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Facts and figures about Sweden

Facts and figures about Sweden, which holds national elections Sunday.

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GEOGRAPHY: Sitting long and narrow on Europe's northern fringe, the Scandinavian nation covers nearly 158,000 square mile (411,000 square kilometers — about the size of California — and is bounded by Norway, Finland and the Baltic Sea.

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POPULATION: About 9.4 million, of whom 14 percent is foreign-born. Some 71 percent of Swedes nominally are members of the Lutheran Church of Sweden, although few attend church regularly. Literacy is virtually 100 percent. Life expectancy is among the world's highest — 79 years for men, 83 for women.

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GOVERNMENT: Constitutional monarchy, but the king is a figurehead. The government is led by a prime minister elected by a 349-seat single chamber parliament, the Riksdag. Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt leads a four-party coalition comprised of Moderates, Christian Democrats, Liberals and the Center Party. The opposition Red-Green bloc is led by the Social Democrats, who have joined up with the ex-communist Left Party and environmentalist Green Party.

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HISTORY: A major military power through the end of the 18th century, Sweden has not fought a war since 1815. While officially neutral, it participates in U.N. and NATO-led peacekeeping operations and currently has troops serving in Afghanistan and Kosovo. A century ago, Sweden had one of Europe's most economically divided societies, but in the 20th century developed a mix of capitalism and socialism that created its famed cradle-to-grave welfare system.

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INDUSTRY: A high-tech leader, Sweden is a major exporter of telecommunications equipment, trucks and buses, forest products and precision machinery. Its biggest companies include truck maker AB Volvo, telecom LM Ericsson, home appliance maker Electrolux AB and fashion retailer H&M.

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ECONOMY: Sweden's export-driven economy contracted by more than 4 percent in 2009 but has rebounded strongly and looks set to recover the loss this year, boosted by a lower krona and pickup in key export markets, including Germany. Meanwhile, the 2010 budget deficit is forecast at about 2 percent, the lowest in the European Union. In July, Sweden's jobless rate was 8.5 percent, below the EU average of 9.6 percent.

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EUROPEAN UNION: Sweden has harmonized its economic policies with those of the 15-nation EU, which it joined in 1995, but many of its citizens remain skeptical of the Brussels, Belgium-based bloc. Sweden voted in 2003 in a national referendum not to adopt the EU's common currency, the euro.