We all know the clichés about Sweden (tall people, nice massages, flat pack furniture) so we decided to pull together some facts that perhaps you weren’t familiar with – from moose population to a snafu with North Korea involving some Volvos
Kim Jong…umm about those cars
Perhaps president Trump should take note of this one. Sweden was the first Western European country to open diplomatic relations with North Korea and it has maintained an embassy in Pyonyang since 1975. The relationship has been sorely tested over the years, not least when Sweden did a deal with Kim Il-Sung in 1974 to supply the country with around 1,000 Volvo sedan cars to use as taxis. The cars were duly delivered but when it came to paying up, North Korea failed to play ball. Over the intervening 44 years, the bill has grown from around £3.7m to some £233.5m. Sweden has not given up hope of payment though: twice a year it presents the North Korean government with an invoice. As for the Volvos, they are still in use and going strong…
What a tuna
You may have heard of ABBA, you know the ones: two men, two women, fourth-best selling music act in history, just behind Elvis Presley, the Beatles and Michael Jackson. What you may not know about the country’s most popular cultural export was that they had to battle for the rights to their name with a canned seafood company. Luckily for them the winner takes it all and branding is the name of the game, and so on.
We all moose get along
Sweden is the third largest country in the EU, but has the second lowest population density at 23.5 people per kilometre. Just as well, as it also happens to be home to another animal that likes room to roam – the moose. Sweden has more moose per square mile than any other country. The summer moose population is approximately 350,000 – equivalent to 3.5% of Sweden’s human population – and roughly 100,000 of the hairy beasts are hunted every year. Which might be just as well, because they cause around 6,000 road accidents per year.
Zlat’s all folks
While he’s not at this World Cup, having retired from international football after the recent Euros, Sweden’s most famous sports star (although Bjorn Borg may have something to say about it) is Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Qualified now to one-name status, Zlatan is unique in both playing style and personality. Not short of self-confidence, as evidenced here by a few of his best quotes:
"I can't help but laugh at how perfect I am."
"An injured Zlatan is a serious thing for any team."
When asked about going on trial at Arsenal in 2000: “Zlatan doesn't do auditions.”
Sweden: not rubbish
Sweden has been named the most sustainable country in the world for its use of renewable energy sources. The country is famously adept at recycling, so much so that it has run out of its own rubbish and now imports 80,000 tons per year from Norway. Just 3% of its landmass is used for human settlements, while forests cover 69%. Logging is considered to be one of Sweden’s biggest environmental issues. Coincidently, it is also home to the world’s oldest living tree – a 9550 year-old Norway Spruce.
Sweden pays high school students $187 per month to attend, in an attempt to encourage them to pursue further education and improve their chances in the workforce. College and university are also free. Education policies prioritise gender equality, which has resulted in equal number of men and women pursuing post-grad and doctoral studies. The country has one of the world’s highest representations of women in parliament and was recently named the world’s best country for doing business by Forbes. It also takes the title for being the most innovative EU nation.