< Sweden

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Background: A military power during the 17th century, Sweden has not participated in any war in almost two centuries. An armed neutrality was preserved in both World Wars. Sweden's long-successful economic formula of a capitalist system interlarded with substantial welfare elements has recently been undermined by high unemployment, rising maintenance costs, and a declining position in world markets. Indecision over the country's role in the political and economic integration of Europe caused Sweden not to join the EU until 1995, and to forgo the introduction of the euro in 1999.

Not from CIA factbook: The country that is now known as Sweden once consisted of three smaller kingdoms, Västra Götaland, Östra Götaland and Svealand. Svealand was the region around today's central Sweden, the area where Stockholm lies. In the 13th century, the three countries were united under a single king, who founded Sweden. The Swedish name for Sweden is Sverige, which is close to the Danish pronounciation of Svea rike, which in English is roughly The kingdom of the Swedes. The Swedish national symbol "Three Crowns" represents the three countries, and that one king had all three crowns.

Another theory is that the crowns orinally represent the three wise men from the new testament of the bible. It was used in several places during the middle ages as a coat of arms for knights, and eventually kingdoms. This symbol was adopted by the Kalmar Union between Denmark, Sweden and Norway. It could therefore also be said that the crowns represent the three countries Denmark, Sweden and Norway. When the union broke up, Sweden and Denmark were fighting over who could use the three crowns as their symbol. In the end Denmark gave up the use. Later on, Swedish kings came to use the title ´rex Suecorum, Gothorum et Vandalorum´, supposedly signifying them as inheritor of the throne of the old Gothic tribes.