But what of the nation itself? Isn't it a little cold and.....boring? That's what Helena Frith-Powell, a former Swede but is now a British citizen thinks.
Is Sweden the most boring country in world?
by HELENA FRITH-POWELL, Daily Mail
20th June 2006
Envisage a country where it is dark for most of the year. Imagine a place where the snow is so deep you can't leave home without a snow-plough.
Imagine somewhere so cold that if you go out with wet hair, it freezes and breaks off. And a glass of beer costs around £5 if you can find one.
Welcome to Sweden; a country of nine million people but so dull that even Sven Goran Eriksson left.
Tonight, he will be reminded of his homeland when England play Sweden in the teams' final game of the group stages of the World Cup. Neither side needs to win, so the game could be dull.
I was born and brought up in Sweden. As a child, I thought it was perfectly normal that it snowed from October to April. I didn't grumble when I was fed raw fish and bits of elk, or when I had to travel to and from school in the dark.
I thought, like all those around me, that Sweden was great. I imagined I would live there for ever, marry Thomas Ostman from the next village (even though he hated me) and have lots of little Annikas and Bjorns.
Until the age of 16, I knew no better. Then I visited England. Suddenly jumping in a freezing lake at the end of April to celebrate spring's arrival seemed eccentric, if not insane.
Hurling myself naked from a sauna into a snowdrift no longer felt like a great way to spend the weekend.
I also discovered there was a world out there that we Swedes were rarely told about. And that there was this thing called the sun that didn't only come out in June, July and August.
It didn't take me long to decide to move permanently. I would go home to Sweden for holidays, full of stories of London. 'Do you want to stay here for the rest of your life?' I would ask my friends, looking around at the snowdrifts and elks.
'Why not?' they would reply. 'There's no place like home.'
The image of Swedes is that they resemble their most famous vehicle, the Volvo; reliable, steady and safe.
But unlike the Volvo, they are prone to eccentricity, like Sven's fabled love life. They are an unnerving mixture of deadly dull and totally eccentric.
Of course Sweden has its upsides. When it's lovely, it really is divine. The sun shines, the air is fresh, the flowers are bright and the lakes are inviting. There is hardly any traffic and it all feels clean and rich.
Swedes do have reason to be patriotic and now, from a distance, it's one of the things I most admire about them.
how they can find so much to be pleased with themselves about is beyond me especially now Volvo is owned by the Yanks. But good luck to them; we could do with a bit more of that pride in England.
I still go back there regularly. My husband and I were married there eight years ago today. For our honeymoon we went to an island close to Gothenburg. Of course it rained for the whole two weeks, but luckily we had the World Cup to watch.
Sweden is rather like a drug; you think you need it until you escape. People are brought up with the endless propaganda, which I suppose is why so many of my compatriots stay there.
As children we learned songs about snow. 'Yippee, it's snowing,' run the lyrics of one gem. 'Isn't that fun? Hurrah. We'll get our skis on and take our sleighs out and won't we have a blast.'
Well, hello! It may seem like fun for a day or two, but it snows for seven months. Call me perverse, but in my view there's only so much fun you can have on a pair of skis.
Some enlightened Swedes know this and have left. Ulrika Jonsson, Ingrid Bergman and Greta Garbo to name a few.
Interestingly, Swedes are taught from an early age that they are the only people in the world who can run anything.
I admit that if you look at Ikea they have a point. Where else can you get a plate of meatballs, furnish your kitchen and stock up on aquavit all at the same time?
Though, of course, you won't find any aquavit in Ikea stores in Sweden. Oh no. Alcohol is dangerous and is only sold from a state-owned shop called Systembolaget, which closes at 3.30pm, so you need to plan the fact that you'd like a bottle of wine with dinner before lunch.
Of course, Swedes don't complain about it. They are used to being obedient.
For example, on September 3, 1967 at 5am, the whole country went from driving on the left to driving on the right, despite the fact that 80 per cent of the population had voted against the change in a referendum.
Sweden is the only place in the world where this could have happened because everyone there is used to doing as they're told. Imagine trying the same stunt in Italy or France.
It is a myth that Swedes are jolly, happy people. If this is what you think, it's because you have probably only met Swedes abroad. And of course they're happy overseas; they're not in Sweden any more.
Or you have caught them just before one of the three main social events that punctuate the Swedish calendar and give Swedes a licence to drink as much as they like.
First, there is the last day of April, when Swedes congregate around lakes, break a hole in the ice if they are still frozen over, and jump in.
Then, on midsummer's night eve, when it is light all night, the Swedes dance around a maypole. Should you happen upon this festivity, you must be prepared to sing a song about little frogs which ends with everyone throwing themselves on the ground.
Finally, at the end of August, there is the big crayfish party which marks the end of summer and when yes you stuff yourself with this lobster-like creature while sitting outside in the cold and pretending to be in the Mediterranean.
Although Sweden for a child was rather nice after all, you never tire of building snowmen when you're five for a teenager, it's not such fun.
In the summer, there was lots of swimming the country is full of lakes but there were also lots of mosquitoes.
I spent most of my weekends as a teenager with friends drinking beer, or any other alcohol we could get hold of, by the local lake or hanging out in the only cafe within a 20-mile radius.
The most exciting event was a dance held in the village hall every two months. We would spend hours getting dressed stealing alcohol and drinking it on the way there.
The disadvantage of this was that, for those of us who couldn't hold our drink, we often ended up in a freezing ditch on the way to the dance.
On a normal day in Sweden no one smiles. If you do smile, people look at you as if you're trying to steal their wallet.
I was amazed to find that England was so friendly. I wasn't used to people chatting to me in the street or cracking jokes.
When I took my children to Sweden on holiday last year, I was depressed by it. OK, so it rained for the two weeks, but I found the people so, well, sad.
It is well known that Sweden is always near the top of the suicide ratings for developed countries even though they have a very good standard of living. Win or lose tonight against England, it won't make any difference to most Swedes: they'll still be miserable.