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Information about Finland

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Information about Finland

Facts about Finland

The (national) flag
Official name Suomen Tasavalta (Republic Finland)
Surface 337.030 km2 (8x the Netherlands)
Inhabitants 5.5 million inhabitants (2016)
Population density 16 people per km²
Capital Helsinki
Currency The euro since 2002. 1 € is about $1.17 (2017)
Road network The roads are very good. On the way from Turku to Helsinki there are radar controls and in the north one has to watch for reindeer on the roads.
Fuel prices For actual fuel prices in all European countries see Autotraveler.ru.
Code licence plate FIN
Telephone countrycode 358
Internet countrycode .fi
Time difference GMT+2; 1 hour later than in the Netherlands

Geographic data

The republic of Finland (officially Suomen Tasavalta or short Suomi) is the most eastern of the West-European countries. From west to east it has a maximum of 542 kilometers and from south to north it has a length of 1157 kilometers. More than 70 percent of the country is covered with woods, 8 percent is used as agricultural land and 10 percent consists of water. Finland has more than 60,000 lakes and there are more than 20,000 small islands along the coast. A third of the country lies north of the arctic circle. The border with Russia measures 1313 kilometers. In the west lies Sweden (borderline: 586 km.), in the north Norway (729 km. bordeline) and in the south and southwest Finland borders to the Botnic Sea. The surface of Finland is 337.000 square km. This includes the Åland-islands before the Swedish coast.
The landscape in Finland slowly changes from the flat (sometimes a bit sloping) and lake rich south (of which one doesn't see much from the roads) to the higher hills and vast woods in the north. In the extreme north of Finland there are tundras and the woodless highlands of Lapland. In the northwest there is a mountainous area with the Haltiatunturi being the highest mountain (1328m).
Finland lies between 60 and 70 degrees north latitude.

PopulationNaar boven

Finland has 5.17 million inhabitants (July 2001), twice as much as in 1900. Finland has one of the lowest birthrates in the world and the prognosis is that the population will be reduced over the next 10 to 15 years. With 16 people per square kilometer, Finland is (after Norway and Iceland) the most sparsely populated country of Europe. Near Helsinki the density of population is an average 203 inhabitants per km2, while it is only 2 per km2 in Lapland. More than 70% of the population lives in the cities, which have developped fastly over the last 50 years. There are two population groups in Finland: the Sami (also called Lapps, the original inhabitants) and the Fins (of which 6% Finnish-Swedish). There are around 6000 Sami in Finland, almost everyone of them living in the tundra area in the north.

LanguagesNaar boven

Not only Finnish, but also Swedisdh is an official language in Finland. The majority of the people (93.5 percent) speaks Finnish as first anguagel; 6.3 percent spreaks Swedish. The Sami in the north speak Sami or Lapps. On a few places Russian can be heard. er and daar Russisch gesproken. Whatever the roots of Finns are, a fact is that they speak a language that isn't Indo-European like the other Nordic languages, but Finno-Ugric; its closest major relative is Estonian (but even those two languages aren't really mutually intelligible), and it is distantly related to Hungarian, Sámi, and several minor languages spoken in European Russia (Esthonia) and Siberia. It is also related to Turkish. It is characterised by its complex grammar. Often one long word is being put together to reflect a where other languages would use much more words or even whole sentences. There are also a lot of loanwords from Swedish and the last years more and more from English which have been absorbed by the Finnish language. There are a lot of vowels compared with the number of consonants, because the letters b, c, f, q, w, x and z don't exist in the authentic Finnish alphabet (they do in words with a Swedish origin).
Only in 1903 the Finnish language was treated as equal to Swedish.

HistoryNaar boven

100,000 BC.-1100 AD., prehistory
There are archeological findings that indicate that parts of Finland may have been inhabited as early as 100,000 years ago. The biggest part of Finland was covered in ice and glaciers, however, during the various ice ages.
After the last ice age the first settlements are build in the Mesolithic period (8300-5100 BC). These people were hunters. Around 5100 BC. the Neolithic period starts and around 3200 BC. a new people arrive in Finland, the Battle-Axe Culture. Their arrival starts the development of the first Finnish languages as well as the development of the Sami language between the people who already lived in Finland.
During the Bronze Age (1500 - 500 BC.) there was a lot of contact and trading between the cultures in the Scandinavian countries. During the Iron Age these contacts declined and were more oriented towards the interior of modern Russia than to the west. More permanent settlements were build where agriculture became the most important means of living.
In 98 AD. the Roman historian Tacitus mentioned in his Gemania the Fenni, a people living in the north. Probably he meant the Sami in the north.
From the Iron Age, which certainly goes on until 1150 or even 1300 AD., not much is known except for knowledge from excavations of burial tombs. Low cairns were used and cremation was the most common way of burial. Burials in the ground became more common during the 11th century, probably because of christian influences.
Finland was no viking country although some of its inhabitants may have joined the Swedish on their journeys.

1100 - 1500
Finland didn't have any political unity until this time and eventually the territory was divided in 1323 between Sweden and Novgorod (a country in present Russia) at the peace treaty of Pähkinäsaari . The Swedish territory became a duchy which was treated as a province of Sweden, not as a conquered land. Swedish rules and laws were established and feudalism was not part of this system and the Finnish peasants were never serfs. Turku was the most important city, founded around 1250, with its own bishop seat. From 1362 Finns got their own representatives in Sweden who had some influence on the election of the Swedish kings.

1500 - 1809
Finland suffered under many Danish and Russian attacks during the 16th century. When the Reformation started it also took root in Sweden and Finland. A national identity started to evolve and Finnish became a written language when the bible was translated and written down in 1642.
Sweden became the mightiest power in Northern Europe and regained Finnish territory from the Russians. The most officials did come from Sweden and Finland was in fact ruled by the Swedish.

1809 - 1917
When Swedish power declined, Russia put more pressure on Finnish territory and was finally conquered in the the war of 1808-1809 with Sweden. Finland became an autonomous grand duchy with the Russian emperor as grand duke. The administration was the Finnish senate consisting only of Finns and it had to justify itself only to the emperor, not to the Russian authorities.
Finland as a united state in fact started in 1809, and only because of the extensive autonomy granted by emperor Alexander I. During the 19th century Finnish became officially the administrative language, Finland got its own army and there even was a real border with Russia.
Russian chauvinists tried to suppress Finnish nationalism when they noticed the growing autonomy of Finland in the beginning of the 20th century. But the revolution of 1905 gave Finland some breathing space and in 1906 a new parliament was introduced. And women in Finland were the first in Europe to get the right to take part in the elections.

1917 - 1945
On December 6, 1917, the parliament approved the declaration of independance issued by the senate. But the leftwing parties commited a coup and a civil war break out, which lasted for a year and a half. Eventually the new Republic of Finland was declared in the summer of 1919 which made peace with the Soviet Union in 1920.
Karl Juho Ståhlberg became the first president. But the different points of view from the civil war again reached a climax in 1929-1930. After a wave of strikes, the fascist tinted Lappo movement demanded a prohibition on all communist activities. A coup by one of the Lappo leaders, general Wallenius (March 1932), was nipped in the bud, after which the movement was prohibited. But a stable government was impossible, caused by the differences of opinion between the middle-class parties concerning the political direction of the country. Finally, the country was brought back on a democratic path by a minority government, a coalition of small liberal parties and the social-democrats. In 1937, a leftwing party was accepted as partner for the first time in Finnish history.
September 1939 the Winter Wat between the Soviet-Union and Finland broke out. The Russians claimed parts of eastern Finland and wanted to lease a naval base. The Finns stood no chance and at the Treaty of Moscow the Soviet-Union got even more than she had demanded. June 1941, Finland attacked the Soviet-Union again, side by side with Germany. In August 1944 the parliament appointed General of the Army Mannerheim president and he freed Finland of the bond with Germany after heavy fighting. He also made a truce with teh Soviet-Union (September 19, 1944). As from 1944 Finland has taken a whole new attitude towards the Soviet-Union.

1945 - present
From 1944 on Finland tried to minimize the influence of other countries the Finnish - Soviet-Union relationship. In 1948 a treaty of friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance was signed.
In 1945 the people's democrats (communists) got a lot of votes and Pekkala became Prime Minister. After the coup in Czechoslovakia (1948) the communists lost a great part of their following. Minority governments of social democrats and farmers now alternated, until there was formed a coalition again in 1956.
In 1966 a government was formed of social democrats and farmers. But the seventies saw many cabinets (13 in 10 years) of different compositions. All governments had to work with large trade balance deficits and a growing unemployment rate. In 1987 Finland got the first conservative Prime Minister since the second world war, Holkeri. In March 1992, Finland applied for the EU-membership.
Before that, on January 20 1992, Finland concluded a treaty of friendship with Russia, a revised version of the treaty of 1948. This time the mutual commitment to assist each other when one of them was attacked, was left out this time. After a very serious recession in the beginning of the 1990's, economic recovery started again in 1994. The conservative government continued it's liberalisation policiy, despite heavy opposition. In January 1995 Finland became member of the EU. After the elections of March 1995 the social democrat Lipponen returned in the government. To get support from a broad range of the population he formed a coaltion of five parties. In October 1996 the government decided to let the Finnish mark join the European Monetary Union. Since 2002 the Euro is the new currency.

ClimateNaar boven

Finland's climate shows both maritime and continental influences. Surrounding seas cool the climate on the coast in spring but on the other hand warm it up in the autumn, thanks to the warm Gulf stream. The climate becomes more continental, i.e more extreme, the further east and north one goes. The furtherst north, however, has a rather marine climate because of the influence of the Arctic Ocean. The summer lasts two to four months, the growing season four to six. The mean annual temperature in the capital, Helsinki, is 5.3 degrees Celsius. The highest daytime temperature in southern Finland during the summer occasionally rises to almost 30 degrees. During the winter months, particularly in January and February, temperatures of minus 20 Celsius are not uncommon. In the far north, beyond the Arctic Circle, the sun does not set for about 73 days, producing the white nights of summer. In the same region, during the dark winter period, the sun remains below the horizon for 51 days, creating the polar night known in Finnish as kaamos.

Flora and faunaNaar boven

Finland is situated entirely within the northern zone of coniferous forests. Forests cover about 65% of the total area (53% pines, 28% spruces, 19% birches) and make Finland one of the most densely forested countries of Europe. Pines and spruces grow so well because of the arid and poor soil. In the northern parts, Finnish Lapland, small birches grow. The soil is also covered with reindeer moss and there are some arctic flowers. Finland has 42,000 km2 protected woods. In the woods, south of the arctic circle, many kinds of berries grow, like raspberries. The lakes of Finland are covered with water lilies. Lapland has a tundra- and mountain vegetation. The many rocky islands don't have many flowers, but very colourful ones. Marguerites, buttercups and bluets flower throughout the country. Remarkable are also the many kinds of mushrooms which are collected and eaten by the Finnish.

Because of the northerly location of Finland there are not much variety in the animal world. There are still wild bear, wolves, lynxes, foxes, elk and wolverines, but not many. The reindeer herds have also diminished. A characteristic animal in Lapland is the lemming, which lives on the high and flat mountains above the tree line. The protected elk lives mostly in the south of Lapland in the woods and swampy areas. Furbearer animals like mink, marten and ermine live throughout the country. There are eleven species of frogs and reptiles in Finland. The adder is the only poisonous snake. There are about 350 kinds of birds of which 230 kinds are migratory birds. Eagles and owls are protected. Many birds live in the woods and in the swampy and mossy areas, like gallinaceous birds. In the Finnish seas and lakes 77 species of fish thrive, half of them freshwater fish. Pike, perch, bass, salmon and trout are the most common.

EconomyNaar boven

Forests are Finland's most important natural resource, and paper, timber, etc. are a major source of national income. The granite bedrock contains a diversity of minor mineral deposits, including copper, nickel, iron, zinc, chromium, lead, and iron pyrites. In recent years, diamonds have been found in eastern Finland, but they aren't mined yet. In addition, limestone, granite and sand are quarried for building materials.
Wood processing has traditionally been the most important economy. The metal and engineering industries have developed rapidly and today are the largest source of industrial employment. Since the 1950s large-scale swamp drainage, fertilizing, and reforestation have improved woord production. The state owns 20% of the forests; the rest are privately controlled. The chemical, graphics, and food industries are also significant to the economy, followed by textile and electrochemical enterprises. Mining activity has decreased in importance, although Finland still produces one-half of the copper and nickel needed for the domestic market. In 1960, 30% of Finland's work force was engaged in farming; by 1990 the figure was less than 10%, and only 7% of the total land area was cultivated. Nevertheless, the agricultural sector produces a surplus of dairy products, meat, and eggs. Wheat and rye are the most important bread grains; other major crops include hay, potatoes, oats, and barley. Finland's climate and small farms favor dairy and livestock production, which account for most of the farm income. The problems created by overproduction have led to soil banking (a policy of purposely leaving farmland uncultivated) and reforestation.

TourismNaar boven

Relatively few tourists visit Finland from Southern and Western Europe, caused by its isolated location. Most visitors come from the neighbouring countries. The southern part of Finland offers most historical, cultural and artistic places of interest. The northern part offers unspoiled nature. The most popular attractions are the many lakes and islands. Other places of interest are the coastline near Turku, the national parks the hill ridges of Punkaharju and the Ålandislands in the Baltic sea. Lapland has its own attraction for tourists with its reindeer safari's and nature hiking tours. Most attractive cities are Turku, Helsinki, Porvoo and Tampere. Next to Turku one can find medieval castles in Hämeenlinna and Savonlinna. The outdoor museum in Inari shows the culture of the Sami.

The actual weather

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