Since it’s the Swedish holiday of Midsommar today, this Travel Trivia post will be all about Sweden. Sweden is one of the three Scandinavian countries and one very close to my heart, because I spent a year living there during my studies. I was in Luleå, far north in the beautiful Swedish Lapland, and I loved it, despite the harsh winters. Obviously, Sweden is known for Vikings and ABBA, but there are so many other interesting history facts and lifestyle quirks that I just had to share them, so let’s dive into the 12 facts about Sweden:
- Sweden is the world’s fifth largest country and 2/3 of it are still covered in forests. Also, it’s a constitutional monarchy and has 10 million citizens. Over 50% of their needs are covered by renewable energy, mostly by hydropower, like from the power plant at Storforsen.
- Swedes are also extremely efficient at recycling and waste processing. Sweden incinerates half its waste for energy and is even importing additional waste from Norway and the UK to keep their incinerators fed. Now, if you ask me, incineration may not be the most green solution, but I trust they use the right air filters etc…
- One of Sweden’s most interesting rights is the allemansrätten, the freedom to roam. Anyone is allowed to freely walk around in nature, set up a tent anywhere or cross private land, with the exception of gardens and cultivated land near houses. For many Swedes and tourists, wild camping is the preferred way of exploring the country.
- They are also really crazy about the outdoors, sports and nature. Since their winters are long, dark and very cold in most parts of the country, they try to take advantage of every reasonably warm moment outdoors and you’ll always see them running, cycling, fishing or climbing everywhere.
- Additionally, fika is my favourite Swedish habit of taking a short coffee break, usually with a bit of cake or at least a pastry, and always with someone else. It’s not just a regular break, but a deliberate, conscious pause, a time to stop your work and socialise. In Sweden every workplace has a fika room and the habit is almost a state of mind, as even the largest companies like Volvo stop for fika.
- Speaking of Volvo, the Swedish automobile giant invented the modern three-point seatbelt, which is largely responsible for increased car safety. Swedes also invented the safety match (the regular one we know today), the ultrasound, pacemakers and Minecraft, as well as dynamite, which lead to the establishment of the Nobel prize. Alfred Nobel, Astrid Lindgren and Carl Linnaeus were all Swedish.
- Until 2018, Sweden had an official Twitter account, which was given to random citizens to manage for a week. There’s also a random “Sweden’s” phone number, which you can dial to chat with random Swedes.
- Blood donors in Sweden are sent a text message every time their blood is used to save a life.
- Sweden’s capital, Stockholm, has a traffic lottery: drivers who are caught speeding on speed traps have to pay a fine, which goes into a lottery fund for rewarding the drivers who were within the speed limit.
- The world’s first ice hotel was built in Kiruna, Sweden, as well as the longest cable-tied road (the Oresund bridge).
- Although smoking is considered unhealthy and dentistry in Sweden is super expensive, almost all Swedes are obsessed with snus, small tobacco packets for sucking on.
- Lagom is another handy Swedish word, which means just enough or just right.
- Donald the duck is so popular amongst Swedes there is a law, which makes it illegal to vote for him. The Donald Duck Party, which promises free beer, was actually the 9th most popular political party in the country at some point.
- Last but not least, Sweden and North Korea have a weird thing going on: North Korea has owed Sweden a debt for 1000 Volvo cars for the past 40 years, which has amounted to about 300 million € through interests by now. Apparently Sweden sends them a reminder twice a year, but so far North Korea has been silent on the matter.
And that’s it for now! As you can see, Swedes are far from boring, despite their (well-deserved) reputation for political correctness, tight administration and order. I got to experience many strange habits and quirks during my stay there and I love most of them, particularly fika. Their holiday celebrations are also quite imaginative (see my post on Midsommar celebrations here) and their food is awesome. So, I hope you liked this Travel Trivia post with fun facts about Sweden and, if you get the chance, you should definitely go there for a holiday.