Episode 4 – Last Night in Malmö

The Nordic Countries are known for high living costs, espIn this episode, we discuss the history of Malmö, its connection to Denmark and its transformation into an innovative and sustainable city. We also talk about our perceptions of the city and our experiences from our time there, including the ‘controversy’ surrounding Malmo-born Zlatan Ibrahimović and our love for falafel.

listen to our Podcast:

Main PointS

History of Malmö [1]

  • Danish until 15th century, then continuous battles between both sides until Treaty of Roskilde
  • Lund University (1666) build for “Swedefication of Skane” → during time Danish was forbidden as language; ban on Danish books etc.)

→ central trading town within the Danish kingdom, to a relatively marginal one in Sweden, mainly military 

  • changed with Napoleonian wars: strategic point → became trading hotspot, city flourished. Also the close connection to Denmark and continental Europe made Malmö a flourishing place for new ideas: Worker Movement started here

1914, Malmö was one of the fastest growing cities in northern Europe with almost 100 000 citizens

  • Turn came in 1965 to 1985 the number of industrial workers decreased by 40%

→ 1994 unemployment up to 18%

  • Clear need to shift from industrial sector:

→ Idea: Malmö as a city of knowledge

→ Malmö University was founded:  cross-disciplinary approach and a focus on contemporary societal challenges

→ plans for Öresund Bridge

Sustainable urban development became central point for municipality policies

→ Västra Hamnen as the neighbourhood for sustainability

  • Transition to Öresund Bridge (Bridge was opened in 2000)


  • The city is very unequal and segregated. Social tensions, violence, poverty and persistent high unemployment rates are important part of the narrative of what Malmö is today [1]
  • Visibly multi-ethnic city: Almost half of the residents are either born abroad or has at least one foreign-born parent, and more than 150 languages are spoken in Malmö. Malmö is also a young city, the average resident is 36 years old and 40% are under the age of 30 [2]
  • also a city that strives to be innovative – actually OECD statistics indicates that Malmö is the third most innovative city in the world, based on the number of patents filed [3]

Malmö’s geography and cultural Identity

  • August Strindberg once wrote, “the Swedes have a history that is not the history of the South Scandinavians” [4]
  • Skanska flag everywhere: mixture of Danish and Swedish Flag: have you ever seen a Swedish flag at a house in Skane?
  • the bigger Swedish cities are much further away than the Danish once (or even German or Polish)
  • also the Skanska topography is much more similar to the Danish than the Swedish

The Emotional Relationship with Falafel

  • More than just streetfood
  • Very popular, at times outnumbered sales of. McDonald’s 
  • Came with immigrants from middle eastern countries
  • During 1980s financial crisis, Malmö was hit quite hard; Falafel was very cheap, especially compared to American Fastfood alternatives – > gained a lot of popularity in that period [5]

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

  • International Football player born and raised in Malmö, Rosen gard, now 40 years old
  • Professional debut with Malmö FF in 1999 [6]
  • Not only famous for his athletic achievements but also for his outspoken personality and some rather controversial statements – very convinced of himself: E.g. Often refers to himself in the third person
  • Emotional connection to Malmö as he grew up in Rosengard and had a difficult childhood, a lot of young people from that area can identify themselves with him
  • Child of immigrant parents from Bosnia and Croatia [7]
  • Polarizing personality
  • Statue in Malmö: 2019 a statue of Ibrahimovic was reveled in front of FFMalmö Stadium – > after Ibrahimovic bought shares of Stockholm football club, the statue was vandalized a lot, until it was taken down again in 2020 [8]


“I can’t help but laugh at how perfect I am”

“There was the thought that this would send me into retirement. I sent their entire country into retirement. – about scoring against Denmark in national football game”

“I came like a king, left like a legend.”

Sustainability City District – Augustenborg

  • Ekostaden augustenborg is a program established in 1998 to make the neighborhood more sustainable and involve the residents actively into the development of the area
  • Sine 1980s area experienced flooding and economic degradation [9]

Details of the program [10]

  • CA. 90% of houses were renovated and made more energy sufficient 
  • Solar panels, ground heat pump
  • Green roof vegetation to stop floodings
  • Community workshops and trainings on sustainable urban management
  • Car sharing pool
  • Holistic waste management system

If you want to go and visit Malmö, we can really recommend checking out the Malmö Local’s Guide for tips, activities, the best food and falafel!


[1] https://blogg.mah.se/urbanhistoria/history-of-malmo/ 

[2] http://euap.hkbu.edu.hk/series/mamlo/

[3]  http://www.forbes.com/sites/williampentland/2013/07/09/worlds-15-most-inventive-cities&sa=D&source=docs&ust=1642719053232562&usg=AOvVaw238KQxqV6S_LCrxPKLgCTU

[4] https://theculturetrip.com/europe/sweden/articles/why-malmo-and-skane-are-different-from-the-rest-of-sweden/  

[5] https://www.vice.com/en/article/ypxj4j/falafel-is-more-than-just-fast-food-for-swedes-in-malmo

[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zlatan_Ibrahimovi%C4%87

[7] https://www.biography.com/athlete/zlatan-ibrahimovic

[8] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statue_of_Zlatan

[9] https://malmo.se/Welcome-to-Malmo/Technical-visits/Theme-Sustainable-City/-Ecology-Energy-and-Climate/-Ekostaden-Augustenborg-Eco-City.html

[10] https://www.world-habitat.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/Report-Eco-city-Augustenborg-peer-exchange-5MB1.pdf

Other Episodes

Episode 6 – Who let the pigs out in Denmark?

In this month’s episode we talk about organic food production in Denmark. The country has the highest market share of organic food and an ambitious national organic food strategy to go along with it. At the same time, Denmark is also one of the biggest pork exporters worldwide and the companies in the business show no intention of scaling back anytime soon. In this episode, we explore how organic Denmark really is and dive into the topic of plant-based food.

Keep reading

Episode 5 – Healthcare in Kry-sis?

In this episode, we discuss the history of Malmö, its connection to Denmark and its transformation into an innovative and sustainable city. We also talk about our perceptions of the city and our experiences from our time there, including the ‘controversy’ surrounding Malmo-born Zlatan Ibrahimović and our love for falafel.

Keep reading

Find us on our Social media channels