Legend has it that Birger Jarl founded the city of Stockholm in 1252 to protect Sweden from a sea invasion by foreign navies and to prevent the pillage of other Swedish towns.
Centuries later, Sweden's capital is not only flourishing but is one of the cleanest capital cities in the world, having received a European Green Capital Award from the EU Commission in 2010. Stockholm is not only clean, it is also green - surrounded by more than 200 nature reserves.
Travelling around Stockholm is easy; the city has an extensive (though expensive) public transport system which includes a metro, railways, buses, trams and an inner-city boat line. Those wishing to travel further afield can take one of the regular ferry services to European and Russian destinations.
Museums, theatres, galleries and restaurants abound in this former European City of Culture, which also hosts the annual Nobel Prize ceremonies. Foodies will need to watch their bank balances - Stockholm is home to more than 1,000 restaurants, some Michelin-starred.
What is special or unique about your city?
Stockholm is one of the most beautiful capitals in the world, it is built on 14 islands, and is connected by 57 bridges. The architecture, cutting-edge design, hip style, the greenery, the fresh air, and the proximity to the water are all distinctive traits of this city.
What are a newcomer's first impressions of your city?
The Venice of the North—also known as the “Beauty on Water”—Stockholm is like no other capital in the world. Built on 14 islands, it rises gracefully from water so clean that you can go swimming or fishing in the very heart of the city. Its waterfront is alive with boats, from ferries to shuttle you around the city to sailboats and yachts that cruise out into the vast archipelago that stretches into the Baltic. Of course, getting around doesn't require a boat; you can walk, bike, drive or take advantage of the city's impeccable mass-transit system.
Are these impressions likely to change?
Most will grow in appreciation of Stockholm, the “beauty on water.”
What is the local language?
Swedish is the main and official language. English is also widely spoken, and is many organisations’ corporate language.
How easily could I live in this city without knowing this language?
Stockholm is an international city so English speakers shouldn’t have many problems. In addition, a Swedish language course is offered for free to immigrants and expatriates.
What are good things to remember in order to avoid offending the other residents of this city?
As diverse as Stockholm is, there are a few societal norms that are distinctly Swedish. Understanding a handful of them will hopefully prepare you culturally before you relocate. An example is when you're invited to a Swede’s home, be on time and remove your shoes.
How might the local weather affect my daily life?
Swedes ought to give thanks to the Gulf Stream every day, as this warm Atlantic current saves us from freezing. Stockholm is also sheltered from cooler and moister Atlantic winds by the mountains to our west. So, no polar bears, we’re afraid; just the wonderful Swedish weather and all the fantastic things you can do in it.
During the darker winter months, there are lights in the windows, evenings in the cinema, and winter sports during the day. In spring and summer, life is lived outdoors: music festivals, outdoor theatres and open-air museums are popular. Not only are the flowers blooming, the Swedes themselves are, too.
Is there anything else I should know about the overall character of your city or its people?
One of the key characteristics of Swedish culture is that Swedes are egalitarian in nature and are very humble. They find boasting absolutely unacceptable. In many ways, Swedes prefer to listen to others as opposed to ensuring that their own voice is heard.
When speaking, Swedes speak softly and calmly. It is rare to witness a Swede demonstrating anger or strong emotion in public.
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