Today we are talking about Sweden. Sweden is a Scandinavian Nordic country in Northern Europe. It borders Norway to the west and north and Finland to the east. It is connected to Denmark in the southwest by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund, a strait at the Swedish-Danish border. So, to keep you in the know, we bring you the 10 things you didn’t know about Sweden.
10: First Among Capitalists
When do most people think of Scandinavia especially Sweden? They tend to think of the so-called Nordic model, sometimes called the Nordic social democratic model, when it comes to government economy. The reality is a little different from what’s become a popular perception in the eyes of the many. From the late 19th century until the mid-20th century, what constituted the Swedish economic model was much more of a less fair system. Rather than the cradle to the grave welfare system, most people know today. In fact, most of the Economic Leafs of success had already been made and achieved by the 1970s. Many people would argue that Sweden’s ability to implement a robust welfare state was dependent on its previous capital success, rather than the mixed economic model today.
“Several careful studies often using highly detailed historical data and examined the causes of prosperity and equality in Sweden. This was done so by putting together research in economics, economic history, sociology and political science. Some of which are only available in Swedish. A coherent picture emerges: Sweden’s development towards prosperity started with institutional reforms that unleash the prosperity generating powers of capitalism, incentive enhancing land reforms, property rights, successful anti-corruption measures and free trade reforms. To mention a few of the arguably most important institutional changes”. This means that not only had the more purely capitalist model been the true reason for Sweden’s huge economic gains. Also, since reforming its economic and public policies to what is now known as the Nordic model. Sweden has lost most of those gains and has failed to see the same level of prosperity it’d once known.
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9: Cultural Diversity
Of all the Scandinavian countries Sweden is by far the most culturally diverse. In light of the migrant crisis, no other Scandinavian country has taken the same measures to invite the poor suffering and oppressed people of the world to their country than Sweden. This incredibly diverse influx of refugees and migrants has transformed the formerly ethnically homogeneous Sweden into a true melting pot of diversity. Including people from places such as Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, and Eritrea.
These migrants of course bring with them their own customs, languages, food and perspectives. Which makes Sweden a truly diverse and culturally rich place. Many people are not on board. For example, with the great variety of ethnic food available these days in Sweden. Believe that Sweden cannot survive as a nation if its core identity and history are compromised. In fact, the debate raging around the issue of multiculturalism in Sweden has split the nation in two. With political parties bickering and there has been less harmony in Sweden than ever before in recent years.
Sweden has some of the most diverse range and wildlife in all of Europe. No other country in Europe can lay claim to having. For example, the largest moose population which in turn has resulted in a passionate moose hunting industry in Sweden. Sweden is one of the few places in Europe where you can actually see wolves in the wild. This might not seem like much but even just a 1000 years ago, there were wolves everywhere in Europe. But in most countries, they’ve been hunted to extinction. So, the fact that wolves still live in Sweden is rather incredible. Sweden also houses a sizable brown bear population, Linksys, Wolverines, arctic foxes, otters, beavers and more. Most people don’t think about wildlife regarding Sweden. But the truth is, Sweden has more large land mammals in virtually any other country in Europe.
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7: IKEA Home Furnishing
Founded more than 73 years ago in Sweden, Ikea has become more than a household name across the globe and is famous for its furniture, home supplies and much more. Since 2008 IKEA has officially become the largest furniture retailer in the world. As of the date of this list, IKEA operates and runs a total of 389 stores in a total of 48 different countries. Those who are not familiar with IKEA might be shocked once they set foot in the store, as it is a truly massive place that almost resembles a labyrinth.
What is more, is that every possible type of household supply or piece of equipment can be found there. Whether its furniture, bathroom mirrors, light bulbs, beds or just about anything else. If you need something for your home IKEA is the place to go. Perhaps, more importantly though, IKEA offers a wide range of things in every price category you can imagine. So, if you want to go on a spending spree like a king, you can do that, or you can just carefully select the cheapest and most crucial things, you need it’s up to you. No other thing from Sweden is as iconic and well known as IKEA.
6: Swedish Food
Most of us have heard that funny Swedish chef from the Muppets. While that actually might not be the most accurate portrayal of a Swedish cook. Unique Swedish food does exist and is quite interesting. The strength of Swedish cuisine is its emphasis on fish, meat and potatoes and other basic foods which may sound boring but through creativity and combination can achieve startling variety. One of the stable sources of vitamin C in Sweden for centuries, lingonberry is possibly the most common type of berry for jam as well, with lingonberry jam on bread being a very popular culinary delight. Swedish pancakes are another treat that are often filled with lingonberry jam. For other sweet delicacies and no one should ever miss the traditional pickled herring was sour cream and potatoes. A simple but hearty meal that gives you the true taste of Sweden unlike any other.
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5: Compulsory Sterilisation
One of the darker chapters of Swedish history is the era of forced sterilization which occurred between 1934 and 1975. Often motivated by alleged scientific reasons and more often than not by political and social ones, not many people in Sweden these days like to talk about what went on during this time. According to a government report, some 21,000 people are sterilized against their wishes, during this dark era. It’s quite possible the numbers far higher due to government cover ups.
One of the groups most affected by this were the Sami people, indigenous Nordic people who speak their own language and have their own traditions. Who are perceived as not being Germanic enough to be allowed to reproduce. This of course came from a long history of persecution of the Sami people which only intensified during this period. Sadly, many of the motivating factors behind the mask compulsory sterilizations very much resembled those of national socialism.
4: Sweden Democrats
Of all the parties to catch the spotlight recently known as interesting. For a number of reasons compelling to many Swedes as the Sweden Democrats. Founded in 1988, the party is based on the principles of conservatism and nationalism. It has been criticized by more left leaning parties for being extreme and even racist. The truth is in light of Sweden’s great experiment in multiculturalism, the Sweden Democrats have found great appeal amongst the masses, particularly working-class folks.
The Sweden Democrats claim whether correctly or not that multiculturalism has been a failure in Sweden. Many peoples who’ve been absorbed have failed to integrate properly despite providing a huge array of ethnic cuisine that had not existed in Sweden prior. In fact, recent polls have shown the Sweden Democrats to be on the rise and like in many European countries it might be the time of the rise of populist nationalism Sweden that corresponds with.
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During the 9th and 11th centuries Vikings who had originated from Sweden had important roles in the medieval state of Kievan Rus’. More importantly, it become infamous as elite bodyguards of the Byzantine emperors, called the Varangian guard. However, these elite guards did not become such overnight. The eastern Vikings already had a long history of forays into the east encountering Slavic people as well as the east Roman Empire which would later become known as the Byzantine empire. Recognize both as traders and raiders and above all as exceptional warriors, the Vikings who would become the Varangians had developed a fierce reputation that later led to their recruitment by the emperors of Byzantium.
2: Paid Parental Leave
Many people consider Sweden the most progressive nation on earth. If you consider the amount of government mandated paid parental leave swedes get, they might be right. Every parent whether male or female is entitled to 480 days of paid parental leave upon the birth of a child or even the adoption of a child. Whereas in the United States women are fighting for their right to paid maternal leave for a period of even for months. In Sweden everyone both men and women get a whopping 16 months. Due to this it’s no wonder why progressive minded people admire Swedish policies.
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One of the most successful and popular pop groups of all time, Abba was probably the first and greatest international musical success to originate from Sweden. Primarily active from the early 1970s to 1980s, Abba dazzled the world with such hits as a “Ring Ring” and “People Need Love”. But the song Mamma Mia was the hit that solidified their position as Sweden’s greatest musical export ever and granted them world fame. Even though they officially disbanded in the 1980s, they have on occasion gotten together to replace some of their hits and they will forever be remembered for change in Sweden’s reputation in the eyes of the world.
So that was our top 10 list about Sweden. What do you think about Sweden? Let us know in the comments below.