Quick Facts

Arctic Territory
Västerbotten County and Norrbotten County

Area
approx 153 400 km²

Arctic Population
approx. 520 000

Arctic Indigenous Peoples
Saami

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 Saami are an Indigenous people who live in an area that stretches across the northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. Estimates of the Saami 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

Featured Projects

Photo: CAFF
Terrestrial Biodiversity Monitoring
Temperature can affect terrestrial ecosystems through thawing permafrost, snowmelt, drought, fires, changes in phenology (with subsequent implications on the food web), encroachment of invasive specie...
Project pageOverview
Local 2 Global: Circumpolar collaboration for suicide prevention and mental wellness
Local 2 Global aims to facilitate international collaboration and connections between circumpolar communities working to prevent suicide and support the mental wellbeing of all Arctic youth and commun...
Project pageOverview
Photo: Hjalti Hreinsson
Gender Equality in the Arctic
GEA is an international collaborative project focusing on gender equality in the Arctic.
Project pageOverview
iStock / zanskar
Contaminant issues: POPs and mercury
AMAP is assessing the effects of contaminants in the Arctic.
Project pageOverview
Actions for Arctic Biodiversity 2013-2021
Implementing the recommendations of the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment.
Project pageOverview
Protection from Invasive Species
The Arctic Invasive Alien Species (ARIAS) Strategy and Action Plan sets forth the priority actions that the Arctic Council and its partners are encouraged to take to protect the Arctic region from a s...
Project pageOverview
Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter
The Regional Action Plan will address both sea and land-based activities, focusing on Arctic-specific marine litter sources and pathways that will play an important role in demonstrating Arctic States...
Project pageOverview
Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks (SAON)
SAON's vision is a connected, collaborative, and comprehensive long-term pan-Arctic Observing System that serves societal needs. SAON's mission is to facilitate, coordinate, and advocate for...
Project pageOverview
Arctic Resilience Action Framework (ARAF)
The ARAF is a framework to advance a coordinated, regional approach to building resilience and adapting to rapid change.
Project pageOverview
Mainstreaming Biodiversity in Arctic Mining
This report identifies key challenges and possible solutions for incorporating biodiversity considerations into mining operations in the Arctic.
Project pageOverview
Resilience and management of Arctic wetlands
Wetlands constitute a large part of the Arctic and their role for sustainable development is critical, as they are directly related to climate change and adaptation, biodiversity, ecosystem services, ...
Project pageOverview
Water sampling in the Arctic. Photo: Steve Hillebrand/CAFF
Freshwater Biodiversity Monitoring
Changes in water temperature, permafrost, ice cover extent and duration, hydrological processes and water balance can have unexpected and unpredictable effects on freshwater biodiversity and related e...
Project pageOverview

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts

Interview with Sweden’s Senior Arctic Official Louise Calais
30 Mar 2020
Arctic Council logo

Arctic Council Ministers meet, pass Chairmanship from Finland to Iceland, Arctic States conclude Arctic Council Ministerial meeting by signing a joint statement

Today the Foreign Ministers from the eight Arctic States, leaders from the six indigenous Permanent Participant organizations and the Chairs of the Council’s six Working ...
06 May 2019
Arctic Council logo

EPPR table-top exercise on oil spill response in the Arctic

A table-top exercise of the 2013 Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic will be run in Oulu, Finland, on 7 March 2018. T...
05 Mar 2018
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