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Picture size 1500 x 1000px.
Geography and climate
Situated in Northern Europe, Sweden lies west of the Baltic Sea and Gulf of Bothnia, providing a long coastline, and forms the eastern part of the Scandinavian Peninsula. To the west is the Scandinavian mountain chain (Skanderna), a range that separates Sweden from Norway.
Sweden is surrounded by Norway (west), Finland (northeast), the Skagerrak, Kattegat and Öresund straits (southwest) and the Baltic Sea (east). It has maritime borders with Denmark, Germany, Poland, Russia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, and it is also linked to Denmark (southwest) by the Öresund Bridge. At 449,964 km2 (173,732 sq mi), Sweden is the 55th largest country in the world. It is the 5th largest in Europe, and the largest in Northern Europe. The land area is slightly larger than the U.S. state of California, or equal to Uzbekistan with a population in 2008 of over 9.2 million people.
The lowest elevation in Sweden is in the bay of Lake Hammarsjön, near Kristianstad at -2.41 m (−7.91 ft) below sea level. The highest point is Kebnekaise at 2,111 m (6,926 ft) above sea level.
Sweden has 25 provinces or landskap (landscapes), based on culture, geography and history; Bohuslän, Blekinge, Dalarna, Dalsland, Gotland, Gästrikland, Halland, Hälsingland, Härjedalen, Jämtland, Lapland, Medelpad, Norrbotten, Närke, Skåne, Småland, Södermanland, Uppland, Värmland, Västmanland, Västerbotten, Västergötland, Ångermanland, Öland and Östergötland. While these provinces serve no political or administrative purpose, they play an important role for people's self-identification. The provinces are usually grouped together in three large lands, parts, the northern Norrland, the central Svealand and southern Götaland. The sparsely populated Norrland encompasses almost 60% of the country.
About 15% of Sweden lies north of the Arctic Circle. Southern Sweden is predominantly agricultural, with increasing forest coverage northward. The highest population density is in the Öresund region in southern Sweden, and in the valley of lake Mälaren near to Stockholm. Gotland and Öland are Sweden's largest islands; Vänern and Vättern are Sweden's largest lakes. The lake Vänern is the largest lake in Northern Europe and the third largest in all Europe, after Lake Ladoga and Lake Onega in Russia.