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Farms and Mines

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Farms and Mines

Sweden
Farms and Mines

FARMS AND MINES

Fewer than 8.5 million people live in this large country. The southern third has always been the most populous, while vast areas have been and remain thinly occupied. Most Swedish farmers are owner-occupiers, with the family providing the labour force; produce is sold through cooperatives. Dairy farming predominates, even though all cattle have to be housed during the winter. About 7 per cent of Sweden is cultivated, with the emphasis on fodder crops, grain and sugar beet. Southern farms are larger than those in the north, but northern forests, intensively worked for timber products, are far greater in extent than the woodlands of the south. Despite all this activity, only some 5 per cent of the population is engaged in farming, forestry and fisheries.



Forestry is now a separate industry, though traditionally it was a winter occupation for farmers. So too was mining, particularly around Bergslagen in southern Sweden. There, iron ore was extracted, smelted with charcoal and forged with the aid of waterpower. The introduction of new processes in the mid-19th century rendered many small foundries obsolete and iron and steel production were concentrated instead upon a few towns. Sweden is now one of the world's leading producers of iron ore, most extracted from the LAPPLAND mines of Kuranavaara, Luossavaara and Svappavaara. Lapland ores are processed at LULEA in the north, while southern Sweden's principal steel plant is at Sandviken. Mines around Boliden on the Bothnian coast produce zinc, silver, gold and copper, though Europe's longest-worked copper mine at Falun expired, like the small foundries, in the 19th century.



The 19th-century industrial boom that transformed the steel industry also dragged wood processing from tiny plants powered by upriver waterfalls to large factories sited on navigable waterways. These large-scale enterprises produce a wide range of papers, wallboards, laminates, prefabricated units, chemicals and, of course, matches. The story of the match industry is told in the museum at JON COPING.

Sweden has very few deposits of coal or oil, so its industrial development depended very largely on the development of hydroelectric techniques. The demand for energy has increased phenomenally a demand not least due to the entirely electrified state railway system. The trouble is that most of the principal sources of hydroelectric power are in the north of the country, while the greatest demand is in the south. Faced with this problem, Swedish engineers led the world in developing methods of transmitting electricity. Later, the installation of nuclear energy plants and imports of cheap oil provided the basis for a final phase in energy expansion; then public opinion swung against nuclear reactors at just about the same time as the mid-1910s oil crisis. Sweden has therefore had to find alternative sources of energy - imported coal from Germany and Poland, natural gas from Denmark and, potentially, from Norway.

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