25 Interesting facts about Sweden

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Last updated: October 5, 2018

Are you looking for facts about Sweden? Then you’ve come to the right place. Here’s a list of 25 Interesting Sweden facts, and further down in the article you can also see some more general facts about Sweden, such as population, biggest lake, highest mountain, land area and much more.

To make this even more fun, I want to ask you a question and challenge you. What do you know about Sweden? And how many of these Sweden Facts did you know before reading this article?

Leave a comment at the end of the article and let me know how many you knew. It’s always fun to compare and see if there were some specific facts you found shocking or especially interesting to know.

1. 2/3 of Sweden’s land area is covered by forest

Most people are probably aware that Sweden has a lot of forests, but the fact is that 2/3 of the total country’s land area is covered by forests with a total area of 280 650km2.

Half of the land is owned by private people, and 1/4 is owned by private companies. The biggest single owner is the state though, via Sveaskog AB.

Facts about Sweden

2. North Korea has a 2.7 billion SEK in debt to Sweden

This was a fact about Sweden that I myself didn’t know before making this article, but apparently, it was agreed that North Korea was to buy around 1000 Volvo Cars back in 1974.

READ MORE:  My Favorite Photos from Southern Sweden

The Problem is that the money that Kim II-Sung promised to pay has not been paid yet.

So, 40 years later, the Swedish government is still sending invoices to North Korea to get back their 2.7 billion SEK.

3. The fifth biggest country in Europe (in terms of area)

The total land area is 447 435 km2 m but despite that, Sweden has the second lowest population per square kilometer in all of Europe.

4. There are about 300 000 – 400 000 moose roaming freely in the woods

Our national pride – the moose could potentially form one of the biggest cities in Sweden if they gathered as one group.

There are lots of Swedish moose, and the total number depends on the year and how many that are being killed by hunters.

the moose

5. The Swedish Passport is among the world’s best passports

Another interesting fact about Sweden that we can pride ourselves on is the fact that our passport gives us entry without a visa to 124 countries in the world. And at arrival, we can obtain a visa to another 33 countries.

Currently, the Swedish Passport is ranked at number 3 in the world.

6. Swedish Music is one of our biggest exports

ABBA is still one of the world’s most famous bands in history, and when you travel abroad it’s not uncommon that people will mention ABBA when they think about Sweden. However, not only ABBA has made it to the international scenes when it comes to music.

There are a lot of Swedish artists such as Zara Larsson, Avicii (R.I.P), Swedish House Mafia, Alesso, Robyn, Måns Zelmerlöv and Lykke Li.

But also artists and bands such as Roxette, Europe, Alcazar, and Ace of Base have given the world some top hits throughout the years. In addition to that, a lot of songwriters and producers are of Swedish origins.

In short, we give the world a better music experience, which is definitely one of the interesting facts about Sweden that you might not know!

If that wasn’t enough, Sweden is also home to many famous heavy metal bands such as In Flames, Hammerfall, Meshuggah and rock bands such as Mando Diao, The Hellacopters, The Hives, and the Sounds.

7. First country in the world to ban smacking

Since 1979 it’s forbidden to smack your children, which means that we were the first country in the world who made a law against flogging. After this, another 35 countries around the world have done the same.

8. One of the highest VAT in the whole world

With 25% as standard VAT, the Swedish VAT is among the highest in the world together with countries like Croatia, Norway, and Denmark. Only Bhutan, Burma/Myanmar, and Djibouti, as well as Hungary, have higher VAT:

9. We have the highest number of Mcdonald’s restaurants in Europe per capita

Swedes are not known for being unhealthy or obese, but still, you can find the highest number of Mcdonald’s restaurants per capita in all of Europe. So, there’s definitely not a shortage of fast food here.

READ MORE:  55 Reasons why everyone should visit Sweden

Mcdonald's fact about Sweden

10. The only country in the world where donations stand for more than 1% of the GDP

Swedes are known for being generous and generally, Sweden is a country that tries to help out around the world even though we are far from the biggest country.

The fact that Sweden is the only country in the world where donations stand for more than 1% of the total GDP, is definitely one of the many interesting facts about Sweden that Swedes can be proud of.

11. We are so good at recycling that we even import other countries waste.

Another positive fact about Sweden is the fact that we are so good at recycling, that we nowadays import garbage from other countries and make a lot of money from it at the same time.

For instance, Sweden imports waste from Norway.

recycling - sweden facts

Photo: srvatervinning.se

12. One of the Swedish Kings became a pirate after he was forced away from the crown

Erik XIII was more famous for the title  “Erik of Pommern”, but did you know that this Swedish King was forced away from the crown in 1439? And then, he fled to Gotland, where he crowned himself the Pirate King of the Baltic sea for a period of 10 years!

13. We have the highest number of patents per capita in Europe

There is no shortage of Swedish innovations and innovators, and some of the more famous ones are Tetra Pak (Erik Wallenberg), the Pacemaker (Rune Elmqvist), the Dynamite (Alfred Nobel) and the Spherical ball bearing.

Sweden is the country with the highest number of patents per capita in Europe.

pacemaker - Sweden facts

14. The world’s oldest limited company is Swedish

Falu Koppargruva AB was founded already in 1288, and is thereby the oldest limited company in the world, at least if you are looking for who has the oldest preserved share certificate.

15. One of the few countries where the land mass is growing without war

Since the inland ice was drawn back for circa 10 000 years ago, there has been a land elevation in several parts of Sweden. At most the uplift has been around the area of the High Coast in Ångermanland.

Since the inland ice, the land elevation has been more than 800 meters. Nowadays, the biggest land elevation is at Furuögrund, which currently is around 9.2 mm per year.

In the southern part of Sweden, however, it’s currently lowering, even though we’re talking about negligible values of – 0,5 mm per year.

10 x Quick Sweden Facts

Want to know some more interesting facts about Sweden? Here are 10 x Quick Sweden Facts!

  1. Swedes consume 20 million “Semlor” per year
  2. More than 20 000 Sami people live in Sweden
  3. Swedes work an average of 1611 hours per year
  4. 86% of the Swedes live in cities
  5. Swedes have 480 paid parental days
  6. 52% of the energy is renewable
  7. Gay Relationships have been legalized since 1944
  8. There are 95 700 lakes in the country
  9. Guadeloupe used to belong to Sweden (1813-1814)
  10. 99% of Sweden’s waste is recycled

Bonus Fact: Sweden has the freedom to roam (Allemansrätten)

Did you know that Sweden is one of the few countries in the world that gives every person the freedom to roam in nature? This means that you don’t have to pay to set up a tent or get a permission to cross private land. The only exceptions are private gardens, near a dwelling house or land under cultivation.

READ MORE:  Top Things To Do In Stockholm

Other than that you’re free to walk, cycle, ride, ski and camp etc. The only thing you have to do is respect nature and don’t litter. Freedom to Roam and the right to public access also allow visitors and locals to pick wild berries, flowers, and mushrooms.

Swimming in lakes is also allowed.

camping in sweden

Photo: Tomas Utsi/imagebank.sweden.se

General Facts about Sweden

Below are some general info such as total population, land area, biggest lake, highest mountain and other general facts about Sweden that might be interesting to know.

  • Total Population: 9 995 000 (2017)
  • Highest Mountain: Kebnekaise at 2 097 meters above sea level.
  • Land area: 447 435 km2
  • Biggest Lake: Vänern – 5 648 km
  • National Day: 6 June.
  • Government: Constitutional monarchy
  • Parliament: Riksdagen (349 seats)
  • Currency: Swedish crowns (SEK)
  • Official language: Swedish. But there are also official minority languages such as Finnish, Jiddisch, Meänkieli, Romani, and Sami.
  • Official Website: www.sweden.se
  • Member of EU: Since 1995.
  • Member of Nato: No.
  • National song: “Du gamla du fria”
  • Time zone: CET (UTC +1), summertime, CEST (UTC +2)
  • Country Number/Prefix: +46
  • Country Code: SE, SWE
  • Capital: Stockholm

stockholm architecture

The biggest cities in Sweden

If you’re looking for facts about Sweden, it might also be interesting to know what cities are the biggest ones. Below is a list of the 10 biggest Swedish cities according to the number of inhabitants.

  • Stockholm
  • Göteborg (Gothenburg)
  • Malmö
  • Uppsala
  • Linköping
  • Örebro
  • Västerås
  • Helsingborg
  • Norrköping
  • Jönköping

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Do you know some more Sweden facts? Feel free to leave a comment and share some more interesting facts about Sweden!

June 3rd, 2018|


Swedish Nomad

Hello! I’m Alex Waltner — A Swedish Travel Blogger & Photographer.

My vision with this blog is to inspire people to travel more and better by sharing useful travel guides and tips from my adventures around the world.

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  1. Ibrahim Shahzadeh 06/04/2018 at 8:43 pm - Reply

    Proud that my grand daughter Ayla Danica is Swedish

    • Ibrahim Shahzadeh 06/04/2018 at 8:47 pm - Reply

      I am Jordanian lives in Amman. My daughter-in-law is Swedish

  2. Michael Ashington 06/06/2018 at 11:15 am - Reply

    Great article! I now know a lot more about Sweden than I used to, it sounds fascinating! Some of the facts are confusing, such as “semlor” which I will have to ask my Swedish friend about. Another question is how the population is divided demographically, what percentage of the people are made up of the different cultures, and what is the ratio of men to women? What do people eat other than fast food when at home?

    Coming from South Africa and now living in USA , Sweden is very different from what I’m used to. Thank you for a very interesting read.

    Michael Ashington

    • Alexander Waltner 06/06/2018 at 12:40 pm - Reply

      “Semlor” (plural) or a “semla” (singular) is a Swedish pastry. I’m not sure if there are public statistics about what culture the people come from. The ratio of men to women is almost at 1. The numbers vary slightly in different age categories.

      Swedes in general eat and cook international food, and we also have our own “husmanskost” which is the traditional type of Swedish foods.

  3. Jill 06/06/2018 at 12:23 pm - Reply

    When did Örebro, Västerås and Helsingborg pass Norrköping?

    • Alexander Waltner 06/06/2018 at 12:35 pm - Reply

      Norrköping kommun has 140 991 inhabitants (2018), but it’s only a few thousand people less than the others.

  4. Peter geraae 06/07/2018 at 7:57 pm - Reply

    In Sweden, there an outhouse (Ornässtugan) where the king-to-be sneeked out escaping danish soldiers- 256 year before become a nation. The house still stands & became museum in the mid 1700’s. 😊

  5. Åsa Lindberg 06/10/2018 at 7:03 pm - Reply

    You can read and hear so often about bad things in our country. It is, therefore, a pleasure to read all this. 👍🇸🇪

  6. Zara Andersson 06/12/2018 at 2:42 pm - Reply

    So many things to be proud and thankful over, except för number 9… ;)
    Great job on this one!

  7. Katarina Sjögren 06/24/2018 at 4:53 pm - Reply

    Sorry to be a bit detailed here but Västerås is still bigger than Örebro according to SCB, 2-3000 more inhabitants. Even through Örebro claimed the contrary a few months back the correct in came in the day after.

  8. Anna 06/28/2018 at 4:53 pm - Reply

    Interesting facts, but Guadeloupe never belonged to Sweden it was Saint Barthelemy, 1784 – 1878

  9. Peter Tanate 07/25/2018 at 11:37 am - Reply

    We have ice hotel also found here in kiruna sweden

  10. Mercy 07/25/2018 at 1:23 pm - Reply

    Hej hej, Reading your blog made me missed Sweden more!!! Lived and worked there in Stockholm for 2 years and I wish I could return again! It’s the place where I want to die LOL Good job!

  11. ravi kadyan 05/08/2019 at 3:53 pm - Reply

    Hey Alex

    This article was full of new knowledge about

    Your way of telling the fact is amazing.

    Yesterday, I also followed you on Instagram.
    Your profile was amazing. Really no words for that.

  12. Sophia 07/21/2019 at 7:21 pm - Reply

    Sweden have new law, that says it is forbidden to smoke in public areas, such as restaurants, trainstations, playgrounds and athletic arenas – and more.

    You need to pay by card in Sweden, as many stores dont even handle cash at all. So its a good idea to look that your card is in order.

  13. Mark Chrisman 09/25/2019 at 4:00 pm - Reply

    My wife and I went to Sweden (from Chicago, USA) last week! What a gorgeous, clean and friendly place! Had a great time in Stockholm and Gothenburg. Actually wish we had spent another day in Gothenburg, as we stumbled upon some additional great areas the morning we were catching the train for Copenhagen. Please make sure to thank everyone for dealing with my very poor Swedish, and immediately switching to English. :-) My only complaint – I like hot stuff for breakfast and that is hard to find aside from in the hotels, and we prefer to go where the locals go rather than eat in the hotel. I can’t wait to go back!

    • Alexander Waltner 09/25/2019 at 4:04 pm - Reply

      Hey Mark! Happy you liked visiting Sweden :) Swedes typically eat breakfast at home, so there aren’t too many breakfast places in addition to the coffee shops that sell sandwiches. But yeah, I guess we don’t eat that much hot stuff for breakfast other than eggs or porridge. Most Swedes tend to eat sandwiches for breakfast or some yogurt.

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