November 18, 2023
If you think about the advantages that Switzerland has, well, the flag is a big plus.
Okay, that joke is lame. As is the problem I have when Switzerland plays Sweden in soccer: shouldn’t I be neutral?
Apparently, though, the Swedish tourist industry is concerned that too many people outside of Europe (read: Americans) confuse Sweden with Switzerland. According to the Visit Sweden, every year 120,000 people ask Google: “Are Sweden and Switzerland the same?” and about 85,000 of those searches originate in the United States.
To better understand how people get Switzerland and Sweden confused, the Swedish tourism board conducted a survey about people’s perceptions of the two countries. About half of respondents didn’t know the differences between the two cultures. And about one in 10 American respondents admitted to booking (or almost booking) a flight, tour, or activity in the wrong country when meaning to travel to Sweden or Switzerland. Even President Biden inadvertently referred to Switzerland when he declared that it, not Sweden, would be joining NATO (he quickly corrected himself).
So the Swedes are doing something about it.
In a fairly amusing video (which you can see HERE), a Swedish woman conducts a press conference at which she proposes to the Swiss that the two countries do more to distinguish themselves. To that end, she proposes, for instance, that Switzerland should promote its “yodeling,” while Sweden will market its “silence and a lack of yodeling.” And while Switzerland is entitled to lay claim to being the birthplace of LSD, Sweden will claim the Northern Lights (“a different kind of surreal experience”).
Not to be outdone, the Swiss ambassador to the United States responded, with his tongue also firmly in his cheek, by posting own take (which you can see HERE), extolling such prototypically Swiss virtues as Swiss cheese, the Swiss army knife and Roger Federer.
Now, what about Guinea, Equitorial Guinea, Western New Guinea, Papua New Guinea and Guinea-Bissau?