Stockholm is the capital of Sweden and the most populous urban area in the Nordic countries. The city stretches across fourteen islands. Just outside the city and along the coast is the island chain of the Stockholm archipelago; the area has been settled since the Stone Age, in the 6th millennium BC, was founded as a city in 1252 by Swedish statesman Birger Jarl. It is the capital of Stockholm County. Stockholm is the cultural, media and economic centre of Sweden; the Stockholm region alone accounts for over a third of the country's GDP, is among the top 10 regions in Europe by GDP per capita. It is an important global city, the main centre for corporate headquarters in the Nordic region; the city is home to some of Europe's top ranking universities, such as the Stockholm School of Economics, Karolinska Institute and Royal Institute of Technology. It hosts the annual Nobel Prize ceremonies and banquet at the Stockholm Concert Hall and Stockholm City Hall. One of the city's most prized museums, the Vasa Museum, is the most visited non-art museum in Scandinavia.
The Stockholm metro, opened in 1950, is well known for the decor of its stations. Sweden's national football arena is located north of the city centre, in Solna. Ericsson Globe, the national indoor arena, is in the southern part of the city; the city was the host of the 1912 Summer Olympics, hosted the equestrian portion of the 1956 Summer Olympics otherwise held in Melbourne, Australia. Stockholm is the seat of the Swedish government and most of its agencies, including the highest courts in the judiciary, the official residencies of the Swedish monarch and the Prime Minister; the government has its seat in the Rosenbad building, the Riksdag is seated in the Parliament House, the Prime Minister's residence is adjacent at Sager House. Stockholm Palace is the official residence and principal workplace of the Swedish monarch, while Drottningholm Palace, a World Heritage Site on the outskirts of Stockholm, serves as the Royal Family's private residence. After the Ice Age, around 8,000 BC, there were many people living in what is today the Stockholm area, but as temperatures dropped, inhabitants moved south.
Thousands of years as the ground thawed, the climate became tolerable and the lands became fertile, people began to migrate back to the North. At the intersection of the Baltic Sea and lake Mälaren is an archipelago site where the Old Town of Stockholm was first built from about 1000 CE by Vikings, they had a positive trade impact on the area because of the trade routes they created. Stockholm's location appears in Norse sagas as Agnafit, in Heimskringla in connection with the legendary king Agne; the earliest written mention of the name Stockholm dates from 1252, by which time the mines in Bergslagen made it an important site in the iron trade. The first part of the name means log in Swedish, although it may be connected to an old German word meaning fortification; the second part of the name means islet, is thought to refer to the islet Helgeandsholmen in central Stockholm. According to Eric Chronicles the city is said to have been founded by Birger Jarl to protect Sweden from sea invasions made by Karelians after the pillage of Sigtuna on Lake Mälaren in the summer of 1187.
Stockholm's core, the present Old Town was built on the central island next to Helgeandsholmen from the mid-13th century onward. The city rose to prominence as a result of the Baltic trade of the Hanseatic League. Stockholm developed strong economic and cultural linkages with Lübeck, Gdańsk, Visby and Riga during this time. Between 1296 and 1478 Stockholm's City Council was made up of 24 members, half of whom were selected from the town's German-speaking burghers; the strategic and economic importance of the city made Stockholm an important factor in relations between the Danish Kings of the Kalmar Union and the national independence movement in the 15th century. The Danish King Christian II was able to enter the city in 1520. On 8 November 1520 a massacre of opposition figures called the Stockholm Bloodbath took place and set off further uprisings that led to the breakup of the Kalmar Union. With the accession of Gustav Vasa in 1523 and the establishment of a royal power, the population of Stockholm began to grow, reaching 10,000 by 1600.
The 17th century saw Sweden grow into a major European power, reflected in the development of the city of Stockholm. From 1610 to 1680 the population multiplied sixfold. In 1634, Stockholm became the official capital of the Swedish empire. Trading rules were created that gave Stockholm an essential monopoly over trade between foreign merchants and other Swedish and Scandinavian territories. In 1697, Tre Kronor was replaced by Stockholm Palace. In 1710, a plague killed about 20,000 of the population. After the end of the Great Northern War the city stagnated. Population growth halted and economic growth slowed; the city was in shock after having lost its place as the capital of a Great power. However, Stockholm maintained its role as the political centre of Sweden and continued to develop culturally under Gustav III. By the second half of the 19th century, Stockholm had regained its leading economic role. New industries emerged and Stockholm was transformed into an important trade and service centre as well as a key gateway point within Sweden.
The population grew during this time through immigration. At the end
Axel Gustafsson Oxenstierna af Södermöre, Count of Södermöre, was a Swedish statesman. He became a member of the Swedish Privy Council in 1609 and served as Lord High Chancellor of Sweden from 1612 until his death, he was a confidant of first Gustavus Adolphus and Queen Christina. Oxenstierna is considered one of the most influential people in Swedish history, he played an important role during the Thirty Years' War and was appointed Governor-General of occupied Prussia. Oxenstierna was born on 16 June 1583, at Fånö in Uppland, the son of Gustaf Gabrielsson Oxenstierna and Barbro Axelsdotter Bielke, as the oldest of nine siblings, his parents belonged to the ancient and influential high noble families of Oxenstierna and Bielke, both of which had held high offices in the state and the church for generations. After the death of her husband Gustaf, Axel's mother Barbro decided to let Axel and his brothers Christer and Gustaf finish their studies abroad. Thus, the brothers received their education at the universities of Rostock and Jena.
On returning home in 1603 he took up an appointment as valet de chambre to King Charles IX of Sweden. One of Oxenstierna's more unusual intellectual qualifications was his knowledge of the Scots language, reflecting the importance of the Scottish expatriate community in Sweden at that time; as Chancellor, he would receive correspondence in Scots from his agent Sir James Spens, he ventured into the language himself for an official letter to his Scottish counterpart, the Earl of Loudoun. In 1606 he undertook his first diplomatic mission, to other German royal courts. While on diplomatic duty abroad, Oxenstierna gained appointment to the Privy Council. Henceforth, Oxenstierna became one of the king's most trusted servants. In 1609 he travelled to Reval, on King Charles's behalf, to receive tributes from the city of Reval and the Estonian knighthood. Together with other councillors, Oxenstierna tried to warn the king of Denmark and the intentions of Danish King Christian IV. In 1610, Oxenstierna travelled to Copenhagen with the aim of preventing war with the neighbours, but unsuccessfully.
The following year, Danish forces crossed the border. In the fall of 1611, King Charles died. Around New Year 1611–12, the parliament had to deal with the situation. According to the rules, the 17-year-old Gustavus Adolphus had not reached the proper age to be considered adult enough to rule as king. However, the estates agreed to disregard those rules. In return, the young king agreed to ensure the nobles further privileges and appoint Axel Oxenstierna Lord High Chancellor. On 6 January 1612 Oxenstierna became Lord High Chancellor of the Privy Council, his controlling, organizing hand soon became apparent in every branch of the administration. Sweden was at the time troubled by three wars against Poland-Lithuania and Russia. Oxenstierna's first big task as Chancellor was to achieve peace in some of the wars; the war against Denmark was considered the most dangerous of the three as the enemy-controlled parts of Sweden itself. Negotiations began in Oxenstierna was first Swedish plenipotentiary; the negotiations led to the Treaty of Knäred in 1613.
For his efforts regarding these negotiations, Oxenstierna received the title of district judge in the hundred of Snävringe and the barony of Kimito. During the frequent absences of Gustavus in Livonia and in Finland Oxenstierna acted as his viceroy. One assignment Oxenstierna received while the king was in Livonia, was the task to finalize the negotiations regarding the marriage of John Casimir and the king's sister, Princess Catharina. At the coronation of Gustavus Adolphus, in October 1617, Oxenstierna was knighted. In 1620 he headed the embassy dispatched to Berlin to arrange the nuptial contract between Gustavus and Maria Eleonora of Brandenburg. During the king's Russian and Polish wars he had the principal duty of supplying the armies and the fleets with everything necessary, including men and money. Oxenstierna's ways of carrying out his assignments gained King Gustavus's appreciation, since the king, in 1622, asked Oxenstierna to accompany him to Livonia and appointed him Governor-General and commandant of Riga, a strategically important town during the ongoing war against Poland.
His services in Livonia gained him the reward of the whole bishopric of Wenden. Entrusted with the peace negotiations which led to the truce with Poland in 1623, he succeeded in averting a threatened rupture with Denmark in 1624; the Polish-Swedish War was reinitiated in 1626, on 7 October that year, Oxenstierna became Governor-General in the newly acquired Swedish possession of Prussia. In 1629 he concluded the advantageous Truce of Altmark with Poland-Lithuania. Prior to this, in September 1628, he arranged a joint occupation of Stralsund with Denmark in order to prevent that important fortress from falling into the hands of the Imperialists. Oxenstierna was not only successful within the diplomacy. During these years, he was entrusted with various important assignments in which he succeeded, such as gathering money and troops for the attack in Prussia in 1626, he played the leading organizational and administrational role in Prussia, as he had done earlier in Livonia. He was in charge of, for example, tolls and the entire state grain trade.
During the latter part of the 1620s, Elbląg (Ger
Sveriges Riksbank or the Riksbank, is the central bank of Sweden. It is the third oldest bank in operation; the first part of the word riksbank, stems from the Swedish word rike, which means realm, empire or nation in English. A literal English translation of the bank's name could thus be Sweden's realm's bank; the bank, doesn't translate its name to English but uses its Swedish name the Riksbank in its English communications. The Riksbank began operations in 1668. Sweden was served by the Stockholms Banco, founded by Johan Palmstruch in 1656. Although the bank was private, it was the king who chose its management: in a letter to Palmstruch, he gave permission to its operations according to stated regulations, but Stockholms Banco collapsed as a result of the issuing of too many notes without the necessary collateral. Palmstruch, considered responsible for the bank's losses, was condemned to death, but received clemency. On 17 September 1668, the privilege of Palmstruch to operate a bank was transferred to the Riksens Ständers Bank and was run under the auspices of the parliament of the day.
Due to the failure of Stockholm Banco, the new bank was managed under the direct control of the Riksdag of the Estates to prevent the interference from the king. When a new Riksdag was instituted in 1866, the name of the bank was changed to Sveriges Riksbank. Having learned the lesson of the Stockholms Banco experience, the Riksbank was not permitted to issue bank-notes. In 1701, permission was granted to issue so called credit-notes"; some time in the middle of the 18th century, counterfeit notes began appearing, which caused serious problems. To prevent forgeries, it was decided that the Riksbank should produce its own paper for bank-notes and a paper-mill, Tumba Bruk, was founded in Tumba, on the outskirts of Stockholm. A few years the first commercial banks were founded and these were allowed to issue bank-notes; the bank-notes represented a claim to the bank without interest paid, thus became a considerable source of income for banks. Nonetheless, security in the form of a deposit at the Riksbank was required to cover the value of all notes issued.
During the 19th century, the Riksbank maintained a dominant position as a credit institution and issuer of bank-notes. The bank managed national trade transactions as well as continuing to provide credit to the general public; the first branch-office was opened in 1824 followed with subsidiary branches opening in each county. The present operational activities as a central bank differ from those during the 19th century. For example, no interest-rate-related activities were conducted; the position of the Riksbank as a central bank dates back to 1897, when the first Riksbank Act was accepted concurrently with a law giving the Riksbank the exclusive right to issue bank-notes. This copyright concluded its role and importance regarding monetary policy in a modern sense, as the exclusive right to issue notes is a condition when conducting monetary policy and defending the value of a currency. Behind the decision were repeated demands that the private banks should cease to issue notes as it was considered that the ensuing profits should befall the general public.
The Swedish currency was backed by gold and the paper-certificates could be exchanged for gold coins until 1931, when a specialized temporary law freed the bank from this obligation. This law was renewed every year until the new constitution was ratified in 1975 which split the bank from the government into a stand-alone organization not obligated to exchange notes for gold. In November 1992, the fixed exchange rate regime of the Swedish Krona collapsed. A few months in January 1993, the Governing Board of the Riksbank developed a new monetary policy regime based on a floating exchange rate and an inflation target; these policies were extensively influenced by assistance from the Bank of Canada, which had extensive previous experience controlling inflation, while being a similar small open economy subject to foreign exchange rate swings. From 1991 to 1993, Sweden experienced its most severe recession since the 1930s termed the "Swedish banking rescue", it forced inflation down to around 2%, inflation continued to be low during the subsequent years of strong growth in the late 1990s.
During the 2000s, the operations and administrative departments were downsized on behalf of the policy departments Financial Stability Department and Monetary Policy Department. A direct consequence of the changing times was that the Riksbank closed down all its branches in Sweden and outsourced the handling of coins and bills to a private company. Today the policy departments are the core of the central bank and they employ about half of the bank's 350 full-time posts; the motto of the Bank is Hinc robur et securitas, Latin for "Herefore strength and safety". Following its third centennial in 1968, the bank instituted the annual Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, awarded with the Nobel Prizes at the Prize Award Ceremony in Stockholm, on 10 December, the anniversary of Alfred Nobel's death; the Riksbank has a reputation for innovation among central banks due to implementing policies such as: On 2 July 2009, Sweden's Riksbank was the first central bank in the world to implement a negative interest rate, when it lowered its repo rate to 0.25%.
This caused its linked overnight deposit rate to be pushed down to −0.25%