Before the 12th century when Sweden became a kingdom, the term Swede (Swedish: Svear) refers to one of the peoples inhabiting the area known as Sweden today, the others being Danes, Geats, Norse and Sami.

The Swedes lived mainly in the fertile lands around lake Mälaren, west of where you find Stockholm today, and along the east coast. The Swedes and the Geats joined their kingdoms around 1100 A.D. and are collectively called Swedes (Swedish: Svenskar) after that.