Swedish Language Blog

Yes, Sweden Is a Neutral Country Posted by on Jan 28, 2009 in Culture

I am very behind when it comes to entertainment news in the US, and only today finally managed to catch up on the whole Jessica Alba hullabaloo. And even then, it was only thanks to a very astute reader who sent me the story. Thanks! You know who you are.

What surprised me was just how many Americans think that Switzerland is the only neutral country in Europe. But what didn’t surprise me was how many of those Americans then went on to confuse Switzerland with Sweden.

But to set the record straight – yes, Sweden is indeed a neutral country, regardless of what some under-educated American talk show host thinks. Ms. Alba was right, and good for her.

But what desperately needs pointing out I think, are the differences between Switzerland and Sweden. Both countries are neutral, but that’s about all they have in common.
So, here we go:
Switzerland – only recently (December 12, 2008) finally joined the Schengen zone, not an EU member
Sweden – EU member, part of Schengen.

Switzerland – white cross on a red background
Sweden – yellow cross on a blue background

Switzerland – banking
Sweden – Vikings

Switzerland – Swiss watches and Swiss Army Knives
Sweden – Volvo, Saab and Draken fighter planes

Switzerland – yodeling
Sweden – ABBA

Switzerland – Swiss cheese
Sweden – surströmming

Switzerland –Swiss chocolate
Sweden – Marabou (Mmmm, mmmm…)

Switzerland – Roger Federer
Sweden – Björn Borg

Switzerland – Ursula Andress
Sweden – Izabella Scorupco

Switzerland – not so keen on immigrants applying for Swiss citizenship
Sweden – welcomes immigrants and happily allows them to become Swedish (after residency requirements have been fulfilled)

Switzerland – not really sure who’s in charge over there
Sweden – the royal family (they’re not in charge, but at least they look good on postcards)

Switzerland – the Alps
Sweden –mountains and everything else

Switzerland – Heidi
Sweden – Pippi Longstocking (Pippi Långstrump)

Switzerland – German, French, Italian and one other language that nobody ever heard of
Sweden – Swedish in all its many varieties

And now you should be able to easily distinguish between things Swiss and Swedish. And I don’t think I need to tell you which ones I personally prefer.

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  1. Gimena:

    Haha, funny cause the same happens over here with us. We say we are from Uruguay, (not that that’s something I’m too proud off haha) and people say: Ohhh Paraguaaay, riiiight!
    Haha, as if. We’ve got nothing in common with them.

  2. Timan:

    It’s very tough comparative analysis . But still it’s hard to figure out what’s the real meaning of neutral ? neutrality matchs more with watchs and banking than firms..wherever there is cross , one must makes choices..it’s unlimited direction of buisness.

  3. natasha:

    Loved this post! When you said “Pippi Longstocking”, it reminded me that I never understood why she is known in the US and Karlsson is not. I love him. In Russia he is way more popular than she is (I personally never really liked her myself :))

  4. Anna:

    my guy didn’t know about either Pippi or Karlsson, but he knew about Nils and was so excited when he saw the back of the 20SEK bill, because there is a picture of Nils flying on the goose on there. I think it really depends on.

    that is so funny! I used to confuse Paraguay and Uruguay too. Then I visited Montevideo and Asuncion and saw the difference for myself and now I can easily tell them apart.

  5. Anders:

    No idea what controversy you’re talking about. But Sweden being “neutral” – neutral to what?

  6. Olga:

    Dear Anna,

    Reading your posts is always very amusing and educational. This one is no exception. Still: I kind of feel bad for you not having had better experiences with Switzerland and its inhabitants. Why don’t you come over for a short break, we’ll do our best to convince you that, yes, the two countries are indeed very different, but not in the sense “one is better than the other”. 🙂

  7. GARY:


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