When you ask what’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Swedish people, blond, tall and blue eyed are often the first words you hear.
And while there’s definitely an element of truth to that, there are other Swedish traits that you’ll definitely see more of than others when visiting this amazing country.
Although some typical Swedish characteristics may be more well-known than others, I’m fairly confident you’ll find these quickly coming out when you start to chat with the Swedes – as you should, as they’re definitely a lot of fun!
(And the usual caveat for lists like this: not every Swede is going to be identical, nor are they all going to have the exact same personality traits. But sometimes it can be fun to discuss stereotypes… some of which may just have an element of truth to them!)
What are typical Swedish personality traits?
Swedish personality characteristics include humbleness, open-mindedness, honesty, creativity, quietness, competitiveness, and fairness. Most of these traits of Swedish people are highly desirable and highly appreciated. Of course, not every Swedish person can be lumped into the same categories, but most agree that those traits are typical of the Swedes.
You can see below for what to perhaps expect the next time you meet a Swede.
One of the Swedish characteristics that people sometimes take for granted is how humble they are as a people.
Despite great progress on issues such as social equality, the Swedish people are not known for being boastful. They prefer to keep their heads down and continue to work on making the planet a better place.
Did you know that Alfred Nobel (for whom the Nobel Prize is named) was Swedish? The country has produced many great scientists and thinkers. This may be because Swedish personality traits lean towards open-mindedness and a desire for knowledge and exploration.
The country continues to take the lead on issues such as creating sustainable sources of energy and working towards including more women in positions of power. In fact, one of the traits of Swedish women is a desire to participate in decision-making. Specifically, the number of women in Sweden’s parliament has been roughly half of the entire parliament for many years now.
Swedish people’s characteristics include many noble things, such as honesty. When someone is dealing with a Swedish person, they can rest assured that they are dealing with someone who is likely to deal with them in a fair and forthright manner.
It is fairly typical for quietness to be mentioned among Swedish people’s traits. This goes back to the fact that they are a humble group of people who are not keen on boasting about their accomplishments. Instead, one of the Swedish traits that many people pick up on is the fact that they like to stay back and remain quiet.
What the Swedes have discovered (that the rest of the world could perhaps learn from!) is the fact that remaining quiet allows them to take in more information. If they are not the ones doing the talking – even if there are some truly beautiful words in the Swedish language they could use – they can observe more. This has served them well, and it is now a staple of the way that many people in the country behave.
You may also be interested in: Do Swedish People Speak English (So You Can Live There)?
What are typical Swedish features?
It is very common to see Swedish physical traits of blonde hair, blue eyes, a tall figure, pale skin, and thin lips. These are Swedish genetic traits that have existed in the population for a long time and will likely continue to exist in the population of this geographic area for a long time.
Once again, not everyone in Sweden will look like this. But spend a few days in the country and you’ll definitely start to notice some physical traits appearing more often than others.
1. Blonde hair
Blonde hair is highly prized in many parts of the world, but it is merely an everyday thing in Sweden. The lighter hair color isn’t genetically unique to this part of the world, but it is one of the Swedish physical characteristics that most people are likely to notice right off the bat.
When you start to see that everyone seemingly has the same hair color, you are bound to take note of this and mark it down as something interesting and unique about the Swedish people.
2. Pale skin
The pale skin of most Swedish people has a lot to do with their lack of exposure to a lot of sunlight. Given the location of the country on the globe, the skin tones of people who have lived in the area for centuries have been paler than it is for people in other parts of the world. This continues to cycle through the population as new generations come along, and pale skin remains a defining feature of Swedish people.
An interesting thing about this is the fact that pale skin is considered highly desirable among many types of people. Therefore, many Swedish people are considered to be very beautiful, and the country has a reputation for being a place where many beautiful people live.
3. Tall figure
Sweden is the home of many tall people. In fact, the average height in Sweden is much taller than the world average. The average height in Sweden is nearly 5 feet 11 inches tall, making it ranked eighth in the world for height.
Experts in the field suggest that this is largely a Swedish genetic trait, given that natural genetic selection along with a diet that is high in protein are what contribute to the above-average height of many Swedes. Much of that protein comes from an animal protein diet, and this is believed to contribute to the height of people who live there.
4. Blue eyes
Most Swedes have blue eyes. The reasons for this are similar to the reasons why they often have pale skin as well. It is because of the lower than average exposure to the sun.
Blue eyes are not as resistant to sunlight as other colors (such as brown). This means that someone who has blue eyes may have a more difficult time avoiding eye damage when they are exposed to a lot of sunlight. That said, blue eyes are also rare throughout the world, and that makes them more desirable to many others.
Only about 8 to 10 percent of the world is believed to have blue eyes. This makes them the second-rarest color (behind green), and that is what is so enticing about them. That, and the fact that blue eyes are a mutation that developed long ago and has remained in the population ever since.
What are typical Swedish characteristics when socializing?
Swedish people are known for being conflict-avoidant when socializing. They are also known to be somewhat shy and to be humble and less than warm to the eye of people coming by for an unplanned visit. They are a people who prefer to be left alone until they are ready to engage socially.
Don’t mistake this lack of warmth as being anti-social though. As you’ll soon find, the Swedes are great to speak with. Throw in some of their dry, slightly dark humor and you’ve got a great, hilarious night out.
Avoiding conflict is such a prominent trait in Sweden that the country has remained out of all wars since 1814. They prefer to stay out of these situations and to avoid inserting themselves in the affairs of other countries if they can avoid it. It is part of Swedish culture to try to allow others to take care of their own problems while staying on the sidelines and trying to mind their own business.
Sweden is so opposed to war that they will sometimes send their own people to areas where there is conflict to teach them about the benefits of avoiding war. They have had more success doing this than you might imagine, and this has helped further solidify their reputation as a place that hates war and wants people to avoid conflict.
It turns out that Swedes don’t even like to discuss politics all that much. They will avoid the topic when possible (unless they happen to be a politician themselves), and they prefer to change the subject to matters that are less divisive.
You shouldn’t come on too strong when you first meet someone from Sweden. While you may be excited to get to know them and learn more about them, they are unlikely to feel the same, at least in the beginning. People from Sweden tend to be shy and take some time to warm up to new people.
Most people in Sweden might be characterized as introverts, and they like it that way. There is a quietness about them that can be off putting to some people from other cultures that are much more vocal, but the Swedes prefer to keep things quiet and allow the time it takes to get used to new people. They don’t like to rush anything.
When speaking with a Swede, you may notice that they avert their eyes or refuse to look directly at you. You should NOT take this with offense. This is a common trait of people from Sweden as they are more shy than most other people from around the world. They take longer to warm up to new people and new experiences.
3. Keep to themselves
It is unlikely that someone in Sweden will have guests over without careful planning ahead of time. Spontaneous visits to someone are rare, and they may even be considered rude. It doesn’t matter how close the people are to one another relationally, it is not ideal to try to have a spontaneous visit in Sweden.
The Swedes prefer to keep to themselves most of the time. The social events that they do attend are planned well in advance, and they are given notice so that they can prepare themselves for this type of socializing. This may sound like quite a generalization (then again, isn’t everything on this list!) but for many Swedes, this is something that they consider necessary in order to brace themselves for a major social gathering.
There are plenty of fun get-togethers in Sweden. These events are simply more carefully planned and coordinated than they are in other countries. The people of Sweden do not want to leave anything to chance when it comes to something like this.
One of the Swedish personality traits that is often mistaken as coldness is their individualism. Some people may see this as a rude Swedish trait, but it is not meant that way at all. The Swedish concept of individualism is often practiced to avoid bothering others.
The way that many in Sweden feel about taking care of their own problems is that they have the power to do so. They believe that taking care of their own problems means that they won’t have to bother anyone else with them. Thus, they can potentially spare other people from the potential burden of having to help them out.
Swedes have learned over the years to deal with their own problems on their own terms, and they continue to use this personality trait to help get things done. Try to keep this in mind in your dealings with anyone from Sweden.
That is, they are not meaning to cut you out from their life or make things challenging. They simply find it easier to handle most of their problems on their own and not incorporate other people into the situation if they can avoid it.
What are Swedish people known for?
Sweden is a country of just over 10 million people, but they have produced more than their fair share of contributions to the world. We wanted to share some of the most interesting and impactful things that Swedish people are known for.
1. Swedish pop music
It may be hard to name some of the top Swedish bands right now, but you have likely heard their music or their influence on music in your life. Sweden has produced many amazing hit pop songs and contributed to many others.
Of course, most famously, the band ABBA is from Sweden, and they were a big hit throughout the world. In fact, there is an entire museum dedicated to ABBA in Stockholm, Sweden for people to visit.
And that’s not even mentioning Roxette, Ace of Base, Avicii, Robyn, Swedish House Mafia, The Cardigans, Europe, Eagle-Eye Cherry… Safe to say, we certainly owe the Swedish people a great debt of gratitude for all of the contributions they have made toward the advancement of pop music.
2. Design techniques
Swedish design techniques have left their impact on the planet. Their most well-known company is IKEA, and it is a place where design meets functionality in every item that they sell. IKEA stores are so popular with people that many simply walk through them just to say that they have been through one – and getting an IKEA Swedish meatball is just a bonus!
There are other subtle Swedish design influences throughout the world. The next time you notice something about a building that indicates that it has some sustainability features, you should note that you are likely looking at something that has Swedish influence imprinted on it.
3. Swedish coffee and food culture
Did you know that the Nordic countries (including Sweden) consume the most coffee per capita of any country on Earth? This is because they have such a strong coffee and food culture.
There is a word in the Swedish language that refers to the coffee break that many people take throughout their work day. That word is: Fika. It is a special time for people to take a step back and allow themselves to relax a little from the stresses of the day.
Many choose to combine their coffee with a food treat. It is common to add a cinnamon roll (kanelbullar) to the experience. When you are eating meals that come later in the day, you may also enjoy some of the local seafood catches or even meat from a reindeer!
4. Sweden’s IceHotel
Add this one to your bucket list. You will want to check out what Sweden’s IceHotel is all about.
The IceHotel is an area in the north of the country where temperatures are very low throughout most of the year and permafrost exists. The IceHotel is literally made of ice and snow and kept at a cool -4 degrees Celsius. Guests are given thermal sleeping bags to help keep themselves comfortable as they sleep in these iceboxes.
The point of doing so is to see some of the most amazing sights in the sky that you may have ever witnessed in your life, especially given how dark it gets in Sweden in this area. You can see the night’s sky in ways that you never have before, and the experience is awe-inspiring. It is a life experience that you won’t be able to forget.
5. Swedish royalty
The UK royal family gets all of the press in the United States and many other parts of the world, but Sweden actually has one of the longest-running monarchies in the world. Just like with most other countries, the Swedish royalty doesn’t hold true political power, but they are the symbolic head of the country regardless.
In 2010, when Crown Princess Victoria and her partner, Daniel, got married, it was one of the largest royal events ever held.
There is a lot of pomp to these types of events (safe to say that the Swedish flag has a lot of meaning to people on those days!), which may seem out of character for what we know about the people of Sweden, but they seem to love these events regardless. You can see this every Swedish National Day, when the royal women come out in full Swedish traditional clothing – which looks great!
6. Beautiful sights in every season
Sweden is blessed to have some of the most beautiful landscapes and weather conditions of anywhere in the world. The country still has four distinct seasons throughout the year, and the sights and sounds that accompany each season are truly spectacular to take in.
Even the most adamant pessimist can find something to love about what they see throughout the country. From snow-capped mountains to the beautiful sight of leaves changing color in the Fall, there is something that will knock you back a few steps when you visit Sweden and see what it is all about. You need to take advantage of all that the country offers and allow yourself to see just how beautiful it is all year long.
7. Swedish art
Finally, don’t forget to take in the Swedish art that dots the landscape throughout the country. There are major works of art that are placed in places as routine as the metro stations that people use every day.
Anything that the country can do to brighten things up for people and bring a little joy into their lives is something that they are going to do.
Not every piece is hung up in a museum somewhere. You will find plenty of art in the everyday structures of life, and that is how the Swedish people like it. It is yet another way that the country is a bastion of happiness and joy.