Swedes’ love of nature shines through in their daily lives and in their concern for the environment. All children spend part of every school day outdoors — year-round, whatever the weather — with fresh air just as important as learning how to look after nature. Many clubs and associations organize outdoor activities, such as Skogsmulle (a type of nature school) and the Scouts.
In this sparsely populated country (with only about 23 inhabitants per square kilometer, compared with the EU average of more than 100), everyone has the right to enjoy nature. Under this right of common access, an important and treasured part of Swedish culture, everyone is entitled to hike through the forests and fields, and pick berries and mushrooms, without asking the landowner’s permission.
In 1910, Sweden became the first European country to establish national parks, mainly in the mountainous districts of Norrland. This helped save part of Europe’s wilderness from exploitation. Numerous nature reserves and cultural heritage areas have also been established across the country.
Sweden experiences extreme contrasts between the long summer days and long winter nights. But considering its geographic location, Sweden enjoys a favorable climate mainly due to the Gulf Stream, the warm ocean current that flows off Norway’s west coast.
Sweden has everything from bears and wolves in the north to roe deer and wild boar in the south. The country also has a wealth of flora and aquatic life. Much of the Swedish landscape is dominated by coniferous forests such as pine, with large forests of deciduous trees such as birch and aspen in the south. Because of their limestone-rich bedrock and favorable climate, the islands of Gotland and Öland and parts of the Scandinavian mountain range have an interesting flora that includes numerous varieties of orchid.