Finland

Suomi, Finland

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Finland
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The Largest Cities

 

Helsinki/Helsingfors 559,300 (2003)
559,700 (2000)
551,000 (1999)
Espoo/Esbo 224,200 (2003)
216,800 (2000)
Tampere  201.000 (2003)
197,800 (2000)
Vantaa 184,100 (2003)
Turku/Åbo 175,100 (2003)
173,700 (2000)

Helsinki is the capital and forms together with Espoo and Vantaa the Helsinki metropolitan area with nearly 20% of the total population. 

 

The Country

Finland is situated in northern Europe approximately between 60 and 70°N. A third of Finland is lying north of the Arctic Circle. The country extends for about 1,200 km from north to south and 550 km from east to west at its widest. Finland borders in the north to Norway, northwest to Sweden, west to Gulf of Bothnia, south to the Gulf of Finland, and in the east to Russia.
            More than 55,000 lakes are found covering about 10% of the territory. The largest one, Lake Saimaa, in the south-east is the core of the Lake District.
      Finland belongs wholly to the zone of temperate coniferous-mixed forest and forests cover 3/4 of the land area.

The climate is characterized by cold winters and warm summers. The mean temperature in Helsinki in February is -7.5°C and in July 17°C. Summer temperatures occasionally rise above 30°C. In winter temperatures of -20°C are not uncommon. In Sodankylä in northern Finland the mean temperature in February is -13°C and in July 14.7°C. The rainfall is usually moderate in all seasons.
     In the far north, beyond the Arctic Circle, the sun does not set for up to 73 days, producing the white nights of summer. In the same region, during the dark winter period, the sun remains below the horizon for up to 51 days, creating the polar night known in Finnish as kaamos.

 

The People

The population is a little over 5 million. Most people live in urban areas. The largest cities are Helsinki, Espoo and Tampere. Moreover, there is an ongoing movement of people to urban areas. 
     In 1995 the life expectancy for women was 80.2 and for men 72.8 years.

Education
All children receive compulsory basic education between the ages of 7 to 16. There are 20 universities and other institutes of higher education. In 1995, 581,000 pupils were attending over 4,400 schools, some 6% of them studying at Swedish-language schools.

Religion
The Evangelical Lutheran Church is the biggest denomination; 88% of the people are baptized Lutherans. About 1% the population belong to the Finnish Orthodox Church. Both denominations are designated as state churches.

Language
The official languages in Finland are Finnish and Swedish. Finnish, the major language belongs to the Finno-Ugric linguistic family. Swedish is spoken as mother tongue by about 6% of the people. Another indigenous minority language is Sami. The Sami people live mainly in Lapland.

 

The Government

Finland is a republic since 1919, the country became an independent state in 1917. The head of state is the president whose mandate is for six years. The country is governed by a unicameral parliament with 200 seats, which is elected every four years. In the election of 1995 the largest parties where: Social Democratic Party (63), Centre Party (44), National Coalition (39), Leftist Alliance (22), Swedish People's Party (12), and the Green League (9 seats).

Economy

Finland joined the European Union 1995. The net wealth of Finnish households (USD 18,845) is close to the avearge for the EU (19,529).

Finland's export consists mainly of wood products; paper, board, wood pulp and also metals and engineering industry. The main trade partners are Germany, Sweden, United Kingdom, Russia and USA.. Unemployment was 1996 about 16% and has since decreased.

History

The earliest stages of the settlement of Finland date back to about 7,000 BC. At that time, Stone age, hunters followed the prehistoric shoreline of the Baltic Sea in climatic conditions similar to those of the tundra.

During the Iron age Finnish settlement expanded from central Finland, Häme and the Ladoga region of Karelia towards the north, driving the Sami population before them.

During the medieval crusades from Scandinavia, Swedish settlements were established on the coasts and Swedish rule was established.

Sweden ceded Finland to Russia in 1809. The Czar declared Finland a semi-autonomous Grand Duchy with himself as constitutional monarch  represented by a governor general.

During the 19th century the scholar Elias Lönnrot compiled old ballads, lyrics and incantations to the epic Kalevala. Together with music by the composer J. Sibelius a national consciousness and pride was created.

Finland declares independence from Russia in 1917.

The Soviet Union attacks Finland in 1939 - 40 and the Winter war is fought. Fighting between Finnish and Russian troups resumes in 1941-44. First areas lost in the Winter war are regained by Finnish forces. However, a massive offensive by the  Soviet Union forces the Finnish to sue for peace. Some territory is ceded to the Soviet Union but Finland preserved its independence and sovereignty.
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Harry Helmisaari

Read more:
CIA Factbook: Finland
GeoHive: Finland
Wikipedia: Finland

A bilingual country
A bi-lingual country
Both Finnish and Swedish are official languages in Finland

Abo Akademi
Åbo Akademi
I
s one of the institutions of higher learning in the country.


Finnish glass
Old glass containers
The Rihimäki Glass Museum has collections on Finnish glass and glass design

Finnsih glass
Glass installation