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Geography

Situated in Northern Europe, Sweden lies west of the Baltic Sea and Gulf of Bothnia, providing a long coastline, and forms the eastern part of the Scandinavian Peninsula. To the west is the Scandinavian mountain chain (Skanderna), a range that separates Sweden from Norway. Finland is located to its northeast. It has maritime borders with Denmark, Germany, Poland, Russia, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, and it is also linked to Denmark (southwest) by the Oresund Bridge. Sweden lies between latitudes 55 and 70 N, and mostly between longitudes 11 and 25 E (part of Stora Drammen island is just west of 11). At 449,964 km2 (173,732 sq mi), Sweden is the 55th largest country in the world,[64] the 4th largest country entirely in Europe, and the largest in Northern Europe. The lowest elevation in Sweden is in the bay of Lake Hammarsjon, near Kristianstad at ?2.41 m (?7.91 ft) below sea level. The highest point is Kebnekaise at 2,111 m (6,926 ft) above sea level. Sweden has 25 provinces or landskap (landscapes), based on culture, geography and history. While these provinces serve no political or administrative purpose, they play an important role in people's self-identity. The provinces are usually grouped together in three large lands, parts, the northern Norrland, the central Svealand and southern Gotaland. The sparsely populated Norrland encompasses almost 60% of the country. About 15% of Sweden lies north of the Arctic Circle. Southern Sweden is predomin ntly agricultural, with increasing forest coverage northward. Around 65% of Sweden's total land area is covered with forests. The highest population density is in the Oresund Region in southern Sweden, along the western coast up to central Bohuslan, and in the valley of lake Malaren and Stockholm. Gotland and Oland are Sweden's largest islands; Vanern and Vattern are its largest lakes. Vanern is the third largest in Europe, after Lake Ladoga and Lake Onega in Russia. Most of Sweden has a temperate climate, despite its northern latitude, with four distinct seasons and mild temperatures throughout the year. The country can be divided into three types of climate; the southernmost part has an oceanic climate, the central part has a humid continental climate and the northernmost part has a subarctic climate. However, Sweden is much warmer and drier than other places at a similar latitude, and even somewhat farther south, mainly because of the Gulf Stream.[65][66] For example, central and southern Sweden has much warmer winters than many parts of Russia, Canada, and the northern United States.[67] Because of its high latitude, the length of daylight varies greatly. North of the Arctic Circle, the sun never sets for part of each summer, and it never rises for part of each winter. In the capital, Stockholm, daylight lasts for more than 18 hours in late June but only around 6 hours in late December. Sweden receives between 1,100 to 1,900 hours of sunshine annually.