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Sweden 'fourth best country in the world'

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16:28 CET+01:00
Sweden has been rated as the fourth best destination in the world in a new ranking by the Lonely Planet travel guide, thanks to its emerging pop-culture, it's food, and the fact that the north holds the setting for next year's European Capital of Culture.

Lonely Planet was impressed by Sweden this year, ranking the northern country as the fourth best travel destination in the world after Brazil, Antarctica, and Scotland.

"Thanks to the late Swedish author Stieg Larsson, most people have a sense of what Sweden’s like, even in the far north – cold, beautiful and a bit scary," the travel guide wrote in its annual report.

It went on to praise the Sweden's emerging new pop culture sensation, and the fact that Umeå in the north will be the European Capital of Culture in 2014.

But Lonely Planet was most taken by another side of Sweden, perhaps first made famous by a fictional muppet chef, but which has recently exploded onto international dinner tables around the world - the culinary scene.

"Then there’s the food," Lonely Planet wrote. "The capital has long been a stylish, top-notch destination for serious gourmands and boldly experimental chefs but lately the reputation and influence of Swedish cooking have spread beyond the country’s borders. Considering that Swedish cuisine is so strongly tied to locally sourced ingredients (be it seafood, game, berries, herbs or regional cheeses), it makes perfect sense to go to the source of all this fine food."

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Sweden was the only Nordic country to make the top ten, and one of only three European countries. Behind Sweden, Lonely Planet adviser travellers to head for Malawi, Mexico and Seychelles, with the top ten rounded out by Belgium, Macedonia, and Malaysia.

Top placed Brazil ("the Belle of the Ball" according to Lonely Planet) was praised for its beaches, rainforests, and the fact that it will be playing host to the Fifa World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016.

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