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Practical information

Languages

Swedish is a Germanic language. It has been influenced by Latin and French and is today heavily influenced by English. The Swedish language is also spoken in parts of Finland.

As Swedish is a very small language, it is mandatory for all Swedes to learn English from the third grade. This means that almost all Swedes speak English and it is very easy to communicate in English.

The Swedish alphabet

In the Swedish alphabet there are three additional letters, Å, Ä and Ö. They are pronounced as follows:

  • Å is like the vowel sound in for
  • Ä is like the vowel sound in hair
  • Ö is like vowel the sound in earn

Time and date

GMT 1. Time is written according to the European system. For example, 2 pm is written 14.00. Daylight saving time is used, i.e. clocks are moved forward 1 hour at 2 am on the last Sunday of March and are moved back to normal time at 2 am on the last Sunday of October.

Dates are often written as for example 12 October 2015 or 2015-10-12. However, since some Swedes may still write 12/10- 2015, American visitors in particular should take note that 12/10 does not mean 10th of December.

Climate

Although Sweden is located at roughly the same latitudes as Greenland and Alaska, our climate is somewhat temperate due to the Gulf Stream, which warms a large portion of the North Atlantic. In Örebro, the average temperature in December is -4˚C (25˚F) and in July 17˚C (63˚F), but winter temperatures may sometimes drop to -15˚C (5˚F). So warm and wind proof outdoor clothing is essential.

In the northernmost part of Sweden, there is a period of a few weeks each summer, midsummer, during which the sun never sets. Likewise, there is a similar period in the winter, winter solstice, during which the sun never rises. On the other hand, here we have the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis, which is a dazzling spectacle for sky watchers lucky enough to see it.