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Swedish is the national language of Sweden (population 9 million) and one of the two national languages of Finland (population 5 million). It is a Scandinavian language so closely related to Danish and Norwegian that speakers of one language can usually read texts in the others with little or no difficulty. Swedish is also a Germanic language, sharing many elements with English, German, Dutch, and Icelandic.
Knowledge of Swedish provides access to Swedish and Scandinavian history and culture. One can read about or study Swedes' many distinguished contributions in international mediation, politics and public policy, architecture and design, medicine and the natural sciences, and theater and film. Famous Swedes include Queen Christina, botanist Carl von Linné, inventor and philanthropist Alfred Nobel, diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, playwright August Strindberg, actresses Greta Garbo and Ingrid Bergman, and filmmaker Ingmar Bergman.