Nature - An Overview
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The area of Swedish wildlife is one of the largest in Europe. With a length of over 2,000 km north-south, Sweden offers a diverse and very varied nature with only 18 people per sqr km. Over 57 % of the total area is covered by forests. The coastline is the longest in Europe, stretching 7,300 km.
The warm Gulf Stream in the Atlantic gives Sweden a milder climate than other areas this far north. Stockholm, the capital, shows the same latitude as southern Alaska but has an average temperature in July of 18 C (64 F).
The Northwest is dominated by mountains reaching above the timber-line, but except for the most southern regions dominated by deciduous trees, the nature is considered a forest region and relatively flat. The highest mountain, Kebnekaise, reaches 2 111 meters(6 926 ft).
Sweden's archipelagos are world famous. The west coast is unique by its naked rocks and islands. The soil was washed away during the Ice Age, thousands of years ago, and left smooth, bare islands. The water is not as salty as the rest of the Atlantic, but still clear and with generally the same kind of maritime life. The Stockholm archipelago on the east coast is known for its many islands - over 25,000 with forests and meadows.
Although less than Finland, Sweden is the country of uncountable lakes, over 100,000 lakes, which add to the beauty of the varied Swedish landscape and provides a rich environment for the Swedish wildlife. Sweden is therefore not surprisingly famous for its fish, especially the salmon and the salmon trout, even though a very large part of the fishing takes place along the coastline. Apart from lakes the country is cut by numerous large rivers that run into the Baltic Sea in the east and into the Atlantic on the West coast.
The number of species of various wild animals is very large. The obvious ambassador of the Swedish wildlife is the moose or elk (close relative to the North American moose). Sweden is really the land of the moose - with a population of 250,000 spread from the north to the southern regions, Sweden has the highest density of moose in the world. The annual shooting rate, around 100,000, generates a value of close to one billion dollars of venison.
Sweden does have wolves (protected), but not at all in the numbers tourists expect. The population is about 100 for the whole country! Seeing one is very rare but there are areas where groups can be heard howling. Sweden has some fantastic national parks. Especially the northern mountain region has large areas protected from industry and hunting which give people a great opportunity to experience Nordic wildlife in a protected environment.
Hunting is very well integrated in Swedish tradition. Moose, bear, deer, fox, grouse etc. all have special hunting seasons. The big game hunt is popular among foreign hunters and organised at many different places in Sweden. Sweden is maybe not known for rare birdlife but there is rich bird life in most of the Swedish nature. Since forests are unexploited in large areas, ornithologists will have a memorable time!
The most important base for the recreation in nature is the Every Man's Right (Allemansrätten) providing the possibility for each and everyone to visit somebody else's land, to take a bath in, and to travel by boat on somebody else's waters, and to pick the wild flowers, mushrooms, berries, fallen cones, acorns and beechnuts. The Swedish wildlife, as well as nature, is somewhat protected by the Every Man Rights. However, as it is allowed to enter into areas where rare birds might nest, where bears might have their offspring, and where protected flowers grow, and so forth, it takes great responsibility by those using these rights. It is prohibited to dig up all flowers and trees. Furthermore, all orchids are protected, as is the Hepatica, the pasque flower, the poppy, as well as the wormwood.
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