Sweden finished after Great Britain, the US, Germany and France in the ranking, which was published last week in Monocle magazine’s Global Soft Power survey, which praised Sweden as a “friendly and functional” country.
The ranking was welcome news to Annika Rembe, head of The Swedish Institute, a government-funded agency charged with promoting Sweden abroad and, according to Rembe, “building interest and confidence in Sweden in the long-term”.
“The results show once again that the question of how countries built interest and trust globally is of increasing importance,” she told the Aftonbladet newspaper.
“Sweden has a high degree of trust internationally.”
Soft power is a concept developed by Harvard academic Joseph Nye, who coined the term in 1990 to describe how countries can use persuasion to attract, rather than coercion or payment.
Monocle’s ranking is based on measures of 50 factors including concrete terms such as success in the music, film and sports industries, as well as more abstract terms like architecture and food culture.
For the first time, the US was ousted from the top spot by the UK – after the Brits enjoyed a stellar year in sports with Andy Murray, an Olympic medal haul of 65, and James Bond and Adele all tagged as key contributors.
Meanwhile, the US remained introspective with the elections holding most people’s attention.
The report mentioned that Sweden’s growing base of entrepreneurs leaves the country in good stead abroad, but mentions that the country is struggling to shake the old stereotypes of Abba and Ikea.
The rest of the top ten was made up of Japan, Denmark, Switzerland, Australia and Canada.
Sweden’s Norwegian neighbours, meanwhile, finished in 12th place.