STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) _ When South African President Nelson Mandela stepped gingerly off his plane into a wet snowstorm Wednesday, all he could do was laugh.

``I am a long way from home,'' said a smiling Mandela, clad in a black fur hat and a heavy coat, before ducking into a limousine on the last leg of his tour of Nordic countries, which began Sunday in Finland.

Mandela has repeatedly expressed an affinity with Nordic people because of their strong and early support for the fight against South Africa's apartheid system of racial separation.

Between 1971 and 1993, Sweden contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to the fight against apartheid, with Mandela's African National Congress the largest recipient, according to the Swedish International Development Agency.

Sweden imposed a ban on investments in South Africa in 1979 and undertook trade sanctions in 1990.

``You have to be in an apartheid prison, under those conditions, to understand the value of support from the international community,'' Mandela, who was jailed for nearly 28 years by his country's white-led government, said earlier Wednesday in Oslo, Norway.

On Wednesday evening, Mandela and wife Graca Machel were to attend a banquet with Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia. He is to address parliament and meet with Prime Minister Goeran Persson on Thursday.

After Sweden, Mandela heads for Libya to meet with Moammar Gadhafi in an effort to spur progress in the case of the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jetliner in which two Libyans are accused.

Libya in principle has accepted a U.S.-British proposal that the suspects _ allegedly government intelligence agents _ be tried before Scottish judges in the Netherlands. But Libya opposes the idea that the men, if convicted, would be jailed in Scotland.