Zlatan: As notorious as Madonna or Prince, Sweden’s top striker simply goes by his first name. With the country already qualified for next year’s Euro soccer championships, Ibrahimović’s bad-boy-tainment is likely to spike the numbers of female viewers across the globe.
“Millennium”: Speaking of the dark side, Stieg Larsson’s literary trilogy is a powerful testament to the Swedes’ penchant for dark matter. As stand-up comedian Magnus Betner observed in an interview: “Part of Sweden’s problem overseas is that everyone thinks we’re like Abba and Ikea — a nation of beautiful people singing happy songs in stylish modernist apartments. But…we have a very, very dark side.”
Abba: Still, who doesn’t love some “Knowing Me Knowing You…A-haaah.”
Nobel Prize: A symbol of sparkling ideas, this distinction is not awarded to fashion, in case you were wondering. Yet the Swedes’ cerebral approach to creation remains undisputed.
Volvo: Hey, it’s not exactly an Aston Martin, but they own it. Swedish engineer Nils Bohlin invented for Volvo the three-point seatbelt in 1959, slashing the risk of fatal injuries in half.
Zipper: True, it was invented on U.S. soil — but with Swedish brainpower. Gideon Sundback came up with the interlocking teeth system as we know it, in 1914.
Skype: It exported so well, it got snapped up by Microsoft for $8.5 billion. Founded by Swede Niklas Zennström and Dane Janus Friis in 2003, Skype is just one example of Sweden’s tech prowess.
H&M: Hennes & Mauritz’s total sales stood at 151 billion Swedish kroner, or $22.4 billion, in 2014 — accounting for more than half of the total Swedish fashion industry.