Our country, our region, our town and our school
- Sweden is situated in the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. 86% of the swedes live in cities as Stockholm, Gothenburg, Malmö, Lund e.t.c.
- it is a large country, which measures 1572 kilometers from south to north. We live in the southernmost part of the country, in the Scania region, in the town of Lund, just 17 kilometers from Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark. In fact, Scania belonged to Denmark until 1658, when it became a part of Sweden.
- Fortunately, we have avoided war since the end of the Napoleonic wars, more than two hundred years.
- Sweden is a constitutional monarchy since 1809. The Swedish dynasty is originally from France. The first king of the House of Bernadotte, was a French general and a friend of Napoleon, who became King of Sweden and Norway in 1815. At present the Swedish king, Carl XVI Gustav, has no real power, and no other function than to represent Sweden abroad. The political power lays in The Swedish Parliament, elected by the people every four years.
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- 1/3 of the workforce is employed in the public sector, in municipalities, counties and the state.
- Unemployment is low in absolute terms, compared to other European countries. Only 6,6%
- But youth unemployment is very high, 20,2%, which, for example, is 4% higher than in Poland
- Sweden has long been a country that people emigrated from. Especially in the latter part of the 19th century, over 1.3 million Swedes emigrated mainly to the USA, but also to Germany, Denmark, Holland, Australia and countries in South America. Sweden was mostly an emigrating country until refugees escaping World War II began to slowly change it back into an immigrating country, which is what it is today. Migrants from Germany and other Nordic and Baltic countries made up the bulk of immigrants. While many Germans and Scandinavians returned home after the war, many immigrants from the Baltics remained.
The next set of migrants during these decades were workers from Finland, Italy, Greece, the former Yugoslavia, Turkey and other Balkan countries who came looking for job opportunities once World War II was over.
The post-war immigration led to a housing shortage in the 1950s. As a consequence, the Swedish government made the radical decision to build 100,000 flats per year between 1965 and 1974, an initiative commonly called the Million Programme.
The rise of asylum seekers began in the 1980s when Sweden saw some of its highest immigration from countries like Iran and Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Eritrea and Somalia, as well as South American countries with repressive regimes.
Today, some 45,000 people with Chilean background reside in Sweden, following the refugee waves caused by Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship of Chile during 1973–1990. Relatively few returned to Chile after Pinochet was ousted from power in 1990, and today Sweden is home to the third largest Chilean community outside of Chile, after Argentina and the US.
In September 1980, Iraq launched an attack on Iran that marked the start of a bloody eight-year war between the two countries. The war ended up costing hundreds of thousands of lives on both sides.
From 1980 through 1989, nearly 7,000 people from Iraq and 27,000 from Iran received residence permits in Sweden as refugees according to the Geneva Convention. The US-led invasion of Iraq, which started in 2003, led to yet another wave of Iraqis migrating to Sweden.
The 1990s brought massive immigration from former Yugoslavia during the ethnic cleansing wars with over 100,000 Bosnians being granted asylum in Sweden alongside 3,600 Kosovo Albanians.
Between 1991 and 1999, a series of military conflicts occurred on the Balkans, causing massive bloodshed and severe economic damage in most of the former Yugoslav republics. The wars mostly resulted in peace accords, and several new states were formed.
When Sweden joined the Schengen co-operation in 2001, this meant open borders between the country and other European Union (EU) member states and an influx of other EU citizens into the country looking for work and love. Migration in total – both to and from Sweden – grew after 2000.
Almost 29,000 people from countries outside of the EU and the European Economic Area (EEA) moved to Sweden for work during the 2000s. Head of the press unit at the Swedish Migration Agency, Fredrik Bengtsson, says: ‘In Europe, Sweden is a key destination and recipient country for asylum seekers.’
The Swedish population grew by more than 100,000 in 2014. This was the result of record high immigration (127,000) and more births than deaths. But more than 50,000 people also chose to leave the country.
Refugees from active war zones continue to immigrate to Sweden. In 2014, there were over 80,000 asylum seekers, with the three largest groups being Syrians, Eritreans and people with no state or country (stateless). Only Germany received more asylum seekers than Sweden in 2014, followed by Italy and France.
Head of the press unit at the Swedish Migration Agency, Fredrik Bengtsson, says: ‘The year 2014 was the second highest level on record for asylum seeking applications; second only to 1992 when more than 84,000 people, many of them fleeing the former Yugoslavia, requested asylum in Sweden.’
This is because Sweden granted permanent residence permits to all Syrians who were in Sweden seeking asylum. Since the war in Syria started, around 70,000 Syrians have come to Sweden. (New laws from 2016 limit the possibilities of being granted residence permits.)
In 2014 every fifth immigrant was from Syria and in 2015 almost every fourth, making Syrians the single largest immigrant group. This makes for a change since usually, most people moving to Sweden are actually returning Swedes.
In 2015, more than 160,000 people sought asylum in Sweden – twice as many as in 2014. Sweden’s self-image as open and tolerant is challenged as asylum applications pile up, housing becomes scarcer and xenophobia more visible.
The official population growth in 2015 was a little over 100,000. The figure includes more than 75,000 immigrants, but excludes most of the asylum seekers since they only become officially part of the population after they’ve been granted asylum. A particular challenge is the fact that 35,000 asylum seekers were ‘unaccompanied minors’, namely children who arrive in Sweden without parents.
In the wake of the ongoing Syrian Civil War, Sweden has welcomed more refugees than any other European country in relation to its population – and it has taken its toll on parts of society.
Ylva Johansson, Sweden’s Minister for Employment and coordinator of the government’s work with refugees, comments on the situation: ‘This unprecedented population increase has resulted in a lack of practical resources, from housing to schools to healthcare. And that’s why we can’t continue having such a large number of people coming here year after year – it’s stretching our system.’
(Read the full interview on The Local Voices.)
Since the end of 2015, the Swedish government has – as a temporary measure – tightened border controls, making it harder to enter Sweden without a valid passport or other identification document. Refugees who don’t want to apply for asylum in Sweden are not allowed to cross the Swedish border.
Other measures have also been taken. In June 2016, the Swedish parliament adopted legislative changes for asylum seekers, which – among other things – mean tougher financial requirements in cases of migration to be with close family. Sweden’s policy changes are partly due to the fact that most other EU countries have failed to receive their agreed share of refugees.
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- The city of Lund is more than 1000 year old. The founding of the city dates back to the year of 990, when Sven Tveskägg ruled. His son, Knut The Great, founded a mint in winter of 1019-1020. In that way the importance of the city could be secured. Today only a few of the medieval buildings are left intact. During the Middle Ages, Lund was a church centre. The town was the spiritual capital of Denmark and was referred to as both Metropolis Daniae and the Nordic Rome. Thanks to a donation from the holy Knut in year1085, the possibility was made to build a cathedral. The Cathedral of Lund was built to honor S.t Laurentius. The western section of the church and the crypt was finished in 1123. In 1145, bishop Eskil consecrated the main cathedral building.
- Until the late 19th century, Lund was a little town of a few thousand souls, but industrialization and the expansion of the University have turned Lund into a small big city. Internationally well-known industries such as TetraPak, Alfa Laval and Gambro employs highly skilled workforce, as well as the pharmaceutical industry and ICT-development companies in the industrial incubator IDEON.
- Lund University was founded in 1666 as a step in the process of making Scane Swedish. The new university was given the name Regia Academia Carolina. At the beginning there were only four faculties – theology, law, medicine and philosophy. Ad utrumque, ‘prepared for both’, is Lund University’s motto, referring to the book and the sword in the University’s seal from the 17th century. Today the expression can be applied to a number of the dual values for which the University stands, such as tradition and innovation or breadth and depth.