The image of Sweden abroad

The Swedish Institute (SI) is an authority on the perception of Sweden in the world. We carry out studies and analyses of the image of Sweden abroad to build an understanding of how Sweden can be relevant. This is a summary of the 2022 report.

Perceptions of Sweden

According to the 2022 studies conducted by the Swedish Institute (SI), Sweden's reputation is generally positive, albeit slowly evolving. However, awareness of the country remains relatively low. Sweden's areas of strength include social governance, environmental and climate protection, as well as quality of life. Many consider Sweden a well-governed nation with high levels of equality and justice, that is attractive for talent and investment. Additionally, Sweden ranks high in exports, innovation, and education.

In 2022, Sweden's image improved in Poland but deteriorated in China, Russia, and Türkiye. This may be attributed to perceptions of Sweden's role in the war in Ukraine and Sweden's bid for NATO membership.

Publications

Sweden received significant international media coverage in 2022, and more compared with 2021. The coverage was largely related to the war in Ukraine and Sweden's application for NATO membership.

The burning of the Quran and the so-called Easter riots sparked a polarised debate on freedom of speech and religion. The Swedish general election and the success of the Sweden Democrats garnered global attention. The gas leaks from the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines in Sweden's economic zone also drew significant interest.

Furthermore, 2022 saw the so-far largest information–influence campaign aimed at Sweden. The campaign spread false information about the kidnapping of Muslim children, with the aim of damaging Sweden's reputation.

Sweden's crime rate, particularly gang violence, continues to be a topic of international attention. Pandemic management, which received extensive coverage in previous years, received limited media coverage in 2022.

Conclusions about the image of Sweden abroad

Overall, Sweden's reputation must be viewed in the context of a polarised world. While Sweden enjoys a positive perception among the public in other countries, specific issues, countries or target groups may have varying views. Sweden's stance on the war in Ukraine and bid for NATO membership has influenced certain countries' perceptions of the nation. And attempts to damage its reputation through disinformation campaigns have become increasingly apparent.

Read the report in its entirety: 'Bilden av Sverige utomlands 2022' (Annual report of the image of Sweden abroad in 2022) – in Swedish, summary in English.

Read more about the work to analyse the image of Sweden on SI's website

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