The Swedish Tourism Association is encouraging the world to dial +46-771-793-336 (+46-771-SWEDEN) and talk to a complete stranger in Sweden. In honor of the 250th anniversary of Sweden's 1766 Freedom of the Press Act, believed to be the world's first law supporting the freedom of expression, the hotline was set up to invite callers from around the world to "get connected to a random Swede." Not unlike the Swedish government’s 2011 initiative on Twitter to let a different Swedish citizen manage its official @Sweden account every week (which is still going strong), this is about sparking people's curiosity about Sweden ( ... and, yes, to recruit Swedes to the tourism association).
International phone rates apply, but nearly 3,000 people had dialed the Swedish number within 24 hours of its launch on April 6, asking about all the usual Swedish things: meatballs, the Nobel Prize, moose, the Ice Hotel, fika, politics, the correct pronunciation of smörgåsbord, whether they like surströmming, etc….
The Swedes who take the calls have volunteered by downloading an app, and though they are not vetted or given any instructions about what to say, they are for the most part, of course, very friendly and eager to answer questions. The calls are recorded and reviewed if there is a complaint. So far there haven’t been any, although a small number of callers were just trying to connect with Swedish women.