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# Finland

Republic of Finland
Suomen tasavalta (Finnish)

Republiken Finland (Swedish)

Anthem: Maamme  (Finnish)
Vårt land  (Swedish)
"Our Land"
Location of  Finland  (dark green)

– on the European continent  (green & dark grey)
– in the European Union  (green)  —  [Legend]

Capital
and largest city
Helsinki
60°10′N 024°56′E﻿ / ﻿60.167°N 24.933°E
Official languages Finnish
Swedish
Recognised regional languages Saami
Ethnic groups (2006) Finn 93.4%
Swede 5.6%
Russian 0.5%
Estonian 0.3%
Romani 0.1%
Sami 0.1%
Demonym Finns, Finnish
Government Parliamentary republic[1]
-  President Sauli Niinistö (NCP)
-  Prime Minister Alexander Stubb (NCP)
-  Speaker of the Parliament Eero Heinäluoma (SDP)
Independence
-  Autonomy
within Russia
29 March 1809
-  Declared
from Russia
6 December 1917
-  First recognized
by Soviet Russia
4 January 1918
Area
-  Total 338,424 km2 (64th)
130,596 sq mi
-  Water (%) 10
Population
-  2012 estimate 5,404,956[2] (112th)
-  2000 census 5,180,000
-  Density 16/km2 (201st)
41/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2010 estimate
-  Total $185.979 billion[3] - Per capita$34,585[3]
GDP (nominal) 2010 estimate
-  Total $239.232 billion[3] - Per capita$44,488[3]
Gini (2000)26.9
low
HDI (2011) 0.882[4]
very high · 22nd
Currency Euro () (EUR)
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
-  Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Date format d.m.yyyy
Drives on the right
Calling code 358
Internet TLD .fi, .ax ¹
1. The .eu domain is also used, as it is shared with other European Union member states. The .ax domain is reserved for the autonomous province of Åland Islands
Finland on a map of Europe

Finland (Suomi in Finnish) is a country in the Northern Europe and is a member state of the European Union. Finland is one of the Nordic countries. It is also part of Fennoscandia. Finland is between the 60th and 70th latitudes North. Its neighbours are Sweden in the west, Norway in the north, Russia in the east and Estonia in the south, beyond the sea called Gulf of Finland. Most of the western and southern Finland is seashore of the Baltic Sea.

The capital of Finland is Helsinki. The currency of Finland is the euro (EUR); before 2002 it was the markka, the Finnish mark (FIM). The president of Finland is Sauli Niinistö. 5.3 million people live in Finland. Finnish and Swedish are the official languages of Finland. Most people in Finland speak Finnish, but about six percent of Finland's people speak Swedish as their mother tongue, living mostly in the western part of Finland and on Åland (Finnish Ahvenanmaa). Finland became independent in 1917.

The most important cities and towns in Finland are Helsinki, Espoo, Tampere, Vantaa, Turku, Oulu, Lahti, Kuopio, Jyväskylä and Pori.

Finland is a highly industrialized First World country. The most important Finnish industrial products are paper, steel products such as machines, and electronics.

Nokia (the mobile company) is originally a company of Finland, named after a small town called Nokia.

Also, Finland has had the most least corrupt titles on the Corruption Perceptions Index.

## People and culture

The people of Finland are called Finns. Most Finns speak Finnish as their mother tongue; 6% of Finns have the Swedish language as their mother tongue. Finns also study mandatory English and Swedish in school. Most Finns work either in services (that is: shops, banks, offices or businesses) or in factories. Finns often like saunas and nature. Many Finnish families have summer cottages, small houses where they go to relax on their summer holidays. The most important festivals that Finnish people celebrate are Midsummer and Christmas. Santa Claus is an old Finnish tradition, although later the Coca-Cola company introduced him to the world.

The most popular sports in Finland are ice hockey, skiing, track and field and association football (soccer). Recently Finns have also won many events in swimming, motor sports and gymnastics.

There is a very small group (a minority) of a few thousand Samis (also called Lapps) in the most northern part of Finland, called Lapland. Most of the Samis live in Norway and Sweden. Many Sami people farm reindeers. Originally Samis were hunter-gatherers. In the past the Sami were nomads, but nowadays they live in regular houses.

Very few people in Finland, approximately 2%, are from other countries, The number of foreigners in Finland has recently been growing rapidly.

## Nature and weather

This picture is from Koli, North Karelia

Most of Finland is covered by pine forest. The swan, which was considered holy long ago, is the national bird of Finland. Wood is the most important natural resource of Finland. It is estimated that up to one-third of all wood resources of the European Union are in Finland.

The national animal of Finland is the brown bear. And the largest animal is the elk, a type of moose, which itself is part of the deer family.

There are also hundreds of rivers and thousands of lakes with fresh water. Fishing is a popular sport. It is estimated there are almost 180,000 lakes in Finland.

Many islands in the Baltic Sea belong to Finland, too. Thousands of islands are part of the Åland archipelago. Tourists from all over the world come to see the fells and the northern lights in Lapland.

The highest mountain of Finland is Halti, which is 1328 meters high. The largest lake is Saimaa, 4,400 square kilometres. The longest river of Finland is Tornionjoki. The largest river (by watershed) is Kemijoki, 552 kilometres long.

The weather in Finland varies widely by season. Summer usually lasts from May to early September, and temperatures can reach up to +35 °C. Autumns are dark and rainy. Winter snow usually begins to fall in Helsinki in early December (in Lapland it can fall as early as October) and in the winter the temperature can drop to -30 °C. Winter usually lasts to mid-March, when the snow melts in Helsinki (in Lapland the snow usually doesn't melt until early May), and Spring lasts till late May. Spring can be erratic, and the weather can change from frost to sunshine wthin a matter of days. The famed Northern Lights are common in Lapland.

## History of Finland

People first came to Finland 10,000 years ago. That was just after an ice age, after a glacier that covered the ground had receded.

Some think the first people in Finland already spoke a language that is related to Finnish that is spoken today. It is known for sure that an early form of the Finnish language was spoken in Finland in the Iron Age. (The Iron Age in Finland was 2,500–800 years ago).

The first residents in Finland hunted animals, as "hunter-gatherers". Some people started to farm crops about 5,200 years ago. Farming slowly became more and more popular and became the major way of life until the modern age.

Stone axe from Finland.

The ancient Finns were pagans, like most Europeans, as well as most people everywhere. The most important god of the Finnish pantheon was Ukko. He was a god of sky and thunder, much like Odin, another Scandinavian god-king. These powers were common among the pagan god kings in pantheons ranging from the Finnish Ukko, to the Scandinavian/Germanic/Saxon Odin, all the way east to Zeus of the Greeks and Jupiter of the Romans.

Around a thousand years ago when most of Europe were adopting Christianity, eventually Finland followed suit. During the Reformation of Christianity in the 16th century, most Finns became Protestants. Some pagan practices still remain amongst the now Christian Finns, such as bear worship.

From the Middle Ages Finland was a part of Sweden. Then, in the year 1809, Russia took Finland from Sweden. Finland was a part of Russia, but after a short period of time it became autonomous, which means that the Finns essentially controlled Finland, though the Tsar was in control officially. Finns could create their own laws and had their own currency, (called the markka), their own stamps and own customs. However, Finland did not have its own army.

Finnish soldiers at the time of war

On 6 December 1917, Finland became independent, which meant that it no longer was a part of Russia. There was a communist revolution in Russia and after 1922 Russia was a part of the Soviet Union. There were communists in Finland too, who tried to create a revolution in Finland. This attempt at revolution caused the Finnish civil war. The communists lost the civil war, and Finland did not change its old capitalist system.

Stalin, who was the leader of the Soviet Union, did not like having a capitalist country as its neighbour. Stalin wanted Finland to become a communist state and be a part of the Soviet Union. The leaders of Finland refused: they wanted to stay independent. The Soviet Union sent many troops across the eastern border of Finland to try to make Finland join them, which resulted in the Winter War. There were many battles, that eventually resulted in Finland losing areas along its eastern border to the Soviet Union.

Adolf Hitler was the dictator of Germany, and wanted to invade the Soviet Union. Finland wanted to retrieve the areas that it had lost, so they joined the German invasion, which started in 1941. This part of the Second World War is called the Continuation War in Finland. However, Finland was not a fascist or an antisemitic country. Finns were interested in freedom rather than dictatorship.

While Germany was losing the war, Finland had already progressed into the Soviet Union in order to regain the areas lost in the previous peace. Finland wanted to end the war with the Soviet Union, which resulted in peace, but once again Finland had to relinquish the areas that they had conquered. This time, the peace with the Soviet Union made Finland and Germany enemies. Finns fought Germans, and Germans retreated to Norway, burning down the whole of Lapland behind them. This is called War of Lapland. Finland remained independent.

After the war, many factories were built in Finland. Many people moved from farms to cities. At that time, big factories manufactured products like paper and steel. More and more people worked in more advanced jobs, like high technology. Also, many people went to universities to get a good education. Finland was one of the first countries where most people had Internet connections and mobile phones. A well-known company that makes mobile phones, Nokia, is from Finland.

Finland joined the European Union in 1995. The Finnish currency, the markka (mark), was changed to the European Union's currency, the euro, in 2002.

## References

1. Formerly a semi-presidential republic, it's now a parliamentary republic according to David Arter, First Chair of Politics at Aberdeen University, who in his "Scandinavian Politics Today" (Manchester University Press, revised 2008), quotes Jaakko Nousiainen in "From semi-presidentialism to parliamentary government" in Scandinavian Political Studies 24 (2) p95–109 as follows: "There are hardly any grounds for the epithet 'semi-presidential'." Arter's own conclusions are only slightly more nuanced: "The adoption of a new constitution on 1 March 2000 meant that Finland was no longer a case of semi-presidential government other than in the minimalist sense of a situation where a popularly elected fixed-term president exists alongside a prime minister and cabinet who are responsible to parliament (Elgie 2004: 317)". According to the Finnish Constitution, the president has no possibility to rule the government without the ministerial approval, and does not have the power to dissolve the parliament under his or her own desire. Finland is actually represented by its prime minister, and not by its president, in the Council of the Heads of State and Government of the European Union. The 2012 constitution reduced the powers of the president even further.
2. "VÄESTÖTIETOJÄRJESTELMÄ – REKISTERITILANNE – 29.02.2012" (in Finnish). Population Register Centre. Retrieved 29 March 2012.
3. "Finland". International Monetary Fund. Retrieved 2011-04-21.
4. "Human Development Report 2010". United Nations. 2010. Retrieved 5 November 2010. and "Human Development Index trends, 1980–2010". United Nations. 2010. Retrieved 7 November 2010.