Located in Northern Europe, bordered by Norway and Finland, connected to Denmark via a land bridge, Sweden is the third largest country in the European Union by area. The country with a population of 9.9 million people never ceases to amaze us. Whether it be quality of life, gender equality or their delicious cuisines, Sweden is surely one of the top destinations on everyone’s bucket list. The country is also among the top 10 when it comes to allowing women to vote. Here, we have gathered some impressive facts about Sweden that proves it’s unlike any other country on Earth.
1. Sweden is so good at recycling that it has run out of rubbish to recycle. Today, the country imports almost 80,000 tons a year from Norway.
Sweden is a recycling-happy country. More than a million homes are heated with the help of waste incineration. This not only saves the economy, but also is beneficial to the environment. However, the country struck a dilemma in 2016, when it ran out of rubbish to recycle. The squeaky clean Scandinavian nation of more than 9.9 million had to look into solutions and they did find one that not only benefits them, but also benefits their neighbor.
Sweden was forced to import trash from neighboring countries; mainly Norway and England. The other countries pay Sweden to take their excess waste and they in turn burn it to produce heat and electricity. (source)
2. Sweden is marked as the most “eco-friendly” country on the planet.
The country and its citizens live an eco-friendly lifestyle. Environmental studies consistently list Sweden as a top eco-friendly country, with some calling it the “world’s most sustainable nation”. Sweden is also the first country to start using biofuel instead of gasoline and other forms that are perishable. The country did not achieve this overnight. Instead, gradual change since the 1990’s was the main reason for their success.
According to environmental studies, there are five eco-friendly initiatives that Sweden has employed. The country and its citizens prioritize organic materials. Whether it be fruits, vegetables or makeup, Swedish products are given more priority over imported products. The cities also use centralized heating, which is a cost-effective and energy-efficient alternative to oil. Community gardens are promoted among citizens that promote positive interaction between neighbors as well as provides the individual with fresh produce.
They also promote, popularize and provide the means for eco-friendly activity. Recycling remains a common Swedish practice and some recycling companies even offer financial payoffs to reward individuals who go the extra mile. Last of all, the country has a centralized waste management system that uses an underground tank to catch all household waste before it’s converted into a renewable fuel supply. (source)
3. Sweden is among the top five paper producing countries in the world, yet 2/3 of Sweden’s land area is covered by forest.
Sweden has a lot of forests, and 2/3 of the total country’s land area is covered with 57% or 23 million hectares of forests. This is as large an area as the whole of the United Kingdom. Also, half of the land is privately owned by citizens and 1/4 is owned by private companies; the rest being owned by the states. Today, there are around 3,000 million, or 3 billion, cubic meters of growing forest in Sweden.
Approximately 45%, around 40 million cubic meters, becomes timber. 40-45%, around 35 million cubic meters, becomes pulpwood from which newspapers, packaging and other paper products are made. Just under 10%, 8-9 million cubic meters, becomes biofuel, which is then turned into electricity and heating. In 2017 alone, Sweden exported $8.6 billion worth of paper. However, it is safe to say that more forest grows in Sweden than are cut down. (source)
4. The famous Swedish Ice Hotel is rebuilt every year out of giant chunks of ice from the Torne River.
The first Ice Hotel was built in Swedish Lapland, Jukkasjarvi in 1990. Since then, every year, ice is collected from the Torne River and the hotel is rebuilt by a different architect. Ice from the Torne River is the perfect source since the water has very few impurities. At the end of April, the hotel literally disappears by melting back into the Torne River. 2,500 blocks of ice are harvested each year weighing 1.6 tonnes and measuring 210 x 100 x 80 cms from the river. The Ice Hotel alone uses 1,000 blocks and the rest is used for export.
Once the ice is harvested, construction begins in November and is completed in December. Visitors from all over the world flock together to spend a lovely night in the Ice Hotel. The average temperature in one of these rooms is -5°C to -7°C (-19°F), regardless of whatever temperature it is outside. (source)
5. Sweden has the third ‘most powerful’ passport in the world.
According to the 2018 Henley Passport Index, Sweden’s passport is the third best in the world as it provides visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 187 countries. Along with Sweden, countries such as Finland, France, Italy, Spain and South Korea also shared third place. However, Singapore and Germany were second (providing access to 188 countries), while Japan was first (189). (source)
6. In Sweden, couples who are in no rush to tie the knot can either be a Samboende, särbo, or iblandbo.
In Sweden, Samboende, särbo, and iblandbo is used to describe couples who wish to be together but are not in any hurry to get married.
Samboende: is a form of cohabitation where an unmarried couple share a common household.
Särbo: A couple who are committed to each other and are in a long-term relationship, but are not living together.
Iblandbo: is used to describe those who are committed to each other and live together from time to time.
7. “Fika” is a concept in Swedish culture that means “to have coffee, cake, and a chit-chat”. It is considered a big part of the culture that some people have two daily fika breaks at 9 am and at 3 pm.
Fika is a Swedish coffee break and is simply part of everyday life for Swedes. The concept of fika is simple: it is the moment that you take a break, often with a cup of coffee, and pair it with a baked good. It is considered a significant part of the culture in Sweden and some take fika breaks twice a day. It is a moment to sit and contemplate on your own, or to gather with friends. Even Swedish offices have fika breaks, both in the morning and in the afternoon. (source)
8. Sweden pays high school students $187 per month to attend school.
Schools, colleges and universities around the world pay scholarships and benefits to worthy students every month or every semester. Sweden, however, has a special grant the state is obliged to pay a monthly stipend to high school students who are 16-years-old. Some schools do impose certain conditions such as the student has to attend all classes throughout the semester or be enrolled in some form of sports. If the student is from a boarding school or if their families are desperate, then a larger grant is provided. The grant is available to both local and foreign students but foreign students do have to register in order to receive benefits. (source)
9. In Sweden, if you are exploring the woods or hiking, you can legally camp in anyone’s property as long as you respect the landowner, do not damage their property or cause harm to nature.
The Right of Public Access (‘Allemansrätt’), or Outdoor Access Rights gives you the right to roam the countryside in Sweden in perfect peace and quiet. Every local as well as visitors have the right to walk, cycle, ride, ski and camp on any land with the exception of private gardens. Also known as Freedom to Roam, the law allows everyone to enjoy Sweden’s beautiful nature. However, each individual has the responsibility of ensuring that they are not disturbing the land owner, destroying their property, nature or wildlife. The Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sums up the right as ‘Don’t disturb – Don’t destroy’. (source)
10. Researchers in Sweden developed a blood test that accurately detects cancer 96 percent of the time and classifies the type of cancer correctly 71 percent of the time.
Swedish scientists developed a blood test that is capable of accurately detecting cancer 96 percent of the time and classifies the type of cancer with 71 percent accuracy. The study focused on molecular makeup, which is different with each type of cancer. With the accurate measurements of the test, doctors can properly diagnose patients as well as choose the best course of treatment, since the test reveals signs at an early stage. (source)