Formerly a major military power, Sweden opted for neutrality in both World Wars. With a healthy economy and no need for a post-war military build-up, Sweden was able to focus on building an extensive social welfare system. By the early 21st century, only 15 percent of the population lived in rural areas, and 1 percent of the Gross National Product was derived from agriculture. Despite a recession that began late in 2008 and a 9.3 unemployment rate, Sweden ranks 27th in the world in per capita income ($36,800) and is seventh on the United Nations Development Programme list of countries with very high human development.

Sweden's indigenous population consists of Swedes with Finnish or Sami minorities. From a religious perspective, Sweden is largely Lutheran, 87 percent. ...

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