Swedish colonization of the Americas

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The Swedish colonization of the Americas included a 17th-century colony on the Delaware River in what is now Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, as well as two possessions in the Caribbean during the 18th and 19th century.

Until 1809, Finland was an integral part of Sweden, and many of the settlers of Sweden's colonies came from present-day Finland or were Finnish-speaking[1]. Finns came to America particularly from the outlying regions of Savonia and Kainuu, where slash and burn agriculture was a way of life for many, and people were used to life as wilderness pioneers.

The Swedes and Finns brought their log house design to America, where it became the typical log cabin of pioneers.


North America

The colony of New Sweden (1638–1655) was located along the Delaware River with settlements in modern Delaware (e.g., Wilmington), Pennsylvania (e.g., Philadelphia) and New Jersey (e.g., New Stockholm and Swedesboro). The colony was conquered by the Dutch, who perceived the presence of Swedish colonists in North America as a threat to their interests in the New Netherland colony.


Saint Barthélemy (1785–1878) was operated as a porto franco (free port). The capital city of Gustavia retains its Swedish name.

Guadeloupe (1813–1814) came into Swedish possession as a consequence of the Napoleonic Wars. It gave rise to the Guadeloupe Fund.

Other settlement

Swedish immigrants continued to come to the Americas to settle within other countries or colonies. The mid-19th and early 20th centuries saw a large Swedish emigration to the United States. Approximately 1.3 million Swedes settled in the United States during that period, and there are currently 3,998,310 Swedish Americans.

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