Sweden is a large, damn cold country in Scandinavia. Usually considered a stronghold of social democracy, Sweden is a welfare state, and consistently ranks in the top 10 in the UN Human Development Index. It's also really freaking far north, almost as far north as you can get in Europe.
make made Saabs and Volvos and sell sold them to safety-conscious Americans.
IKEA, the giant cardboard put-it-together-yourself furniture chain, is based in Sweden, hence the Swedish meatballs they gladly serve to the homeless in their stores.
The town of Husqvarna (now spelled Huskvarna) produced the following (all built by separate companies named after the town):
- Chainsaws, lawnmowers and gardening equipment
- Sewing machines
Ingmar Bergman made some fine movies. So did Ingrid Bergman. You won't find much sex in any of their movies. At least not much pleasurable sex. For instance, in Cries and Whispers, a woman took the drastic step of masturbating with a glass shard so that her husband would lose interest in her. (!!!!!)
In 1967, as an answer to Bergman's highly symbolic and stylized films, director Vilgot Sjöman made a film titled Jag är nyfiken (English title, I am Curious). The 3½ hour film was in the style of French New Wave films from the late 1950s and early 1960s. Sjöman later recut the film into two films -- I am Curious (Yellow) and I am Curious (Blue). In Yellow, the lead actress is shown kissing her boyfriend's penis, which led to censorship in many places around the world, including in Massachusetts. It also led to a dramatic uptick in the number of porno films produced in Sweden. As John Candy would later say in the 1984 movie Splash, some of the world's finest nudie films had come from Sweden.
Snus -- those stamp-sized pouches filled with dried snuff that help nicotine addicts get through long stretches in no-smoking areas -- originated in Sweden in the early 19th century. (Pronounced snoos, not snooze.)
It is also quite interesting to note that the country which gave us those great pirates, pillagers, rapists and looters - the Vikings - managed to turn itself into one of the great liberal democracies in the world. This is because Swedish Vikings contented themselves with peaceful exploration and trade in eastern Europe. They called themselves Rus' rather than Vikings and gave their name to Russia
 It's a woman's life in the modern Sweden
Sweden is also often ranked as the country that is the most hospitable to women, despite the bleak imagery of Stieg Larsson's immensely popular Millenium Trilogy. Among the advantages for women:
- Swedish men do more housework than anywhere else in the world -- 24 hours per week.
- Swedish society does not frown on women who are sexually aggressive.
- Sweden was the first nation to pass a maternity leave law, which now allows up to a one-year leave.
- Sweden passed one of the first laws allowing women to inherit property (1845).
- The Lutheran Church in Sweden was one of the first organized religions to permit female priests.
- One-third of all Swedish police officers are women.
Under Sweden's sex crimes statutes, a woman must consent to having sex without a condom. Men who violate this law are guilty of "sex by surprise." The fine is 5,000 kronor, or about $715 (US) when Julian Assange of WikiLeaks found out about this law the hard way in December 2010. Assange fears he could be extradited to the United States and fears he could face the Death penalty there. 
- Sweden has had continuous peace since 1814.
- A Swedish spruce tree has lived at peace for nearly 10,000 years. This spruce is the oldest known tree in the world. It has been alive since before the creation of the world in 4004 BCE and even survived Noah's flood!
- Fred Phelps hates Sweden. Sweden has yet to make peace with him.
- Oh yeah! Sweden also legalized same-sex marriage in May 2009. Woohoo!!
- ↑ Wikipedia's nice summary of said report.
- ↑ We're specifically talking about the car divisions, both companies remain very well alive.
- ↑ To be accurate, ABBA was only 75% Swedish. One member was half-Norwegian and half-German. But, that's not her fault.
- ↑ Although you have to wonder if they would've gained the same level of fame if they had been as drunk in concert as they were when they made their 1970 TV debut as a group. (And how the hell did the get Reuben Kincaid from The Partridge Family and Frank Gorshin to play the sheriff and his deputy?)
- ↑ Viking Rus: Studies on the Presence of Scandinavians in Eastern Europe
- ↑ "The World's Best Country for Women", Marie Claire website, accessed 25 March 2010.
- ↑ It's original Swedish title translates as "Men Who Hate Women," and involves a fair amount of characters that do just that.
- ↑ Kennedy, Dana. "'Sex by Surprise' at Heart of Assange Criminal Probe", AOLNews website, first posted 3 December 2010.
- ↑ 
- ↑ "Swedes find 'world's oldest tree'", BBC Website, posted 17 April 2008.
- ↑ But let's be fair. Ask anybody in Sweden about Fred Phelps and they'll say what most Americans would say: "Fred who?"
- ↑ "Sweden allows same-sex marriage", BBC Website, posted 2 April 2010.