Everything Sweden

10 Stereotypes About Swedes – and which are right and wrong

September 13, 2015

With a population of 10 million and cultures from all around the world, Sweden has become one of Europe’s best places to live, and the third largest country in the EU.

I moved to Sweden because there is something special about Stockholm that I just love. Also, my girlfriend and I decided to live life and see somewhere new. But when talking to people about Sweden, most people think of the common stereotypes of Abba, Herring, and Eurovision.

There are 10 Stereotypes I’ve heard about Swedes, and which are true and false.

1. Everyone eats herring - false

Herring has a strong tradition in Swedish culture but Swedes do not eat herring all year round. Herring is saved mostly for Christmas and Midsommar and rarely gets eaten during the rest of the year.

p.s. there are plenty of videos online of people opening Sour-Herring tins. Worth a watch.

2. Swedes are all blonde -false

Just not true. This is an unfounded stereotype that I can’t find. Sure, there are a lot of kids that are blonde, but this normally passes.

3. Swedes avoid conflict - almost true

You have not seen a tense moment until you have seen two Swedes arguing. Swede’s are very democratic and polite, but I’ve had more than my fair share of arguments with an angry Swede when I took the wrong laundry room. Read more about your Swedish neighbours here.

4. Swedes are all tall - not true

Sure, Swedes are in the top 10 for the tallest men in the world (source), but not all Swedes are tall. Just another unfounded myth.

5. Everyone drives Volvos - not true

Even though Volvo is Sweden’s favorite car, this is just one of many brands on Sweden’s roads. There are also lots of classic American cars, as well as the standard choices. One thing I have noticed recently is the number of Toyota Priuses.

6. Everyone listens to ABBA - definitely not true

Not true. But did you know that many ABBA songs have a Swedish and English version? Also, Benny from ABBA owns a boutique hotel in Södermalm called Rival.

7. Swedes sound like the Muppets Swedish Chef when speaking English – so not true

Family Guy and the Muppets (and even John Oliver) have tried and failed to mimic the Swedish accent when speaking English. Most just sound Dutch or German and totally miss the real accent.


8. Swedes are Green - true

This is so true. Communal recycling places, tetra pack, and Pant, Sweden is very Green and caring of the environment. Pant is a system where recyclable items like plastic and glass bottles have a cash reward if you return and recycle them. Normally 10% of the original value, Pant is a great system that rewards those who want to be green.

9. Sweden is Expensive - true if you are not working here

Yes and No. If you live and work in Sweden, some things are expensive but daily spending is average. However, if you come from a country where the wages are lower than Sweden, then, of course, Sweden is very expensive. I am originally from the UK where wages are around half of what they are in Sweden. So yes and no.

10. Tax is high in Sweden - true

True, but getting taxed in Sweden is not always a bad thing. Swedes pay some of the highest taxes in the world but see the benefits and rewards come back to them, with cradle to the grave care. I’ve written about tax in Sweden before.

These are just some of the stereotypes I have heard about Swedes and as you can see, most are not what you think.

Did I miss any? Let me know in the comments and add your own!