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Stockholm - Europe
Me2Desi Travel Information
Stockholm is the largest city and capital of Sweden. It is the site of the national Swedish government, the parliament, and the official residence of the Swedish monarch. As of 2003, the Stockholm metropolitan area is home to 21.3% of the Swedish population and contributes 29.1% of Sweden's gross domestic product. Stockholm has been the political and economic centre of Sweden since the 13th century. Today Stockholm Municipality is the largest of the municipalities of Sweden, with a population of 800,000 and Stockholm urban area with a population of 1.3 million is Sweden's largest continuously built-up area. The metropolitan area of Stockholm has a population of almost 2 million. Its strategic location on several islands on the east coast of Sweden at the mouth of Lake Mälaren, by the Stockholm archipelago, has been historically important. Since Stockholm is built on islands, tourist interests have tried to popularize the appellation "The Venice of the North".

The location appears in Norse sagas as Agnafit, and especially in connection with the legendary king Agne. The earliest mention of Stockholm in writing dates from 1252, when the mines in Bergslagen made it an important site in the iron trade. The first part of the name (stock) means log or it may be connected to an old German word (Stock), which means fortification, while the second part of the name (holm) means islet, and is thought to refer to the islet Helgeandsholmen in central Stockholm. The city is said to have been founded by Birger Jarl in order to protect Sweden from a sea invasion by foreign navies, and to stop the pillage of towns such as Sigtuna on Lake Mälaren. Stockholm's core, the present Old Town (Gamla Stan) was built on the central island next to Helgeandsholmen between 1300 and 1500. The city originally rose to prominence as a result of the Baltic trade of the Hanseatic League. Stockholm developed strong economic and cultural linkages with Lübeck, Hamburg, Danzig, Visby, Reval (modern-day Tallinn) and Riga during this time. Between 1296 and 1478 Stockholm's City Council was made up of 24 members, half of whom were Hanseatic League representatives. Stockholm is located on Sweden's east coast, where Lake Mälaren meets the Baltic Sea. The central parts of the city consist of fourteen islands that are continuous with Stockholm archipelago. The geographical city centre is situated on the water, in the bay Riddarfjärden. The vast majority of Stockholmians work in the service industry, which accounts for roughly 85% of jobs in Stockholm. The almost total absence of heavy industry makes Stockholm one of the world's cleanest metropolises. The last decade has seen a significant number of jobs created in high technology companies. Large employers include IBM, Ericsson, and Electrolux. A major IT centre is located in Kista, in northern Stockholm.

Stockholm is Sweden's financial centre. Major Swedish banks, such as Swedbank, Handelsbanken, and Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken, are headquartered in Stockholm, as are the major insurance companies Skandia and Trygg-Hansa. Stockholm is also home to Sweden's foremost stock exchange, the Stockholm Stock Exchange (Stockholmsbörsen). Finally, about 45% of Swedish companies with more than 200 employees are headquartered in Stockholm. Famous clothes retailer H&M is also headquartered in the city. In the last years, tourism has played an important part in the city's economy. Between 1991–2004, annual overnight stays increased from 4 to 7.7 million. Gröna Lund is an amusement park located on the island of Djurgården. It is open from end of April to middle of September and also opens during Christmas for market. Gröna Lund also serves as a concert venue

Stockholm has an extensive public transport system. It consists of the Stockholm Metro (Tunnelbana); three regional/suburban rail systems: commuter rail (pendeltåg), Roslagsbanan, and Saltsjöbanan; three light rail systems: Nockebybanan, Lidingöbanan, and Tvärbanan; a large number of bus lines, and an inner-city boat line. All the land-based public transport in Stockholm County, except the airport buses/trains, are organized by Storstockholms Lokaltrafik (SL), with the operation and maintenance of the public transport services delegated to several contractors, such as Veolia Transport who operate the metro and regional/suburban railways except for the commuter rail. The archipelago boat traffic is handled by Waxholmsbolaget. SL has a common ticket system in the entire Stockholm County, which allows for easy travel between different modes of transport. The tickets are of two main types, single ticket and travel cards, both allowing for unlimited travel with SL in the entire Stockholm County for the duration of the ticket validity. Starting April 1st, 2007, a new zone system(A,B,C) and price system applies for single tickets. Single tickets are now available in forms of cash ticket, individual unit pre-paid tickets, pre-paid ticket slips of 10, sms-ticket and machine ticket. Cash tickets bought at the point of travel are the most expensive and pre-paid tickets slips of 10 are the cheapest. A single ticket is valid for one hour. The duration of the travel card validity depends on the exact type, they are available from 24 hours up to a year. A 30-day card costs 690 SEK (73 EUR; 115 USD). Tickets of all these types are available with reduced price for persons under 20 and over 65 years old. Stockholm has a congestion pricing system, Stockholm congestion tax, in use on a permanent basis since August 1, 2007, after having had a seven month trial period in the first half of 2006. The City Centre is within the congestion tax zone. All the entrances and exits of this area have unmanned control points operating with automatic number plate recognition. All vehicles entering or exiting the congestion tax affected area, with a few exceptions, have to pay 10–20 SEK (1.09–2.18 EUR, 1.49–2.98 USD) depending on the time of day between 06:30 and 18:29. The maximum tax amount per vehicle per day is 60 SEK (6.53 EUR, 8.94 USD). Payment is done by various means within 14 days after one has passed one of the control points, one cannot pay at the control points. After the trial period was over, consultative referendums were held in Stockholm Municipality and several other municipalities in Stockholm County. The then-reigning government (cabinet Persson) stated that they would only take into consideration the results of the referendum in Stockholm Municipality. The opposition parties (Alliance for Sweden) stated that if they were to form a cabinet after the general election—which was held the same day as the congestion tax referendums—they would take into consideration the referendums held in several the other municipalities as well, but didn't specify more in detail how they would do that. The results of the referendums were that the Stockholm Municipality voted for the congestion tax, but all the other municipalities voted against it. The opposition parties won the general election and a few days before they formed government (cabinet Reinfeldt) they announced that the congestion tax would be reintroduced in Stockholm, but that the revenue would go entirely to road construction in and around Stockholm. During the trial period and according to the agenda of the previous government the revenue went entirely to public transport.
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