Maryam now Sweden’s fastest growing name

The Middle Eastern girls' name Maryam is now the fastest growing name in Sweden among newborns, up 70 percent on last year, according to new figures from Statistics Sweden.

Maryam now Sweden's fastest growing name
Three Swedish Maryams, left to right: MP Maryam Yazdanfar; documentary filmmaker Maryam Ebrahimi; and basketball player Maryam Gültekin.
Maryam was one of seven new entries to the list of Sweden's 100 most popular girls' names for newborns included in a press release from the agency on Wednesday, ahead of the release of the full figures on February 27th. 
No fewer than 177 newborns were given the name, shooting it straight into 78th place, ahead of the other new entrants Noomi, Hedvig, Mira, Zoey, Idun, and Melina. 
Maryam is the form taken by the name Mary, the mother of Jesus, in Arabic, Farsi, Somali, and other languages, and is popular among both Christians and Muslims across the Middle East, Southeast Asia and North Africa. 
“It's the most fast-growing name for girls but I don't know why,” Margareta Carlsson, from Statistics Sweden told The Local. “I can't see a celebrity named Maryam. I don't have any guess even.” 
In 2015 the name Saga shot from 21st to fourth most popular name, likely as a result of Nordic Noir heroine Saga Norén in 'The Bridge'. However, Carlsson said it was unusual for a name to see such rapid growth, with name popularity tending to shift gradually from generation to generation. 
Three new boys' names joined the top 100, led by Levi and Vide, which entered the list in joint 98th place, with the third name, Neo, just managing to slip in after them. 
Matteo was the fastest growing boy's name, seeing a 33 percent increase on last year. 
Lovisa and Ville, meanwhile, were the two names which fell most out of favour, with the number of new Lovisas falling 34 percent and Villes 24 percent. 
The name Alice retained last year's spot as the most popular girl's name in Sweden with 888 newborns, while long-time favourite William regained its place as the most popular boy's name, with 941 newborns, after slipping to third place last year. 
Oscar, last year's favourite, was knocked into second place. 


The Swedish towns where couples stay married

Sweden may have a higher than average divorce rate, but there are some areas where couples tend to stay together – at least according to these official marriage stats.

The Swedish towns where couples stay married
File photo of a couple holding hands. Photo: Fredrik Sandberg/TT

A total of 24,876 marriages ended in divorce in Sweden in 2015, according to the latest available figures from the country's national number-crunching agency Statistics Sweden.

But some municipalities buck the trend, with couples staying married the longest in Övertorneå, a northern municipality of some 4,500 residents on the border to Finland.

Övertorneå couples stay together for 42 years before they divorce or one of them passes away, followed by fellow northerners in Pajala (40.1 years) and Vimmerby in southern region Småland (40 years).

Compare this to for example Stockholm suburbs Botkyrka and Sundbyberg at the bottom of the list, where the average marriage lasted 15.7 and 15.6 years in 2015, respectively.

“The population is younger in big cities. Many people get married, but more marriages end in divorce,” Statistics Sweden analyst Tomas Johansson told news agency Siren.

The average marriage in Sweden lasts for 25 years, before divorce or death.

The lesson is not as simple as “move to Övertorneå and your marriage will last”. Much of northern and rural Sweden has an ageing population, which contributes to the statistics.

“Relatively few are at the start of their marriages, which means that the number of marriages that end as a result of a death is higher,” explained Johansson.

“For example almost five times more people in Övertorneå became a widow or widower than got divorced in 2015.”

Top-20 list of the municipalities where marriages lasted the longest before ending through divorce or death

Övertorneå: 42 years
Pajala: 40.1 years
Vimmerby: 40 years
Arvidsjaur: 39.5 years
Rättvik: 38.9 years
Grästorp: 38.5 years
Tingsryd: 38 years
Malå: 37.9 years
Munkfors: 37.9 years
Berg: 37 years
Överkalix: 36.5 years
Nordmaling: 36.3 years
Vännäs: 36.3 years
Lekeberg: 35.5 years
Vilhelmina: 35.4 years
Robertsfors: 35.3 years
Vansbro: 35.2 years
Bräcke: 35.1 years
Sorsele: 35.1 years
Örnsköldsvik: 35.1 years