But we’d better watch out! Norwegians are getting tired of this treatment, and their interest in us is on the wane. Perhaps jokes best describe our relationship to each other.

Here’s a Swedish joke: When the plane from Stockholm to Oslo is due to land, the captain says, "We’re preparing to land. Welcome to Fornebu, Oslo. Please remember to set your watches back 10 years to Norwegian time." The Norwegian joke goes like this: “Why do Swedes rush out whenever there’s a thunderstorm? They think they’re being photographed.”


Swedes think of Norwegians as a bit behind, Norwegians in turn, think of Swedes as full of themselves. But the worst part may be the unbalanced cultural exchange between the countries. “In Norway there are Swedish features everywhere—if you’re at a café, you hear people talking about Sweden, and you hear Swedish music. Sweden is more noticeable in Norway, much more so than Norway in Sweden,” says former Oslo correspondent Beatrice Janzon. And Norway’s ambassador to Sweden, Anne Lund says, “It’s easier to present Swedish culture in Oslo, than for us here in Stockholm to try to get Norwegian culture through.” Retired theater critic Tove Ellefsen Lysander confirms that Norwegians' interest in Sweden has calmed a bit, but “Norwegians still sing Evert Taube songs and watch Swedish TV.”

The one exception is Swedes' interest in Norwegian oil money. “The Norwegian oil and the financial situation in Sweden have changed the relationship between the two countries,” says Simon Saetre, who has written the book “Petromani” about Norway’s relationship to oil. “Swedes come to Norway to work, while Norwegians buy real estate in Sweden. It’s a new dynamic.”