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25 Interesting facts about Sweden

25 Interesting facts about Sweden

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.

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 forest 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. The forested area includes tree plantations as well. 

Facts about Sweden

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.

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.

old volvo in North Korea

Photo: P.F.Mayer / Shutterstock.com

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

The total land area is 447 435 km2 making it one of the largest countries in Europe. But despite that, Sweden has one of the lowest population per square kilometer in all of Europe.

Sweden on the map

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

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 6 in the latest ranking of the best passports in the world.

swedish passport

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.

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.

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:

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.

With that said, in recent years, many fast-food chains have tried to establish themselves in Swedish cities, but most of them have failed. 

Mcdonald's fact about Sweden

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.

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. Swedish waste recycling is considered to hold one of the highest standards in the world. However, there is still a lot to improve since only 20% of all plastic waste is recycled, while the rest is being burned. 

recycling - sweden facts

Photo: srvatervinning.se

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!

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

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.

Falu koppargruva

Photo: Tommy Alven / Shutterstock.com

One of the few countries where the landmass is growing without war

Since the inland ice was drawn back 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.

Högakustenbron

Photo: Roland Magnusson/Shutterstock

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

Semla

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 permission to cross private land.

The only exceptions are private gardens, near a dwelling house, or land under cultivation. 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, and there are around 100,000 Swedish lakes to choose from around the country, from north to south.

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 most populated 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

More articles about Sweden


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

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andrew

Wednesday 7th of July 2021

hi

Thokozile

Thursday 15th of April 2021

Sweden is very beautiful. While studying at Forsa Folkhogsköla around 1999-2000; happened to visit Stockholm; built on 14 islands. So amazing! Gamla Stan was also marvellous. I loved the fika ☕concept too.

Katarina

Sunday 10th of January 2021

Didn't like the forest facts as it included all plantation and probably recently clear-cuts replanted. A better figure but by far less impressive is the % of protected real forests.......

Swedish Nomad

Wednesday 13th of January 2021

I don't like the tree plantation either, but they are still listed and recognized as a forested area in Swedish terms. The percentage of protected forests in Sweden is quite low. Less than 10% of all forested areas in Sweden are protected.

Carl

Friday 9th of October 2020

I want to know do you have a socialist Government in Sweden and if I moved to Sweden from USA would I still be able to retire when I turn 65 and will I be able to collect retirement funds brings I was a US citizen

Kent

Tuesday 12th of January 2021

We never had a socialist government, the Socialdemocratic party that has been in power for most of the last 100 years has always based their policy on marketeconomy. We are a Kingdom, not a republic. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/01/why-sweden-beats-most-other-countries-at-just-about-everything

Swedish Nomad

Friday 9th of October 2020

Well, I wouldn't call it socialist compared to what it used to be. In fact, much of healthcare, schools, etc, has been sold out to private companies in recent years. Compared to the U.S, you could probably call it socialist, although that is slightly inaccurate to how the Swedish society is working today.

If you can collect retirement funds from the U.S, I suggest that you speak with someone specialized in this. For Swedes, there is a limitation of getting a pension if you move outside the European Union, so perhaps there is some limitation from the US pension as well. What I do know is that you will get a very good standard of living with a pension from the US in Sweden since salaries are much higher in the US compared to Sweden.

Mark Chrisman

Wednesday 25th of September 2019

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

Wednesday 25th of September 2019

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.