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Sweden v Switzerland: 12 facts to help you tell them apart

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Roger Federer (Swiss) and Björn Borg (Swede). Photo: Victor Romero/AP
16:00 CEST+02:00
Sweden square off with Switzerland in the World Cup knockout stage on Tuesday in a meeting that is likely to confuse more than a few neutrals who aren't quite sure which country is which. With that in mind, we've pulled together 12 simple facts that should help you tell them apart…

Kings

Sweden's current king is Carl XVI Gustaf who has been on the throne since 1973. Switzerland is a federal republic and doesn't have a monarch, though Roger Federer could perhaps lay claim to the unofficial title.

Sweden's king (left) and Switzerland's tennis king (right). Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT & Tim Ireland/AP

Beaches

Switzerland is landlocked, so if you feel like a trip to the beach you're going to have to travel elsewhere. Sweden on the other hand has around 3,218km of coastline, so swimming spots aren't hard to come by – if you can handle the cold.

'Four-thousander' mountains

"Four-thousander" mountains are, as the name suggests, those with a summit at least 4,000 metres above sea level, and Switzerland is home to no less than 234 of the giants – perhaps not a surprise considering the nation's fame for skiing.

Sweden on the other hand can't lay claim to a single one: its tallest mountain Kebnekaise is a mere 2,098.5 metres above sea level.

READ ALSO: Sweden's highest mountain grows by more than a metre

World Cup honours

Pertinently, as far as Tuesday’s meeting is concerned, Sweden has taken a medal (ie: finished within the top three) at the World Cup on three occasions, coming third in 1950 and 1994, and runner-up in 1958. Switzerland has never gone that far, with their biggest achievement the quarter-finals in 1954 (when they hosted the event) and 1966.


Sweden lost the 1958 World Cup final to Brazil. Photo: AP

Record goalscorer

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of Sweden's best-known football exports, and holds the record for scoring the highest number of goals in the yellow shirt (62), though many would argue that the Swedes perform better at the World Cup without him.

FOR MEMBERS: Test your knowledge of Sweden at the World Cup

Alexander Frei's 42 goals make him Switzerland’s all-time top scorer, and the current crop looks unlikely to catch him (Xherdan Shaqiri is closest, with 21).

Olympic football medals

Though the two countries have populations of less than 10 million people, both have won Olympic medals in football. Sweden took Gold in 1948, while Switzerland took Silver in 1924, at a time before the first World Cup when the Olympic tournament was considered the most important in the game.

National languages

Diverse Switzerland has four national languages – French, German Italian and Rhaeto-Romansch – but it's perhaps more surprising to learn that Sweden has six. Swedish is the majority tongue but there are also five official minority languages in the Nordic nation: Finnish, Meänkieli, Sami, Yiddish and Romani.

Fallout shelters

Both small countries are prepared for the worst, but if you think Sweden's 65,000 bunkers is impressive, consider Switzerland’s 300,000 private bunkers plus an additional 5,100 for the public.


A creepy Swedish bomb shelter. Photo: Adam Wrafter/SvD/TT

Contributions to the world of alcohol

Sweden's most famous drink is brännvin, but that can't hold a candle to the mystique of absinthe. The green fairy was invented in 18th century Switzerland, and is associated with great artists and thinkers, unlike Sweden's throat-burning spirit.

Nobel laureates

Switzerland has taken the top intellectual honour no less than 26 times, but Sweden goes a few better with 31. Bias, or brilliance?

Tennis singles Grand Slam wins

The achievements of the two nations in the world of sport go well beyond football, and both share a common love of tennis in particular. Swedish players have won a singles Grand Slam on 26 occasions, with the most successful of them all a certain Björn Borg with 11.

Switzerland is even better though, with 28 singles Grand Slam titles. By far the most impressive of the winners is Roger Federer, who has 20...so far.

Large Hadron Colliders

Switzerland has one, Sweden has none. Sorry Sweden.


The Large Hadron Collider. Photo: Laurent Gillieron/AP

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