(Chapter IX, section 6)




Sweden, which occupies the more southerly, less mountainous, and larger side of the Scandinavian Peninsula, is in area the fifth largest country in Europe. Most of its land is of high economic utility, since the low, well-watered slope of southern and central Sweden, dotted with lakes, is well suited for agriculture, while in the north, large forests and plentiful mineral deposits furnish materials for industry. Since 1775 Sweden's population has grown from two to six millions, not including the million and a half who have emigrated to the United States. Much of this increase has been fostered by the growth of industrial life, especially in the mining areas and in the cities. Central Sweden, in a belt reaching southwestward from Stockholm, and the peninsula of Skåne, are the regions of thickest settlement. Most of the Swedes who have gone to the United States originated in Götaland, the southwestern part of the kingdom.

In prehistoric times, Sweden, although less populous than Denmark, was far more important than Norway. From Ancylus times until the beginning of the Iron Age, the southwestern portion opposite the Danish Islands was a center of cultural activity, while the central and northern parts of the country were conservative and rustic cultural outposts. The brachycephalic Mesolithic population so typical of the Danish islands was less firmly rooted in Sweden, and the successive invasions of Megalithic and Corded people passed over into Sweden relatively unaltered, and produced a greater proportionate effect upon the racial composition of this country than upon that of Denmark. The Corded people, especially, moved northward into the central portions of the kingdom, and probably entered Trøndelagen, where their racial type is still important, by the Swedish route.

The Iron Age invaders, the linguistic ancestors of the modern Scandinavians, again chose Sweden as their especial sphere of colonization, and settled here in greater numbers than in Denmark or in Norway. Sweden became a great breeding ground for Nordic peoples, chief worshippers of Odin and of Frey, and after less than a thousand years, the country became so crowded with them that overpopulation, coupled with the onset of an adverse climate, forced a huge mass exodus southward.

This movement was, in effect, the great series of Germanic migrations, the Völkerwanderung, which spread from Schleswig-Holstein and the Low Countries, on the west, and from the mouth of the Vistula on the east. The Goths, the Burgundians, and the Vandals, except for the Franks and Saxons, the most numerous and most important tribes of Germans, all had their origins in Sweden. As a womb of peoples Sweden was more important than Norway, and at an earlier date. Sweden was, in fact, to the continental world what Norway was to Britain, Iceland, and Normandy.

Although, since the Iron Age, Sweden's historical role has been that of a feeder of peoples, she has at various times, and to a lesser extent, acted in the opposite capacity. During the Völkerwanderung the remnants of the Herulians and various bands of disappointed Goths returned to the Nordic homelands, tired of wandering, and it is not unlikely that they brought with them new racial elements picked up in Hungary and in the lands north of the Black Sea. Later on, during the Viking period of the ninth to eleventh centuries, Swedes, as well as Danes and Norwegians, raided many countries and brought back with them thralls from the British Isles, France, and the lands across the Baltic. According to Nordenstreng55 these prisoners were settled most commonly in the present county of Uppland, immediately north of the city of Stockholm.

The development of cities in Sweden drew to that country large numben of traders and merchants, from Viking times onward, and these commercial people were largely of Germanic origin. Frisian and Saxon chapmen were the first, and these were followed by others, in later times, from various parts of Germany, including the southern principalities. During the period of Sweden's great military expansion (1611-1718 A.D) when the kingdom extended over large parts of Germany, many Germans were made noblemen, and went to live in Sweden. Thus the German blood in Sweden is a factor to be reckoned with, and has influenced, chiefly, the city population and the nobility. The latter class has also received strong infusions from Scotland, for Scotsmen, who served under Gustavus Adolphus in large numbers, were in many instances rewarded for their bravery by elevation to the Swedish peerage. Furthermore, Walloons, who represented a much darker and rounder-headed racial element than these other immigrants, were brought to Sweden during the seventeenth century to work in the iron foundries. Some thirty or forty thousand of their descendants can still be identified.

More important than any of these absorptions, in all likelihood, has been the influence of the Finns upon the Swedish people. In the Middle Ages, Kvaens wandered into the northern counties, but not in great numbers. The same Kvaenish migration which affected the northern provinces of Norway from 1700 A.D. onward, also reënforced this element in northern Sweden. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, other Finns settled in Värmland and Dalarne, counties bordering on the Norwegian provinces of Østfold and Hedmark,, and the Finns of Grue56 in Norway came as part of this same migration. Other Finns remained in scattered settlements between the Värmland and Dalarne nucleus and the head of the Gulf of Bothnia, while still others penetrated as far south as Stockholm.

Although this migration ceased about 1700, over 13,000 Finns had come to Sweden and to a small district in Norway. Although these Finns were not numerous, the population of Sweden at that time was no more than one and a half millions, and the Finns were particularly prolific. Today only two villages in Värmland retain Finnish speech from the time of this migration. In Norrbotten, in the valleys of Tome and Muonio, more recent colonies of Finns, from southwestern Finland, still speak their own language, and form a distinct alien bloc. In all there are, at present, about 30,000 Finnish speakers in Sweden, in addition to whom it is estimated that well over 100,000 Swedes are at least partially of Finnish descent.

In comparison with most European countries, Sweden has, in post-Iron Age times, been subjected to remarkably few foreign influences which would affect her racial composition. Despite the absorptions and immigrations noted above, Sweden remains one of the most homogeneous nations in Europe both in race and in pedigree. This homogeneity is largely the result of geography, for in contrast to the rugged Norwegian landscape, with its mountains and fjords and distinct centers of racial concentration, the flat surface of Sweden, with its modern industrial development and fluidity of population, has brought about a striking racial unity. In Sweden social and occupational differences in physical type are almost as great as regional ones. In no racial character are Swedish sub-groups, whether geographical or social, strongly differentiated.

The same basic Hallstatt Nordic type which found such a favorable breeding ground in Sweden during the Iron Age is still the predominant race in that kingdom. It has absorbed into its ethnic body both older and newer peoples, and has spread the resultant blend with remarkable evenness over the surface of the nation. On the whole, Sweden is the most Nordic nation in Europe in the Iron Age sense, and it is much more Nordic than Norway. At the same time, owing to geographical factors again, the valleys of southeastern Norway contain as unaltered an Iron Age Nordic population as any in Sweden. The metrical characters of the recruit material for the entire Swedish nation are very similar, in fact, to those of the southeastern Norwegians. 57 The stature mean of the Swedes is 172.2 cm., and their characteristic bodily proportions are equally close to the Norwegian standard. Regional variation in stature stretches only from 169.9 cm. in the northeastern manufacturing districts to 172.5 cm. in the central provinces conuguous with Trøndelag. In the far north, where Finnish influence is common, and in the south, where the order, more brachycephalic populations of the Neolithic and Bronze Ages were seated, the length of the trunk is relatively greater, and of the legs smaller, than in the central parts of the kingdom, but these regional differences are less pronounced than those between social and occupational groups in the nation as a whole. As in Norway, the population drawn to the cities is notably shorter-armed than that which remains upon the land.

The mean head length of Swedish recruits is 193.8 mm., and the breadth 152.3 mm., yielding a cephalic index of 77.7. The longest heads, with regional means running up to 195 mm., are found in the west, over against Norway, and the shortest in the north. The lowest cephalic index mean is 76.7, and the highest, concentrated in the north, are all below 80. The three principal breadth diameters of the face, minimum frontal, bizygomatic, and bigonial, have national means of 104.6 mm., 136.0 mm., and 103.4 mm., respectively, all of which are typically Nordic and comparable to those of the eastern valley Norwegians. Slight regional differences place the narrowest foreheads and faces in the western counties, and the broadest in the north and south. The total face height of 126.6 mm. is again a typically Nordic mean, comparable to that obtained by Bryn in his later work on the Eastern Valley people.58 While the narrowest faces are found in western Sweden, as is to be expected, the longest are typical of farmers in the north, where the Corded element may be slightly more prevalent. The Swedes are typically leptorrhine,59 and the commonest nasal profile form is straight. Concave noses, which reach the rather high figure of 28 per cent in the kingdom, are commonest in the north and least frequent in the south.

According to the Anthropologia Suecica, 52 per cent of Swedes had ash-blond hair, and 23 per cent golden. Thus the proportions of these two classes of blondism are reversed in comparison to Norway. The two countries are about equal in amount of dark hair shades, but, by and large, Norway would seem to be lighter haired than Sweden,60 if we may rely upon a comparison based on a correlation of two scales. In any case, the most numerous category is a medium to light brown, with extreme blonds in the minority. Regional differences, though slight, are suggestive. Götaland, the Goth country, as southern and southwestern Sweden was anciently designated, is lighter than Svealand, or central Sweden; Norrland, the north country, is in turn the darkest. The most red hair is found in the west and south, and the least in the east, toward Finland.

Retzius and Fürst found 67 per cent of light eyes, 29 per cent of mixed, and 4 per cent of dark. In the first category were presumably included light eyes wit a slight spotting, as in the Martin numbers 13 and 14. The Lundborg and Linders study, made with a different observational scheme,61 raised the first category to 87 per cent, and the third to 5 per cent. In any case, there can be no doubt that the eye colors of the Swedish people are predominantly light mixed and light, as in Norway; and that the lightest eyes in the kingdom are found in western Sweden, and the darkest in the north.

Correlations within the Lundborg and Linders series of 47,000 men show certain slight linkages, which could be dismissed as insignificant if found on smaller samples. The cephalic index decreases slightly, and the facial index rises, with an increase in stature; similarly, the tallest statures have a tendency to go with brown hair and light eyes. It is not unreasonable to suppose that this combination may be a faint reflection of the absorption of a Corded racial element into the population of Sweden. In the same way an association of flaxen hair, moderate stature, mesocephalic head form, and convexity of nasal profile, makes it unlikely that all high cephalic indices in Sweden are due to East Baltic influence, and suggests rather a survival of mesocephalic and brachycephalic elements in southern Sweden, comparable to those in western Norway. Truly short stature, linked with dark pigmentation and round head form, furnishes an infrequent combination, but one which may imply a Lappish strain in the far north, submerged Alpine elements, or both.

The Swedish material, and especially the correlations, confirms the opinion formed in Norway, that the Nordic race as such is not and was never wholly blond. The characteristic eye color is blue or gray, and the presence or absence of a small amount of superficial iris pigment seems racially irrelevant. At the same time, it is likely that all hair color shades from a light medium brown to the lightest, whether on the ashen or golden side, should be considered as "pure" lights, since, as the Swedish material shows, persons having these shades on the head have, as a rule, the same colored pubic hair. In Sweden, as in Norway, what linkages there are which point to the survival or resegregation of a Corded type indicate that this type was characterized by exceptionally light eyes, but a predominantly brown shade of hair.

Abundant anthropometric data from Sweden make it clear that the basic, and by far the most numerous element in the population is, as in eastern Norway, an Iron Age Nordic one, transferred from its central and eastern European home; earlier elements have survived less here than in Norway. There is, however, a strong concentration of unreduced Brünn and Borreby types, as illustrated in plates 4 and 5, in the fishing and seafaring population of the southwestern coast, across from Denmark; the presence of these types, although not clearly indicated by existing surveys, cannot, nevertheless, be denied.

At the same time, Corded elements within the Nordic racial body are most evident in the north, and especially near the Norwegian provinces of Trøndelagen. Lappish influences are also to be felt in the far north, while modern Finnish invasions and infiltrations have introduced the East Baltic type into central Sweden in some numbers. The nature of this type need not be discussed here, but will be studied in later sections of the present chapter.


54. The principal sources for this section are:
Lundborg, H., and Linders, F. J., The Racial Characters of the Swedish Nation.
Retzius, G., and Fürst, C. M., Anthropologia Suecica.

55. Nordenstreng, G., Origin, Growth, and Racial Components of the Swedish Nation, in Lundborg and Linders, pp. 41-49. Special ref. to p.44.

56. See p. 313.

57. Lundborg and Linden, op.cit.

58. Bryn, H., AAnz, vol.9, 1932, pp.141-164. It is higher than the Norwegian recruit material means, which were apparently taken with a different technique.

59. The only nasal constants in the L. and L. material are for Skaraborgs Län, where a N. I. of 62.7 is found. The nasal dimensions of 61.37 mm. for height and 30.18 for breadth (p.102) are presumably misprints.

60. This statement is in direct contradiction to the opinion of most anthropologist; especially of W. Scheidt, as expressed in his Die rassischen Verhältnisse in Nordeuopa, (ZFMA, vol.28, 1930, pp.1-198) and is by no means certain. It Is based on the following correlation of the L. and L. material with that from the Somatotogie der Norweger:

FISCHER Nos.........DESIGNATION...........SWEDEN..........NORWAY
12-25....................flaxen.......................6.9 %.............27.9 %
7-11, 26................light brown................62.5................50.0
5-6........................brown (medium).......25.1................17.2
4...........................brownish black............2.0.................3.7

The Swedish recruits were observed for hair color by means of a local chart, which was later correlated with the Fischer standard. (L. & L., p.10.) The comparison between the Swedish and Norwegian results was made by recombining the total Norwegian series according to the Swedish divisions. The difference in amounts of red is undoubtedly due to a difference of standards, as Conitzer has previously stated. (Conitzer, H., ZFMA, vol.19, 1931, pp.83-147.)

61. "#1 - light iris (blue, gray, pale yellow, or green), also light iris with insignificant brown spots, points, or patches; 2 = mixed iris and light iris with brown aureole; 3 = light brown or dark iris." L. & L., p.10.