Is there something you want to know about Sweden? Forget about browsing Wikipedia or making a trip to Ikea. Now you can just call. On Wednesday Sweden became the first country to get a national phone number, allowing the rest of the world to just dial and "get connected to a random Swede somewhere in Sweden." The idea behind the novel campaign launched by the Swedish Tourist Association is to promote Sweden to foreigners by letting denizens of the Scandinavian country answer questions rather than tourism officials, the Local reports. "That is sooooo Sweden," Mashable writes. Ad Week recalls a similar campaign in 2012, when VisitSweden gave citizens control of the country's official Twitter handle. The so-called "Swedish Number" is +46-771-SWEDEN, but according to the campaign's website US callers can use +13-012-760-600 to avoid international telephone rates.
The Local tried the number and got connected to Nina, one of the many Swedes who have signed on to participate in the program. "I thought it was a fun idea," she says. "I'm very curious about why people want to come to this cold country in the north." As of Friday afternoon, per the Swedish Number website, more than 23,000 calls had come in. (Calls are routed through a "switchboard" and anonymous.) The US led for the number of incoming calls, followed by Turkey, the UK, the Netherlands, and Russia. The tourism association CEO says the campaign aims to "show a unique and genuine Sweden." Mashable—citing Iceland's Stopover Buddy program and an Irish citizen Twitter campaign—has its own theory: "People who live in this cold, often dark region of the world would really like to make some friends." (Read more Sweden stories.)