Norway and Sweden, is one such example of international cooperation, and was the first to develop transpolar routes to North America and the Far East. Despite limited natural resources, a rigorous climate and a peripheral location in Northern Europe, the Scandinavian countries have achieved economic prosperity and stability with health and social welfare services among the best in the world. High environmental standards are maintained, both in the cities, which are free of litter and graffiti, and in the countryside. Compared to the crowding which afflicts most of Europe, Scandinavia can offer vast areas of sparsely populated coast and countryside, with almost unrestricted access to a range of recreational resources. Public transport systems are usually integrated and provide a viable alternative to touring by car.