Unparalleled social security, carefree love, midnight sun, ABBA, IKEA and the easy life ... How is that possible?
To understand Sweden, you must learn two words of equal significance: "Lagom" and "Fika".
"Lagom" means average, exactly enough, moderate, in balance ... When things are lagom everything is fine. Too little or too much could be an issue. But when things are lagom, there's nothing be get too exited about, too enthusiastic about, or to be angry about. And – trust me – everything is lagom in Sweden. If not, it's a work in progress, and it will be adjusted accordingly!
"Fika" means coffee and cake. It's not something you have, it's something you do. To fika means enjoying coffee and cake along with smalltalk. When you get employed in a swedish company the fika break is described in your contract. The fika is one of the pillars on which the impressing swedish society is build.
We are kind of the baseline for Scandinavians. A joyful bunch of atheists, enjoying a very high standard of living, long education, and entertaining a lot of thoughts on traditional handicraft and contemporary design.
Sweden is a modern country, and we are modern people, and could be offended if you confront us with extreme religious, or otherwise medieval, views, like promoting the idea of marriage, going to church, or choosing to be a housewife.
Sweden is a very long country, stretching from southern Scandinavia, to the arctic circle. The further north you go, the fewer people. In Malmö (in south) people live as close as in Tokyo, in the northernmost part, it's not unusual to have a neighbour 500 km away. Driving through Sweden can be a quite annoying experience, if you are not a treelover. After a few hours drive, you will not be surprised to learn that Sweden delivers wood for all paper, and most furniture, manufactured in Europe.
In the north you will find the "scandinavian indians"; the samic people, who herds reindeer in a semi-nomadic lifestyle.
Sweden is neutral (like Switzerland), and promotes peace (ie. the Nobel Peace Prize) along with weapon manufactoring (ie. Bofors-Nobel Industries). We did not take part in World War ll, but sold weapons to the nazis, while housing jewish refugees from Denmark. I guess you can say that's kind of lagom.
350 years ago we expanded our territory by including Skåne, Halland and Blekinge, from Denmark, and 100 years ago we cut out a part of our territory, for the creation of Finland. Keeping it lagom ...
While we tend to be very carefull (about everything in general), we also have a stroke of anarchy in our veins. As soon as we leave the country, all caution is in the wind, and you will meet us in the frontline of new backpacking routes and routines; making new trails, and bungee jumping sideways. Remember it was the swedish writer Astrid Lindgren who came up with Pippi Longstocking. (If you are not familiar with Pippi you are in for a LSD-like experience, created as inspirational entertainment for children.)
But but but .... What about the pretty girls (and the expensive beer), you might ask. Well, rumour has it, that swedish girls are among the most beautiful in the world, due to the vikings habit of taking slaves selectively, while plundering the world. Tall, blond, slim and with flowers in their hair. Add this to the fact that swedes are openminded, atheists, and have no issues, what-so-ever, with premarital sex (most actually never marry), you have the recipe for a legend about sex-craving beautiful women. But be aware: Equality is one of the most important topics in Sweden, and if you try to womanise a swedish girl, i.e. buying her a drink, you are as good as dead.
In Sweden alchohol is monopolized by the state, and you can only buy regular beer, wine, booze etc. from SystemBolaget, and restaurants and bars with Complete rights. And, yes, the prices are designed to challenge you.
Sweden has had a very liberal opening for refugees from the conflict in Syria (and priviously), so extreme right wing people have set up servers around Europe to demonise the situation in Sweden, on social media, automatically, using made-up rape stories and some algorithms, that would leave Mark Zuckerberg in awe. But we are not far behind utilizing the internet, as both Spotify and The Pirate Bay are swedish inventions.
In this openminded, modern society, revolutionizing itself on a daily basis, one of the things you can always trust is the weather: If you visit Sweden in june, you'll want to settle down and live here forever, but by mid november, you'll leave and promise never to come back.
You might know …
People in general
Alfred Nobel · Carl Linnaeus · Olof Palme · Astrid Lindgren
Alexander Skarsgård · Britt Ekland · Dolph Lundgren · Ingrid Bergman · Noomi Rapace · Greta Garbo · Ingmar Bergman · Mikael Persbrand · Max Von Sydow · Stellan Skarsgård · Victoria Silvstedt
Björn Borg · Zlatan Ibrahimovic · Ingemar Stenmark
ABBA (of course) · Ace of Base · Army of Lovers · Bo Kaspers Orkester · Bob Hund · Drömhus · Europe · Kent · Laleh · Passenger · Robyn · Roxette · The Cardigans · Zara Larsson · First Aid Kit
IKEA (of course) · Absolut Vodka · Babybjörn · Björn Borg · Bofors-Nobel Industries · Electrolux · Eriksson · Esselte · Filippa K · Fjällräven · H&M · Haglöfs · Hästens · Husqvarna · Kosta Boda · Malaca · Marabou · The Nobel Prizes · Oriflame · The Pirate Bay · Polarn o. Pyret · Ramlösa · Saab · Sandvik · Scania · Spotify · Stiga · Tetra Pak · Vattenfall · Volvo