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Du gamla, Du fria...

"And still as of old are the folk that abide Mid northerly mountain and valley; In God and their weapons they ever confide, To voice of their fathers they rally."
Voltaire Histoire de Charles XII, Roi de Suede

The country of hot blondes, disgusting fish and majestic møøse.

OK, that's not totally true. Only half the population is actually blond, though most have the usually associated blue eyes, and the Swedish alphabet has ö, not ø like Danish and Norwegian. Moose, on the other hand...

Swedish-made cars in other countries often have their lights on all the time. This is mandated by Swedish law, due to the country's latitude.

Sweden (Swedish: Sverige), officially known as the Kingdom of Sweden (Swedish: Konungariket Sverige), is a Northern European country, by far the most populous Nordic country with more than 10 million people, and a democratic monarchy, with King Carl XVI Gustaf holding the ceremonial crown and about eight different political parties in parliament, depending on popular vote. The monarch is required to be a Protestant (Lutheran). The country also has equal rights for both sexes when it comes to inheriting the throne, having a woman, Crown Princess Victoria as heir apparent.note  For much of the 20th century, Swedish politics has been dominated by the centre-left Social Democrats, though their influence has waned in recent years. Tage Erlander, the Prime Minister from 1946 to 1969, holds the record for being the longest-serving leader of a democracy. Sweden is also notable as being the first country to completely outlaw corporal punishment of children, with parental rights being removed in 1966, and explicitly banning corporal punishment in the schools and homes in 1979, with an amendment to the Parenthood and Guardianship Code, reading: "Children are entitled to care, security and a good upbringing. Children are to be treated with respect for their person and individuality and may not be subjected to corporal punishment or any other humiliating treatment."

Was one of the first countries in the world to have a telegraphy line, with a line entering use in 1796. This, however, led to Sweden being reluctant to adopt electrical telegraphy, which explains why Sweden's (and the world's) last commercial semaphore line ceased operation in 1880, some forty years after the electrical telegraph had entered commercial use. A few decades later, Sweden became an early adopter of telephones, much thanks to an industrialist named Lars Magnus Ericsson, with Johan Ullman's prototypes leading to the development of Bluetooth wireless headset technology.

A 1973 bank robbery in Stockholm, later cinematized as Norrmalmstorg, was the Trope Namer for the Stockholm Syndrome.

Prehistory and Viking age

Although Hollywood usually approaches Swedish history with ear-deafening silence, Sweden was seen even by other Northmen as a mysterious country with a strong spiritual bond to the Aesir gods. The Heimskringla even proposes (thanks to Snorri Sturlussons personal beliefs) that Odin was a Swedish chieftain who'd gained a cult of ancestral worshippers upon his passing and that this cult later spread to the rest of Scandinavia. No matter what you may think about this, the clan that the Aesir supposedly founded (known as the Ynglings) is largely historically proven to be true. Both Icelandic sagas (particularly the legendary or "fornaldar" sagas) and other sources such as Beowulf mentions a strong Swedish warrior clan based around the areas of Uppland. Strong archeological evidence (particularly around the areas of Vendel and Valsgärde seem to corroborate this, at the same time christening this pre-Viking period as "the Vendel era.")

Depending on who you ask, the Ynglings would get wiped out by a Scanian king called Ivar Vidfamne (Ivar the Widegrasping) who laid most of Scandinavia under him. The last Swedish Yngling called Olof Trätälja (Olaf the Woodcarver) thus fled to Norway, where he would start a new lineage that eventually led to the rule of Harald Fairhair and his descendants.

Swedens Viking age interests laid mostly in the East. Swedes would found what we now know as KievanRus as well as supply an endless stream of mercenaries for the Varangian guard, so much so that even in the 13th century there was a Swedish law that prohibited a free man from recieving his inheritance "as long as he's staying in Greece." Does this mean Sweden had no interests in the west? Well, the fact that Sweden has 27 runestones mentioning men who have died in England while Denmark and Norway only have one each, we can safely say "no."

Medieval Period

Christianity had a rough start in Sweden. Whereas the kings in Denmark and Norway largely enjoyed dictatorial power and thus could simply say "convert or die", the Swedish Yeomanry were far more likely to say "convert us and you'll die." A regional king in Birka named Björn supposedly was the first one to invite a missionary, in this case Ansgar of Hamburg. Yet the historical consensus seems to be that Sweden remained largely split between Christianity and Paganism up until the early 12th century. Götaland converted earlier than Uppland, perhaps because the king was still expected to be present at the annual sacrifice at the Uppsala temple, according to those who believe such a temple even existed at all. Supposedly king Inge the Elder finally destroyed the temple and implemented a campaign of forcible conversion after dethroning his brother Blood-Sweyn in 1087. In any case Uppland seems to have suffered a power vacuum in the late 11th century, which threw the country into a political turmoil. Pretty much all of the 12th century would be characterized by clan wars between the house of Erik and the house of Sverker, with the king having little power other than being a thin symbol of central authority. By the 13th century these clan wars began to die off as the country became increasingly united under a Jarl of the Bjälbo clan, named Birger. Birger Jarl was very European in his outlook, and took inspiration from mainland European kingdoms who in their turn took inspiration from the so-called Roman law. Gone were the days were regions could mind their own business. If you violated a church, violated the sanctity of a farmers homestead, or violated the chastity of women, you had committed a crime against the kingdom at large. This was obviously an important early step towards unification. Sweden also participated in the crusades during this time, laying Finland under them in a union that would last for over 500 years.

Another important step was signing a trade deal with the Hanseatic League. Originally only permitted to operate in certain Swedish cities for a limited amount of time, the Hansa had grown so powerful by the end of the 14th century that they were downright behaving as a state within the state and had a direct influence on Scandinavian domestic politics. One Hansa merchant even lamented that "you can walk down the street in Stockholm without hearing a single word of German." Denmark's mutual problems with the Hansa would ultimately lead to the 1397 founding of the Kalmar union. A dynastic union between all the modern Nordic countries plus the Orkney Islands and Shetland. Roughly speaking, the point of the union was to counter the Hansa by creating a Nordic union led from Denmark that would see a united Northland with a common military and economic policy but one which otherwise would not interfere in the domestic politics of its member countries. And this is exactly what ended up happening, as not only did the power of the Hansa severly diminish, the Danish feudal lords never made any attempts at exploiting or running roughshod over the other countries in the Kalmar union whatsoever.

0 to 60 in under a second, missiles to deal with air rage—the Swedish military

Sweden, having had to deal with a possible threat from Nazi Germany and later the Warsaw Pact, used to have a pretty advanced military, because it remains militarily neutral (the idea being that military neutrality is only credible if your military does not rely on one side or the other for vital equipment). Sweden had a form of conscription, but as fewer people were conscripted the last decade, and only volunteers could go abroad, it was scrapped in 2010 and brought back again in 2017. Sweden tends to get involved in peacekeeping a lot.

Sweden's main rifle is the AK-5, a more rugged version of the FNC.

Sweden's best known military company was also a car company- Saab- although the car arm went to GM years ago and has since disappeared. Saab is best known for its fighter aircraft, but does other stuff too. The most recent of these is the JAS 39 Gripen ("Gryphon"/"Griffin"), first known for crashing twice at public exhibition flights, later as one of the world's best new fighters that is not the F-22, it's in service with six countries and others have it on order or are looking at it. It can land on public roads, and is known for being the most fuel-efficient modern fighter jet (this being relative; all jets guzzle lots of fuel).

See Swedes with Cool Planes for more information.

True or false

Polar bears: False. Though there are Brown Bears occasionally attacking people.

Eskimos: False. The closest one can find is the Sami people, who have been described as the European counterpart to the Native Americans (though they don't look all that different from other Europeans; they're related to the Finns).

Nymphomania: Mostly false (see below)


Throughout history, educated Swedes have tended to be very good at the language of the dominant Western power (such as Latin during the Middle Ages, French from the 16th century, German from the 19th century, English from the middle of the 20th century on). There are some weak spots however, like voiced versus voiceless consonants, the distinctions being all but absent in Swedish. Swedish speakers tend to use voiceless consonants, but usually spell the words correctly.

Famous Swedes

Sweden has produced a lot of famous actors, several of whom have done Fake Russian at some point in the career (i.e. Lena Olin in Alias- the Derevko sisters are played by a Swede, an Italian (whose mother was Swedish, too) and a Brazilian). Greta Garbo and Ingrid Bergman are the most famous. Sweden was also home to the celebrated stage and film director Ingmar Bergman (no relation to Ingrid). As a rule, the most famous Swedes tend to become Monegasque (citizens of Monaco) for purposes of tax evasion.

  • Peter Stormare is famous for having played characters from many European countries in American productions, including Germany, Iceland, Russia and Norway, but never from Sweden. He does speak a bit of Swedish in Minority Report and The Lost World: Jurassic Park though.
  • Stellan SkarsgŚrd is another Swede who has played Fake Russian roles (he plays one in The Hunt for Red October and Ronin (1998)), but he's taken a variety of roles. His son Alexander has had US success with Generation Kill and True Blood. Another son of his, Bill, has found success on Hemlock Grove and It (2017).
  • Dolph Lundgren is (in)famous for appearing in second/third-rate action movies, like Universal Soldier and Masters of the Universe, though he's probably still most famous as Ivan Drago (also a Fake Russian) from Rocky IV. He also has a master's degree in chemical engineering and a second degree black belt in karate.
  • Max von Sydow appeared in some 140 movies from his debut in 1949 until shortly before his death in 2020. Among his more famous parts are Antonius Block, the knight who plays chess with Death in The Seventh Seal; Jesus in The Greatest Story Ever Told; Father Merrin in The Exorcist; Joubert in Three Days of the Condor; Karl Oskar in The Emigrants; Emperor Ming in Flash Gordon; Blofeld in Never Say Never Again; Judge Fargo in Judge Dredd, Director Burgess in Minority Report, and Esbern is The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
  • Ann-Margret was born Ann-Margret Olsson in Stockholm, the daughter of Anna (née Aronsson) and Gustav Olsson, a native of Örnsköldsvik. She and her parents moved to the United States when she was five. She grew up to become a popular singer, dancer and actress, starring in films like Bye Bye Birdie, Viva Las Vegas, Kitten with a Whip, The Cincinnati Kid, Carnal Knowledge and Magic.
  • ABBA is still the most famous Swedish band, but there are many others. Sweden is the world's third largest exporter of music after the US and the UK, possibly because of the combination of assimilation of those countries' modern musical traditions and the easy access to free music instruction. Other Swedish bands/musicians include rock bands like Europe, A-Teens, The Hives and The Cardigans, as well as pop groups like Ace of Base and The Sounds and singers like Neneh Cherry. Sweden is also home to many Metal bands (see below). Sweden's hip hop scene has also gained time in the spotlight in recent years as their biggest names - Yung Lean and the Drain Gang collective (composed of Bladee, Ecco2K, Thaiboy Digital, Yung Sherman and Whitearmor) in particular - have popularized the so-called "cloud rap" style by bringing a more free-form, melancholic take on trap music. The country has also had its share of big names in electronic dance, among them the late Avicii and the Swedish House Mafia. Behind the scenes, Sweden's Max Martin is the most successful (by chart metrics) songwriter and music producer of the last few decades, second only to Paul McCartney and John Lennon (for songwriting)and George Martin (for production) in all-time lists.
  • Owing to its keen interest in music, Sweden has one of the most distinguished records at the Eurovision Song Contest, having won it seven times (tied with Ireland), with such winners as ABBA (Brighton 1974), the Herrey Brothers Per, Richard, and Louis (Luxembourg 1984), Carola Häggkvist (Rome 1991), Charlotte Nilsson-Perelli (Jerusalem 1999), Loreen Talhaoui (Baku 2012 and Liverpool 2023) and Måns Zelmerlöw (Vienna 2015), with Loreen becoming the first woman to win twice and the second after Johnny Logan of Ireland (The Hague 1980 and Brussels 1987).
  • The three most famous Swedes in the field of the sciences are probably Carl von Linné (Carolus Linnaeus), the creator of the sexual system of plant classification, Anders Celsius, father of the Celsius temperature system, and Alfred Nobel, founder of the Nobel Prizes and inventor of dynamite.
  • Swedes dominated the first influx of European talent into the North American hockey leagues in The '70s, with many becoming stars in the WHA, while Börje Salming became the first Swedish star in the NHL (which was more reluctant to bring in European players). Swedish stars in the NHL have included Håkan Loob, Tomas Sandström, Peter Forsberg, Nicklas Lidström, Henrik Zetterberg, the twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin, and Henrik Lundqvist, among many others. The "Tre Kronor" (Three Crowns) - the Swedish national team - has emerged as a hockey power in international competition.
  • Sweden has also produced a good number of top golfers, especially for a country with a northern climate. Undoubtedly the greatest of the bunch was Annika Sörenstam, winner of over 70 events on the LPGA tour in the Statesnote , including 10 major championships, and the tour's all-time leading money winner when she retired.
  • As for football/soccer, the country has produced quite a few notables, with Zlatan Ibrahimović by far the most famous.
  • Sweden is also famous for Volvo and IKEA, the former a car which always has its headlights on (per Swedish law) and the latter a flat-pack furniture store that is a day out in itself. Sweden was also home to another famous car company, SAAB. However, two international car manufacturers in such a small country as Sweden makes the sales a bit shaky, and the company has changed hands approximately every 20 years since being founded in the late 1940s. Other well-known Swedish companies include H&M, a clothing retailer known as "the IKEA of fashion"; it originally was only women's clothing but has expanded to men and children and even home goods. SKF, an abbreviation for "Swedish Ball-bearing Manufacturing" makes bearings and related products for just about every kind of rotating equipment from roller skates to wind turbines, and actually founded Volvo (Latin for "I roll") as a subsidiary, before splitting it off. Another well-known Swedish company is Electrolux, which originally started out in 1919 with vacuum cleaners under the 1960's U.K. marketing slogan "Nothing sucks like an Electrolux", and expanded to washing machines, dishwashers, and other home appliances.
    • Volvo has been two separate companies since 1999, when Volvo AB sold its automotive operations, operating as Volvo Cars, to Ford. Volvo Cars was most recently sold to the Chinese automaker Geely in 2010, but still operates largely independently. Volvo AB continues on as a major producer of heavy trucks, buses, construction equipment, and marine and industrial drive systems.
    • Saab AB still thrives as an aerospace and defense manufacturer, but it spun off its auto operations in 1990 into Saab Automobile, a joint venture with General Motors. GM took full ownership in 2000 and drove it into the ground, selling it off in 2010, and Saab Automobile went belly-up in 2012.
    • Of course, it's impossible not to mention Koenigsegg, one of the most important names in the modern supercar market and brief holders of the "world's fastest production car" record with the CCR (for 6 months between March and September 2005 until Bugatti broke the record with the Veyron). In 2013 they also produced the first ever production car with a 1:1 power-weight ratio with the One:1, a heavily upgraded variant of their then-flagship - the Agera.
  • Sweden is one of the biggest video game developing countries in the world, with the majority of indie game developers in the Western world coming from Sweden and Swedish companies making many of the most popular modern video games series, including Minecraft, the highest selling video game in the world. Daniel Remar, cactus, Notch, Nifflas and Frictional Games, among others, are all Swedes. They even hold an annual indie game development convention there. Larger Swedish developers include the likes of Massive Entertainment (Ground Control, World in Conflict), Starbreeze Studios (The Darkness, Escape from Butcher Bay, Assault on Dark Athena), DICE (the Battlefield series, Mirror's Edge, etc.) and MachineGames (Wolfenstein: The New Order and Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus).

Sweden in fiction and media

Norse by Norsewest covers a lot of the Sweden stuff, with hot Swedish blond people being fairly common in fiction. See also Swedish Series.

  • British and American media in general seem prone to confuse a general Swedish lack of embarrassment about nudity with permanent horniness on the part of the Swedish people. When these media use Europeans Are Kinky as a trope, Sweden is the most likely country to attach it to. The Swedish Nymphomaniac Student/Hiker/Au Pair girl became a stereotypical character in British sex comedies of the 1970s and persists.
    • Not just the British. There was reported in the media an incident with a Swedish lady who lived in Australia. She sought psychological counseling due to permanent quarrels and scandals caused by accusations she was flirting with married Aussie guys. The reporter was savvy enough to add that Swedish women when talking to men stay on average 17 cm closer during the talk and are a few orders of magnitude more likely to touch compared to Anglophones.
    • Italy also briefly came in touch with the stereotype through Luigi Scattini's mondo film Sweden: Heaven and Hell, which offered an obviously sensationalized look into the country's more liberal views on sexuality, but is nowadays more known for being the movie where "Mah Na Mah Na" originated. Fun fact, Scattini himself never wanted to release the movie in Sweden after promising so to the people he intended to film, but the film ended up getting leaked in the country anyways through a lone copy mysteriously left in the French embassy. The movie was then put on national TV, and this caused a minor diplomatic incident between Italy and Sweden which culminated in Scattini getting temporarily banned from entering Sweden.
  • Sweden also hands out the various Nobel Prizes (except for the Peace Prize, which is handed out by Norway for reasons involving personal unions and symbolism), which are like the Academy Awards for people too ugly to be allowed into Hollywood.
  • However, that's not all Sweden does. Pippi Långstrump (you may know her better as Pippi Longstocking) holds a Swedish passport and was created by Astrid Lindgren, a Swedish writer. Then of course you have the Swedish Chef on The Muppet Show. So it goes both ways.
  • Nordic Noir is a recently successful genre. Of particular note in recent years is a detective named Kurt Wallander, the star of a series of novels, adapted for TV in English as well as Swedish. Also of considerable note is the Millennium Series, a series of novels created by the late Stieg Larsson and further extended by David Lagercrantz. All three Larsson novels have been adapted into films, and an adaptation of one of Lagercrantz' three entries is in development. A well-known Swedish novel is also Let the Right One In, which also has a film adaptation.
  • An important thing to keep in mind if watching a Swedish film is that as soon as the target audience grow into their teens, everything takes a sharp turn towards the cynical side of the spectrum: Every child protagonist will, without fail, be bullied, neglected or raped. If it's drama, there will be a sense of unease and much yelling. If it's a police procedural, like Wallander above, expect the victim to be the butchered, rotting remains of Taiwanese victim of trafficking who leaves behind five childen, as well as even more unease and yelling. The comedies are almost always a bit tragic as well as comic, and offers even more unease and yelling.
  • The 2012 miniseries Don't Ever Wipe Tears Without Gloves, based on the three-book series of the same name, took home a couple of international awards and received glorious reviews when it aired on BBC. Author Jonas Gardell is in talks with undisclosed Hollywood producers about an English language feature film version. The series chronicles a group of gay men in Stockholm in the 80ies during the onset of AIDS, and the prejudice and injustice they were subjected to.
  • Sweden is also known (along with its neighbours Norway and Finland) for its extensive contribution to the various forms of metal music... which of course is just more unease and yelling. They don't usually use Hešvy MŽtal ‹mlaut though, since å, ä and ö are used as proper letters. Examples of bands include Hammerfall, Sabaton, Amon Amarth, Therion, Candlemass, Bathory, Meshuggah, Arch-Enemy, Evergrey, Ghost (Band), Entombed, Marduk, Dragonland, Twilight Force, The Gothenburg Three (Dark Tranquillity, In Flames, and At the Gates), and whatever ensemble Yngwie Malmsteen has playing second fiddle to him.
  • They also have the world's angriest chefs. So yeah, unease and yelling galore.
  • Stockholm is a terrifying place, if Cry of Fear is to be believed.
  • A number of infamously bad Slasher Movies, such as Blood Tracks, Camp Slaughter, The Drowning Ghost, Death Academy, Madness and Blood Runs Cold. It's worth to note that the Swedish Film Insistute does not usually support horror films so therefore the majority are made by self taught filmmakers using their own money.
  • After Let the Right One In and Frostbite, vampires having fun in the winters. Fridge Brilliance due to the longer nights. Especially since Northern Sweden has polar night.
  • Vikings of course.
  • Parodies of The Seventh Seal (especially the scene where Max von Sydow is playing Chess with Death) are not uncommon in American media, and they often include a fair attempt at talking actual Swedish.
  • The Tabletop RPG KULT, one of the darkest out there.
  • In a refreshing change, the film Show Me Love, while hardly all sugar and light, is still the single most adorable film about schoolgirl lesbians in Western media you will ever see and swept the Swedish equivalent of the Academy Awards in 1997, defeating, of all things, James Cameron's juggernaut Titanic.
  • Little Misfortune, which is set in Sweden in 1993.

See also:

The Swedish Flag
Like all other Nordic flags, this one takes after the design of the Danish flag, the Dannebrog (cross with one axis aligned to the hoist). Its blue field and gold cross alludes to the national coat-of-arms, which shows three golden crowns on a blue shield.

Coat of arms of Sweden
The coat of arms was adopted in 1905 based on an arms created by King Karl Knutsson in 1448.

The Swedish national anthem
Du gamla, Du fria, Du fjällhöga nord
Du tysta, Du glädjerika sköna!
Jag hälsar Dig, vänaste land uppå jord,
Din sol, Din himmel, Dina ängder gröna.

Jag hälsar Dig, vänaste land uppå jord,
Din sol, Din himmel, Dina ängder gröna.

Du tronar på minnen från fornstora da'r,
då ärat Ditt namn flög över jorden.
Jag vet att Du är och Du blir vad Du var.
Ja, jag vill leva, jag vill dö i Norden.

Jag vet att Du är och Du blir vad Du var.
Ja, jag vill leva, jag vill dö i Norden.

You ancient, you free, you mountainous north
You quiet, you joyful beauty!
I greet you, loveliest land upon Earth,
Your sun, your sky, your green landscapes.

I greet you, loveliest land upon Earth,
Your sun, your sky, your green landscapes.

You are enthroned on memories of great olden days,
When honoured your name flew across the Earth,
I know that you are and remain what you were,
Yes, I want to live, I want to die in the North.

I know that you are and remain what you were,
Yes, I want to live, I want to die in the North.

  • Unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy
    • Monarch: Carl XVI Gustaf
    • Riksdag Speaker: Andreas Norlén
    • Prime Minister: Ulf Kristersson

  • Capital and largest city: Stockholm
  • Population: 10,380,491
  • Area: 450,295 km² (173,860 sq mi) (55th)
  • Currency: Swedish krona (kr) (SEK)
  • ISO-3166-1 Code: SE
  • Country calling code: 46
  • Highest point: Kebnekaise (2097 m/6,880 ft) (122nd)
  • Lowest point: Kristianstad (−2 m/−8 ft) (35th)

"Fälldin has been pestering me to talk about why I am a socialist..." note 
Olof Palme during the 1982 election debates.