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Stockholm’s position has been key to Swedish strength for nearly a millennium. Today’s Swedes are officially neutral, pacifist, and friendly. Their ancient Viking forebears did not engender such a reputation. Access to timber, precious few resources and ample coastlines and islands left early Nordic peoples well-suited for naval expansion and piracy. But the position of Stockholm along the relatively shallow and easily-navigated Baltic sea made the city, and Sweden, wealthy. Stockholm’s central location between the Gulfs of Bothnia and Finland also enabled Sweden to control goods moving between these bodies of water, the Baltic states, Poland, and northern Germany (at one point all parts of the Hanseatic league).

 

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