24 reasons Sweden is the most delightful country on Earth

I just got back from eight days in Stockholm.

More than the high price of beer, depth of the history, and beauty of the buildings (and people), one trait stood out like lingonberries on a stack of pancakes — the Swedes, with their famously high standard of living, really know how to live.

Wonderfully so.

Here are two dozen reasons why Sweden is the most delightful country on Earth.

1. Because everybody has ‘fika’ — the ritual of drinking coffee and eating a pastry — at least twice a day.

2. Because you can go swimming in the middle of Stockholm, since the water’s not all unbearably toxic.

3. Because there are 20 hours of daylight in the summer.

4. Because the summer solstice is celebrated with Midsommar, a maypole-dancing holiday where the usually reserved Swedes go insane while wearing festive flower crowns, such as this one.

5. Because there are raves in forests.

6. Because of common Swedish idioms, like “he shat in the blue cupboard.” This comes from back in the days before plumbing. People kept their bedpans in one cupboard and their fine china in a blue cupboard. It was a horrendous mistake, then, to put your crap in with your china.

7. Because any restaurant or bar with outside seating also has blankets. How considerate!

8. Because the government paid for a doge ad on the subway for the Stockholm equivalent of a Metrocard. So travel!

9. Because every subway station in Stockholm is like an art installation.

10. Because Sweden is the world’s third-largest exporter of music, after the States and the UK. Artists include the Knife, Robyn, Ace of Base, and, most legendarily, ABBA.

11. Because Princess Estelle is ridiculously awesome and also rather cute.

12. Because Pippi Longstocking was Swedish.

13. Because reindeer exist.

14. Because almost everybody has a little garden cottage to hang out in during their five weeks of vacation.

15. Because they eat lingonberries with everything, not just pancakes.

16. Because Swedes have kicked arse at carpentry for a very, very long time.

17. Because downtown Stockholm is absurdly beautiful.

18. Because Vikings. This is a rune stone, a particularly endearing form of viking art.

19. Because the king’s former hunting grounds are now a totally chill public park.

20. Because there are enchanted woods.

21. Because they paint their construction equipment, like this handsome giraffe-spotted crane.

22. Because nightclubs turn into flea markets during the day.

23. Because everybody heads out to Stockholm’s 30,000-island archipelago on the weekend.

24. Because the meatballs are for real.

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