A flag day for Sweden

The Swedish display set up in Ikea, Malaga.
The Swedish display set up in Ikea, Malaga. / A. M. S.
  • The National Day of Sweden is celebrated on 6 June and is devoted to the Swedish flag. Malaga, Nerja, Marbella, and especially Fuengirola are the resorts where the Swedish flag is most noticeable

The blue and yellow flag is one of the most eye-catching banners on the Costa del Sol, displayed by many Swedish citizens - visiting or settled here.

The Swedes are known to be somewhat patriotic and are not afraid to show love for their country, despite leaving their beloved homeland for warmer climes.

For example, Ingvar Kamprad, founder of furniture company Ikea, also left Sweden in 1973, but nevertheless his successful business is clearly devoted to his homeland - from the blue and yellow colours of the store to the products named after Swedish places as well as display of the Swedish flag.

A Swedish flag on teh Costa del Sol to mark 6 June.

A Swedish flag on teh Costa del Sol to mark 6 June. / A. M. S.

The Swedish flag in Spain 'under the auspices' of Ikea might actually have a 40-year anniversary this year. Though it is claimed that the first Ikea in Spain was opened in Badalona (Barcelona) in 1996, a small Ikea store had already been opened on the island of Gran Canaria, in 1981.

Since 2007, the Swedish flag has been flying on the flagpole at the Ikea store in Bahía Azul retail park, located close to Malaga airport.

While easily identifiable thanks to the furniture giant and its famous meatballs, the origins of the Swedish flag are not that well known.

It is believed that the blue-yellow banner with the Nordic cross goes back to the middle of the 16th century. The blue background symbolises perseverance, justice, and truth, while the gold/yellow cross demonstrates generosity.

Malaga's first Swedish flag was apparently flown by the Consulate of the Kingdom of Sweden in 1737. Since then, the country has always had a diplomatic mission in Malaga province. Last century, an Honorary Consulate of Sweden was established in Fuengirola, but in 2002 it was moved to Malaga.

Nevertheless, Fuengirola remains the most Swedish spot on the Costa del Sol. The Swedish flag can be found here on the emblem of the local Swedish school - one of the biggest abroad and also the oldest, as it was founded in 1969. A year later the Swedish church opened its doors on the Costa del Sol.

A Swedsih vessel in Malaga port.

A Swedsih vessel in Malaga port. / A. M. S.

Malaga port has welcomed many vessels with the Swedish flag, and in 1999 it even became a base for one of them - the three-mast brigantine schooner with today's name Cervantes Saavedra. This ship was built at the Swedish shipyards in Gothenburg under the name Sydostbrotten in 1934. It started a new life at sea under the name Atlantic Wanderer, still under the Swedish flag, at the beginning of the 80s. Between 1999 and 2008, the ship, then renamed the Amorina, became based in the port of Malaga, although it continued using the Swedish flag. Only after acquiring a Spanish owner in 2007 was the ship transformed into a school ship that required the Spanish flag and was re-baptised with the name of Cervantes Saavedra.

Real estate offices, shops, restaurants and clinics are among the establishments that fly the Swedish flag on the Costa del Sol.

One of the pioneers of Swedish business on the Costa del Sol is Claes 'Kiko' René who moved to the Malaga coastline in 1969. Between 1984 and 1992 he worked in ship-building in Torremolinos. In Kiko's current office in Benalmádena you will find the Swedish flag, as well as local magazines in Swedish with the blue-yellow colours - El Sueco and Svenska Magasinet. Opened in Puerto Banús in 1986 by the Swedish owner Jill Lindberg, Los Bandidos quickly became one of the dining hotspots and remains an iconic restaurant with Swedish cuisine and the flag.

The Swedish hair salon in Fuengirola.

The Swedish hair salon in Fuengirola. / A. M. S.

Since 1984, a sign reading Svenska Frisörer (Swedish hairdressers) with a big Swedish flag on it has been visible in the very centre of Fuengirola. Ann-Katrin and Amador are considered to be the first Swedish hairdressers on the Costa del Sol. The salon at Las Rampas was popular with men and women from Nordic countries, as well the United Kingdom.

This year their Swedish flag will disappear; Amador turned 75 and in winter made the decision to close the business.

Over recent years, Nerja has 'hosted' more Swedish flags in its streets because of increased popularity of the resort town among Swedes.