Zlatan Ibrahimovic training with Paris Saint-Germain. Photo By Doha Stadium Plus Qatar from Doha, Qatar – Wikimedia

Top 15 Famous Swedish people


Originally published by Lilian on January 2021 and updated by Charity K on August 2022

Sweden has a population of fewer than 10 million people. This had however not stopped its people from leaving an indelible mark in the world.

It has been one of the top 10 countries to ever bag the highest number of medals in the Olympic games. This country has been ranked as the 4th country in the world to have the highest medal to population ratio.

Sweden is also one of the best countries to live in and is a leader in so many things. The Swedish people as said to be happiest and have the best healthcare in the world.

With that said, here are the top 10 famous Swedish people.

1. Greta Thunberg – Environmental Activist

Greta Thunberg in front of the Swedish Parliament with a sign. Photo By Anders Hellberg – Wikimedia

She is one of the most famous teens from Sweden. Greta Thunberg is an environmental activist who is known globally for pushing world leaders to take action against climate change.

Thunberg started her activism from home by convincing her parents to adopt a lifestyle that reduced their carbon print. She furthered this, aged 15, by picketing outside the Swedish parliament with a sign reading School strike for climate.

Greta is a straightforward speaker who is not shy from hitting the nail on the head publicly and to political leaders. She has attended international conferences where she addressed global leaders on matters of climate change and saving the environment.

Her actions led other Swedish students to join her in the protests against climate change. Together with other students, they started a school climate strike named Fridays for the future.  

These protests were not only held in Sweden but also in other countries and especially during international conferences where global leaders met.

She has received numerous honors and awards. Greta has also been featured as the youngest Time Person of the Year as well as being in the Forbes list of the 2019 World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.

2. Zlatan Ibrahimović – Football Player

Zlatan Ibrahimovic training with Paris Saint-Germain. Photo By Doha Stadium Plus Qatar from Doha, Qatar – Wikimedia

UP next is this footballer extraordinaire, Zlatan Ibrahimović. He played for the English club Manchester United.

Zlatan also served as the Swedish football team captain from 2010, a position he relinquished when he retired from international football in 2016.

He is known globally as one of the most prolific strikers who was precise and full of stamina. During his active career, Zlatan won more than 33 trophies and is among the most celebrated footballers of all time.

Zlatan began his career in professional football in the late 1990s and was soon part of the Swedish football national team.

As a player on the national team, Zlatan made over 100 appearances. He was also the leading local and international goal scorer from Sweden.

Zlatan has been awarded the best Swedish football player and won the Golden Ball Award 11 times.

3. Ingrid Bergman – Actress

Ingrid Bergman was one of the greatest actresses from Hollywood’s Golden Era. Her acting skills were naturally topped up with her unassuming beauty.

Having her roots in Sweden, Ingrid was one of the most celebrated figures in the history of American cinema. She is one of the actresses to ever bag the most Oscar Awards tying up with tied with Meryl Streep.

Ingrid was born in Stockholm to a Swedish father and a German mother. Orphaned at 12, she went to live with an elderly uncle.

She started her acting career at 17 as an extra in a Swedish film. As luck would have it, she was spotted by an American film producer from one of her roles.  

In 1939, she signed her first American contract after she moved to California. The remake of her first film, Intermezzo, was a hit and so was she.

4. Avicii – Musician & DJ

Avicii, photo By The Perfect World Foundation – Wikimedia

Undoubtedly one of the best DJ and remix artists in the world. Born Tim Bergling was raised in Stockholm and went to be one of the most popular musicians of his time.

He started online, showcasing his music skills, and soon gained the attention of many music lovers. Going by his stage name, Avicii, he started making music at the age of 16.

In 2011, he released his single ‘Levels’ which became an instant hit. In 2013, Avicii released his debut album True. He mixed electronic music with other genres of popular music.

That album made it to the top 10 hits in more than 15 countries around the world, including Sweden, the United States, and Australia.

In the years that followed, he became the people’s favorite DJ. He died by suicide in 2018.

5. Alfred Nobel – Chemist

You’ve heard of the Nobel Peace prize, and wondered where that came from? Well, this guy is credited with that.

Alfred Nobel was a Swedish chemist, engineer, innovator, and armaments manufacturer. He invented dynamite and held 355 different patents. Alfred left a legacy to fund prizes for key sciences. The most notable one is the Nobel Peace Prize.

Born in 1833, Alfred Nobel studied with chemist Nikolai Zinin. He moved to Paris in 1850 to further his skills.

There are several inventions under his names such as nitroglycerin which exploded when exposed to heat and pressure. He further used the nitroglycerin as a commercially usable explosive which was more powerful than gunpowder.

Nobel died on 10 December 1896 after he suffered a stroke. He left most of his wealth in trusts, to fund the Nobel Prize awards.

6. Ingvar Kamprad – Business Magnet

A photo of Ingvar Kamprad By Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications of Sweden/Sandra Baqirjazid – Wikimedia

Ingvar was a Swedish billionaire business magnate who founded IKEA. It is a multinational retail company that sells furniture. He moved to Switzerland in 1976 until 2014.

Kamprad was born in Pjätteryd, in Småland, Sweden. His parents were Feodor Kamprad, a German and Berta Linnea Matilda, a Swedish.

His family was well known in the 19th century for being estate owners in Thuringia. Kamprad visited his family’s ancestral town in Thuringia and kept in contact with relatives there.

He started IKEA in 1943 as a mail-order sales business. Five years later, he started the furniture business. The first IKEA store was officially opened in 1958 in Almhult, Smaland province in Sweden.

The mega-store is now in several European countries, America, Australia, and parts of the middle east. 

7. ABBA – Music band

A photo of ABBA pop band By AVRO – Wikimedia

This was a successful pop group with its roots in Stockholm. The group comprised of Agnetha Fältskog, Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, and Anni-Frid Lyngstad. They sold over 300 million records worldwide.

The pop group was formed in Stockholm in 1972 with the group’s name being an acronym of the first letters of the members’ first names.

This group became one of the most successful pop bands in the history of popular music. ABBA topped the charts worldwide between 1974 and 1983.

They were the Swedish band to win the Eurovision Song Contest in 1974. Their song Waterloo was chosen as the best song in the competition’s history in 2005. This was during the Eurovision Song Contest’s 50th anniversary celebration.

After the band broke up, Andersson and Ulvaeus went to be successful songwriters while Lyngstad and Fältskog pursued solo careers.

8. Magdalena “Magda” Forsberg – Biathlete

Forsberg was the dominant biathlete during her career which was between 1997 and 2002. She became the World Champion six consecutive times.

Magdalena is also a six-time world champion, a two-time Olympic bronze medallist, and holds the record for the most World Cup victories in women’s biathlon.

Forsberg has been awarded the Radiosportens Jerringpris four times, 1997, 1998, 2000, and 2001, which is the record for a Swedish athlete.

9. Annika Sörenstam – Professional Golfer

Annika was born in Bro near Stockholm, Sweden. Her father, Tom was an IBM executive while her mother Gunilla worked in a bank.

She has a younger sister who is also a professional golfer and LPGA Tour winner.

Annika retired from professional golfing and is regarded as one of the best golfers in history. She retired in 2008 after winning more than 90 international tournaments as a professional.

10. Astrid Lindgren – Writer

A photo of Astrid Lindgren By Ceyla de Wilka – Wikimedia

Last on this list is Astrid Lindgren who is a writer of fiction and screenplays. Astrid is best known for several children’s book series, such as Pippi Longstocking, Emil I Lönneberga, Karlsson-on-the-Roof, and the Six Bullerby Children.

She worked on the Children’s Literature Editorial Board at the Rabén & Sjögren publishing house in Stockholm. With more than 30 books for children with her name, Astrid is said to be the world’s 18th most translated author.

Her children’s books are the fourth most translated after Enid Blyton, Hans Christian Andersen, and the Brothers Grimm. Subsequently, she has sold more than 165 million books worldwide.

11. Ann- Margret (Actor)

Photo by Wikimedia Commons – Wikimedia 

She is a Swedish- American singer and dancer but she is mainly known for her work as an actress. She is best known for her roles in bye bye birdie, Tommy, Viva Las Vegas, The Cincinnati Kid, and Carnal Knowledge.

 Fortunately, she has won five Golden Globe Awards and been nominated for two Academy Awards, two Grammy Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award, and six Emmy Awards.

One of the awards she won was in 2010 as a guest appearance on Law & Order, SVU. Her singing career has been relevant for five decades just like her acting career. She began in 1961.

In the beginning, she was billed as a female version of Elvis Presley. She had a minor hit in 1961 and a charting album in 1964 and scored a disco hit in 1979.

In 2001 she recorded a critically acclaimed gospel album, and an album of Christmas songs from 2004 continues to be available.

Ingrid Bergman was a Swedish actress who starred in a variety of European and American films. She won three Academy Awards, two Emmy Awards, and the Tony Award for Best Actress.

12. Alexander Skarsgård – Actor

Photo by Wikimedia Commons – Wikimedia 

He is the son of Stellan Skarsgård, a Swedish actor. He also became an actor, a career he picked from his father.

He is well known for his roles as vampire Eric Northman on the HBO series True Blood, Meekus in Zoolander, and Brad Colbert in the HBO miniseries Generation Kill. 

13. Anita Ekberg – Actress

Photo by Wikimedia Commons – Wikimedia 

She was born on September 29, 1931, in Malmö, Sweden. She later became an actress, model, and sex symbol, Anita Ekberg was best known for her role as Sylvia in the Federico Fellini film La Dolce Vita (1960). She featured in a scene of her cavorting in Rome’s Trevi Fountain alongside Marcello Mastroianni.

Her turning point was when she has crowned Miss Sweden in 1950. Also, she married an actor Rik Van Nutter in Lugano, Switzerland. Again, she married actor and singer Anthony Steel in Florence, Italy but later divorced in 1959. 

She starred in La Dolce Vita directed by Federico Fellini in 1960 in Italy.

14. Greta Garbo – Actress

Photo by Wikimedia Commons – Wikimedia 

She was born on September 18, 1905, in Stockholm, Sweden. She starred in a film directed by Edmund Goulding known as Grand Hotel and also premiered in New York including the line ‘I want to be alone best picture production. 

In 1939, she starred in the Romantic comedy film ‘Ninotchka’ which was directed by Ernst Lubitsch and was famous for its huge postbox returns.

15. Annika Sörenstam – Golfer

Photo by Wikimedia Commons – Wikimedia 

She was born on October 9, 1970, in Stockholm, Sweden. She later became a famous golfer who won 10 LPGA major titles and was an 8-time LPGA tour player. Some of the games she won were the British Open Women’s Golf, Woburn, Duke’s Course, and in 1995 at Open Women Golf, The Broadmoor. this was her first win of the 10 LPGA major titles with a 1 shot victory over Meg Mallon.

Her 10th and final major title by 4 strokes in a playoff with Pat Hurst in 2006 were at the US Open Women Golf, Newport CC.