Looking for some interesting and fun facts about Sweden? Let me help you! Move beyond Abba and the Northern Lights and uncover the bizarre, the unique and the fascinating features of this Nordic nation.
Interesting and Fun Facts About Sweden
Sweden. Somehow it's somewhere I've only managed to visit in the cold. A little cold, in Malmo. And a lot cold in the Arctic Circle, slipping beneath reindeer skins and slipping hot lingonberry juice in the dazzling Ice Hotel. Winter in Sweden involves hotel rooms at a minus 15 when it's minus 40 outside.
Yet, switch around a few months and Sweden has sunshine galore. Dazzling, plentiful swashbuckling sunshine that lasts for days without nights come summer.
So, between midwinter and midsummer, here are some fascinating and fun facts about Sweden. Let's go!
1) Fika is a Thing
Fika (pronounced fee-ka) is both a noun and a verb. And, more excitingly, it often comes with cake. Often likened to the Danish concept of hygge, fika is slightly different in that it tends to involve tea breaks with friends rather than interior design at home. It's one of my favourite fun facts about Sweden and I fell in love with it so much, I wrote an article all about fika over here.
2- So is advent
The whole world may have advent calendars now, but according to Sweden, they came up with the idea. Swedes light an advent candle every Sunday in December following a great big feast on the first one. Shops throw sales and grandmothers will even toast you with schnapps to celebrate the happy event.
3 - Celsius is Swedish
Anders Celsius, Swedish astronomer extraordinaire, invented the centigrade system and the thermometer that made it work.
4- Sweden has the best ice creations in the world
Many countries have ice hotels these days, but Sweden is home to the original. A night in the aptly named Ice Hotel in the Arctic Circle is one of the best things to do in Kiruna.
5 - The very first pacemaker operation took place in Stockholm
In 1958, Senning and Elmqvist opened up a patient's chest and implanted the first pacemaker in the world.
6 - Alfred Nobel was Swedish
Yes! Alfred Nobel is that Nobel, the one with the most prestigious awards in the world. He built his wealth through a number of different ventures, most notably dynamite. There are five different Nobel prizes: Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature and Peace.
I'd quite like one or each.
7 - Stockholm is the largest city in Sweden
A little under one million people live in Stockholm, making it the biggest city in Sweden, as well as the capital. After that, the next one up is Gothernburg with a population of around 500 000.
8 - Sweden is a Monarchy
King Carl XVI ascended the throne on 15th September 1973 and is Sweden's longest serving monarch.
9 - Sweden celebrates midsummer with boiled potatoes
Boiled potatoes with dill are a Swedish delicacy. And one of the best fun facts about Sweden is that they don't taste anywhere near as dull as they sound!
10 - Sweden is one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights
One of the best things to do in Kiruna is venture into the wilderness to see the Northern Lights. You can either voyage on foot by snow shoe, on a reindeer-led sleigh or snowmobile out to the Aurora Sky Station and take your chances indoors.
11 - SWEDEN IS BIGGER THAN YOU THINK
By land area, Sweden is the 4th largest country in the European Union. Does that surprise you? It did me!
12 - THANK YOU FOR THE MUSIC
It's not just Abba. Ace of Base and the Cardigans also hail from Sweden. In fact, Sweden is the third largest exporter of music in the world (after the United States and UK.)
13 - Sweden Speaks Many Languages
While the official language of Sweden is Swedish (that's Svenska to you,) you'll hear many different tongues on a trip. These include Sami, Finnish, Yiddish and Meänkieli.
14 - The Swedish Government Has a Great Name
Konungariket Sveriges regering. Or regering for short.
15 - Sweden is 50% Forest
For some reason, I envision a country of hikers when I think about Sweden. And that makes sense when you think that half of the country involves woodland. But you'll also find over 100 000 lakes and 24 000 islands, so it's an outdoor lover's paradise.
16 - A Bridge as a Border
Sweden has land borders with the countries of Finland and Norway but it's also connected to Denmark - by a bridge.
17 - EU but no Euros
While Sweden is a member of the European Union, they are not part of the Euro currency system. Instead, they still use Swedish krona, which is written as kr.
18 - Crayfish Parties in the Summertime
The lovely word kräftskiva describes a summer festival or crayfish party where everyone gathers together for a drink. And some boiled potatoes and dill, of course.
19 - The Meatball Love is Real
Swedish giant, IKEA, serves meatballs and lingonberry jam and that's not a kitsch idea. It's a really popular dish in Sweden, served with boiled potatoes and gravy.
20 - Moose are not just for Canada
Sweden also has a love for moose (mooses? Mice? Moosai?) and you'll find them roaming freely through the forests.
21 - More McDonalds Than Anyone Else
Apparently. Shudder. It's true. Those tall, lean, healthy looking Swedes live in a country with more McDonalds restaurants per capita than anywhere else in the world.
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How about you? Do you know any interesting facts about Sweden?
More Nordic Travel Tips
- Glide through the snow by dog sledding in Sweden
- What the fika?! What you need to know about this Swedish tradition
- The perfect itinerary for one day in Helsinki
- The best souvenirs from Helsinki, the Nordic capital of design
- How to spend two days in Copenhagen: an itinerary from locals
- What is hygge? And how can you get some?
- Visiting The Scream in Oslo