Geographically speaking, Sweden is the fourth-largest country in Europe. Its population, however, is only about nine million, with most living in the more densely-populated south. Sweden is a clean and friendly country, well known for its high standard of living, free spirits, and sports-mad populace. Although it is perhaps best known for its Viking lore, today Sweden is the exporter of such world-renowned brands as Volvo, Ikea, Ericsson, Absolut Vodka, Saab, the Nobel Prizes, and, lest we forget, ABBA.

Stockholm, the capital, is a wonderful option for foreign study. It is a strikingly beautiful city full of museums, cafes, parks, and waterways. Plus getting around the country is easy, thanks to its extensive public transportation.

Swedes favor outdoor activities, many of the cold weather variety. When winter hits, you'll see people skating anywhere the ice is thick enough. In Vastmanland and Stockholm you'll be sure to find cross-country and downhill skiers as both regions are popular ski centers. Once the ice has thawed, there are plenty of canoeing possibilities from excellent areas on the lakes to the exciting northern river rapids. Surprisingly to some, Sweden does have some good swimming beaches, especially around Uppsala. Year-round hiking and orienteering are popular everywhere. While Sareks National Park is probably Sweden's most spectacular area for hiking, only serious, experienced hikers tend to tackle that terrain.

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