Sweden stretches from the Arctic Circle to the southern tip parallel with Denmark. Outdoor activities are very popular. Most of the population lives in small rural towns, and while the major cities are populous and modern, they retain some of their ancient charm with pockets of medieval streets and architecture. Traditional festivities include celebrations of nature, most notably the return of spring. And during the summer, the North of Sweden experiences the midnattssol (midnight sun), the time of the year where the sun does not set.
Sweden is one of the most egalitarian societies in the world. The Swedes are proud of their nation and its accomplishments, and local patriotism is important. Swedes have a profound respect for privacy and politeness. Although they may appear reserved at first, they tend to have terrific senses of humor and genuinely appreciate a joke.
Family life is important, but family structure is diverse and offers differing lifestyles and beliefs from one family to the next. In a typical family, both parents work, and no Swedish families have maids.
Household chores are usually democratically divided among Swedish family members, regardless of traditional female and male roles and age. Swedish houses tend to be small and tidy. Any student (boy or girl) must be willing and able to help at home by cleaning, cooking, washing laundry etc. Mutual respect between children and adults is nurtured at an early age.
In general, Swedes are very sports-minded. Soccer, skiing, tennis, ice hockey and bandy (related to hockey) are all popular. Ice skating and other winter sports are common. Swedes love nature and try to spend as much time in it as possible.
Favorite leisure activities include reading, attending cultural events such as the theater and concerts, and watching movies and television. Swedes also enjoy celebrating holidays.
Common foods include potatoes, cheese, seafood, meat, fresh vegetables, salads and open-faced sandwiches. International dishes including pasta and rice dishes are now common. Smörgåsbord for special occasions is very popular.
Swedes speak Swedish, a Germanic language related to Danish, Norwegian and Icelandic. Though most Swedes are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, theirs is a highly secular society.