In Sweden everyone is blonde and polar bears roam the streets. No really it’s true. Sweden also has the highest suicide rate in the world, and Swedes eat rotten fish (willingly!).

There are many myths about Sweden, and in light of the Swedish EU Presidency The Lobby thought it should dispel some of them.

Sin

The idea of Swedish sin stems from Swedish films in the 50s, 60s and 70s featuring nude scenes. Sure, Swedes have a more laid back attitude to sexuality and nakedness than many other nationalities. In terms of hard facts however, Sweden is usually at  the bottom of international comparisons when it comes to sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancies.

Suicide

Actually Sweden is in 15th place on the European suicide table. This myth originates in a speech given by US President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1960 in which he claimed that “sin, nudity, drunkenness and suicide” in Sweden were caused by welfare policy excess. The truth is that Sweden was the first country to start keeping honest statistics about suicide.

A taciturn people

Many foreigners find Swedes lacking in humour, and some even go as far as calling Swedes boring. The fact is that Swedes tend to like low-key humour, subtle references, or sly allusions, something that is often lost in translation for non-Swedes. In addition, Swedes prefer to listen rather than speak which can sometimes be interpreted as arrogance. The truth is that Swedes find boasting and showing off to be highly contemptible human qualities.

Rotten fish

‘Surströmming’ or soured herring is a delicacy in Sweden and consists of fermented Baltic herring. The herring is caught in spring, when it is in prime condition and just about to spawn. The herring are fermented in barrels for one to two months, then tinned where the fermentation continues. Half a year to a year later it’s ready to be served up with a special bread, chives, potatoes, and the obligatory glass of ice cold aquavit. It’s not bad actually, but certainly an acquired taste.

Luscious blondes

Yes, it’s true. Brunettes and redheads too for that matter. No surprise here. (and all Swedish men look like Björn Borg in 1976!)

The Lobby will keep bringing you information about Sweden during its EU Presidency, hopefully casting some new light on this often misunderstood nation.

– Emil

(UPDATE 03/07/2009: Kick off party of the Swedish Presidency tonight at Place Flagey in Brussels: http://tiny.cc/ZEqwQ)

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