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The Republic of Finland (Finnish: Suomi, Swedish: Finland) is a Nordic country, bound by the Baltic Sea to the southwest, the Gulf of Finland to the southeast and the Gulf of Bothnia to the west, bordering Sweden, Norway and Russia (sea border with Estonia).

Suomen Tasavalta
Republiken Finland
(In Detail)
''National motto: None''
Official languages Finnish and Swedish language
Capital Helsinki
President Tarja Halonen
Prime minister Matti Vanhanen
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 63rd
337,030 km²
Population [1]
 - Total (2003)
 - Density
Ranked 106th
 - Declared
 - Recognized
From Russia
December 6, 1917
January 4, 1918
Currency Euro¹, Finnish euro coins
Time zone UTC +2
National anthem Maamme/
Vårt land
Internet TLD .FI
Calling Code 358
(1) Prior to 1999: Finnish markka - NB: Only the banking system used Euro before 2002, which is the year when the actual changeover took place.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Politics
3 Provinces
4 Geography
5 Economy
6 Demographics
7 Culture
8 Holidays
9 Miscellaneous topics
10 International rankings
11 External links


Main article: History of Finland

Conclusive archaeological evidence exists that the area now comprising Finland was settled during the Stone Age, as the inland ice of the last ice age receded. The earliest inhabitants are thought to have been hunters and gatherers, living primarily off what the forests and sea could offer.

Old Scandinavian sagas and some historians like Danish Saxo Grammaticus and Arabian Al Idrisi tell that there have been Finnish kings before Sweden conquered Finland.

Finland's nearly 700-year association with the Kingdom of Sweden began in 1154 with the introduction of Christianity by Sweden's King Erik. Swedish became the dominant language of administration and education, although Finnish recovered its predominance after a 19th century resurgence of Finnish nationalism (fennomania) following the publication of Finland's national epic, the Kalevala.

In 1808, Finland was conquered by the armies of Russian Emperor Alexander I and thereafter remained an autonomous Grand Duchy in personal union with the Russian Empire until the end of 1917. On December 6, 1917, shortly after the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, Finland declared its independence.

The social frontier between the ruling and the working class has been broader in Finland than in most comparable countries. Into the 19th century there was a most obvious language barrier; then during the 19th century Finland developed a proud University-educated meritocracy that felt as being the true representation of "the people" since they spoke the people's language and since a great deal of their ancestors really had been poor peasants.

In 1918, the country experienced a brief but bitter Civil War that coloured domestic politics for many years. The Civil War was chiefly fought between the educated class, supported by Germany and the big class of independent small farmers, against propertyless rural and industrial workers who despite universal suffrage in 1906 had found themselves without political influence.

During World War II, Finland fought the Soviet Union twice: in the Winter War of 1939-1940 (with some support from Sweden) and again in the Continuation War of 1941-1944 (with considerable support from Germany). This was followed by the Lapland War of 1944-1945, when Finland forced the Germans out of northern Finland.

Treaties signed in 1947 and 1948 with the Soviet Union included obligations and restraints on Finland vis-a-vis the Soviet Union as well as further territorial concessions by Finland (compared to the Moscow Peace Treaty of 1940).

After the Second World War, Finland was in the grey zone between western countries and Soviet Union. So called YYA treaty (Finno-Soviet Pact of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance) gave Soviet Union some right of determination to Finnish domestic politics. Many politicians used their Soviet Union relations to solve party controversies, which of course meant that Soviet Union got more power. The others while on other hand did single-minded work to oppose the communists.

When the Soviet Union fell down in 1991 Finland was fully surprised, but they used it immediately as their advantage. Finland was free to follow her own course and joined the European Union in 1995. Even today Russia's influence can be seen; Finland supports federal country development more than other Nordic countries.


Main article: Politics of Finland

Finland has a primarily parliamentary system, although the president also has some notable powers. Most executive power lies in the cabinet (Council of State) headed by the prime minister chosen by the parliament. The Council of State is made up of the prime minister and the ministers for the various departments of the central government as well as an ex-officio member, the Chancellor of Justice.

Constitutionally, the 200-member, unicameral parliament, the Eduskunta (Finnish) or Riksdag (Swedish), is the supreme legistlative authority in Finland. It may alter the constitution, bring about the resignation of the Council of State, and override presidential vetoes. Its acts are not subject to judicial review. Legislation may be initiated by the Council of State, or one of the Eduskunta members, who are elected on the basis of proportional representation for a four-year term.

The judicial system is divided between courts with regular civil and criminal jurisdiction and special courts with responsibility for litigation between the public and the administrative organs of the state. Finnish law is codified and its court system consists of local courts, regional appellate courts, and a Supreme Court.

The parliament has, since equal and common suffrage was introduced in 1906, been dominated by Agrarians, Social Democrats and Communists; although all of the political spectrum is more influenced by anti-Socialist currents than in similar countries having less contacts with the Soviet Union.


Main articles: Provinces of Finland, Historical provinces of Finland

Finland consists of 6 provinces (lääni, läänit or län). The province authority is part of the central government's executive branch; a system that hasn't changed drastically since its creation in 1634. The six provinces are:

The Åland Islands enjoy a high degree of autonomy. According to international treaties and Finnish laws, the regional government for Åland handles some matters which belong to the province authority in mainland-Finland.

Another kind of provinces are the echoing the pattern of colonialization of Finland. Dialects, folklore, customs and people's feeling of affiliation are associated with these historical provinces, although the re-settlement of 400,000 Karelians during World War II and urbanization in the latter half of the 20th century have made differences less pronounced.

Local government is further organized in 450 municipalities of Finland. Since 1977, no legal or administrative distinction is made between towns, cities and other municipalities. The municipalities cooperate in 20 regions of Finland.


Main article: Geography of Finland

Finland is a country of thousands of lakes and islands; 187,888 lakes and 179,584 islands to be precise. The Finnish landscape is mostly flat with few hills and its highest point, the Haltitunturi at 1,328 m, is found in the extreme north of Lapland. Beside the many lakes the landscape is dominated by extensive boreal forests and little arable land. The greater part of the islands are found in southwest, part of the archipelago of the Åland Islands, and along the southern coast in the Gulf of Finland. Finland is one of the few countries in the world that is still growing. Owing to the isostatic adjustment that has been taking place since the last ice age, the surface area of the country is growing by about 7 sq. kilometres a year.

The climate is a northern temperate climate, characterised by cold, occasionally severe winters and relatively warm summers. A quarter of Finland's territory lies above the Arctic Circle, and as a consequence the sun does not set for 73 days during summer, and does not rise for up to 51 days during winter.

See also: List of towns in Finland, Population of Finland


Main article: Economy of Finland

Finland has a highly industrialised, largely free-market economy, with per capita output roughly that of the UK, France, Germany, and Italy. Its key economic sector is manufacturing - principally the wood, metals, engineering, telecommunications, and electronics industries. Trade is important, with exports equaling almost one-third of GDP. Except for timber and several minerals, Finland depends on imports of raw materials, energy, and some components for manufactured goods.

Because of the climate, agricultural development is limited to maintaining self-sufficiency in basic products. Forestry, an important export earner, provides a secondary occupation for the rural population. Rapidly increasing integration with Western Europe - Finland was one of the 11 countries joining the euro monetary system (EMU) on January 1, 1999 - will dominate the economic picture over the next several years. Growth was anemic in 2002, but slowed down in 2003 because of global depression.


Main article: Demographics of Finland

There are two official languages in Finland: Finnish, spoken by 93% of the population, and Swedish, mother tongue for 6% of the population. Other minority languages include Russian, Estonian, Somali and Albanian. To the north, in Lapland, are found the Sami, numbering less than 7,000, who like the Finns speak a Finno-Ugric language (Saami). There are over 20 languages which have over thousand users.

Most Finns (89%) are members of the Lutheran Church of Finland, with a minority of 1% belonging to the Finnish Orthodox Church (see Eastern Orthodoxy). The remainder consist of relatively small groups of other Protestant denominations, Roman Catholics, Muslims and Jews beside the 9% who are unaffiliated.

After the Winter War (confirmed by the outcome of the Continuation War) 12% of Finland's population had to be re-settled. War reparations, unemployment and uncertainity regarding Finland's chances to remain sovereign and independent of the Soviet Union contributed to considerable emigration, abating first in the 1970s. Now, since the late 1990s, Finland receives refugees and immigrants in a rate comparable with the Scandinavian countries, although the accumulated number remains far lower in Finland. A considerable share of the immigrants has come from the former Soviet Union claiming ethnic (Finnic) kinship.


Main article: Culture of Finland


Main article:
Holidays in Finland

Date English Name Local NameRemarks
January 1New Year's Day
January 6Epiphany
Moveable FridayGood Friday
PitkäperjantaiThe Friday before Easter Sunday
Moveable SundayEaster Sunday
Moveable MondayEaster Monday
2. PääsiäispäiväThe day after Easter Sunday
May 1May Day
VappuSee Walpurgis Night
Moveable ThursdayAscension DayHelatorstai40 days after Easter
Moveable SundayPentecost
Helluntaipäivä50 days after Easter
Third Friday of JuneMidsummer Eve
JuhannusaattoNon official - however a de facto full holiday
Third Saturday of JuneMidsummer Day
First Saturday of NovemberAll Saints Day
PyhäinpäiväMoved from November 1
December 6Independence day
December 24Christmas Eve
JouluaattoNon official - however a de facto full holiday
December 25 Christmas Day
December 26Boxing Day2. Joulupäivä or Tapaninpäivä 
December 31New Year's Eve
UudenvuodenaattoNon official - however a de facto full holiday
All Sundays  Official holidays - names follow the Liturgical year

Miscellaneous topics

International rankings

External links

European Union:
Austria  |  Belgium  |  Denmark  |  Finland  |  France  |  Germany  |  Greece  |  Ireland
Italy  |  Luxembourg  |  Netherlands  |  '\'Portugal  |  Spain  |  Sweden  |  United Kingdom''

Countries acceding to membership on May 1, 2004:
Cyprus  |  Czech Republic  |  Estonia  |  Hungary  |  Latvia  |  Lithuania  |  Malta  |  Poland  |  Slovakia  |  Slovenia

Countries of the world  |  Europe  |  Council of Europe