most valuable assets are forests, mines (especially iron, but copper has
also been important), and in modern days hydroelectric power. The metallurgic
industry was started in the 16th and 17th centuries, and through the ages
Sweden has been known as one of the biggest iron exporters in the world.
A mechanical industry came with the industrial revolution in the 19th
Century, and Swedish products such as steel (Sandvik), paper (SCA and
others), cars (Volvo and Saab), ball bearings (SKF), electrical equipment
(ASEA, now ABB), telephone equipment (Ericsson), refrigerators (Electrolux)
and cameras (Hasselblad) have become well known. Beside cars Saab has
also produced computers and aircrafts.
More recently also medical equipment (Gambro), medicine (Pharmacia, Astra),
chemical industry (Nobel, AGA) and food-processing equipment (Tetra-Pak,
Alfa-Laval) has been developed and marketed by Swedish companies. During
the 1980s and 1990s there has been some debate in Sweden over the reasons
why new products (as for instance a flat screen for television and computers)
has to find foreign companies for investments and marketing.
After particularly good years from World-War II to the early 1970s,
Sweden has then seen branch after branch of the industry to lose competitive
capacity. Textile industry, skinn industry and shipyards have almost disappeared.
During the 1990s the mining industry has went through a period of radical
The wide forests are mainly used for production of paper, contributing
with about 20% of Sweden's export (some wood export included).