History Hans Högman
Copyright © Hans Högman 2017-04-18

Sweden

Sweden is located in northern Europe and its capital is Stockholm. The population is 9,666,871 (2014 est) and in Stockholm City 901,698 (2014) (Greater Stockholm: 2,171,459 - 2014). Sweden is by area one of the larger countries in Europe. The total area of Sweden is 449,964 km2 (173,732 sq. mi), of which 410,934 km2 (158,662 sq. miles) is land area. Sweden stretches 1,572 km (977 miles) from north to south and 499 km (310 miles) from east to west. 

Regions or Lands

Sweden is traditionally divided into three major regions/lands, from south to north; Götaland, Svealand and Norrland. These regions are called “landsdelar” (pl.) in Swedish and simply means “parts of the country” or “lands”. Each name of the parts of Sweden ends with “land”, thereof “lands”. The lands of Sweden are three traditional parts, essentially three collectives of provinces. Prior to 1809 Sweden had a fourth land: Finland. However, the “land” Finland was lost to Russia in a war which lasted between 1808 and 1809.

Norrland

Norrland is in northern Sweden, encompassing the traditional provinces (landskap) of Gästrikland, Hälsingland, Medelpad, Ångermanland, Västerbotten, Norrbotten, Härjedalen, Jämtland, and Lappland. Norrland is the largest region by area; its land area constitutes about 58 percent of Sweden's total territory. Norrland covers the land from the city of Gävle and north (eg. the land north of river Dalälven). Size: 242,735 km2 ( 93,720 sq. miles), Population: 1,154,650 (2012).

Svealand

Svealand is a region in central Sweden, encompassing the provinces (landskap) of Uppland, Södermanland, Västmanland, Närke, Värmland, and the southern parts of Dalarna (south of river Dalälven). Svealand is the smallest of Sweden's three regions. Size: 80,839 km2 (31,212 sq. miles), Population 3,830,454 (2012).

Götaland

Götaland is the region of southern Sweden, comprising the provinces (landskap) of Västergötland, Dalsland, Östergötland, Småland, Öland, Gotland, Bohuslän, Skåne, Halland, and Blekinge. Size: 87,357 km2 (33,728 sq. miles), Population: 4,570,789 (2012). There is no administrative purpose of the "lands".

Provinces (Landskap)

Sweden is also divided into counties as well as into provinces. The provinces are very old, from early medieval times. There are 25 provinces. The provinces are historical divisions of Sweden and its borders have been the same throughout the centuries. What are in the people’s heart are the provinces. If you ask a Swede were he lives he most likely would say the name of "his" province rather than the county name. There is no administrative purpose of the provinces.  The provinces of Norrland: Gästrikland, Hälsingland, Medelpad, Ångermanland, Västerbotten, Norrbotten, Härjedalen, Jämtland, and Lappland. The provinces of Svealand:  Uppland, Södermanland, Västmanland, Närke, Värmland, and Dalarna. The provinces of Götaland:  Västergötland, Dalsland, Östergötland, Småland, Öland, Gotland, Bohuslän, Skåne, Halland, and Blekinge. A map of the Swedish provinces. Detailed information on the Swedish provinces.  Plants and animals as symbols of the Swedish provinces  Top of page

Counties (Län)

Beside the provinces, Sweden is also divided into a number of counties. The counties are much younger then the provinces. The subdivision into counties is from 1634 when Sweden adopted a new constitution. The sole purpose of the counties is regional administration. The Swedish term for county is Län. The borderlines of the counties have changed many times since 1634. Counties have been divided and consolidated. Sometimes the borderlines have been adjusted a few miles here and there. In each county (Län) there is a County Administrative Board (Länstyrelse) headed by a County Governor (Landshövding) appointed by the national government. The purpose of the Länstyrelse is to coordinate administration with national political goals for the county.

Landsting

In each county there is also a regional municipality called Landsting, a political assembly to deliberate on the municipal affairs of the county. The Landsting is run by a County Council (Landstingsfullmäktige), a political assembly (regional government) appointed by the electorate. A Landsting has the same borders as the government run county (Län) in Sweden. The major responsibilities for the County Council are: The public health care system including dental care Public transportation Regional planning Administration of regional government arts and cultural amenities Today there are 21 counties (2001). The Swedish counties are quite large by area. The Swedish Län (County) has a role more similar to the U.S. State compared to the role of the US County. However, the Swedish counties don’t have the independence of the U.S. States. The US County is better compared to the Swedish “Kommun” (Municipality) rather than to the Swedish Län (County). The US term consolidated city-county probably best describes the Kommun. See Kommun below.

Provinces contra Counties

The subdivision of Sweden into counties is independent of the subdivision into provinces.   Some provinces are a part of two or three counties (Småland, for example, is a part of the three counties of Jönköping, Kronoberg and Kalmar). Sometimes there is more than one province within a county (Medelpad and Ångermanland are both part of the County of Västernorrland). There are also provinces and counties that share exactly the same borderlines (Blekinge, Gotland etc).  A map of the Swedish counties (including the county codes).    Detailed information on the Swedish counties.   Top of page

Local Administration - Kommun

The counties are in its turn divided into smaller areas of local administration.

The period before the 1860’s – Socken

Prior to 1862 the counties (län) were subdivided into a number of “socken”. ”Socken” had two meanings: Religious (church) -  A geographical area served by a church, an ecclesiastical unit. In other words this is a parish. When we speak of the "socken" today we only mean the religious "socken". Worldly (secular) - A geographical area for local administration. A local administration council (sockenstämma) ran the "socken". Before 1862, the church "socken" and the administrative "socken" encompassed the same territorial area. Socken (after 1862 kommun) is better compared to the US county.

The period after 1862 - Municipalities (Kommun)

In 1862 the worldly "Socken" was replaced by the so-called "Kommun" (municipality). The church socken is from 1862 called församling” (parish) and encompassed the same territorial area as the former socken. In each county there are several smaller entities for local government and administration that constitute municipal self-government, which are independent of the County Councils. These municipal entities are called “Kommun” and there are 290 "kommuner" (pl.) in Sweden. Each kommun is run by a Municipal Council, Kommunfullmäktige, a legislative political assembly appointed by the electorate. The Municipal Councils control local government and taxation and the major responsibilities are: Childcare and pre-school Primary and secondary schools Social service Elderly care Support to people with disabilities Health and environmental issues Emergency services (not policing, which is the responsibility of the central government) Urban planning Sanitation (waste, sewage) Local roads Local distribution of power The municipalities in Sweden cover the entire territory of the nation. Unlike the USA or Canada, there are no unincorporated areas.  In 1971 the formal differences between city and rural areas were removed and all municipalities are now a uniform type with no local statutes or privileges of any kind. The U.S. term consolidated city-county probably best describes the Kommun. [In United States local government, a consolidated city-county is a city and county that have been merged into one unified jurisdiction. As such it is simultaneously a city, which is a municipal corporation, and a county, which is an administrative division of a state. It has the powers and responsibilities of both types of entities.] As the title Borgmästare (Mayor or Burgomaster) is not officially used in Swedish municipalities any more, municipal commissioner is often translated as mayor when referring to the chair of the executive committee. The municipalities are also divided into a total of 2 512 parishes, or församlingar (2000). These have traditionally been a subdivision of the Church of Sweden, but still have importance as districts for census and elections. Many of the parishes still correspond to the original socknar, but there have been a lot of partitions and amalgamations throughout the years. See also Swedish parishes. At this page you will find all the Swedish parishes, arranged by name. A page about the Swedish municipalities. The kommun encompass a far larger area then former socken. Top of page

The subdivisions of Sweden into Regions,

Provinces and Counties

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History Hans Högman
Copyright © Hans Högman 2017-04-18

Sweden

Sweden is located in northern Europe and its capital is Stockholm. The population is 9,666,871 (2014 est) and in Stockholm City 901,698 (2014) (Greater Stockholm: 2,171,459 - 2014). Sweden is by area one of the larger countries in Europe. The total area of Sweden is 449,964 km2 (173,732 sq. mi), of which 410,934 km2 (158,662 sq. miles) is land area. Sweden stretches 1,572 km (977 miles) from north to south and 499 km (310 miles) from east to west. 

Regions or Lands

Sweden is traditionally divided into three major regions/lands, from south to north; Götaland, Svealand and Norrland. These regions are called landsdelar” (pl.) in Swedish and simply means “parts of the country” or “lands”. Each name of the parts of Sweden ends with “land”, thereof “lands”. The lands of Sweden are three traditional parts, essentially three collectives of provinces. Prior to 1809 Sweden had a fourth land: Finland. However, the “land” Finland was lost to Russia in a war which lasted between 1808 and 1809.

Norrland

Norrland is in northern Sweden, encompassing the traditional provinces (landskap) of Gästrikland, Hälsingland, Medelpad, Ångermanland, Västerbotten, Norrbotten, Härjedalen, Jämtland, and Lappland. Norrland is the largest region by area; its land area constitutes about 58 percent of Sweden's total territory. Norrland covers the land from the city of Gävle and north (eg. the land north of river Dalälven). Size: 242,735 km2 ( 93,720 sq. miles), Population: 1,154,650 (2012).

Svealand

Svealand is a region in central Sweden, encompassing the provinces (landskap) of Uppland, Södermanland, Västmanland, Närke, Värmland, and the southern parts of Dalarna (south of river Dalälven). Svealand is the smallest of Sweden's three regions. Size: 80,839 km2 (31,212 sq. miles), Population 3,830,454 (2012).

Götaland

Götaland is the region of southern Sweden, comprising the provinces (landskap) of Västergötland, Dalsland, Östergötland, Småland, Öland, Gotland, Bohuslän, Skåne, Halland, and Blekinge. Size: 87,357 km2 (33,728 sq. miles), Population: 4,570,789 (2012). There is no administrative purpose of the "lands".

Provinces (Landskap)

Sweden is also divided into counties as well as into provinces. The provinces are very old, from early medieval times. There are 25 provinces. The provinces are historical divisions of Sweden and its borders have been the same throughout the centuries. What are in the people’s heart are the provinces. If you ask a Swede were he lives he most likely would say the name of "his" province rather than the county name. There is no administrative purpose of the provinces.  The provinces of Norrland: Gästrikland, Hälsingland, Medelpad, Ångermanland, Västerbotten, Norrbotten, Härjedalen, Jämtland, and Lappland. The provinces of Svealand:  Uppland, Södermanland, Västmanland, Närke, Värmland, and Dalarna. The provinces of Götaland:  Västergötland, Dalsland, Östergötland, Småland, Öland, Gotland, Bohuslän, Skåne, Halland, and Blekinge. A map of the Swedish provinces. Detailed information on the Swedish provinces.  Plants and animals as symbols of the Swedish provinces  Top of page

Counties (Län)

Beside the provinces, Sweden is also divided into a number of counties. The counties are much younger then the provinces. The subdivision into counties is from 1634 when Sweden adopted a new constitution. The sole purpose of the counties is regional administration. The Swedish term for county is Län. The borderlines of the counties have changed many times since 1634. Counties have been divided and consolidated. Sometimes the borderlines have been adjusted a few miles here and there. In each county (Län) there is a County Administrative Board (Länstyrelse) headed by a County Governor (Landshövding) appointed by the national government. The purpose of the Länstyrelse is to coordinate administration with national political goals for the county.

Landsting

In each county there is also a regional municipality called Landsting, a political assembly to deliberate on the municipal affairs of the county. The Landsting is run by a County Council (Landstingsfullmäktige), a political assembly (regional government) appointed by the electorate. A Landsting has the same borders as the government run county (Län) in Sweden. The major responsibilities for the County Council are: The public health care system including dental care Public transportation Regional planning Administration of regional government arts and cultural amenities Today there are 21 counties (2001). The Swedish counties are quite large by area. The Swedish Län (County) has a role more similar to the U.S. State compared to the role of the US County. However, the Swedish counties don’t have the independence of the U.S. States. The US County is better compared to the Swedish “Kommun” (Municipality) rather than to the Swedish Län (County). The US term consolidated city-county probably best describes the Kommun. See Kommun below.

Provinces contra Counties

The subdivision of Sweden into counties is independent of the subdivision into provinces.   Some provinces are a part of two or three counties (Småland, for example, is a part of the three counties of Jönköping, Kronoberg and Kalmar). Sometimes there is more than one province within a county (Medelpad and Ångermanland are both part of the County of Västernorrland). There are also provinces and counties that share exactly the same borderlines (Blekinge, Gotland etc).  A map of the Swedish counties (including the county codes).    Detailed information on the Swedish counties.   Top of page

Local Administration - Kommun

The counties are in its turn divided into smaller areas of local administration.

The period before the 1860’s – Socken

Prior to 1862 the counties (län) were subdivided into a number of “socken”. ”Socken” had two meanings: Religious (church) -  A geographical area served by a church, an ecclesiastical unit. In other words this is a parish. When we speak of the "socken" today we only mean the religious "socken". Worldly (secular) - A geographical area for local administration. A local administration council (sockenstämma) ran the "socken". Before 1862, the church "socken" and the administrative "socken" encompassed the same territorial area. Socken (after 1862 kommun) is better compared to the US county.

The period after 1862 - Municipalities

(Kommun)

In 1862 the worldly "Socken" was replaced by the so-called "Kommun" (municipality). The church socken is from 1862 called “församling” (parish) and encompassed the same territorial area as the former socken. In each county there are several smaller entities for local government and administration that constitute municipal self-government, which are independent of the County Councils. These municipal entities are called “Kommun” and there are 290 "kommuner" (pl.) in Sweden. Each kommun is run by a Municipal Council, Kommunfullmäktige, a legislative political assembly appointed by the electorate. The Municipal Councils control local government and taxation and the major responsibilities are: Childcare and pre-school Primary and secondary schools Social service Elderly care Support to people with disabilities Health and environmental issues Emergency services (not policing, which is the responsibility of the central government) Urban planning Sanitation (waste, sewage) Local roads Local distribution of power The municipalities in Sweden cover the entire territory of the nation. Unlike the USA or Canada, there are no unincorporated areas.  In 1971 the formal differences between city and rural areas were removed and all municipalities are now a uniform type with no local statutes or privileges of any kind. The U.S. term consolidated city-county  probably best describes the Kommun. [In United States local government, a consolidated city-county is a city and county that have been merged into one unified jurisdiction. As such it is simultaneously a city, which is a municipal corporation, and a county, which is an administrative division of a state. It has the powers and responsibilities of both types of entities.] As the title Borgmästare (Mayor or Burgomaster) is not officially used in Swedish municipalities any more, municipal commissioner is often translated as mayor when referring to the chair of the executive committee. The municipalities are also divided into a total of 2 512 parishes, or församlingar (2000). These have traditionally been a subdivision of the Church of Sweden, but still have importance as districts for census and elections. Many of the parishes still correspond to the original socknar, but there have been a lot of partitions and amalgamations throughout the years. See also Swedish parishes. At this page you will find all the Swedish parishes, arranged by name. A page about the Swedish municipalities. The kommun encompass a far larger area then former socken. Top of page

The subdivisions of

Sweden into Regions,

Provinces and Counties