Quick Facts

Arctic Territory
Västerbotten County and Norrbotten County

approx. 153 400 km²

Arctic Population
approx. 520 000

Arctic Indigenous Peoples

Sweden and the Arctic region

The two northernmost counties, Västerbotten and Norrbotten, are defined as Sweden’s Arctic territory. This region represents about one-third of Sweden’s territory, but is populated with just over half of a million inhabitants – more sparsely populated than the southern parts of the country.

Sweden places a great emphasis on climate-related research in the Arctic. As a result of long measurement series, in some cases up to one hundred years, Sweden has contributed to greater global understanding of climate change. Northern Sweden is home to research stations in Abisko and Tarfala as well as the EISCAT12 scatter radar facility in Kiruna. Access to these modern logistics platforms is crucial for environmental research. The Abisko Scientific Research Station administrates, coordinates and performs experiments and tests for researchers from all over the world. An extensive environmental monitoring program on temperature, precipitation, ice-thaw, flora and fauna in the local area has been in progress there for nearly 100 years. The Tarfala Research Station, located in the Kebnekaise mountains, conducts basic research, glacier monitoring, meteorological and hydrological analyses, snow chemistry and permafrost studies.

Efficient ice-breaking operations are required to promote maritime safety and improve accessibility in frozen waters. Sweden possesses leading expertise as regards shipping in Arctic conditions. Swedish icebreakers are able to support increasing commercial shipping in the Arctic as well as help with both the monitoring of the vulnerable marine environment and also Arctic research. In 2011 Sweden adopted a strategy on the Arctic region, where it promotes economically, socially and environmentally sustainable development.

Indigenous Peoples

The Sámi are an Indigenous people who live in an area that stretches across the northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. Estimates of the Sámi population vary between 50,000 and 80,000, with around 20,000 to 50,000. living in Sweden. In the Arctic region, Sweden strives to ensure that Indigenous peoples have greater scope for preserving and developing their identity, culture and traditional industries and facilitate their traditional knowledge gathering and transfer.

Sweden in the Arctic Council

Sweden held the country’s first Arctic Council chairmanship from 2011-2013. Throughout the chairmanship, Sweden’s priorities included:

  • The environment and climate, including pollution emissions, climate change, resilience, biodiversity and environmental protection
  • Arctic people, including gender equality, economic development, language preservation and food security
  • Arctic sea and land surveillance
  • Strengthening the Arctic Council, including developing a strategic communications plan, establishing a standing secretariat and organizing sectoral ministers’ meetings

Key accomplishments include:

  • Under the Swedish Chairmanship the standing Arctic Council Secretariat was established in Tromsø, Norway
  • The Swedish Chairmanship adopted the Arctic Council Communication Strategy to communicate the Council’s work and progress to the public, and initiated the launch of a new website for enhanced resource sharing

Sweden works to ensure that the Arctic remains a region where security policy tensions are low, and for these objectives sees a need of a strengthened Arctic Council.

Louise Calais
Louise Calais
Senior Arctic Official, Sweden; Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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