Sweden is a highly developed country that attracts a great number of tourists and workers. The official name of the country is the Kingdom of Sweden. It is considered to be the biggest Scandinavian country. Sweden is a combination of wild untouched nature, ancient traditions, and lively cultural life. Moreover, its population displays distinct manners and kindness, while the state provides a high level of democracy. Thus, this country is also a good place for business. Many foreigners come to Sweden with new ideas and aspirations to try to develop their business in Sweden. The purpose of the paper is to study general information about Sweden, including its history, geography, climate, population, resources, and economy, as well as advantages and disadvantages of doing business in Sweden.
Sweden is one of the biggest countries in Western Europe. It stretches over a vast area of 450 000 square kilometres and borders with two countries – Finland and Norway. The country is washed by the Gulf of Bothnia, the Baltic Sea, as well as by the Skagerrak and Kattegat straits. Two islands, Öland and Gotland, are also a part of Swedish territory. Due to the warm Gulf Stream, climate in Sweden is drier and warmer than in the other regions of the world, located on the same latitude. Despite of the large size of the occupied territory, Sweden has a population of only 9 million people, who live mainly in the south and in the central part, while Lapland, a vast territory in the north, is almost deserted. Administratively the country with the capital in Stockholm is divided into 25 provinces. In the geographical and tourism sense, the country is divided into four major parts. The first one is southern Sweden, which is a region of castles and crystal factories. Then, there is the West Bank. This territory is considered to be a zone of rock art and archaeological sites. There is also Central Sweden, which is a folklore area. Finally, Northern Sweden is a territory where an ethnic group of the Sami with their own customs and language lives.
The country has a very long and interesting history. Sweden is known for Vikings, who lived on its territory. These people were pagans and conducted a great number of conquests. At the time Sweden controlled the territory of Finland and the Baltic countries. Christianity became widespread only in the XXIst century. During the two World Wars, the country remained neutral. Sweden began its economic development with the accession to the European Union. In the book Sweden Business and Investment Opportunities Yearbook, it is noted that “Sweden is an industrial country”. However, in order to maintain high productivity and standard of living within the state, it has to rely on foreign trade. Industrial goods constitute over 80% of all exports. The most important export markets are in Western Europe. More than a half of Swedish exports go to the European Union. Such resources as iron ore, hydropower, and timber are the main base of the Swedish economy, which is greatly directed towards the foreign trade.
Although Sweden is a relatively small country, its economy is heavily diversified. In the book Sweden and the Revival of the Capitalist Welfare State, it is stated that “despite its modest population size, Sweden is an interesting country for social scientists worldwide”. Traditional industries that are based on two most important sources of raw materials such as iron ore and wood still play an important role in today’s economy. Nonetheless, the value of mechanical engineering and various high-tech sectors has increased. Only a few other countries of the same size as Sweden have aircraft and nuclear power industries, two national car companies, developed industry for the production of armaments, telecommunication industry with a high level of technology, and two major pharmaceutical groups. In view of neutrality throughout the XXth century, Sweden has achieved an enviable standard of living with a mixed economy system on the basis of high technology and extensive welfare benefits.
The population of the country is represented by different ethnic groups, including Finns, Sami, Jews, Danes, and Norwegians. People have a high standard of living. An average life expectancy for men is 87 years and 82 years for women. These indicators are largely the merit of different governmental programs and deductions for health care. The government spends 9% of GDP on health care in order to provide high-quality health services to its citizens. The country tries to solve the problem of environmental pollution in all possible ways. Stockholm is the best green capital in Europe, because the city is known for a large number of green areas. In addition, Swedes have access to water with a high level of purification around the country. Sweden has a low percentage of citizens, who live below the poverty line, and this figure constitutes only about 1%. The employment rate in Sweden is amounted to 75%. Thus, it can be seen that many welfare indicators in Sweden are extremely high. The country shows the highest results in practically all criteria, including civic engagement, the quality of the environment, vocational and education skills, the level of health, the balance of rest and work, subjective well-being, wages and work, social connections, personal safety, and housing. Good education and professional skills are important prerequisites for getting a job. More than 80% of the adult Swedish population, aged from 25 to 64 years, has received a complete secondary education. It is a quite high index in comparison with other countries around the world. The adult literacy rate is extremely high too. More than 90% of people can read and write. The country is also known for its high-quality higher education. Many young people from European countries choose Swedish universities to receive higher education.
Sweden has a low level of corruption. Transparent government is one of the key factors for the welfare of its citizens. These factors contribute to the successful conduction of business in the country. The operation of small businesses is very common in Sweden. Nowadays, there are several promising and popular directions for the establishment and functioning of the foreign companies in the state. First of all, it is influenced by IT-technologies that provide data protection, programming, design services for 3D-graphics, and the development of applications and computer games. It is associated with the fact that IT is considered the most promising sphere around the world and Sweden is not an exception. Sweden is one of the most promising countries in terms of innovative businesses. New technology-based projects are created every day. Therefore, IT-industry is highly developed in this country. In the coming years, information technologies will experience the greatest reversal. People should follow the changes, which appear with time, and adopting IT technologies is the best way to achieve it. Commercial trade is another sector that is rather popular in Sweden.
One of the negative aspects of conducting a business in Sweden is high competition. For example, there are many IT companies around the country and, thus, it is rather difficult to compete with them. Another negative aspect is a complex system of taxation. In the book Legal Aspects of Doing Business in Europe, it is written that “the total tax burden is still among the highest in the world”. Thus, tax deductions from income may be extremely high. Despite of this fact, foreigners positively evaluate conditions for starting a business in Sweden. The country guarantees rights and freedoms, so that it is easy to realize one’s most creative ideas. In order to open a business in Sweden, it is important to understand the feasibility of the business organization in the country, look at the history of the state, study the tax system and legislation, as well as prepare all necessary documents and financial resources. The organization of business in Sweden requires careful preparation of the documents. First and foremost, a person must have a visa. It should be noted that each foreign resident should have a residence permit in the country. In order to get it, it is necessary to fill in a number of documents, received in the embassy, and then send them by e-mail. During the year, a full residence permit will be issued. People should also have all the necessary documents, required for business registration, such as, for example, a business license.
In order to conduct successful business, a foreigner should pay special attention to the mentality of local people. Swedes enjoy conducting negotiations. Therefore, a beginning businessman should learn how to show communicative skills. In other words, there is a special business culture that constitutes the business base in the country. Each foreigner should adhere to it if he/she aims to achieve success.
Sweden is a country of great importance for Europe and the whole world. It is an economically developed state, which is able to use efficiently even the scarce amount of natural resources that are found on its territory. Sweden is a home of friendly and hardworking people, who are ready to work meticulously for their homeland. In addition, the country is rather friendly to foreigners, who want to do business in Sweden. According to them, conducting a business in this state is highly profitable and promising for those people, who have interesting and innovative ideas.