The Alternative Guide to… Sweden
Sweden at a Glance
Capital city: Stockholm
Population: 9.59 million
Local currency: Swedish krona (£1 = 11.9 krona)
Famous face: Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite and founder of the Nobel Prizes
5 things you never knew about Sweden
In Sweden "half-the-hour" means half to the hour, not half past. If you book a table for dinner for "half seven", don’t be surprised if you get a call from the restaurant at 6.45 asking where you are. And make sure you’re prompt - they don’t appreciate lateness.
One of the most popular flavours of ice cream in Sweden is salmiakki, or salty licorice (below), which can be coal black in colour. On the subject of unusual delicacies, Sweden’s tradition of eating fermented herring (surströmming, main picture above) is thought to have begun in the 16th century on the island of Ulvon where salt was very expensive so the fish was allowed to ferment instead.
Sweden has Europe's highest number of McDonald's restaurants per capita.
If you’re heading out for the evening in Sweden, you’d better take your dancing shoes. Many people regard those who only hang out at the bar with suspicion.
You won’t need to look far for a caffeine fix. The Swedes are the sixth-highest consumers of coffee in the world, knocking back an average of 4.5 cups a day. The pastime of taking a break for coffee, served with something sweet on the side, is known as fika.
Meatballs. They love a meatball in Sweden. Although, confusingly, they like to eat them with jam - lingonberry jam to be precise.
If you see one thing in Sweden, make sure it’s…
... Lapland in winter, to see the Northern Lights, try your hand at ice fishing and meet some Reindeer.