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Stockholm, Sweden


The Swedish capital, beautifully set on some 20 islands and peninsulas beside the Baltic Sea, grew up in the mid-13th century around a stockaded island fortress, Its name comes from the Swedish words stock, meaning 'pole', and holm, meaning 'island'. Today the historical heart of the city, now linked to nearby islands, is known as 'the town between the bridges'. It contains the Houses of Parliament, the royal palace and Riddarholm Church, the burial place of Sweden's kings. Many of the medieval streets are now pedestrian precincts, crammed with antique shops, and the 17th-century burghers' houses have been turned into offices and private homes.

To the east of the old town is a group of islands whose buildings look across to waterfronts where motorboats, yachts and the occasional schooner are moored. On Island Djuvgaden the capital's maritime past also lives on in a museum housing the Wasa. a 60 m (200 ft) long warship that sank on her maiden voyage in Stockholm harbor in August 1628 and was raised to the surface again in 1961.

Over to the north, much of the 19th-century shopping and residential district has been replaced by the high-rise Hogtorget quarter. The city's garden suburbs and newer districts are linked by underground railway to central Stockholm. The open-air museum - a living reminder of Sweden's rural past - was a pioneer museum of its type. In total contrast is the royal summer palace of Drottningholm.

The modern city is Sweden's largest manufacturing centre, producing machinery, chemicals, textiles, rubber and beer - and it also has flourishing electrical, engineering and printing industries. There is a frequent ferry service to Finland. and the main international airport is at Arlanda, 40 km (25 miles) north of the city. Each December the Nobel prizes - founded by Alfred Nobel (1833-96), the Swedish chemist and pacifist who invented dynamite and gelignite - are awarded in Stockholm, except for the Peace Prize, which is awarded in Oslo, Norway.

Population 1 435 500

Next: Malmo, Lulea

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