Sweden is almost the best country in the world (best is Canada, according to the Reputation Institute) and now readers of the Metro newspaper all over the world say that Swedes are the second sexiest people in the world. Only Brazilians are sexier, and Italians come in third. The image of beautiful Swedes is hardly a new one.

“We’ve seen this in other polls and surveys too,” says Thomas Brühl, Managing Director of Visit Sweden, which works at marketing Sweden abroad. “It can hardly be a disadvantage. It’s just a pity it’s not about intelligence too.”

But where does this myth come from? According to Jonas Engman, Ethnologist at Nordiska Museet, it could stem both from the Vikings and Greta Garbo.

“[The Swedish beauty myth] ..is pretty ambivalent, and is connected to some quite unpleasant notions. The Viking ideal and the national romanticism became popular in certain parts of Europe. Also the 20th century’s way of picturing blonds in media was very positive.”

But it is the Swedish women that are (almost) sexiest in the world; the Swedish men only come on a shared 6th spot. According to the female Metro readers, the sexiest men in the world are the Italians. Over 1500 men and 1700 women in Canada, Denmark, France, Hungary, Mexico, Sweden, the US and Russia were asked: “What country has the sexiest population?”