Language section number:
Swedish is a North Germanic language, spoken natively by about 9 million people predominantly in Sweden and parts of Finland, where it has equal legal standing with Finnish. It is largely mutually intelligible with Norwegian and Danish. Along with the other North Germanic languages, Swedish is a descendant of Old Norse, the common language of the Germanic peoples living in Scandinavia during the Viking Era. It is currently the largest of the North Germanic languages by number of speakers. Standard Swedish evolved from the Central Swedish dialects in the 19th century and was well established by the beginning of the 20th century. While distinct regional varieties descended from the older rural dialects still exist, the spoken and written language is uniform and standardized.
Swedish is the official national language of Sweden. As of 2006, it was the first or sole native language of 7.5 to 8 million Swedish residents. In 2007 around 5.5% (c. 290,000) of the population of Finland were native speakers of Swedish, though the percentage has been declining steadily since Finland became part of Russia after the Finnish War 1808–1809. The Finland Swedish minority is concentrated in the coastal areas and archipelagos of southern and western Finland. In some of these areas, Swedish is the predominant language; in 19 municipalities, 16 of which are located in Åland, Swedish is the sole official language. According to a rough estimation, as of 2010 there were up to 300,000 Swedish-speakers living outside Sweden and Finland. The largest populations were in the United States (up to 100,000), the UK, Spain and Germany (c. 30,000 each) and a large proportion of the remaining 100,000 in the Scandinavian countries, France, Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Canada and Australia.