Visit the website, theswedishnumber.com, and a Swedish telephone number is displayed. Tourists interested in visiting Sweden can call that number, and they will be routed to a random Swedish citizen who has agreed to talk to strangers about their country.
You might wonder, Who would agree to answer random telephone calls from strangers? Certainly, not many would sign up, right? Wrong.
Almost 25,000 Swedes have signed up to answer when a stranger calls.
The Swedish Number was designed by the Svenska Turistföreningen (STF), which is the Swedish Tourist Association. Through theswedishnumber.com, tens of thousands of Swedes are offering to help the tourism association by accepting calls from strangers who want to know about Sweden, about things to do, or — really — anything. The website literally says, “Get connected to a random Swede and talk about anything.”
The STF invitation to call includes this brief explanation along with a video:
250 years ago, in 1766, Sweden became the first country in the world to introduce a constitutional law to abolish censorship. To honour this anniversary, Sweden is now the first country in the world to introduce its own phone number. Call today and get connected to a random Swede, anywhere in Sweden and talk about anything you want.
Talk about openness!
A notice on the website urges callers to check with their phone providers before dialing The Swedish Number. Calling from the US, a telephone or cellular phone provider may charge rates for an international call, and charges may be significant — even more so at certain times of day. Keep in mind, too, that folks in Sweden are in the GMT+1 time zone. When you call, you’ll be routed from house to house until someone answers, and (I’m guessing) you’re more likely to get an answer when more Swedes are awake — during their day.
To talk to a “random Swede” you can dial the number as posted at theswedishnumber.com and be connected to someone on the other side of the planet — well, depending on where you are — who is willing to talk with you about their country, or anything else.