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 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

Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter

Reducing the negative impacts of marine litter, including microplastics, to the Arctic marine environment.

Actions for Arctic Biodiversity

Implementing the recommendations of the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment.

Protection from Invasive Species

Setting priority actions that the Arctic Council and its partners are encouraged to take to protect the Arctic region from a significant threat: the adverse impacts of invasive alien species.

Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks (SAON)

SAON's vision is a connected, collaborative, and comprehensive long-term pan-Arctic Observing System that serves societal needs.

Arctic Resilience Action Framework (ARAF)

Advancing a coordinated, regional approach to building resilience and adapting to rapid change.

Mainstreaming Arctic Biodiversity

Identifying challenges and solutions for incorporating biodiversity considerations Arctic development and the Council's work

Resilience and management of Arctic wetlands

Enhancing engagement in relation to the roles and functions of Arctic wetlands as a resource to support sustainable development and resilience in Arctic biodiversity, ecosystem services, and the livel...
Water sampling in the Arctic. Photo: Steve Hillebrand/CAFF

Freshwater Biodiversity Monitoring

Working with partners across the Arctic to harmonize and enhance long-term freshwater monitoring efforts.
Photo: CAFF

Terrestrial Biodiversity Monitoring

Working with partners across the Arctic to harmonize and enhance long-term terrestrial monitoring efforts.

Local 2 Global

Circumpolar collaboration for suicide prevention and mental wellness
Photo: Hjalti Hreinsson

Gender Equality in the Arctic

An international collaborative project focusing on gender equality in the Arctic
iStock / zanskar

Contaminant issues: POPs and mercury

Assessing the effects of contaminants in the Arctic
Permafrost erosion in Alaska. Photo: USGS / M. Torre Jorgenson

Climate Issues: Cryosphere, meteorology, ecosystem impacts

Developing work on thresholds and extremes, Arctic/mid-latitude weather connections and performance of global models in the Arctic, with contributions from the meteorology community; and evaluating th...
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Modelling Arctic oceanographic connectivity

Ongoing climate change may facilitate increased access to the Arctic region, and potential new economic opportunities, but may also bring potential threats to the Arctic marine and coastal environment...
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Ecosystem Status, Human Impact and Management Measures in the Central Arctic Ocean

Synthesizing relevant information on the status, trends and projected changes in the Central Arctic Ocean, human activities and pressures in the area, and the current management measures in place in o...

Circumpolar Local Environmental Observer Network (CLEO)

Our world is changing rapidly, and local observers can detect subtle changes in weather, landscapes and seascapes, and in plant and animal communities.
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Marine Invasive Alien Species in Arctic Waters

Protecting the Arctic from the adverse impacts of invasive alien species
Yannick Schutz / Arctic Council

Gender equality for a sustainable and prosperous Arctic

Assessing gender issues in the Arctic is a challenging and important step towards gender equality.
10 May 2021

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts

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