Top US official publishes map confusing Switzerland with Sweden

Top US official publishes map confusing Switzerland with Sweden

As the globe continues to be embroiled in crisis upon crisis, you’d like to think - or at least hope - that the people and institutions in charge know what they are doing. Sadly, a recent post by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has cast this hope into doubt, after he posted a promotional video that confused Switzerland with Sweden.

US Secretary of State confuses Sweden with Switzerland

To announce the US Secretary of State’s visit to France and his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, the official X account of Antony Blinken posted a promotional video, detailing his visit and priorities. At one point in the video, a map of western Europe was shown, explaining to the American populace where the secretary was going.

Unfortunately, seconds after the video was posted, netizens noticed an obvious and classic faux pas. Instead of being labelled as Switzerland, the video showed France being bordered by Sweden. This is made worse by the fact that, as the US Secretary of State, Blinken is in charge of the foreign policy of what is the most powerful nation on Earth.

As the internet is known to do, it wasn’t long before users dogpiled onto the post, with one writing that “Switzerland would have been the word you were looking for.” “I didn’t know that you could get to Sweden via Italy,” wrote another. Despite only being online for a minute or two before being taken down, the damage had been done.

Not the first time US officials have confused Sweden and Switzerland

While the fact that the US State Department made such an obvious error is worrying, it is by no means uncommon. Indeed, while speaking at a NATO summit in 2022, US President Joe Biden said that he wanted to call the female president of Switzerland to discuss her country joining the organisation. With Switzerland being hesitant at best to join NATO and the fact that the Swiss president in 2022 was a man, it was clear that the leader of the free world had his wires crossed and meant Sweden.

Other notable incidents include when Spotify - a Swedish company - was welcomed to the New York Stock Exchange in 2018 with Swiss flags, and when Swiss ice hockey team SC Bern stood to attention as the Swedish national anthem was played before a Champions Hockey League match with Grenoble in 2019.

Swiss and Swedes see the funny side

Most of the time both countries see the funny side of the confusion. Case in point, in 2023, the Swedish tourism agency launched a funny ad campaign to try and separate the two countries in the public imagination once and for all. Whether they’ve succeeded is yet to be seen.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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