Sweden is one of the most liveable countries – not only in Europe, but in the entire world. On the Human Development Index, only 6 countries are currently ahead of Sweden, including its Scandinavian neighbor Norway, as well as Switzerland and Germany. Sweden has been in the EU since 1995 and the country's capital is Stockholm – also the largest city with 1.6 million inhabitants. Gothenburg (more on it below) as well as Malmö are other important and interesting cities in Sweden.
Due to its geographical location, Sweden is something of a longing place for many travelers – especially backpackers and those who like to cover long distances on foot or by bike tend to stay in this northern country, especially during the summer months. An increasing number of Swedish language schools confirm this trend. Incidentally, numerous other languages have the status of recognized minority languages in Sweden, including Finnish, Yiddish, Romany and the Swedish sign language “Svenskt teckenspråk”. Swedish history, which we will not go into here, shows that Swedish culture cannot be understood in isolation from its neighbors, especially Norway, Finland and Russia – the historical and cultural links are too close.
The first impression that many tourists get of Sweden is the noticeable difference between the long summer daylight and the prolonged darkness in winter. This is, of course, due to Sweden's location – the country lies roughly between the 54th and 70th parallels of latitude. Despite its location near the Arctic Circle, Sweden is mostly found to have a rather mild temperature. The reason for this is the warming Gulf Stream, through which Sweden also experiences a rather humid climate, with only relatively small seasonal temperature differences. Climate change, of course, also threatens this moderating effect of the Gulf Stream, so that Sweden's climate could change in the coming decades. At present, in any case, a truly polar climate occurs only in the northern high mountains.
On some islands – especially Öland and Gotland – there is a remarkably rich flora, which of course can also be attributed to the special effects of the Gulf Stream. On these islands you can find, among other things, numerous plants (including orchid species) that actually grow only in the Balkan region. In addition, flora and fauna in Sweden have a lot to offer: In southern Sweden you can find a lot of deciduous forests, whereas the so-called boral coniferous forests – which are certainly more characteristic of Sweden – are mainly found in the north of the country. “Limes norrlandicus” is a relevant term and describes the transition in Scandinavia between a zone of northern European mixed forest and northern coniferous forests. Red deer, roe deer, wild boar – and of course the moose – dominate the Swedish wildlife; and the Eurasian lynx is also observed in ever increasing numbers. The current climate crisis ensures that, in addition to the lynx, other predators, such as brown bears, wolverines and – as in Central Europe – wolves are gradually reintroducing themselves. What sounds like a welcome proliferation of biodiversity is causing numerous problems and may lead to a decline in other species.
Practicing environmental sustainability is one aspect – creating the right technologies to make a country more sustainable in the long term is another. Sweden is convincing in both disciplines, but the technological progress of this relatively small country is particularly fascinating.
The concept of electrically powered local public transport, which is still quite new for German or French cities, has been a reality in Sweden for almost 15 years. In general, Sweden has recognized the need to design large cities in an environmentally friendly manner, as around 90% of the Swedish population live in an urban environment. The Swedish cityscape includes wind-powered public transportation, numerous parks and green spaces – as well as state-of-the-art passive houses.
We have already addressed the topic of the circular economy once on our blog. Under the successful “Waste-to-Energy” program, for example, nearly 100% of all non-recyclable waste in Sweden is reused. This waste is incinerated in a specific process to produce usable thermal energy that can then be fed into the Swedish energy grid. These plants (of which there was an initial, technically very basic prototype as early as 1904) now exist in large numbers in Sweden (many sources speak of as many as 40 plants) and they regularly generate heat for nearly 1,000,000 households.
In this space, we often present individual ecological initiatives or projects. Today, we focus instead on a single city, namely the above-mentioned Gothenburg – Sweden's second largest city. This is because it serves as an ecological role model for just about every other major city in the world, not least because it has consistently topped the Global Destination Sustainability Index for years. In Gothenburg, more than 95% of hotels are currently certified as particularly sustainable in one form or another, more than 70% of public transport is operated with renewable energies, and in the gastronomy sector, various eco-labels have been used for quite some time.
With this trend, Gothenburg naturally fits in very well with the thoroughly sustainable Sweden – but the city also shows a remarkable will to survive. After all, it was once already severely affected by structural change, dwindling jobs and an aging population – and still managed to turn the corner with fresh ideas and a commitment to sustainability. Visitors to Gothenburg today can look forward to a city that is a green oasis with over 50,000 trees, numerous parks and beautiful gardens.
At myecostay, we're working hard to bring you exciting accommodations in Sweden very soon. For example, we are visiting small organic communities in the country to see which organic villages or individual accommodations would fit well into our offering. The best way to make sure you don't miss out on any accommodation is to check our blog regularly. We will always keep you updated there.