What does it mean to be Swedish?

Video by Tobias Rådenholt

According to sweden.se, the population of Sweden has doubled in the last 100 years, and the country currently has 9.9 million inhabitants (2016).

Around 86 percent of Swedes live in the country's cities. About 9 percent of the total area of the country itself is made of water—with 95,700 lakes (Sweden.se, 2016).

Many of Sweden's buildings date back hundreds of years to the middle ages, including castles that once protected from invaders and pirates (Fast and Thomas, 2004). Gammelstad, or "Old Town," is one of the few church villages left in Europe from the 1400s and was made a World Heritage site in 1996 (Fast and Thomas, 2004).

Summertime in northernmost Sweden includes 56 complete days of sunlight, while winter means 32 days of pure darkness (Sweden.se, 2016).

Sweden is very forward thinking when it comes to environment and sustainability. For example, renewable energy accounts for 52 percent of Swedish energy production, and more than 90 percent of all aluminum cans are recycled (Sweden.se, 2016).

Sweden is known for its popular music—being the No. 1 exporter of music to hit the popularity charts (Sweden.se, 2016). Also from Sweden hail the three-point seatbelt we all know and use in our cars today, invented in 1959, and popular mobile games like Candy Crush and Minecraft (Sweden.se, 2016).

A leader in human rights, Sweden legalized homosexual relations in 1944, and banned the smacking of children in 1979 (Sweden.se, 2016). The country is known for having one of the highest standards of living in the world, with its life expectancy the 8th longest, although taxes are high and not everyone likes that the collective is more important than the individual (Nordstrom, 2012).

Popular cuisine includes Swedish meatballs and lingonberries (Sweden.se, 2016).

Swedish furniture design is functional and stylish, similar to its clothing, which embraces the idiom "less is more" (Sweden.se).


Fast, A., and Thomas, K. (2004). Sweden: The Culture. New York: Crabtree Publishing Company.

Nordstrom, B.J. (2010). Culture and customs of Sweden. Santa Barbara, California: Greenwood Publishing Group.

Rådenholt, T. (May 2013). Swedishness [Video file]. Retrieved from https://sweden.se/culture-traditions/10-youtube-clips-about-swedishness/

Swedish Institute. (2016). Candy Crush-A gaming saga. Retrieved from https://sweden.se/culture-traditions/candy-crush-a-gaming-saga/

Swedish Institute. (2016). Minecraft magic. Retrieved from https://sweden.se/culture-traditions/minecraft-magic/

Swedish Institute. (2016). Swedish design-functional and stylish. Retrieved from https://sweden.se/culture-traditions/swedish-design-functional-and-stylish/

Swedish Institute. (2016). Swedish fashion-from catwalk to sidewalk. Retrieved from https://sweden.se/culture-traditions/swedish-fashion-from-catwalk-to-sidewalk/

Swedish Institute. (2016). Quick facts. Retrieved from https://sweden.se/quick-facts/