Sweden’s topography has features that are similar to Norway and Finland, while Danish features are found only in southwestern Skåne. The geographical distribution of relief types and landform regions is dependent on the large-scale geological development for a very long time, while properties in the bedrock such as rock hardness and structural features often strongly influence the terrain’s detailed design. Individual larger landforms such as mountains, high plateaus, hill topography (see eg moraine moraine), plains and valleys are often concentrated in different parts of the country, which can therefore be divided into a number of main regions with respect to the topography.
Mountain terrain in true sense is limited to those parts of the mountain range that lie above the tree line. The area constitutes a long narrow zone along the Norwegian border. The western low mountain zone has peaks of about 1000 m above sea level. and some mountain plains. The central high mountain zone comprises the highest mountain masses, including Kebnekaise and Sarek massifs, Norra Storfjället, Sylarna and Helagsfjället. Only the very highest massifs show alpine forms. The eastern low mountain zone has mountains of 1000–1 300 m above sea level, such as Oviksfjällen, Sonfjället, Nipfjället, Fulufjället and Transtrandsfjällen. In several places, the overlying skollberggrund (see skolla) forms marked slopes to the east, the so-called glint.
Norrlandsterräng is the type of relief found in the northern Swedish inland east of the mountain chain. It is the largest landform region in Sweden in the surface and consists of upland plateaus, usually with residual rocks. The height is 300–600 m above sea level. and the surface gradually drops to the southeast. In the northern part, the landscape type dominates the rocky plain, with sparse remnants and large plains in between. The rivers are almost parallel and flow in the slope of the land surface, often in deep valleys. The Torne River, Kalix-, Lule-, Pite-, Skellefte- and the Ume River have in their upper rivers elongated lakes 300–400 m above sea level. At the far end of the mountain there is a zone with mountain terrain, which has large plateaus of 600–700 m above sea level. From the Ume River and south to the lower part of Ljungan there is a fairly heavily hilly area with a large-scale crack valley terrain. There, the Ångerman River, the Indals River and the Ljungan flow into deep rift valleys. To the southwest, a wavy rocky terrain gradually takes over, which encompasses the rest of southern Norrland. The middle races of Ljusnan, Dalälven and Klarälven go through the area. The southern border of the Norrland terrain (limes norrlandicus, the northern border)) is a very clear and significant natural boundary in Sweden from both a natural and cultural geographical point of view.
A coastal landscape of plains nature extends from Örnsköldsvik north to Haparanda. Between Örnsköldsvik and Härnösand, the Norrland terrain extends all the way to the coastline and provides a magnificent steep coast, the High Coast. A coastal plain takes over here again and becomes wider south, where it transitions into the middle Swedish plain.
The Middle Swedish sink has a topography that is largely determined by the sub-Cambrian pen plane, which is well preserved here. However, faults and eroded fracture zones have in several places created a more pronounced relief, a crack valley landscape. Horst ridges and elongated depressions mark the Mälar tract and northern Östergötland, where the faults go east-west. In the western part of Central Sweden, the tectonic lines are north-south, which is also reflected in Vänern’s contours. Bohuslän and northern Halland are also characterized by cracks, which include. created long, straight fjords with mountain ridges in between. On both sides of Vättern’s tomb there are horstbergs, and in Västergötland there are plateau mountainswith protective blankets of diabase. In the rich archipelago, the detail topography is strongly characterized by the erosion of the inland ice and the bedrock structure.
The southern Swedish highlands are a southern equivalent to the Norrland terrain. Southwest and southeast of Vättern are thus mountainous plains, while plateau surfaces predominate in the southern part and give rise to Sweden’s largest plain, the south-eastern upland plain. A large number of elongated lakes were excavated by the erosion of recent inland ice. The southern Swedish highlands peripheral areas, e.g. the interior of Halland and northeastern Skåne, has rocky terrain. In Blekinge, the bedrock structures have given a valley and back topography. Farther in the east, the sub-Cambrian pen plane has given rise to a wide coastal plain along the Kalmar Sound and north to the Mellansvenska sink. In the south, the plateau relief continues into northern and central Skåne. In a diagonal zone through Skåne there is a horst topography with 100–200 m level differences in the so-calledtornquist zones.
Plains on sedimentary bedrock are found in southwestern Skåne, southern Halland (Laholmsslätten), northeastern Skåne (Kristianstadsslätten) as well as in Öland and Gotland. The bedrock of Öland and Gotland slopes slightly to the south-east, which gives a uniform land surface with oblique layers of sedimentary rocks that form ridges, so-called cuestabrants, to the west. Southwest Skåne’s bedrock has been lowered along fault lines in the northwest-southeast direction.
The lowest point in Sweden is about 2.4 meters below the sea in Skåne.
The surface data refer to the surface at average water level. For the last three, which are heavily regulated, the area refers to the lake area at the dam boundary.
The mean water flow is measured at the mouth of the sea.
|Average water flow
|Göta River – Vänern – Klarälven
The majority of Sweden’s bedrock consists of basement rocks: granites, granite-like rocks, gneisses and converted sediments and rocks formed by volcanism. All of these are products of rock chain-forming processes and have been formed at depths of 10–30 km, either by the transformation of rocks, ie. underwent metamorphosis (eg gneiss) or by reaching such high temperatures that old bedrock melted and then solidified into new rocks (granitic rocks). The upper parts of these old mountain ranges have been eroded away and there remains a more or less flat bedrock.
The oldest rock species in the Swedish indigenous rock are about 2 830 million years old gneisses in an area north of Kiruna and a southeast of Karesuando. The bedrock in other parts of Norrland, in addition to the mountainous area, eastern Svealand and northeastern Götaland, consists mainly of granites, granite-like rocks and gneisses. In addition, there are surface rocks, both sedimentary and magmatic, which have not been transformed as strongly as the gneisses. These were formed about 1,900-1,800 million years ago and are the remains of a mountain chain that was then formed, the Sveko Karelian mountain range (see the Sveko Karelian orogenesis). There are also large areas with younger granites.
The subsurface area, which covers most parts of western Värmland, Dalsland, Västergötland, Bohuslän, Halland and western Småland and northern Skåne, is dominated by different types of gneiss rocks and is the most complex part of the Swedish indigenous rock. The area has undergone two distinct mountain range-forming processes, the Gothic orogenesis about 1,700–1,550 million years ago and the Svekonorvegian orogenesis about 1,000 million years ago. Here, too, there are areas with younger granites, e.g. in northern Bohuslän.
In an area from Blekinge through eastern Småland and Östergötland via eastern Värmland and northwest Dalarna into the mountain range, granites and porphyries dominate. These rocks are approximately 1,850–1,650 million years old and form a transition zone between the gneiss area in the southwest and the Sweko Karelian rocks in the northeast.
Nearly 570 million years ago erosion had broken down and leveled off the bedrock, whereby the sea penetrated and covered large parts of Sweden. In this way, thick layers of sand, clay and calcareous material were deposited within the sea area. In time, this phase in the bedrock history coincides with a sharp increase and development of multicellular, marine-living shell and skeleton-bearing animals, whose hard parts had good prospects of being preserved as fossils in the stock sequences. The rocks formed by these sediments, ie. sandstones, clay soils and limestones, therefore often contain fossils. The sediment deposit ceased about 400 million years ago, when the sea withdrew from the upland area.
Most of the mountain range consists of magmatic and sedimentary rocks that have been transformed more or less vigorously. This happened about 600–400 million years ago, when large rock discs were moved from west to east across the bedrock; see further the mountain chain. Other sedimentary rocks from the same time interval rest largely undisturbed on the bedrock. They are found along the eastern edge of the mountain chain, around Siljan, in the plateau mountains in Västergötland (for example Kinnekulle and Billingen), under Närke- and Östgötas Plains, on Kalmarsund’s western shore, on Öland and Gotland, and within a wide northwest-southeast stretch in the middle. Skåne.
In northwestern and central Skåne there are sandstones and claystones, which were deposited as sediment on land and near the coast about 215-100 million years ago. During the Cretaceous period (about 100 million years ago) the sea had once again reached this landscape. Over the next 40 million years, until older tertiary, large amounts of calcareous sludge were deposited on the seabed, which now forms south-western Skåne and Kristianstadsslättens limestone bedrock.
Sweden’s soils are formed during the Quaternary period, the youngest stage in earth’s history, which is characterized by large icings (see ice ages). Most of the soils have been deposited by the inland ice, the melting water of the ice, or in the seas and stages of the Baltic that covered the coastal and lowland areas during the melting of the ice. Moraine, the most common soil, covers about 3/4 of the country’s surface; usually the moraine cover is 4-5 m thick. In landforms such as drum lines and in parts of the Bergslagen and inner Norrland, there are stocks with more than 50 m of moraine. Such thick layers often consist of deposits from several different inland ice sheets. In the upland areas, the moraines are sandy and the surface is often covered by densely sized large and small blocks.
Moraine clay and muddy moraine are found in and adjacent to areas with sedimentary bedrock, ie. mainly in Skåne and Jämtland. The moraine clay usually has a high calcium content. About 5% of the land area is covered by riverine sediments, mainly in the form of pebbles and delta. In some areas, mainly in river valleys, these sediments are more than 50 m thick.
Rough moss, sand and gravel occupy a few percent of the land area and occur mainly in coastal areas and in the large river valleys. The thickness is usually a few meters, in Ångermanland 5–20 m. in western Dalarna and in the inland of Norrland. The peat thickness in southern Sweden is usually 5-10 m, in northern Sweden a few meters.
The fine-grained sediments, clay, mill and finmo, cover about 5% of the land surface. They are mainly found in areas below the highest coastline. Clay is common in southern Sweden, while flour is widely distributed north of the Dalälven. The thickness of these sediments varies from 50–100 m in valleys to usually 10–20 m or less in plains. Just over 10% of the land area consists of rocky ground or has a very thin layer of soil on the rock surface.
In the relatively cold and humid climate prevailing in Sweden, pod soles, brown soils and marshy soils are most common. The pod soles are formed on soils such as bedrock moraine, gravel, sand and mo, while brown soils are usually formed on more fine-grained and nutritious soils. When the groundwater level is high, iron humus and humus pod soles are formed. If groundwater occasionally rises all the way up to the soil surface, marshland moons are formed. They are usually covered by peat. The concept of brown soils includes a variety of soil moons; this is especially true in cultivated areas. Brown soils can be divided into stable and unstable brown soils. Stable brown soils are formed in the most nutritious soils, which are usually clay rich. They do not change even if the land use changes. An unstable brown soil can easily develop into a pod sun if it is, for example. planted with spruce forest. In thin soils or in blocky soil, soil formation is weak. In algae fields where the calcareous bedrock is heavily weathered, humus carbonate soils are formed consisting of lime fragments and organic matter.
Most of Sweden belongs to the northern hemisphere’s pod sun zone, and its southern boundary to the Central European brown earth zone passes roughly through Kronoberg County. The boundary is a transition zone with more unstable soil conditions, where pod soles with poorly trained pale soils can transition to unstable brown soils and vice versa.
Since the effects of the soil-forming factors vary from plant site to plant site, a soil type never gets a large, continuous areal distribution. The changes in the soil over time can be read in the properties of the soil profile. Thus, based on the current land use and external environmental impact, we can predict that the pod soles will increase in frequency.
Sweden has a temperate humid climate, in the south hot temperate and north of Mälardalen cold temperate. The highest parts of the mountains have polar climates. Smaller areas in southern Sweden, such as southern Öland, have semi-climate conditions, which means that the rainfall is about as high as the evaporation. The Swedish climate is also characterized by proximity to the sea, which means abundant rainfall and relatively small differences in temperature between summer and winter, especially in western Götaland and in a narrow belt along the east coast and in the western part of the mountain chain. Areas with locally conditioned continental climate, that is, with less rainfall and greater temperature difference during the year, occur in the inner parts of northern Norrland, western Värmland, Dalarna and Härjedalen in the lee of Norway’s high mountains and in the interior of the southern Swedish highlands.
The factors that mainly determine the climate in Sweden are the proximity to the sea, the prevailing western winds that bring in warm and humid air as well as low pressure and fronts that move across the country along the North Atlantic polar front. This creates volatile weather conditions with large changes from day to day and from year to year.
The distribution of temperature in the country is largely affected by the variation in latitude, altitude and distance to larger water bodies. During the summer, the temperature in the northern parts of the country may be higher than in the south due to the midnight sun, which effectively warms the ground. Throughout the year, the average monthly temperature in the southern Swedish highlands is lower than in more coastal and lower lying areas. In the summer, the average coolest areas in the country are located in the northern part of the mountains, while in winter it is coldest in the north of Northern Norway.
The annual average temperature reaches above 7 °C in the southernmost coastal band and falls to –3 °C in the mountain range. The average temperature for January is 0 °C to −2 °C in Skåne, Halland and Blekinge as well as in Öland and Gotland, in upper Norrland −12 °C to −14 °C. In the mountains and in the valleys, where the cold air collects, the average temperature for January can be as low as −16 °C. The average temperature for July is in southern Sweden 16–18 °C, in northwestern Svealand and in the eastern part of Norrland inland 14–16 °C, in the western part of Norrland inland 12–14 °C and in the mountains 5–10 °C. The highest measured temperature in Sweden is 38.0 °C in Målilla in Småland (June 29, 1947) and Ultuna in Uppland (July 9, 1933). The lowest measured temperature is –52.6 °C in Vuoggatjålme, Norrland (February 2, 1966).
The precipitation amounts are greatest in July and August and least in the spring. The western parts of the mountain chain as well as western Götaland, mainly Halland and southwest Småland, are characterized by abundant and topographically conditioned precipitation when the air is forced upwards, especially when damp Atlantic winds sweep in from the west. The average cloudiness during the year is also greatest in these areas, over 70 percent. However, western Svealand, in the rain shadow from the Norwegian highlands, has lower annual precipitation, as well as south-eastern Sweden’s coastal band and northwestern Norrland.
The average rainfall in the country is 700 mm per year and has increased slightly from the mid-20th century. In the border areas between Halland and Småland, about 1,200 mm falls and in the western part of the mountain chain 1,000–2,000 mm. The least precipitation falls in the southern parts of Öland and Gotland as well as in the northernmost Norrland, between 500 and 600 mm per year, and just under 400 mm per year falls on some small islands in the Baltic Sea and in some isolated valleys in the mountainous regions. The highest measured annual rainfall is 1 866 mm in Mollsjönäs, Västergötland (2008) and the highest measured 24-hour rainfall is 276 mm on the Fulufjället, Dalarna (30-31 August 1997). In the most precipitous parts of the mountain chain, the highest annual rainfall is estimated to exceed 2,500 mm.
In winter, the inner parts of Norrland have an average snow depth of 80 cm on average, in the mountains of 100 cm or more. In Svealand the snow depth is about 50 cm, in Götaland’s southernmost and westernmost parts below 20 cm and in the southern Swedish highlands above 40 cm. The duration of the snow cover is about 230 days in the mountains, over 150 in most of Norrland, 100-150 days in Svealand, below 50 in southern Götaland’s coastal regions and about 100 in the southern Swedish highlands.
The evolution of plant and animal life after the last ice age
During the ice age’s end, about 15,000–9500 BC, the ever-better climate and land bridges via Denmark on several occasions allowed for mammoth, elk, reindeer, wild horse, giant deer, mountain fox and hare to migrate. A severe climate deterioration about 11,000 BC however, tundra conditions with permafrost again prevailed in southern Sweden; most land mammals disappeared again.
The climate soon changed again and already about 8000 BC it was warmer in southern Sweden than in the present. Forest development in southern Sweden went from open, light birch forests via pine-birch forests and pine-hazel forests to dense, dark oak mixed forests, which were mainly established around 7000 BC. A new land bridge to Denmark and Germany was established around 9600 BC, which during the following millennium allowed most of our current land mammals to migrate. Reindeer, moose, uroxia, willow, wolf and bear are among the earliest immigrants.
The land bridge to the continent remained until about 8200 BC. when the Great Belt began to form. Thereafter, a land connection between Zealand and Skåne remained for some thousand years. More wooded animals such as red deer, roe deer, wild boar and European wild cat then immigrated together with more heat-demanding species, e.g. marsh turtle. From about 7000–3900 BC there were oak forests across large parts of southern Sweden, in which deer, deer, wild boar and European wildcats were important species. Wildlife distribution to northern Sweden is largely unknown, but it can be assumed that the animals migrated from the south, west from the mountain range and from the east via Finland. However, the latter distribution route does not appear to have been available until about 7000 BC.
At the end of the Ice Age, wildlife on the coasts was characterized by proximity to the retreating inland ice. Arctic and subarctic animals such as polar bears, white whales, high seals, Greenland seals and bays were then found along the west coast. The North Sea area, which during the Ice Age was dry, was covered by the sea about 7500 BC, and the amount of marine animals along the coasts increased.
The bird fauna appears to have been largely established around 8000 BC. The finds from the period afterwards show a few notable species, among others. krushheaded pelican from about 5000 BC and about 30 finds of turtles from the west coast from different times. The fish fauna was also established early, and no major species changes have occurred since about 7000 BC.
From about 3900 BC, when humans in southern Sweden began to transition to agriculture and livestock management, wildlife and wildlife have increasingly been influenced and become increasingly culturally controlled. However, the large predator wolf, bear, lo and wolverine were numerous in Sweden for a long time. Some species have been completely extinct, e.g. wild boars, wild boars and beavers or almost extinct, e.g. moose, deer and red deer. The latter have then recovered and now have large, solid strains. The agricultural landscape has favored, for example, gray sparrow and arrowfinch.
White stork, which probably spread here in the Middle Ages, was favored by fertile wetlands and disappeared gradually as they emerged during the 1800s and early 1900s. Several animal species have also been planted to serve as hunting prey. This includes deer, field hares, wild rabbit, beaver and pheasant. Some species have also been lost here from animal farms, e.g. mink. Beeworm and puppy dogs have migrated here as escapes from fur farms in Finland and transplanted populations in the former Soviet Union.
Based on contemporary vegetation, Sweden is usually divided into four plant geographical regions.
The southern deciduous forest region, which includes Skåne, Blekinge and the west coast, has natural forests of beech and other noble deciduous trees, while spruce is only planted. However, the region is now dominated by planted coniferous forest, and only in Skåne county does deciduous forest dominate. In moored hardwood deciduous forests, the field layer consists of i.e. blueberries, lingonberries and crustaceans, while meadow forests have a rich field layer of eg. yellow moldings, nun herbs, seeps and forest dangle.
The southern coniferous forest region, which includes the area from the natural southern border of the spruce to the natural northern border, ie. The northern boundary of the oak along the Dalälven river and through southern Värmland is dominated by conifers, but noble deciduous trees with the exception of beech are also common. In the northern archipelago of Stockholm there is an outer zone of islands with birch forest. In the field layer, blueberries, lingonberries and heather are common, and the bottom layer is mossy or lavender. There are marshes.
The northern coniferous forest region, which encompasses the area north of the southern coniferous forest region to the coniferous forest border in the mountains, is part of the shark. Here pine and spruce dominate with abundant elements of birch, but also aspen, gray eel, hawk, rowan, salesman and willow are common. Rice, mosses and lichens are also normal features here, and marshes are common.
The mountain region, which includes the mountain regions west and north of the coniferous forest boundary, shows great variation, from the mountain birch forest belt, which is sometimes moored with rice and grass and sometimes meadow with often large herbs, to the calf mountain belts with rice fields, meadows and blocks.
Sweden’s plant world comprises about 1,600 species of wild veneerogam; species in the systemically difficult genus, e.g. fibrils and dandelions, are not included in this figure. Add to this about 60 species of fern plants, about 1,050 species of mosses and about 2,100 species of lichens. Algae and fungi are very rich groups, and there are an estimated 15,000 species in Sweden.
Of land plants, only a small number are evenly distributed across Sweden. Most of them have special requirements for, among other things. climate and nutrition and are in many cases restricted to certain areas. On the basis of such species, one can floristically assign Sweden’s plant world to two flora areas divided into flora provinces.
The subarctic flora area (sometimes called the Arctic flora area) encompasses northern Sweden south to the northern border. Within this area there are species that are completely missing or rare further south. The area is divided into the mountain chain province, where some species are northern, e.g. fire spire, mountain spire, patchwork foot and polar bladder, other southern, e.g. polyaxial starfish and gold spire, others again both northern and southern (bicentric), e.g. mountain bladder, mountain bell and patchy alpros, and finally others found all over the mountain area. The subarctic area also includes the coniferous forest province (sometimes called the boreal flora area), ie. the area from the northern border to the mountain chain.
The Central European flora area covers the entire southern part of the country north to the northern border. Here are many southern species that do not reach the northern border at all or are rarely found north of it. The western part of the area, the suboceanic province, bordered on the east by Dalsland and Västergötland and south in eastern Skåne, is particularly distinguished by bell-heather and certain white-moss species, and by a large number of western species, such as bristles, crests, bell giants and wreaths; that province is influenced or favored by the ocean climate and is often called subatlantic in Europe. The rest of the area belongs to the inter-Baltic province, characterized by, among other things, skatttram, lundkovall, laced and tulkred.
Sweden’s lakes are mostly nutrient rich in lowland areas with dense leaf reed vegetation and with species such as dive leaf, night and loops. In the mountainous terrain, the lakes are usually nutrient poor with sparse leaf reed vegetation. water lilies and rosette plants, such as bream grass, walnut flowers and water jellyfish.
The seashores often have a calcareous region with no forest but with grass and rice fields. The vegetation here is conditioned by the salt content, and succulent plants are common. Among other things, at the coasts of Halland and Skåne as well as on Gotska Sandön and Fårö there are flying sand fields with, among other things. sand pipes and beach rye. On cliffs at the coasts, the algae form vegetation, on the west coast to a depth of 30 m.
Sweden’s present-day fauna is the result of various immigrations after the last ice age (compare The evolution of plant and animal life after the last ice age above) in combination with the boundaries set by changing climates, natural environmental factors and not least human activities. Since the fauna has developed mainly elsewhere in the world, there are extremely few species that are certainly endemic to Sweden. Nowadays we know almost 35,000 species of multicellular animals in Sweden, of which as many as 25,000 are insects and only about 470 are vertebrates. Of the vertebrates, 66 species of mammals, about 245 species of birds, six species of reptiles, 13 species of amphibians and about 140 species of fish are regularly reproduced.
Some mammal species, including red fox, hermelin, small weasel, forest meadow, squirrel, moose and forest hare, are widespread throughout the mainland (Gotland lacks many vertebrate species). The moose strain is very large internationally; more than 1/3 of the moose in Europe are found in Sweden. During the 1900s, some species expanded northward, including deer (from around 1830 only found in central Skåne) and badgers. Others have declined greatly during the 19th and 20th centuries; wolves and otters are dramatic examples. The four large predators were previously hunted hard but are now largely protected. Järv was cleared in 1969 but still has a weak strain, about 100 individuals (1993). Lo was freed outside the reindeer herding areas in 1986, fully 1991; now (1995) there are about 700 animals. Wolf was cleared in 1966, when probably less than ten individuals remained; In the winter of 1993–94 there were about 25 individuals. The brown bear strain has increased during the 20th century, which is why some hunting has been allowed since 1943; by the mid-1990s, there are about 700 individuals. Beaver was extinct in 1870, but after repeated re-implants with animals from Norway during the 1920s and 1930s, it is now found in all landscapes except Skåne, Halland, Öland and Gotland. The wilds were formerly found throughout the mountain range but were forced away and gradually mixed up with the tams; the last copies were taken around 1880. The wilds were previously found throughout the mountain range, but were forced away and gradually mixed up with the timber; the last copies were taken around 1880. The wilds were formerly found throughout the mountain range but were forced away and gradually mixed up with the tams; the last copies were taken around 1880.
Sweden’s bird fauna is more dynamic compared to other animal groups. Seven species have disappeared as breeding birds during the 20th century, including. white stork, medium-tailed and tern owl, but even more have been added, among them rose finches and grasshoppers. Of the country’s nesting birds, 50 species are pure standing birds (among them typical boreal species such as chicken birds, owls and woodpeckers) and 195 fully or partially migratory birds. A total of almost 450 species of birds have been observed in Sweden.
The crustacean fauna is poor with three species of snakes and three species of lizards. The predators in Sweden have a pronounced southern distribution. Bell, onion, leafy and edible frogs do not in principle reach outside Skåne.
In Swedish freshwater there are about 50 native fish species; seven of these migrate between the sea and rivers, while the rest are limited to fresh or brackish water. Most are carp or salmon fish.
The insects are spiny (7,900 species), two wings (6,000 species), beetles (4,400 species) and butterflies (2,700 species) dominating groups. Many species are associated with southern deciduous forests.
The fauna of the sea becomes richer with increased salinity, ie. poorest in the Gulf of Bothnia and richest outside Bohuslän. The richest marine fauna is found in the Gullmarsfjord and Kosterrännan. In the Bothnian Sea there is a separate subspecies of the seal species inland. Sweden’s only reproductive choice, porpoise, declined sharply in the mid-1950s but is still seen all the way into the Baltic Sea. On the west coast several species of dolphins occur relatively regularly. killer whale and white dolphin. Some species of baleen whales have also been observed temporarily.
The two most important forms of nature protection are national parks and nature reserves. National parks are decided by the Riksdag and set aside on state land, while nature reserves are decided by the county administrative boards, in individual cases by the municipalities, and can include both individual and public land. The number of national parks is 30 and nature reserves are about 4 900 (see table). The simpler forms of protection are the conservation area (about 90) and the animal and plant protection area (about 900). Very small land and water areas can receive biotope protection, of which there are about 8,300. In addition, some plant and animal species are protected in the county and a few in the whole country.
Just over 80 percent of the country’s population has access to a national park, nature reserve or conservation area within 5 km of the home.
The mountain region, with vast areas of comparatively unspoilt nature, contains 95 percent of the national parks and 85 percent of the area of the nature reserve, despite the relatively small number of protected areas. The state also largely owns the land, which simplifies the establishment. During the 1990s, much of the untouched mountain forest received protection in the form of nature reserves.
In the protected areas, 37 percent is covered by forest, mainly coniferous forest, which corresponds to 4 percent of the country’s productive forest area. The majority of the protected coniferous forests are located in the northernmost counties, but also in the Dalarnas, Stockholm and Gotland counties, relatively much coniferous forest has been allocated to nature reserves. The protection of primeval forests was prioritized during the 1980s and 1990s, and most of the country’s approximately 400 known forests are now protected. These are also largely located in Norrland. Noble leaf forest is found in a limited number of reserves in southern Sweden.
Of Sweden’s large marsh area, 6.5 percent is in the national parks or nature reserves, mainly in the mountainous area, but also in Småland, Uppland and Västergötland. The cultivated landscape with fields, meadows and pastures constitutes 2.3 percent of the protected area, mainly in southern Sweden. In the coastal areas, especially in the Stockholm archipelago and in Bohuslän, the number of nature reserves is large but the total area is small. These reserves also cover large water areas, and of the area within the entire nature reserve of the country, 18 percent are water areas.
Protected nature 2019
|Type of protected area
|Percentage of total
land area (%)
||4 808 590
||3 939 158
areas in forests
|Other biotope protection areas
||7 794 568
||4 748 246
||8 688 057
||5 378 463
1) Without overlap between different protection areas.
An international form of protection established in Sweden during the 1990s is the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which encompass important natural areas and cultural environments that are of value to all humanity (see World Heritage Convention). In Sweden, Lapland’s World Heritage Site (Laponia) has been included on the World Heritage List for both its natural and cultural values, the High Coast for its natural values and ten additional objects for its cultural values only. Another nature and cultural protection form designated by UNESCO is the biosphere reserve, of which there were seven in Sweden in 2019.