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People, Language & Religion


The Swedes are primarily Scandinavians of Germanic origin. There is also a small the Lapp (Sami) population. The remaining 12% of the population is comprised of foreign-born or first-generation immigrants, including Finns in the north, Serbs, Danes, Norwegians, Greeks and Turks.


Swedish is a national language. In addition to the letters of the English language, it has å, ä, and ö. Swedish is closely related to Norwegian and Danish. Many Swedes speak English and German, and many more understand these languages. The Lapps speak their own language. There is also a spread of Finnish-speaking people from across the frontier.


For hundreds of years, the Church of Sweden, an Evangelical Lutheran church, represented the religion of state. However, in 2000, the Church and government placed into effect a formal separation of church and state, with a stipulation that the Church of Sweden will continue to receive a certain degree of state support. According to recent estimates, about 84% of the population belong to the Church of Sweden. Roman Catholics constitute about 0.02% of the populace, with about 150,000 members. About 100,000 people are members of Christian Orthodox churches, including Greek, Serbian, Syrian, Romanian and Macedonian. The number of Muslims is at about 350,000, with about 100,000 active practitioners primarily of the Sunni and Shi'a branches. There are also about 20,000 Jews (Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform), with about half being active. Buddhists and Hindus number around 3,000 to 4,000 each. It is estimated that about 15% to 20% of the adult population are atheists.





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