Today I thought I was in one region of Sweden, but I was reminded by a Swedish friend that I was in fact somewhere else. This dividing up of Sweden is not easy to get a grip of.
Sweden is divided into 3 regions: Norrland, in the North, Svealand in the middle and Götaland at the bottom. These regions have no official purpose, except making it easier for weather readers to present their forecasts.
Within each region, there are many counties (landskap). Sweden has in fact 25 counties, with Lapland being the most northern and Skåne being the most southern. These counties have their own coats of arms, flowers, and often traditional clothing.
In 1634, the administrative responsibilities for justice, roads, hospitals etc were removed from the counties and given to an organisation of ‘län’ – administrative counties. There are 20 of these in Sweden. There can be more than one county in the area covered by a ‘län’. For example Södermannsland ‘län’ includes the counties of Södermannland, Uppland and Närke. Each ‘län’ has a main city of residence, where the county government (länsstyrelsen) is based and the governer (landshövding) has his/her residence. For Södermannland, this is Nyköping.
Within each administrative county there are local councils (Kommun) who are responsible for social services on a local level. There are 290 of these in Sweden today.
So when traveling through Sweden, you will be in a region, a county, an administrative county and a council at the same time. No wonder it’s hard to know where you are sometimes!