Following the American example, Sweden introduced the concept of national parks as the first European country. In 1909 Sweden founded nine such national parks in one swoop.
Now there are 29 National Parks in Sweden, and five or six new ones are in planning stage. With a total of 732,000 hectares (or 7,320 square kilometers), they account for around 1.5 percent of Sweden’s surface.
The youngest National Park is located near Strömstad in the north of Bohuslän: Kosterhavet. This National Park is also Sweden’s only marine national park.
2.4 million visitors
The parks are very popular. In 2014 they were visited by 2.4 million people. Kosterhavet and Stenshuvud had 500,000 visitors each. Other parks that have high numbers of visitors are Tyresta, Söderåsen, Tiveden, Dalby Söderskog, Abisko, and Store Mosse.
Why national parks?
The purpose of a national park is to preserve “a large contiguous area of a certain landscape type in its natural state or essentially unchanged” (Swedish Environmental Code). The state owns all the land of a National Park.
The protected landscape types include:
- Coast and Sea
- Coniferous forests
- Deciduous forests
- Lakes and rivers
Hiking trails, visitor centres, and accommodation
Most National Parks have hiking trails. In some, there are information centres and staffed visitor centres, often called “Naturum”. Some National Parks also offer overnight accommodation.
All 29 parks
These are all the National Parks in Sweden, sorted alphabetically:
- Abisko, Norrbotten county, 7,700 hectares, founded 1909
- Ängsö, Stockholm county,195 hectares, founded 1909
- Björnlandet, Västerbotten county, 1,100 hectares, founded 1991
- Blå Jungfrun, Kalmar county, 198 hectares, founded 1926
- Dalby Söderskog, Skåne county, 36 hectares, founded 1918
- Djurö, Västra Götaland county, 2,400 hectares, founded 1991
- Fulufjället, Dalarna county, 38,500 hectares, founded 2002
- Färnebofjärden, on the border of Västmanland, Dalarna and Gävleborg county, 10,100 hectares, founded 1998
- Garphyttan, Örebro county, 111 hectares, founded 1909
- Gotska Sandön, Gotland county, 4,490 hectares, founded 1909
- Hamra, Gävleborg county, 28 hectares, founded 1909
- Haparanda archipelago, Norrbotten county, 6,000 hectares, founded 1995
- Kosterhavet, Västra Götalands county, 38,878 hectares, founded 2009
- Muddus/Muttus, Norrbotten county, 49,340 hectares, founded 1942
- Norra Kvill, Kalmar county, 14 hectares, founded 1927
- Padjelanta/Badjelánnda, Norrbotten county, 198,400 hectares, founded 1962
- Pieljekaise, Norrbotten county, 15,340 hectares, founded 1909
- Sarek, Norrbotten county, 197,000 hectares, founded 1909
- Skuleskogen, Västernorrland county, 2,360 hectares, founded 1984
- Sonfjället, Jämtland county, 10,300 hectares, founded 1909
- Stenshuvud, Skåne county, 390 hectares, founded 1986
- Stora Sjöfallet/Stuor Muorkke, Norrbotten county, 127,800 hectares, founded 1909
- Store Mosse, Jönköping county, 7,850 hectares, founded 1982
- Söderåsen, Skåne county, 1,625 hectares, founded 2001
- Tiveden, Örebro county and Västra Götaland county, 1,350 hectares, founded 1983
- Tresticklan, Västra Götalands county, 2,387 hectares, founded 1996
- Tyresta, Stockholm county, 1,964 hectares, founded 1993
- Töfsingdalen, Dalarna county, 1,615 hectares, founded 1930
- Vadvetjåkka, Norrbotten county, 2,630 hectares, founded 1920
Five new National Parks
In May 2015 the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency suggested to establish five new National Parks during a six-year period:
- Reivo forests in the municipality of Arvidsjaur, Norrbotten county
- Nämdö archipelago in the municipality of Värmdö (which belongs to Stockholm and Sörmland)
- Bästeträsk on the island of Gotland
- Vålådalen-Sylarna-Helags, Jämtland county
- Lake Åsnen, Kronoberg county, Småland
- www.swedishepa.se/About-us/Publikationer/ISBN/8600/978-91-620-8654-1/ – here you can download a 15-page guide to all National Parks in Sweden, with map (in English)
Söderåsen National Park
Store Mosse National Park
Stenshuvud National Park
West of Lake Åsnen – soon a National Park?
Source for list of parks: Naturvårdsverket (the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency); photo on the top of this page: Lars-Ove Loo, Kosterhavets Nationalpark