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Below provides a profile of the Europe regional market overall, and interesting facts and information about issues important to both Sweden and foreign executives working in Sweden.
The third largest nation in the European Union, Sweden is a glorious juxtaposition of sophisticated urban life and vast, pristine wilderness. And its capital, Stockholm is frequently named one of the world's most beautiful cities. Over the centuries, Stockholm has grown across its unique bed of fourteen islands where Lake Mälaren meets the Baltic Sea, and epitomizes the contemporary Swedish lifestyle that successfully integrates its ancient traditions and customs.
Sweden has been consistently ranked in the top five, if not top ten nations for innovation, quality of life, information and technology use, and education. The country's literacy rate is 99%, and virtually all Swedes under the age of 30 go online every day. In fact, the country has had an impact on global business and industry that belies its population size of just above nine million. And for those approximately nine million residents, there are more than 12 million mobile phone subscriptions — perfect evidence of a nation on the cutting edge of technology and communications.
From the cardiac pacemaker, the three-point auto seatbelt, and ball bearings to Bluetooth, the artificial kidney and Skype, Swedish innovation has impacted billions of lives across the world. The Swedish government encourages creative thinking, investing heavily in research and development and establishing government agencies to fund and coordinate research. The country as a whole invests about three percent of its GDP in research, one of the highest rates in the world.
In addition to technology, the main industrial sectors are iron and steel, precision equipment, wood pulp and paper products, processed foods, telecoms, and the automotive and pharmaceutical industries. Companies such as Volvo, Electrolux, Ericsson, H&M, and Ikea are now household names everywhere.
During the recent global economic crisis, Sweden fared better than most countries. The government and the national bank (Riksbanken) introduced a variety of unconventional policies that have limited the depth and length of the recession, and facilitated recovery, including maintaining low and stable inflation, creating job-search incentives, and carefully controlling interest rates.
Now, Sweden is considered Europe's fastest growing economy; it grew 5.5 percent in 2010, the most since 1970, mainly due to a rebound in exports. The government has also announced that it will increase investment in the country's railway infrastructure, ease benefit rules for long-term sick leave, reduce taxes for pensioners and cut the value-added taxes for restaurants. And it has already cut income, corporate and payroll taxes and eliminated a levy on wealth.
With its emphasis on and support of innovation and education, built on a rich resource base of timber, hydropower and iron ore, Sweden's economy is strong and getting stronger. New opportunities are emerging every day, and Boyden Stockholm — with its intimate local knowledge supported by global resources — is ready to help find the people who can burnish Sweden's status as one of the most successful and forward-thinking nations in Europe, and the world.
Links of interest:
www.weforum.org (World Economic Forum)