Among the countries of the European Union, Sweden is certainly one of the few in which human action has not excessively distorted the appearance of the natural landscape. If the southern agricultural areas are excluded, the green areas are still substantially intact: the vegetation that reoccupied the territory after the glaciations is still present over large areas of the country, especially in the Norrland region (where human settlement is very limited), in which the forest of conifers, pines and firs, mixed with birch trees predominates, which then transforms, in the extreme northern offshoots and on the hills, into subarctic tundra. In the S of the country, where the cultivated fields have a large extension, the beautiful deciduous forest appears, formed by lime trees, oaks, elms, ash trees and, in Scania, beech trees. In the southern regions, in spring, you can admire vast blooms of perennial herbaceous plants (in particular lilies and ranunculaceae), while another interesting aspect of the Swedish flora is represented by the numerous varieties of lichens. Also from the faunal point of view, Sweden has an appreciable natural wealth: reindeer, elk and lynx live on its territory, in addition to the species that traditionally inhabit the European forests. Among the varieties of birds we can remember the snowy owl and the black yury, the latter present mainly in protected areas, while in the coastal areas of the Baltic less frequented by man, colonies of seals live. The latter are however threatened by the proliferation of algae (eutrophication), due to the excessive presence of nitrates and phosphates, used in agriculture as chemical fertilizers. As with many other European countries, one of Sweden’s most serious environmental problems is that of acid rain, which damages the soil and forests and acidifies the water. even if the phenomenon is mainly attributable to pollution from neighboring countries.
Sweden is in fact at the forefront of environmental protection and was the first European nation to institute the Carbon Tax, also introducing a tax on sulfur dioxide: measures that have reduced nitrogen oxide and sulfur dioxide emissions by over two thirds from the 1970s. In fact, for the Swedes, as for all Nordic peoples, respect for nature is a cultural fact that is assimilated from the earliest years of age. The relationship with the environment is lived in a profound way and the hobbies most practiced by the population (fishing, swimming, hiking, skiing, gathering mushrooms and undergrowth products, etc.) cannot be separated from it. The strong bond that exists between the Swedes and nature materializes in the stuga, a small second wooden house, a real refuge and symbol of the interdependence between man and the environment, but above all in the concrete actions aimed at preserving the existing heritage. The establishment of the first protected areas dates back to 1909 and in 2012 they occupy 13.8% of the national soil, concentrating in particular in Lappland. There are also numerous parks and zoological gardens (the famous one in Skansen in the heart of the capital Stockholm), areas intended for the observation of avifauna and botanical gardens, all intended to protect natural organisms. Among the 28 National Parks the most popular are those of Dalby Söderskog (Scania), Blå Jungfrun (island of Öland), Abisko (Lapland, established in 1909) and the marine one of Kosterhavet. There are also two areas declared World Heritage by UNESCO: one, the Lapp Area (1996), of cultural and natural interest, which includes some national parks (Sarek National Park, Muddus National Park, Padjelanta National Park and the Stora Sjöfallet national park), the other, established in 2000 and of exclusively natural interest, consists of the Höga kusten (Swedish coast overlooking the Gulf of Bothnia) and the Kvarken Archipelago (2000).
The service sector is by far the largest sector of the economy with a share of the workforce of (2015) around 78% and of the GDP of 72%. The most important individual areas are the public service, business-related services, wholesale and retail trade, and transport and communication. The high share of the public service in employment (around a third) is mainly explained by the extensive social, educational and health services of the municipalities.
Tourism: Tourism, especially on the south and west coast, on Gotland and Öland and on the central Swedish lakes, city tourism (Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö) and winter sports tourism (Härjedalen, Jämtland, Lapland) are a growing industry. Almost five million foreign visitors are counted every year. The largest groups were Norwegians, Germans, Danes and British. Income from international tourism amounted to (2013) US $ 11.5 billion. Visit nexticle.net for shopping in Sweden.