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Götaland -- The southern part of Sweden takes its name from the ancient Goths. Some historians believe they settled in this region, which is similar in climate and architecture to parts of northern Europe, especially Germany. This is the most populated part of Sweden and includes eight provinces -- Östergötland, Småland (the "Kingdom of Crystal"), Västergoütland, Skåne, Dalsland, Bohuslän, Halland, and Blekinge -- plus the islands of Oüland and Gotland. The Göta Canal cuts through this district. Gothenburg is the most important port in the west, and Stockholm, the capital, is the chief port in the east. Aside from Stockholm, Skåne, the château district, is the most heavily visited area. Its dunes, moors, and pastures are often compared to the Danish countryside. Many seaside resorts line the west and east coasts.

Svealand -- The central region encompasses the folkloric province of Dalarna (Dalecarlia in English) and Värmland (immortalized in the novels of Selma Lagerloüf). These districts are the ones most frequented by visitors. Other provinces include Våstmanland, Uppland, Soüdermanland, and Nårke. Ancient Svealand often is called the cultural heart of Sweden. Some 20,000 islands lie along its eastern coast.

Norrland -- Northern Sweden makes up Norrland, which lies above the 61st parallel and includes about 50% of the landmass. It's inhabited by only about 15% of the population, including Lapps and Finns. Norrland consists of 24 provinces, of which Lapland is the most popular with tourists. It's a land of thick forests, fast-flowing (and cold) rivers, and towering mountain peaks. Lapland, the home of the Lapp reindeer herds, consists of tundra. Kiruna is one of Norrland's most important cities because of its iron-ore deposits.

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