Constitutional monarchy in northern Europe, occupying the eastern portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula. Militaristic expansion in the 17th century made the Baltic Sea a Swedish lake, but after 1709, a series of defeats stripped Sweden of most of its empire. In 1813, Sweden joined in the war against Napoleon, receiving Norway (independent 1905) as compensation. Sweden has since maintained a policy of armed neutrality and has devoted its energies to social and industrial development. Sweden has long pioneered social and welfare policies, and its social support system is quite extensive. In 1976, 44 years of socialist government ended with the election of a conservative coalition. Conservatives and Social Democrats have since alternated in power, attempting to maintain the high quality of life in Sweden, while reducing the less affordable and economically dysfunctional aspects of the system. In 1994 voters approved joining the European Union.