Swedish is a language spoken in Sweden and Finland. Swedish is a one of the Scandinavian languages, a sub-group of the Germanic group of the Indo-European language family. It is the official and common language of Sweden, spoken by nearly all of Sweden's 8,873,052 inhabitants (July 2000 estimate). In Finland, both Swedish and Finnish are official languages, but Swedish is only spoken by a minority of inhabitants (about 305,000, or 5.9% of total population by July 2000 estimate). There are small numbers of Swedish speakers in other countries, such as the United States.
Swedish is closely related to and often mutually intelligible with Danish and Norwegian. Danish and Norwegian are somewhat more similar to each other than either is to Swedish. All three languages diverged from Old Norse about a millenium ago.
Swedish is written using a twenty-nine letter alphabet: the standard twenty-six-letter Roman alphabet plus the additional letters Å / å, Ä / ä, and Ö / ö. These letters are sorted in that order following z. Since Danish and Norwegian names and loan words sometimes appear in Swedish texts, the foreign letters Æ / æ and Ø / ø also occur. Centuries ago, an early form of Swedish was written using the runic alphabet, but its usage has been completely replaced. With respect to inflection, Swedish has five different kinds of nouns and four different kinds of verbs.
The Swedish Academy maintains an official definition of the Swedish language.
The Swedish spoken in Finland, "Finlandssvenska", differs from the Swedish "rikssvenska" mostly in pronunciation.
See also Common phrases in different languages.