What Are the Weirdest Facts About Scandinavian Countries?
To foreigners, Scandinavia seems to be a land of natural beauty, magical tales and jolly citizens. Still, there’s more to this area than meets the eye, and plenty of untapped strangeness exists in the Nordic countries.
From weird customs to fascinating habits to odd laws, these locations are host to a variety of unique phenomena that are a part of their citizens' everyday lives. These are a few fascinating facts that set Nordic countries apart.
Ordinary Citizens Are Expected to Save Lives
While most people in the U.S. wait for ambulances during medical crises, Sweden is dependent on its citizens to be superheroes during moments of medical distress. The country has an optional texting service that citizens can sign up for that texts them when someone nearby has suffered a heart attack and needs assistance.
Denmark Has the Oldest Amusement Park
While Copenhagen's Tivoli Gardens may have inspired Disney World, Denmark has a much cooler amusement park tucked away near the capital. The park is called Dyrehavsbakken ("The Animal Park's Hill") and has been open for business since 1583. This makes Dyrehavsbakken the oldest theme park on Earth...and it's still functioning.
Finnish People Don't Make Small Talk
Awkward silences aren't a problem in Finnish conversations. From a young age, Finnish children are not taught about the concept of "small talk" unless they’re studying English. They see no necessity to speak simply to fill the air. If they don't have anything important to say, they won't say anything at all.
Iceland Doesn't Have Mosquitoes
Ready to get jealous? The world's peskiest (and deadliest) insect — the mosquito — doesn't exist in Iceland. Icelandic citizens don't need to worry about getting covered in itchy welts from these bugs (even if they do have to worry about frostbite). Why is the country free of mosquitoes?
Children Trick-or-Treat During Easter
In many countries, Easter is marked by colorful eggs, candy and the Easter bunny, making Sweden's annual Easter tradition a puzzling phenomenon. Rather than conducting Easter egg hunts, Swedish children spend every Easter getting into costume and trick-or-treating like it’s Halloween.
The Norwegian Government Supports Authors
Publishing can be a ruthless industry, yet the Norwegian government ensures that, once your book hits shelves, citizens across the globe have a chance to read it. When you publish a book in Norway, the government prints between 1,000 and 1,500 copies (based on genre) and distributes it to libraries across the country.
Denmark Has Strict Baby-naming Laws
Who knew that naming a newborn could be so complicated? In Denmark, the government exercises strict control over the naming of a newborn, including choosing an acceptable name. Parents can't go rogue on naming; they have to pick from a list of 22,000 girl names, 18,000 approved boy names and 1,000 approved unisex names.
Norway Has a Doomsday Seed Vault
In the case of a doomsday event, most people won't be thinking about the impact of a climate disaster on the world's crops. Fortunately, Norway has us all covered on that front. The country built the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, an underground seed bank on an island called Spitsbergen.
Sweden Supports the Right to Roam
Across the globe, it's not uncommon for gorgeous, preserved spots of nature to be regulated by government authorities or agencies. Often, it even costs money to enter more famous parks or nature sites. However, Sweden believes that access to nature should be a human right — so much so that they wrote it into their constitution.
Iceland Has Heated Walkways
Winters in Iceland can be fairly brutal in terms of weather. How do the cities within this Scandinavian country cope with the chilly climate? Heated sidewalks! Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, spends springs and summers harvesting thermal energy to heat the sidewalks in winter.
Finnish Babies Sleep Outside
Although many babies take naps in nurseries, Finnish citizens don't see anything positive about keeping kids indoors. As a result, many babies in Finland take their naps outside in prams or strollers. This phenomenon is true both at home and in public; many parents leave their kids outside of stores in their strollers to sleep.
A Chimp Became a Great Swedish Painter
In the practical joke of the 20th century, a Swedish zoo had an entire country convinced that a chimpanzee was a fine artist. In 1964, Pierre Brassau became a familiar painter in Sweden's art world. While his work was unconventional, critics praised Brasseau for the emotional quality of his art.
Finland Sends Mothers Maternity Packages
Finland takes care of its parents! The government provides the same amount of maternity/paternity leave days to newborns' mothers and fathers: 164 days of their choice, or approximately seven months. In addition, expecting mothers in Finland each receive a helpful package of baby-centric goods in the mail.
They’re All Addicted to Coffee
Although you may be a major coffee-lover, you can't comprehend how much Scandinavian citizens adore the caffeinated beverage. The five main Nordic countries place in the top five slots of the six biggest coffee consumers worldwide.
Norwegian Police Take It Easy
If you want police reliability, Norway may not be the best spot to move to. Instead of being available by phone 24/7, cops in Norway are, like non-crisis professionals, only reachable during their office hours. In addition, the stations often shut down during weekends to give officers a break.
Denmark Is the Happiest Place in the World
Worldwide, Scandinavia is known for its almost-euphoric atmosphere. Its citizens seem to feel the joyful energy, too. The World Happiness Report has found the central Nordic countries to be the happiest places to live for the past decade, with Denmark leading the charge.
The Finnish Have Bizarre Contests
There’s nothing that Finland enjoys more than a good competition! The country is host to all sorts of bizarre contests throughout the year, from phone-throwing to wife-carrying to farting championships. Finland also invented the first air guitar competition, which has become a popular "sport" across the globe.
The Swedes Knew About Chernobyl First
The 1986 disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine horrified people across the world. Although the USSR tried to censor the event, it was difficult to keep the impacts of nuclear radiation from being uncovered. Because of this, an unlucky Swede was the first man to find out about the disaster.
Iceland Has an Anti-incest App
While this would get a good laugh out of citizens in larger countries, it's an essential program for Iceland. Iceland has an anti-incest dating app to keep unknowing relatives from accidentally hooking up. In such a small country, it's necessary to take precautions to ensure that this awkward scenario is avoided.
Sweden Held a Unique Lottery
Speeding tickets are no laughing matter, but in Stockholm, Sweden, they put a smile on a few lucky faces. The Swedish government tested out a concept called the "Speed Camera Lottery," which rewarded safe drivers by entering them into a contest to win money from the fines of drivers who sped in the previous year.
The Norwegian Army Knighted a Penguin
While plenty of strange people have been knighted across the centuries, this Norwegian creature is certainly the first penguin to be given the honor. The penguin, who is formally known as Brigadier Sir Nils Olav, was knighted by King Harald V in 2008.
They Produced a Daredevil Explorer
In terms of history's famous explorers, Göran Kropp is as hardcore as they come. In 1996, this Swedish adventurer hopped on his bicycle, rode from Sweden to Nepal and decided to hike Mount Everest for fun. Besides his lengthy bike ride, what made this feat so daring?
Sweden Imports Trash From Norway
Denmark Is Home to LEGO
One of the most popular toys in history (and the most painful to step on) got its start in the earth's jolliest country! The LEGO Group was started by inventor/craftsman Ole Kirk Christiansen from Billund, Denmark. Christiansen was once savvy at creating ladders and other wooden fixtures, yet his shop burned down during an accidental fire.
Swedish Citizens Celebrate "Midsummer"
If you were a fan of the popular horror film Midsommar, this fact might disturb you more than excite you. Fortunately, there's nothing so dramatic as the events of the movie in this sweet celebration. Founded during Pagan times, present-day Swedish Midsummer celebrates the longest day of the year.
Sweden Tried to Elect Donald Duck
For many years, Swedish voters reluctant to vote for any political parties in their country would vote for Donald Duck or The Donald Duck Party instead of casting a vote for an actual politician. This became popular throughout Sweden, with thousands of people casting their ballots for the Disney character every election.
Denmark Was Once a Murderous Country
As of 2017, Denmark had one of the lowest homicide rates in the world (1.2 out of every 100,000). This wasn't always the case. Back in the 18th century, Denmark was all violence, all the time. Why was the country so bloodthirsty? The citizens thought it would get them into Heaven.
Finnish Children Read to Animals
Ready to have your heart melted? In Finland, schoolchildren take the time to read to animals like dogs and cows in order to boost their own self-confidence. How does reading to these animals help empower the children?
Sweden Texts Blood Donors When They've Saved a Life
Who doesn't want to know they helped save a life? If you donate blood in Sweden, not only can you feel great about your contribution, but hospitals also let you know whenever your blood has been given to a patient. The unique initiative began with the Swedish blood donation service Blodcentralen.
Icelandic Citizens Believe in Elves
This goes way beyond an interest in fantastical creatures. Iceland genuinely believes that elves exist and that their values impact the way that the citizens — and the government — behave. How do these beliefs impact the way that they interact with their land?