Although one-seventh of Sweden’s land lies north of the Arctic Circle and Stockholm has the same latitude as northern Labrador in Canada, the climate of Sweden is much milder than that of most countries as far north. Sweden’s comparatively moderate climate results from the warming influence of winds blowing over the Gulf Stream, which sweep over Sweden from the North Atlantic Ocean. In winter these influences are offset by cold air masses that sweep in from the east.
The climate of northern Sweden is considerably more severe than that of the south, primarily because elevations are higher and because the mountains block moderating marine influences. The average temperature in February, the coldest month, is below freezing throughout Sweden, with an average temperature range in Stockholm of -5° to -1°C (22° to 30°F), in Göteborg of -4° to 1°C (25° to 34°F), and in Piteå, in the northern part of the country, of -14° to -6°C (6° to 22°F). In July, the warmest month, the average temperature range is 13° to 22°C (56° to 71°F) in Stockholm, 13° to 21°C (56° to 69°F) in Göteborg, and 12° to 21°C (53° to 69°F) in Piteå. In summer, the amount of daylight increases as the latitude becomes more northerly. North of the Arctic Circle, daylight is continuous for about two months. In winter, continuous darkness occurs for about two months. Ice covers all lakes for more than 100 days a year in the south and more than 200 days a year in the far north. The Gulf of Bothnia typically begins to freeze over near the shore in late November, and the ice usually lasts until the approach of June. Fog is common along the Swedish coast. Precipitation is relatively low throughout Sweden except on the higher mountain slopes. In Stockholm the average annual precipitation is 54 cm (21 in); in Göteborg it is 79 cm (31 in). Rainfall is heaviest in the southwest and in the mountains along the Norwegian border. Most rain falls in the late summer. Heavy snows are common in central and northern Sweden.
The principal natural resources of Sweden are its large deposits of iron and other minerals, abundant sources of waterpower for the production of electricity, and vast forests that cover nearly three-quarters of the country. Less than 10 percent of Sweden’s land is suitable for growing crops, and poor soils dominate much of the available land. Nevertheless, through scientific farming and efficient land management, Swedish farms produce remarkably high yields.
Alpine and arctic vegetation prevail in northern Sweden. The highest mountain areas are barren of vegetation. The next highest regions are bleak moorlands that support various kinds of mosses, lichens, and a few species of flowering plants. Below the moorlands is a zone of birch and willow trees, often dwarfed and stunted. The next lower, and largest, zone is covered with conifers, primarily Norway spruce and Scotch pine. This vast forest belt extends for more than 950 km (600 mi) with a width that ranges from 160 km to more than 240 km (100 mi to more than 150 mi). In the south, deciduous trees, including oak, beech, elm, and maple are found. On the islands of Gotland and Öland, the mild climate permits the growth of walnut, acacia, and even mulberry trees.
Roe deer and moose are plentiful in Sweden’s forests. Reindeer are common in the north, where they are herded by the Saami. Bears, lynx, and wolves are now quite rare. Lemmings are abundant in the upland moorlands. Various wild birds are plentiful, with many rare species protected in nature preserves. Fish abound in the North and Baltic seas and in Sweden’s lakes and rivers. Principal marine varieties include mackerel, herring, and cod; freshwater varieties include pike, perch, whiting, and trout. Salmon are found in both fresh and salt water. Shellfish, including lobsters and prawns, live in coastal waters. Thousands of seals inhabit the waters around Sweden. In 1988 an outbreak of a deadly disease called phocine distemper virus (PDV) wiped out as much as 65 percent of the seal population in the North and Baltic seas. By 2002 the seal population had largely bounced back. "Sweden" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia
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