During the Middle Ages, Swedish trade was very modestly developed, with one bright exception: Visby. Stockholm, which was with Visby the only noteworthy trading city in the country, was long dominated by the Germans, and for nearly three centuries (12th to 14th century) Hansa mastered Swedish trade. King Gustav Vasa was the first to break these chains and his efforts at the same time concentrated on the development of navigation.
The countries with which Sweden has a more lively exchange of goods are: Germany, Great Britain, Denmark, Norway, Finland and the United States; then come France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Spain and Russia.
The import of Sweden is manifold: from Germany it imports coal, chemicals, yarns, iron and various metal products; from Great Britain, coal, metals, ships; from the United States, cereals, cotton and oils; from the Argentine Republic cereals and skins; from Brazil, coffee; from Denmark vegetables and oils.
On the other hand, exports are primarily represented by timber, paper pulp, paper, iron, metals and machines. In 1933 the values of the most important imports and exports, calculated in millions of crowns, were as follows:
The exchange of goods between Sweden and Italy was in 1933: imports from Italy, 16.9 million; export to Italy, 24.9 million crowns. The total value of Sweden’s trade with foreign countries in 1934 was 2592.4 million crowns, of which 1298.5 million for imports and 1293.9 million for exports.
Stockholm is Sweden’s largest import port, Gothenburg the largest export port. Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö are free ports.
Sweden’s domestic trade has always been of great importance to the country’s development. Facilitated by the numerous river routes, relations between the various parts of the country were always very animated. The total number of traders in Sweden, which in 1845 was only about 7,000, had risen in 1920 to 47,200; the number of staff employed rose to 68,700 people. The agricultural buying and selling cooperatives were in 1930, 841 with 72,500 members, the consumer cooperative unions were in the same year 940 with the round figure of 500,000 members and 3500 sales premises.
As for communications, of the overall railway lines in Sweden, in operation at the end of 1931, km. 6753 belonged to the state and km. 10,017 to individuals. All state railways and km. 6260 of the private railways are standard gauge. The most important railway communications are the following: a) Stockholm-MalmöTrälleborg, Sweden’s main communication with the continent, in correspondence with direct maritime communication with Germany via Sassnitz; from Malmö the line also has direct maritime communication with Copenhagen: b) Stockholm-Gothenburg; c) Stockholm-Oslo, via Laxå; d) Stockholm-Upsala-Bräcke-BodenKiruna-Vassijaure, with continuation on Norwegian soil to Narvik, on the Atlantic Ocean; e) Sundsvall-Ånge-Trondheim: f) Trälleborg-Malmö-Göteborg-Oslo.
The main lines are now double-track and electrified. In recent years the roads (total length in 1931: 76,203 kilometers) have been increasingly frequented as a result of the development of motoring, and bus lines are now competing significantly with the railways. In 1933 there were approximately 100,000 private cars, 39,000 trucks and 3,500 buses in Sweden. The number of concessions for bus lines in 1934 was 3241 for a length of km. 101,400.
Inland communications in Sweden are largely provided by very numerous, but mostly small, steamboats, which exercise lively traffic on the endless lakes and rivers and especially along the coast, when the winter ice does not prevent it, which usually occurs only in the Norrland. Some channels are also important for the transport of heavy goods.
The most important channel is the Göta Canal, which connects middle eastern and western Sweden through the Vätter and Väner lakes. That part of the Göta Canal, which is called the Trollhätta Canal (Gothenburg-Lake Väner), was, in the years 1909-1916, rebuilt, enlarged and provided with new locks, so that seagoing vessels with a carrying capacity of up to 1350 tons of useful weight, can reach Lake Väner, overcoming the difference in height of 44 meters between the sea and the lake via this artery. The Södertälje canal, between the Baltic Sea and Lake Mälar, was modernized in 1923 and is of great importance for the traffic of the Mälar, especially after the industrial city of Västerås finished its 6m deep port in 1925.
Merchant marine. – According to Lloyd’s Register (1935-36), the Swedish navy in 1935 consisted of 1294 ships per ton. gross 1,550,843; it therefore occupied the ninth place in the world. In this complex the steamships predominate (930 per ton. 947.354), but the motor ships have a very large part: 342 for 566.536 tons. (eighth place in the world). In 1901, the Swedish merchant tonnage rose to 1483 ships per ton. gross 672,219; passed to 1,047,270 in 1913; after the brackets of the world war (1919: 992.611 gross tons) the navy, in 1920, had already reconstituted the pre-war consistency: 1.072.925 tons. For Sweden 2013, please check physicscat.com.
On the value of the fleet used for good but not principal part in cabotage (1 / 7 of the goods freight introitati Swedish dall’armamento ¼ and passenger charters were precisely gains accruing in cabotage), you have very recent data; from 194 million crowns in 1913 it had risen to 454 million in 1929.
Tax assistance to the navy takes the form of postal subsidies; partial reimbursement of transit rights via Suez (to Svenska Ostasiatiska); of armament mortgages (established in 1903; a decree of 6 June 1920 created, alongside these loans, also a maritime mortgage loan fund or Svenska Skeppshypotekskassan, tax capital not exceeding 100 million crowns). The creation of a special “modernization fund” for free shipping (2½ million crowns) was requested; it was also asked for a ban on the purchase of foreign ships over the age of twenty, for evident purposes of rejuvenating the navy.
The most important shipping companies are Svenska Lloyd; the Svenska Ostasiatiska Kompaniet (trafficking with the Far East, eleven ships of 5-6000 unit tons and 12-14 knots); the Svenska Amerika Linjen (with North America; three ocean liners on 17-18 knots; among them the Kungsholm, of 19,955 gross tons, which is the largest Swedish ship; construction, in 1926, was partially financed by treasury, the ship cost 16 million).
The shipbuilding industry, which benefits from the free import of the necessary materials, is very developed, given the abundance in the country of excellent steel and wood and despite the lack of coal; Götaverken and Eriksberg in Göteborg stand out among the 26 national shipyards; as well as the Kockum in Malmö; in addition to building also for foreign armament, the three shipyards have, for about thirty years now, produced all the Swedish warships. Cabotage is reserved for the flag.
Civil aviation. – Swedish civil aviation is under the authority of the Minister of Communications. The following main air navigation companies operate in the territory: Air-France (France), KLM (Holland), Aero (Finland), SABENA (Belgium), Deutsche Lufthansa (Germany).
Main airlines (day services): Malmö-Copenhagen-Amsterdam; Stockholm-Helsinki-Tallinn; Malmö-Copenhagen-Hamburg-Amsterdam; Stockholm-Visby; Gothenburg-Copenhagen-Malmö. Night services, air mail: Stockholm-Malmö; Malmö-Copenhagen-Hanover.