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Sweden–United States relations

Swedish–American relations
Map indicating locations of Sweden and USA


United States
A ship leaving the port in Gothenburg, Sweden, on its way to America.
Olof Palme demonstrating side by side with North Vietnam ambassador Nguyen Tho Chyan on February 21, 1968 in Stockholm.
Swedish Prime Minister White House on May 15, 2007.

Swedish–American relations reach back to the days of the American Revolutionary War. The Kingdom of Sweden was the first country not formally engaged in the conflict (though thousands of Swedish volunteers partook on the side of the patriots) to recognize the United States of America following the Treaty of Paris. The Treaty of Amity and Commerce was signed subsequently in 1784 between Benjamin Franklin and Swedish representative Gustaf Philip Creutz.

According to the 2012 U.S. Global Leadership Report, 36% of Swedes approve of U.S. leadership, with 30% disapproving and 34% uncertain.[1]


  • History of relations 1
  • Economic relations 2
  • Military relations 3
  • Cultural links 4
  • List of visits 5
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8

History of relations

Like many European powers, Sweden participated in the colonization of America that started in the 17th century. The first Swedish colony along the banks of the Delaware River was established in 1638 (see New Sweden).

Sweden was the first country not engaged in the Washington. In 1783 the United States' Ambassador to Paris, Benjamin Franklin, and the Swedish Ambassador, Count Gustaf Philip Creutz, signed a Treaty of Amity and Commerce.[2]

During the period between 1820–1930 approximately 1.3 million Swedes, a third of the country's population, emigrated to North America and most of them to the United States. Like the Irish diaspora it was sparked by poverty in Sweden, which was exacerbated during bad years. Only Britain (especially Ireland) and Norway had a higher emigration rate. Most of the Swedish emigrants settled in the central and Western United States. By 1910, Chicago had a greater population of Swedes than Gothenburg. Minnesota was also a place where many Swedish emigrants settled. The majority of Swedish-Americans fought in the American Civil War on the Union side. (See also John Ericsson#USS Monitor)

The first Swedish head of government who met with a US President was Prime Minister Tage Erlander, who visited Harry S. Truman at the White House in 1952.

The period between 1968 and 1976 also marked a cold period in the political relations between Sweden and the U.S., mainly due to the Swedish government's vocal opposition to the Vietnam War. In February 1968, the US recalled its Ambassador from Sweden after the Swedish Minister of Education and future prime minister Olof Palme, a Social Democrat, had participated in a protest in Stockholm against the war together with the North Vietnamese Ambassador to the Soviet Union Nguyen Tho Chan.[3] The post of US Ambassador to Sweden remained vacant until February 1970. In December 1972, Olof Palme (then Prime Minister) made a speech on Swedish national radio where he compared the ongoing US bombings of Hanoi to some of the worst atrocities committed by the Nazis. The US government called the comparison a "gross insult" and once again decided to freeze its diplomatic relations with Sweden (this time the freeze lasted for over a year).[3]

Relations improved when Thorbjörn Fälldin became Swedish prime minister in 1976, and following Olof Palme's death in 1986 and the succession of Ingvar Carlsson as new Prime Minister, Swedish-American relations improved. Ingvar Carlsson met with President Ronald Reagan in 1987, the first time that a Swedish Prime Minister was invited to the White House since 1961, when Erlander paid a visit to Kennedy.

Carlsson's successor as Prime Minister, Bill Clinton in 1994.

Immediately after the September 11, 2001 attacks, the Swedish government expressed its sympathies with the U.S. and supported the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan.[4][5] However, like many other European governments, Sweden opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq, reasoning that the invasion was a breach of international law.[6] However, Prime Minister Göran Persson was relatively mild in his criticism of the U.S. compared to Olof Palme's strong criticism during the Vietnam War.

In the Statement of Government Policy presented to the Riksdag on October 6, 2006, the new centre-right Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt declared that the new government will work for a "strengthening of the transatlantic link".[7] Reinfeldt's party, the Moderate Party, is more pro-American than the social democrats and supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq and Swedish membership of NATO. Reinfeldt visited President Bush at the White House on May 15, 2007.

Economic relations

The United States and Sweden have strong economic relations. The United States is currently the third-largest Swedish export trade partner,[8] and U.S. companies are the most represented foreign companies in Sweden.

Military relations

Although Sweden has a longstanding policy of political neutrality in international affairs, Sweden is a participant in the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. Sweden currently participates with around 500 troops in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), under the command of NATO, in Afghanistan. Two of the four parties in the ruling coalition supports NATO membership. During the Libyan Civil War of 2011, the Swedish Air Force worked closely with NATO and USA.

During the Cold War, the Swedish government secretly made preparations to receive military aid from the United States in case of Soviet aggression.[9]

Cultural links

Reflecting the fact that Sweden has a higher proportion of English speakers than most other countries which were never part of the British Empire, Swedish producers and songwriters have played a significant role in the sound of American pop music since the 1990s. One in particular, Max Martin, has written and produced more Billboard Hot 100 number one hits than any American songwriter or producer.[10]

List of visits

Guest Host Place of visit Date of visit
Crown Prince Gustaf Adolf - Later King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden. President Calvin Coolidge John Ericsson National Memorial &
The White House, Washington, D.C.
May 29, 1926
Prince Bertil, Duke of Halland
Crown Princess Louise
President Franklin D. Roosevelt Wilmington, Delaware
Springwood, Hyde Park, New York
June 27, 1938
July 1, 1938
Prime Minister Tage Erlander President Harry S. Truman White House, Washington, D.C. April 14, 1952
Prime Minister Tage Erlander President Dwight D. Eisenhower White House, Washington, D.C. November 24, 1954
Prime Minister Tage Erlander President John F. Kennedy White House, Washington, D.C. March 29, 1961
Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson King Gustaf VI Adolf Uppsala Cathedral & Uppsala Castle, Uppsala, Sweden September 29, 1961
Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson King Gustaf VI Adolf
Prime Minister Tage Erlander
Helsingborg, Sweden
Kanslihuset, Stockholm, Sweden
September 4, 1963
September 5, 1963
Prime Minister Tage Erlander
Prince Bertil, Duke of Halland
President Lyndon B. Johnson
Mrs. John F. Kennedy
Cathedral of St. Matthews &
The White House, Washington, D.C.
November 25, 1963
King Carl XVI Gustaf President Gerald Ford White House, Washington, D.C. April 5, 1976[11]
Prime Minister Ola Ullsten President Jimmy Carter
Vice President Walter Mondale
White House, Washington, D.C. January 18, 1979
Vice President Walter Mondale Prime Minister Ola Ullsten Kanslihuset, Stockholm, Sweden May 1979
King Carl XVI Gustaf President Ronald Reagan White House, Washington, D.C. November 22, 1981
George H.W. Bush Prime Minister Olof Palme Rosenbad, Stockholm, Sweden June 27, 1983
First Lady Nancy Reagan King Carl XVI Gustaf Stockholm, Sweden June 1987
Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson President Ronald Reagan White House, Washington, D.C. September 9, 1987
King Carl XVI Gustaf President Ronald Reagan White House, Washington, D.C. April 11, 1988
Prime Minister Carl Bildt George H. W. Bush White House, Washington, D.C. February 20, 1992
Prime Minister Carl Bildt President Bill Clinton White House, Washington, D.C. December 1, 1993
Prime Minister Göran Persson President Bill Clinton White House, Washington, D.C. August 6, 1996
George W. Bush King Carl XVI Gustaf
Prime Minister Göran Persson
Gunnebo Slott, Residenset &
Göteborg, Sweden
June 14, 2001
Prime Minister Göran Persson George W. Bush White House, Washington, D.C. December 3, 2001
Prime Minister Göran Persson George W. Bush White House, Washington, D.C. April 28, 2004
King Carl XVI Gustaf George W. Bush White House, Washington, D.C. October 23, 2006
Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt George W. Bush White House, Washington, D.C. May 15, 2007
Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt President Barack Obama White House, Washington, D.C. November 2, 2009
President Barack Obama King Carl XVI Gustaf
Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt
Rosenbad, Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm Synagogue &
the Royal Palace, Stockholm, Sweden
September 4–5, 2013

See also


  1. ^ U.S. Global Leadership Project Report - 2012 Gallup
  2. ^ American Memory from the Library of Congress
  3. ^ a b Andersson, Stellan. "Olof Palme och Vietnamfrågan 1965–1983" (in Swedish). Retrieved February 27, 2008. 
  4. ^ Utrikesminister Anna Lindh med anledning av terrorattacken i USA | Press & info | Utrikesdepartementet | Departement | Regeringskansliet
  5. ^ Kammarens protokoll – Riksdagen
  6. ^
  7. ^ Swedish Riksdag
  8. ^ Exports to large trade partners, Statistics Sweden, accessed October 14, 2007.
  9. ^ SOU 1994:11 Om kriget kommit... Förberedelser för mottagande av militärt bistånd 1949–1969
  10. ^ Billboard
  11. ^ Memorandum of Conversation Gerald R. Ford Library, Accessed on May 17, 2010

External links

  • Nordstjernan - The Swedish Newspaper in America
  • History of Sweden - U.S. relations

Media related to at Wikimedia Commons

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