Småland is a historical province (landskap) in southern Sweden. Småland borders Blekinge, Scania (Swedish: Skåne), Halland, Västergötland, Östergötland and the island Öland in the Baltic Sea. The name Småland literally means Small Lands. The latinized form Smolandia has been used in other languages. The highest summit in Småland is Tomtabacken with its 377 m.
The area was probably populated in the Stone Age from the south, by people moving along the coast up to Kalmar. Småland was populated by Stone Age peoples by at least 6000 BC, since the Alby People are known to have crossed the ice bridge across the Kalmar Strait at that time.
The name Småland ("small lands") comes from the fact that it was a combination of several independent lands, Kinda (today a part of Östergötland), Tveta, Vista, Vedbo, Tjust, Sevede, Aspeland, Handbörd, Möre, Värend, Finnveden and Njudung. Every small land had its own law in the Viking age and early middle age and could declare themselves neutral in wars Sweden was involved in, at least if the King had no army present at the parliamentary debate. Around 1350, in the reign of king Magnus Eriksson, a national law was introduced in Sweden, and the historic provinces lost much of their old autonomy.
The city of Kalmar is one of the oldest cities of Sweden, and in the medieval age it was the southernmost and the third largest city in Sweden, when it was a center for export of iron, which, in many cases, was handled by German merchants. At the time, Scania and Blekinge were not parts of Sweden.
Småland was the center of several peasant rebellions. The one closest to being successful was Dackefejden led by Nils Dacke in 1542–1543. When officials of king Gustav Vasa were assaulted and murdered, the king sent small expeditions to pacify the area, but all failed. Dacke was in reality the ruler of large parts of Småland during the winter, though heavily troubled by a blockade of supplies, before finally being defeated by larger forces attacking from both Västergötland and Östergötland. Dacke held a famous battle defence at the (now ruined) Kronoberg Castle, and was shot while trying to escape to then Danish-ruled Blekinge.
Overnight between 8 and 9 January 2005 the province suffered serious damage from the storm Gudrun.
Towns with former city status were: Eksjö (chartered around 1400), Gränna (1652), Huskvarna (1911), Jönköping (1284), Kalmar (approximately 1100), Ljungby (1936), Nybro (1932), Nässjö (1914), Oskarshamn (1856), Sävsjö (1947), Tranås (1919), Vetlanda (1920), Vimmerby (approximately 1400), Värnamo (1920), Västervik (approximately 1200), Växjö (1342)
Småland has three national parks:
In comparison with much of Sweden, Småland has a higher level of religious intensity and church participation.
Småland is also known for its free churches. However, the free church congregations are concentrated to Jönköping County. The larger parts of Kalmar County and Kronoberg County have few or no free church congregations.
Politically Småland is the strongest province for Kristdemokraterna (the Swedish Christian Democratic Party), and both the current leader Göran Hägglund and his predecessor Alf Svensson live in Jönköping Municipality in northern Småland.
The Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus, sw. Carl von Linné (1707–1778), often called the father of taxonomy or "The flower-king", was born in Älmhult in Småland. He gave the Twinflower its Latin name based on his own (Latin: Linnaea borealis), because of his particular fondness of it. The flower has become Småland's provincial flower.
The Swedish emigration to North America during the 19th century, is best depicted in a suite of novels by author Vilhelm Moberg, which is also the basis for the musical Kristina from Duvemåla created by Benny Andersson and Björn Ulvaeus of ABBA fame.
In her writing, children's book author Astrid Lindgren often portrayed scenes from her own childhood, growing up on a farm in Småland.
In the 20th century, Småland has been known for its high level of entrepreneurship and low unemployment, especially in the Gnosjöregion. Some suggest the harsh conditions have throughout history forced the inhabitants of the region to be cunning, inventive and cooperative.
Old Swedish encyclopedia Nordisk familjebok describes the inhabitants of Småland as follows:
The local language is a Swedish dialect known as Småländska (Smalandian). This may in turn be separated in two main branches, with the northern related to the Götaland dialects and the southern to the Scanian dialects.