Sweden, the home of IKEA and Alfred Nobel, is the third biggest country in Europe by area. This long land is bordered by Norway to the west and Finland to the north east. It is connected to Denmark with a small bridge-tunnel at the south. Most of Sweden’s population is centered in the south, in idyllic cosmopolitan cities such as Stockholm and Gothenburg. The west and north of the country is dominated by forests and mountains. In the east, Sweden turns into an archipelago in Gulf of Botnia and the Baltic Sea. This Scandinavian flagship country has Swedish as its only recognized language. The currency is the Swedish Krona (SEK).
447 435 km²
Sweden is home to both one of the world's most beautiful capital cities, Stockholm, and also an incredible variety of natural landscapes. Largely covered in forest, the countryside is dotted with picturesque wooden houses painted in red and yellow. The famous Archipelago is a fisherman's paradise, and the location of many second homes of the wealthy Swedes. In the northern part of the country, the indigenous Sami people occupy and tend the land, and reindeer, bears and wolves roam freely (if sparsely).
The beautiful old town of Stockholm is home to many of the city’s best cafes, restaurants and shops. Famous for its narrow cobbled streets and brightly coloured buildings, Gamla Stan is the cultural hub of Stockholm.
Swedes are a strange, beautiful group of people. Kind and humble by nature, their calm and socially-minded disposition is partly explained by jantelagen (Jante’s Law), a famous descriptor of Nordic and Swedish behavioural traits. The concept, created by Dano-Norwegian author Aksel Sandemose, includes rules such as "You’re not to think you are anything special" and "You’re not to think you are good at anything."
On the outset, this seems a rather depressing mindset. However, the core principle is humility, something that Swedes possess a rather uniquely large amount of. Jantelagen is also somewhat linked to the Swedish concept of lagom.
Besides their humility, Swedes are also notable for their physical appearance. The prevalence of blonde hair, tanned skin and blue eyes mark them out as the natural ancestors of the Vikings – though their manners have become milder over the millennia. Physically fitness is also widely apparent, and Sweden has the world’s 9th highest life expectancy.
A whole book could be written on the Swedish character (and a good many have), but in essence, Swedes are a gentle, healthy people. They have some strange ideas – eating fermented herring, and swimming in subzero temperatures – but by and large they are a friendly bunch.