Sweden is a very attractive country in which to live, and is valued for its stability, its economic outlook, and its excellent infrastructure. The lifestyle in Sweden is generally pleasant, well ordered, and safe. The climate is agreeable, and the people, although somewhat reserved, are very friendly. There is a rich cultural life, an excellent health-care system, and there are excellent amenities for comfortable and affordable living.
The government has taken serious budget-cutting measures to reduce the debt, lower inflation, and stimulate growth. A stricter budget process has had the effect of bringing national finances back to stability, and Sweden has enjoyed a budget surplus in recent years. Sweden adapted its economic policies in order to join the European Union (EU) which it joined in 1995. It has not yet, however, decided to participate in the EURO monetary system.
Politics and government
Sweden is a constitutional monarchy. The hereditary monarch has a largely ceremonial role. The governing authority is in the hands of a 20-member cabinet headed by a Prime Minister, who is normally the leader of the party with the majority of seats in parliament. Legislative power is vested in a unicameral parliament, the Riksdag, whose members serve a three-year term. The 349 seats in the Riksdag are divided proportionately among any political party receiving at least four percent of the votes. Sweden has Parliamentary Ombudsmen who investigate suspected abuses of authority by civil servants.
Sweden's two largest parties are currently the Social Democratic Party, which holds 130 seats in the Riksdag, and the Moderate Party, a center-right party that holds 97 seats.
Sweden is perceived by many as one of the most egalitarian societies in the world. Its huge system of social welfare, which boasts of benefits from cradle to grave, is one of the most successful in the world, and manages to survive alongside a democratic, capitalist society.
There have been some expressions of dissatisfaction with the cost of this welfare system, much of which is passed on in high personal tax rates. Other consequences are a large national debt and substantial payroll expenses that have become a fundamental part of Swedish political and economic life.
Unemployment is relatively high, though the exact extent of this problem is a heated political issue. The 2008-2009 global recession did not leave Sweden untouched; current numbers put unemployment at just over nine percent.
Major industries include iron and steel, precision equipment, wood and paper products, foods, and vehicles.