A Swedish colony in North America 1638 – 1655, situated along the Delaware River in what today is Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The reason for Sweden to acquire New Sweden was that several other European countries already had colonies in North America, and that the importance of long distance trade increased in general. In a way it was a gold rush, and any country that could afford it wanted to have a slice. The trading company Nya Sverige was founded in 1637 and was funded by equal amounts from Swedish and Dutch investors to export skin, fur and tobacco. In March 1638 the two ships Kalmar Nyckel and Fogel Grip arrived in Delaware and the captain Peter Minuit bought a piece of land from the natives and created Fort Christina (nowadays Wilmington, DE). The relationship to the surrounding Dutch and English colonies was always very tense. Strangely enough that was not the case with the natives, rather the opposite. The Swedes were trading fabric, tools and crafts against corn and other food from the Delaware tribes, whose villages was along the river, and against skins and fur with the Susquehannas further in-land.
Johan Printz became the governor in 1643, and he increased the importance of New Sweden by building trading stations in strategic locations along the west bank of the Delaware river. At the height of New Sweden it stretched from Cape Henlopen to Trenton on the west side and a few strategic points on the east side of the river. Unfortunately the support shipments from Sweden stopped, which gradually gave the Dutch under Peter Stuyvesant more influence in the region. Some of the colonist fled the strict rule of Printz to go to Manhattan and Maryland. Printz himself left New Sweden in the autumn of 1653.
At the same time Sweden launched their biggest effort into New Sweden ever. A new expedition was launched and Johan Risingh led the difficult Atlantic crossing on the ship Örnen (the Eagle) to invade of the Dutch Fort Casimir. He bought even more land from the Susquehannas and the colony stretched all the way to Chesapeake Bay. However, the Dutch were fed up with the Swedish colony and in 1655 they invaded New Sweden and forced Risingh to leave Fort Christina and New Sweden. The irony in this situation is that up until the point that Sweden lost its colony there had been difficulties recruiting colonists. However, just as New Sweden was lost more and more people were willing to emigrate to support the Swedish expansion. Maybe the fact that life in Sweden at the time was very hard helped. The last ship with Swedish immigrants arrived in Delaware in 1664. In those nine years Sweden tried to get New Sweden back, or at least get financial compensation for the loss, using any kind of diplomacy possible. That didn't succeed, and when the English invaded the area in 1664 that effort died completely.
In spite of the fact that New Sweden never became profitable, it did leave a strong cultural heritage, made possible partly by the pastors that were sent to the Swedish congregations up until 1783, leaving behind valuable source materials of administrative and demographic nature, as well as detailed maps of the area. Several of the members in Risingh's expedition also kept very detailed journals describing the Europeans experiences of meeting and interacting with the natives.
S. Dahlgren & H Norman, The Rise and Fall of New Sweden (1988)
Gorgonzola says re New Sweden:
New Sweden was technically *in* Maryland at the time.