This is a a statue in the town square-- Stora (big) Torget (center/square). Its the first thing you notice. A friend of mine had told me that this was considered the ugliest statue in the country (Sweden). What ever it may be, it symbolizes a treaty between Norway and Sweden, when both countries call an end to the use of arms. It has been nearly 200 hundred years since the countries have gone to war. While there is criticism about Sweden being engaged in selling arms to countries in conflict, overall there is an underlying peace in the country that you can feel.
LIke all countries, it may not be perfect, but it is the only country that I have lived in so far, where they had made 'people' a priority over a generalized way of living. Commercialization is at its low, there is only one 24 hr McDondald's in the entire country. Not to mention that McDonald is not that popular. The first Starbucks was opened this May (2014) at the airport.
Yes, like all developed countries Sweden was a colonizer too, you can ask the Czech, Norwegians, Finns, Estonians and even some small colonies in Africa. Yet, it is a country that has took a stance against war and has stood by it (ok, there is a massive arms industry). But, I must say this is the only country where women are not afraid of having children, because that does not mean a break in their work, instead it means paid leave, while they can spend time with their children and later several years of parental leave and government supported child care. Also, their being pregnant is not an obstruction to looking for jobs. I known an Indian woman, raised in the UK who came to Sweden to work and lost sensation in one of her arms in a skating accident. The company she worked for allowed her to continue with her job, 'we hired you for your brains' they said. There is a cushioning around people here, that lets them feel human. Two hundred years without a war and a focus on controlled individuality and collectivity, has allowed people a simplicity and sweetness that I have not seen anywhere else.
Or, may be, may be I just got lucky and met the best people in the country, so I am always gushing about it.....