Swedish is the official language of Sweden and is spoken by the vast majority of the nine million inhabitants of the country. It is a North Germanic language and quite similar to its sister North Germanic Languages, Danish and Norwegian.
For most of its history, Sweden was a larger country than today. At its height in 1658 the Swedish realm comprised the territories of contemporary Finland and Estonia as well as parts of Russia, Latvia, Germany, Denmark and Norway. Hence, Sweden's linguistic landscape has historically been very different from that of today.
Finnish was the majority language of Sweden's eastern parts, though it was used almost exclusively as a spoken language, although these areas also was home for a significant Swedish-speaking minority. Finnish became a minority language in the west, as well, since many Finnish speakers migrated there for economic reasons.
In Swedish Ingria, apart from Swedish also Finnish, Ingrian and Votian were spoken.
During the 18th century, French was the second language of Europe's upper classes and Sweden was no exception. The Swedish aristocracy often spoke French among themselves and code-switching between French and Swedish was common. The Swedish King Gustav III was a true Francophile and French was the common language at his court.
Dialects A number of Swedish dialects exist, some of which are divergent enough from standard Swedish to be considered separate languages.
The Dalecarlian (Elfdalian) dialect group is highly divergent, even within itself, so that speakers of separate sub-dialects do not always understand each other. Dialects of this group are spoken in the northern parts of the province of Dalarna, especially in the Älvdalen Municipality, by a population of 1,500.
Modern GutnishMain article: Modern Gutnish
Modern Gutnish exists as a spoken language in Gotland and Fårö. It is an open issue whether modern Gutnish is to be considered an independent language or a Scandinavian dialect. It derives, however, from Old Gutnish, which is indisputably a separate branch of the Old Norse language family.
The province of Jämtland.Spoken mainly in Jämtland, but with a scattered speaker population throughout the rest of Sweden, Jamtlandic or Jamska is a West Scandinavian language with 95% lexical similarity to Norwegian and Swedish, but generally more archaic. It has a native speaker population of 30,000.
The Swedish province of Scania.Spoken in the Swedish province of Scania (Skåne in Swedish), the Scanian dialect is considered by some to be a dialect of Danish, and a related dialect is also spoken in Bornholm, where it is called "East Danish" (Scania was part of the kingdom of Denmark until 1658). The varietiy generally spoken today is heavily influenced by standard Swedish.