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

Actions for Arctic Biodiversity 2013-2021

Implementing the recommendations of the Arctic Biodiversity Assessment.

Protection from Invasive Species

The Arctic Invasive Alien Species (ARIAS) Strategy and Action Plan sets forth the priority actions that the Arctic Council and its partners are encouraged to take to protect the Arctic region from a s...

Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter

The Regional Action Plan addresses both sea and land-based activities, focusing on Arctic-specific marine litter sources and pathways that will play an important role in demonstrating Arctic States’ s...

Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks (SAON)

SAON's vision is a connected, collaborative, and comprehensive long-term pan-Arctic Observing System that serves societal needs. SAON's mission is to facilitate, coordinate, and advocate for coordinat...

Arctic Resilience Action Framework (ARAF)

The ARAF is a framework to advance a coordinated, regional approach to building resilience and adapting to rapid change.

Mainstreaming Biodiversity in Arctic Mining

This report identifies key challenges and possible solutions for incorporating biodiversity considerations into mining operations in the Arctic.

Resilience and management of Arctic wetlands

Wetlands constitute a large part of the Arctic and their role for sustainable development is critical, as they are directly related to climate change and adaptation, biodiversity, ecosystem services, ...
Water sampling in the Arctic. Photo: Steve Hillebrand/CAFF

Freshwater Biodiversity Monitoring

Changes in water temperature, permafrost, ice cover extent and duration, hydrological processes and water balance can have unexpected and unpredictable effects on freshwater biodiversity and related e...
Photo: CAFF

Terrestrial Biodiversity Monitoring

Temperature can affect terrestrial ecosystems through thawing permafrost, snowmelt, drought, fires, changes in phenology (with subsequent implications on the food web), encroachment of invasive specie...

Local 2 Global

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

Gender Equality in the Arctic

GEA is an international collaborative project focusing on gender equality in the Arctic, beginning in 2013. Phase 3 of the project began in 2019.
iStock / zanskar

Contaminant issues: POPs and mercury

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

Climate Issues: Cryosphere, meteorology, ecosystem impacts

AMAP is further 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. T...
Arctic Council logo

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...
Arctic Council logo

Ecosystem Status, Human Impact and Management Measures in the Central Arctic Ocean

The aim of this project is to synthesize relevant information on the status, trends and projected changes in the Central Arctic Ocean, human activities and pressures in the area, and the current manag...
Arctic Council logo

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.
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
Arctic Council logo

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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