holiday starting on the Monday before Easter, others have their holidays during the week after Easter.