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The Counties of Sweden, or län, are the first level administrative and political subdivisions of Sweden. Sweden is divided into 21 counties.

The counties were established in 1634 on Count Axel Oxenstierna's initiative, superseding the provinces of Sweden to introduce a modern administration. The county borders often trail the provincial borders, but the Crown often chose to make slight relocations to suit their purposes.

There are controversial proposals to divide Sweden into larger regions, replacing the current counties.


In each county there is a County Administrative Board (länsstyrelse) headed by a governor (landshövding) as well as a County Council and several other government organisations.

The County Administrative Board is appointed by the Government to coordinate administration with national political goals for the county.

The county council or landsting on the other hand is a regional government, i.e. a political assembly appointed by the electorate to deliberate on the municipal affairs of the county, primarily regarding the public healthcare system and also public transport, education and culture.

A number of several other government agencies are organised on a county basis, including the main bodies of police, employment, social insurance, and forestry services.


With official county codes.

Counties of Sweden

Comparing with provinces of Sweden, one sees many similarities

Each county is further divided into municipalities (kommuner), the existence of which is partly at the discretion of the central government. Since 2004 their number has been 290, thus an average of 13.8 municipalities per county. (See Municipalities of Sweden)

Until 1968, the City of Stockholmmarker had its own "county code" A,which is still used interchangeably with AB in some contexts.


Older subdivisions

The provinces of Sweden, or landskap, and the lands of Sweden, or landsdelar, lack political importance today but are common denominations culturally and historally.

Historically, the provinces were divisioned into three lands: Götaland, being southern and western Sweden; Svealand being eastern and south-eastern, and Norrland being the entire northern half. The two former referred to ancient tribes, and the third is a geographical reference. They are still commonly used as geographical references.


After the Finnish War, Sweden was forced to cede the counties in Finlandmarker, to Russiamarker following the Treaty of Fredrikshamn in (1809). However, the counties were upheld in Finlandmarker until a reform in 1997. They are still in use in Sweden, 370 years hence.

The counties in current-day Finland established in 1634 were: Turku and Pori County, Uusimaa and Häme County, Vyborg and Savonlinna County, Ostrobothnia County and Kexholm County. Over time the number of subdivisions in Finland increased to twelve, until a reorganization in 1997 reduced their number to six provinces, while keeping the administrative model intact.

Abolished counties

Abolished counties in current day Sweden proper are:

Future regions

Six or nine new administrative regions.
On the account of the Swedish government, Ansvarskommittén has been investigating the possibilities of merging the current 21 counties into 6-9 larger regions. If approved, these would come into effect around 2015. These suggestion of new regions were found in their final report:
  1. Norra Sverige: Norrbotten Countymarker + Västerbotten Countymarker + Jämtland Countymarker + Västernorrland Countymarker + Nordanstigmarker and Hudiksvallmarker
  2. Bergslagen: the rest of Gävleborg Countymarker + Dalarna Countymarker + Örebro Countymarker + Värmland Countymarker
  3. Mälardalen: Stockholm County + Uppsala Countymarker + Södermanland Countymarker + Västmanland Countymarker + Gotland Countymarker
  4. Västra Götaland: Västra Götaland Countymarker + Halland Countymarker
  5. Östra Götaland: Östergötland Countymarker + Jönköping Countymarker + Kronoberg County + Kalmar County
  6. Södra Götaland: Skåne Countymarker + Blekinge Countymarker
  1. Norra Sverige: Norrbotten Countymarker + Västerbotten Countymarker + Örnsköldsvikmarker
  2. Mellannorrland: Jämtland Countymarker + Västernorrland Countymarker (except Örnsköldsvik) + Nordanstigmarker and Hudiksvallmarker
  3. Dalarna-Gävleborg: Dalarna Countymarker + Gävleborg Countymarker (except Nordanstig and Hudiksvall)
  4. Västra Svealand: Värmland Countymarker + Örebro Countymarker
  5. Mälardalen: Stockholm County + Uppsala Countymarker + Södermanland Countymarker + Västmanland Countymarker + Gotland Countymarker
  6. Västra Götaland: Västra Götaland Countymarker + Halland Countymarker
  7. Östergötland: Östergötland Countymarker + Västervikmarker
  8. Småland: Jönköping Countymarker + Kronoberg County + Kalmar County (except Västervik)
  9. Södra Götaland: Skåne Countymarker + Blekinge Countymarker

A model for this comes from the merger of some counties into Skåne Countymarker and Västra Götaland Countymarker in year 1998, which is now considered a success.

The counties are discussing the proposal. An obstacle is that Stockholm County does not want to merge with any other county, while its neighbours want to merge with Stockholm.


The European Union is divided into a Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics where the counties in Sweden correspond to the third level of division. For the purpose of creating regions corresponding to the second level, counties have been grouped into eight Riksområden, or National Areas: Stockholm, East Middle Sweden, North Middle Sweden, Middle Norrland, Upper Norrland, Småland and the islands, West Sweden and South Sweden.

See also


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