What do Swedish People Look Like? (Features & Stereotypes)

Swedish people features and stereotypes include that they tend to be tall, have blue eyes, fair skin, and blond hair. Of course, these archetypes do not represent all Swedish people in the 21st Century.

Located near the Baltic Sea, Sweden is one of the largest countries in Europe based on land mass. Their citizens have one of the longest life expectancies in the world, perhaps due to the country’s progression and relatively equal wealth distribution. They are also quite generous, as they typically donate about 1% of the country’s gross national product to various humanitarian programs each year.

The country has a pretty diversified population, as it ranks tenth among OECD countries regarding the share of immigrants. About 14% of the country’s inhabitants are foreign-born, and more than five percent are naturalized. Despite this, a good majority of the Swedes still share common traits and habits. Let’s take a look at some of them:

What do Swedish People Look Like?

Note: These traits reflect history, averages, and even stereotypes, and may not reflect or be representative of the diversity of the nation today.

1. Taller than Average

Over a hundred years ago, the Swedes were ranked as the tallest people in the world.

While they have not maintained the same placement today (being overtaken by the Dutch), they are still high up on the ladder when it comes to height.

They rank as the 15th tallest for men and 17th for women based on a study conducted by the global health science network NCD Risk Factor Collaboration together with the World Health Organization.

The average height for Swedish people today is around 5 feet 8 inches. Like most races, the Swedish men are taller, reaching almost 6 feet tall in general, while the women typically get about 5 feet 5 inches in height.

2. High Cheekbones

The side profile of many Swedish people is very attractive because of their high cheekbones. This gives their face a natural contour and highlight, which looks pretty on camera even without makeup. However, this feature is not exclusive to the Swedes, as this can be observed in many Scandinavian people.

3. Blue Eyes

With so many Swedish people having blond hair, it should not be surprising to note that their population count with blue eyes is also very high.

Their rate of blue-eyed people is almost the same as those with blond hair, with 78% of their populace having this light eye color.

Aside from genetics, the reason for them having this eye color can be attributed partly to their natural environment. Blue-colored eyes result from a genetic mutation that causes lesser melanin content in the iris.

Experts believe that it is an evolutionary response to the dark winters in this region, which helped prevent vision disorders from developing during this period when there was little to no sunlight. Thus, we also see blue eyes among regional neighbors such as the Danish people.

4. Fair Skin

Aside from their pale blue eyes, their fair skin is another trait that makes Swedes stand out from the crowd. And it is not the type of fairness that looks pale or unhealthy because Swedish people have a natural glow on their skin. This glow is primarily due to their nutrient-rich diet, which consists heavily of seafood like herring and other fish oils.

5. Blond Hair

When you walk through the streets of Sweden, don’t be surprised to see them occupied by blonds everywhere since a huge chunk of the Swedish population has this natural hair color. In fact, almost 80% of Swedish people are naturally blond.

One reason for this is ancestry. Genetic research has shown that North Scandinavia, which is the area around Stockholm, was occupied by Vikings who were predominantly blond. Another reason is preference, as Swedish ancestors would get attracted to fellow blondes since they tend to stand out from the crowd. Lastly, there is also the environmental factor. Blond hair is better at processing Vitamin D, which is beneficial if you live in a country with cold and dark winter seasons.

Stereotypical Character Traits of Swedish People

Note: These traits reflect history, averages, and even stereotypes, and may not reflect or be representative of the diversity of the nation today.

6. Living Alone

Among Europeans, the Swedes have the highest number of adults who are living separately from their parents.

In a sense, it is considered a right of passage, and the younger generation would start moving out of the family home by the time they reach 18 or 19 years old – a lot younger than the average age in Europe, which is 26 years old.

Swedish people believe that being able to live alone is a way of showing that they can look after themselves and have power over their lives. As a result, more than fifty percent of Swedish households have single occupants, also the highest record in the EU.

7. Not Feeding Guests

A somewhat controversial trait that raised many eyebrows the first time it came to light was the Swedish habit of not feeding their guests. While this is not bad in itself, it ran contrary to the concept of hospitality that many people around the world have gotten used to.

Instead of using mealtimes as a way to break the ice, the Swedish prefer to refrain from serving food to their guests to relieve them from having to return the favor.

Since the Swedes value equality and independence, they didn’t want to pressure someone to prepare a meal in exchange. Others say it’s because mealtimes are very important, and they didn’t want to interrupt another family’s plans. That said, it is okay to join them for dinner as long as it has been discussed in advance.

8. Coffee Lovers

Swedes love their coffee so much that they even have a particular term for their coffee breaks: Fika. However, Fika is a more social and relaxed affair compared to other countries and is never taken on the go. It can also occur several times a day and can last for hours on occasion. On average, a regular Swedish coffee drinker consumes around eight cups daily, equating to almost 1.4 cups of filtered coffee per capita.

9. Non-confrontational

Swedes tend to avoid arguments and confrontations, preferring instead to take the silent route. As such, they are more likely to express their anger or disagreement by looking away or simply stopping the discussion.

Similarly, they are not likely to boast or exaggerate when talking to others. They are very straightforward in how they communicate, so when a Swede tells you that you’re doing a good job, you can take it at face value.

10. Takes Things in Moderation

Contentment, balance, and finding joy in what you have are values that many Swedes live by.

They call this philosophy “Lagom”, which roughly means “not too little, not too much – just right”. It emphasizes the idea that people do not need to have a lot to be happy. They just need to find the proper balance and learn to be content.

An excellent example of Swedes putting lagom into practice is their minimalist behavior. They avoid clutter by looking at the things surrounding them, deciding on what they really need, and finding joy in their possessions.

Conclusion

While Sweden has a relatively diverse population, those with Swedish heritage share similar physical characteristics. They are taller than the average person, as Swedes rank among the top 20 tallest people in the world. Most of the population also have fair skin, blond hair, and blue eyes, partly due to genetics, diet, and environmental factors like having little sunlight exposure during winter.

Many Swedes like to be independent, and they start moving away from home by the age of 18 onwards. They love coffee and are very friendly, though they dislike getting into arguments and confrontations. Swedes also prioritize balance and equality, and some of the ways they model these values are by sticking to minimalism and keeping mealtimes only within the family.

Chris
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Dr. Chris Drew is the founder of the Helpful Professor. He holds a PhD in education and has published over 20 articles in scholarly journals. He is the former editor of the Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education. [Image Descriptor: Photo of Chris]

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