Southern Sweden

Sunny side up    

In every sense of the word, Southern Sweden is a perfect blend: of old and new, of rural and urban, of forest, meadow and seashore.

Not only is this the mildest region of the country in winter and the sunniest in summer; it also boasts some of the oldest cities in the country, redolent of history and tradition, coexisting happily with a thoroughly modern infrastructure, not to mention a formidable business community thriving in the most beautiful natural settings, with sporting opportunities abounding at every turn....

The region is also known as Götaland, arguably a throwback to settlement by Gothic tribes in the early centuries A.D.

According to various regional and local authorities concerned, most of Sweden's trade with other countries passes through Southern Sweden thanks to its advantageous location and superb infrastructure. With almost 3000 km of Baltic coastline, the region is a de facto hub for the southern Baltic and northern Europe.

The robust economy of the region is fuelled by a strong research, establishment, notably in IT, the life sciences, environment and energy. In medicine, universities and hospitals (including a number of world-class institutions) work closely with each other and with the private sector on innovative projects. All this helps to make Southern Sweden "one of the world's strongest economic regions", proud locals declare.

An additional cause for regional pride is Southern Sweden's status as the centre of the nation's celebrated design and crafts industries, involving everything from furniture and interior design to glass, textiles and ceramics. Famous names in this connection include glassworks operated by the likes of Orrefors and Kosta Boda in Småland's "Kingdom of Crystal" district, and of course IKEA: there is even an IKEA hotel at Älmhult, the company's birthplace and creative headquarters.

A national culinary revolution in recent years has benefited the southern counties, where very high standards of cuisine, traditional and international, do justice to the superb raw materials of the region. Gothenburg and Malmö in particular are increasingly attracting attention as gastronomic destinations, and even the smallest community is now more than likely to support at least one fine cafe or restaurant.

The major cities are also major cultural centres, naturally enough; but there is scarcely a village or town in Southern Sweden that cannot – at any time of year – gladden the hearts of visitors with musical or theatrical performances, not to mention a wealth of museums, art galleries, architectural landmarks....

Travellers can choose from direct ferry connections to Germany, Poland, Lithuania and Denmark – or they can take advantage of the Öresund bridge between Malmö and Copenhagen. Opened in 2000, the bridge has dramatically hastened a long-standing process of integration between Denmark and Skåne, Sweden's southernmost county, carrying rail and road traffic 18 km across the sound that divides the two Nordic neighbours.

Southern Sweden is also served by Kastrup, Copenhagen's international airport, which is now only 20 minutes by train or car from Malmö. Several other airports in Southern Sweden are used by about four million passengers annually.



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