Sweden is situated between the Baltic Sea and the North Sea and is the fifth largest country in Europe. In terms of area it is similar to for example Spain, Thailand or the state of California. The distance between the northern tip and the southern tip is nearly 1,600 km (1,000 miles), and this means that its natural features are quite varied. Half of the land surface is covered with forest and less than 10% is farmland. Nearly 100,000 lakes are connected in a lacework of waterways, and many large rivers flow from the northwestern mountains through the forests to the sea. Swedish belongs to the North Germanic branch of the Germanic languages, along with Danish, Norwegian, Icelandic, and Faroese, and is the largest of the Nordic languages. In addition to the people living in Sweden, Swedish is today spoken by about 300,000 Finns in Finland. Some 300,000 Swedish immigrants in the United States and Canada can also speak Swedish. English is taught as a second language in Sweden and most people can speak and understand English. The name “Viking” was first used by foreign authors in the 11th century AD. Its origin is probably the Swedish word for bay, “vik”. This shows the close connection between the people and the sea, of which they were totally dependent for their livelihood. They had a mythology of their own. Their gods were called “asar”, The Vikings are often considered wild, drunken, merciless robbers. In fact, their main occupation was farming and trade. The Viking expeditions were mostly trade expeditions that sometimes degenerated to looting. But to be honest, there were also expeditions whose main purpose was to loot foreign coastal regions.