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Americans put Sweden's new phone number on speed dial

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Americans put Sweden's new phone number on speed dial
A Swedish flag and a US woman (probably not) calling Sweden. Photos: Hans Olof Utsi/Image Bank Sweden, Luis M. Alvarez/TT
13:49 CEST+02:00
Almost 56,000 calls have been made to Sweden since became it the first country in the world to launch its own phone number last week, with almost 40 percent coming from the US.
Sweden has grabbed global headlines over its decision to create 'The Swedish Number', which is designed to transfer every caller to a random volunteer Swede willing to answer pretty much any question about the Nordic nation.

Since the project launched just seven days ago, tens of thousands of phonecalls have been made from a total of 170 countries. Americans seem most obsessed with the concept, making 38 percent of the calls. Swedophile Brits come in second place with a much smaller eight percent, followed by Turkey, the Netherlands, Australia, China and Russia.

New Zealanders caught on to the idea on Monday after one of the country's biggest broadcasters dialled the number during a live breakfast programme, with a clip from the show quickly going viral.

In the segment, One News presenter Rawdon Christie tries out his language skills on the recipient, a man named Björn.

"Jag ringer du från Nya Zeeland," says Christie, before asking in unusual-sounding but comprehensible Swedish where his new phone pal is from.

"I am from Gothenburg but I live in Stockholm," answers Björn in English, later adding that he signed up for the project "because I am curious and because I think it is a brilliant idea".

The pair go on to have a bizarre quick chat about cat allergies, pasta and Twitter.

Plenty of The Local's readers have also been in touch to say they've tried the number.

"I got a girl from Gothenburg and I asked her about how dangerous elk are," said one follower in France. 

"I asked: 'What should you do if you run into an elk'?...'Well I would probably panic and run away', she replied".

However, not everyone seeking to get a taste of Sweden said they had got through.

Michael Coniam, who is British but used to live in Jönköping, called The Local's Swedish Deputy Editor when he couldn't connect to The Swedish Number. He questioned whether or not some Swedes who had signed up were actually too reserved for the project.

"I am a Swedophile and thought this was a wonderful and fascinating idea: a Swede picking up a phone? So I decided to try it out, but my first five calls just went to people's answerphones. Perhaps the Swedes sign up for it but then have second thoughts!" he laughed.

The experiment is set to run for another 136 days.

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