The real Sweden

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- not false stereotypes.

Many British people have some false ideas and legends about Sweden such as:

It’s an expensive country. It is if you go to drink beerl It‘s not true in other ways as the
E has a good exchange rate again, almost as good as in the 1950's. Sweden is now quite affordable. The sensible
Traveller can find things that are cheaper In Sweden.

Swedes are difficult to get to know. It's never been true for us. Our Swedish friends and people we meet on
our travels are just like most other Swedes, Straight talking, not emotionally explicit but very helpful and kind.

Swedes are boring and conformist. Not true in our experience. They laugh a lot and have their own special
humour. Sometimes this humour ls difflcult for a non-Swede to understand. They can tell very deflating jokes
about themselves. There is a national identity and deep love of their country. Just see the flags streaming from
the flagpoles of their homes especially, but not only, at festivals and holidays. It is a country of the flag. The
top right picture was taken in the village of Tenhult on Sweden's National Day (6th June) 2004. The flag does
not normally appear on shopping bags or on leisure shortsl

There is a patriotic streak in what seems to some non-Swedes as conformity. This is what is called in Swedish
"mycisHEF'e the absence of the unpleasant and the presence of security and a consensus. It comes from the
days of being an agricultural society and the need then to work and agree together, this continues today in
seeking to find a middle way and stems from the move from the harshness of a polarised society. "Don't rock the
boat" is actually a positive attitude to equality. Swedes have a pride in their society and its high standards.
LAGOM is a very special Swedish word, for which there is no precise English equivalent. It is something near to
"just right" or "sufficient“. "Lagom or host" - Sweden is a country in balance, That’s the best situation for a
country and its people.

Sweden is a dark, cold place. The Winters are long and dark but once

spring comes the flowers and berries are colourful, as they are too in

autumn when they are Jumed by the glorious multI-colours of the leaves.

The Swedish landscape is a gift from nature. Except for some of the

fertile, flat parts of the southern provinces, especially in most of Skane,

the rest is a carpet of seemingly endless forests that are starkly

beautiful With thousands of lakes of varying sizes glinting among the

trees. The photo to the right is quite typical. It is near Hokensfis in east

Vasterga‘tland. And the air is wonderfully fresh. Ohl I almost forgot

about the coastlines special mix at sandy beaches and rocky inlets and

islands. Sweden is a long country, in which the far north is as far from the southern city of Malmo as Malina is
from Rome. It has a land area that is twice that of Britain’s. Consequently it has great variations to uperience.

Sweden is an unknown country._What about household names such as Volvo, Saab, L.M.Ericsson of tele-
communications fome, Greta Garbo, ABBA, IKEA, the food 6 drink packaging firm TetrarPak, Sven—Goran
Eriksson the England football manager and the major pharmaceutical firm Astra (now part of the UK’s Zeneca) to
be going on with?

The towns are empty in summer. That at least may be truel The Swedes are mainly town and city dwellers now,
but there is still a village mentality as far as their roots are concerned. They love to be out in the nature in
summer and many own what is called a stuga, or cottage. It is probable that this will be wooden, red in colour and
may be very old. It has probably been inherited. The top left cartoon is a simple image but not too far from the

realityl These cottages remain from the great agricultural days, for at the start of the 20” century, 90% of
Swedes lived on the land. There are more than 600,000 secondary homes in Sweden.

Not convinced yet about Sweden?

The best example I can give of why the Swedes are sensible people and Sweden is a really worthwhile
country is - Allemans rat-t or Everyman's Right. This is an unwritten

ancient tradition of common access, permitting anyone to pass over any

fields, grounds or woods, to whomever they belong, and spend a night

camping anywhere. Thls is as long as one does not infringe on the privacy

of homeowners or impinge on cultivated land. So Sweden has no laws of

trespass as such. Animals do not always understand this howeverl

This right also characterises the Swedes' relationship With and respect for

the enwronment. The only exceptions are nature reserves and other

sensitive, protected zones such as bird sanctuaries during breeding seasons.

The general rules for Allemans Ratt appear in leaflets regularly published in several languages. 
Activities such as tree telling, the removal of twigs or bark from living trees, 
the lighting at fires in dry terrain or on bare rock are
amongst common sense guidance. 
Berries, mushrooms and Wild flowers may be gathered but the idea is to use
common sense when using Everyman's Right.

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