Lands of Sweden

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Lands of Sweden

Sweden was historically divided into four Lands or Landsdelar:

Götaland and Svealand were once, in prehistoric times known only in folklore, in fragmentary pieces of foreign sources, in legends which only later chronicles have written about, rival kingdoms before being united under one Crown by Svealand. Legends attest to an independent history of Österland, it having e.g its own prehistoric kings. In the 11th and 12th centuries, Götaland and Svealand sporadically supported rival kings against each other, thus sometimes continuing these separated ancient kingdoms - though most of those kings eventually managed to unite all of Sweden under one dominion (but the strife may arise again in the beginning of next reign). Götaland makes up the southern parts of Sweden and Svealand is to its north in middle Sweden. Österland is the old name for Finland, but today it represents the southern and middle parts of that country. Norrland is the name for the lands annexed as the realm expanded to the north on both sides of the Gulf of Bothnia. Österland and Norrland literally mean Eastern and Northern lands.

An interpretation has been made that the part "Vend" in the later established titulary of Kings of Sweden (three crowns in the Coat of Arms, three kingdoms: Kings of Svears, Götars och Vends; Sveriges, Götes och Vendes Konung) means Finland, the form being akin to Findland, Vindland. As such, the Österland (=medievally inhabited parts of Finland) was the third kingdom and the thord part of the realm.

After the Finnish War (1808-1809) the eastern half of Sweden (Österland) was ceded to Russia, thus becoming the Russian Grand Duchy of Finland, and Norrland was divided between these two states. The Swedish portion of Norrland still represents more than half of Sweden's territory; it remains, however, sparsely populated compared to the south and middle. The town of Stockholm, which became the Swedish capital mostly because it was centrally located vis-a-vis to Finnish provinces, is geographically located in the east and south of Sweden, but in the Swedish mindset this is rather more perceived as middle Sweden.

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