April 23, 2010

Wiki Friday: Sweden

1. landscapes and self-identification

Sweden has 25 provinces or landskap (landscapes), based on culture, geography and history. While these provinces serve no political or administrative purpose, they play an important role for people's self-identification.

2. talent, technology, and tolerance

According to the book, The Flight of the Creative Class, by the U.S. economist Professor Richard Florida, Sweden is ranked as having the best creativity in Europe for business and is predicted to become a talent magnet for the world's most purposeful workers. The book compiled an index to measure the kind of creativity it claims is most useful to business—talent, technology and tolerance.

3. equal and developed

After World War II a succession of governments increased the welfare state and the tax burden, and Sweden's GDP per capita ranking fell from the 4th to 14th place. However during this time Sweden radically changed from a divided and often extremely unequal society into one of the most equal and developed on earth. The consistent growth of the welfare state led to Swedes achieving unprecedented levels of social mobility and quality of life—to this day Sweden consistently ranks at the top of league tables for health, literacy and Human Development—far ahead of some much wealthier countries (for example the United States).

4. happy exceptions: food, transportation, and books

Since the late 1960s, Sweden has had the highest tax quota in the industrialized world. In addition, a national VATof 25% is added to many things bought by private citizens, with the exception of food (12% VAT), transportation, and books (6% VAT).

5. not content with providing its own citizens with free university, it offers it to everyone in the world, too

There are a number of different universities and colleges in Sweden. Only a few countries such as Canada, the US, Japan, and South Korea have higher levels of tertiary education degree holders. Along with several other European countries, the government also subsidises tuition of international students pursuing a degree at Swedish institutions, although there has been talk of this being changed.

6. do what you want, with whomever you want

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s Sweden was seen as an international leader in what is now referred to as the “sexual revolution,” with gender equality having particularly been promoted. The number of single people is one of the highest in the world. Sweden has also become, in recent decades, fairly liberal regarding homosexuality, as is reflected in the popular acceptance of films such as Show Me Love, which is about two young lesbians in the small Swedish town of Åmål. Since 1 May 2009, Sweden repealed its "registered partnership" laws and fully replaced them with gender-neutral marriage.

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