Does anyone know why latin1_swedish is the default for MySQL. It would seem to me that UTF-8 would be more compatible right?
Defaults are usually chosen because they are the best universal choice, but in this case it does not seem thats what they did.
As far as I can see, latin1 was the default character set in pre-multibyte times and it looks like that's been continued, probably for reasons of downward compatibility (e.g. for older CREATE statements that didn't specify a collation).
What 4.0 Did
MySQL 4.0 (and earlier versions) only supported what amounted to a combined notion of the character set and collation with single-byte character encodings, which was specified at the server level. The default was
latin1, which corresponds to a character set of latin1 and collation of
latin1_swedish_ciin MySQL 4.1.
As to why swedish, I can only guess that it's because MySQL AB is/was swedish. I can't see any other reason for choosing this collation, it comes with some specific sorting quirks (ÄÖÜ come after Z I think) but they are nowhere near an international standard.