Republic of Finland
FLAG: The civil flag contains an ultramarine cross with an extended right horizontal on a white background.
ANTHEM: Maammelaulu (in Swedish, Vårt land; Our Land).
MONETARY UNIT: The euro replaced the markkaa as the official currency in 2002. The euro is divided into 100 cents. There are coins in denominations of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents and 1 euro and 2 euros. There are notes of 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, and 500 euros. €1 = $1.25475 (or $1 = €0.79697) as of 2005.
WEIGHTS AND MEASURES: The metric system is the legal standard.
HOLIDAYS: New Year's Day, 1 January; May Day, 1 May; Independence Day, 6 December; Christmas, 25–26 December. Movable holidays include Good Friday, Easter Monday, Whitsun, and Midsummer Day (late June). Epiphany, Ascension, and All Saints' Day are adjusted to fall always on Saturdays.
TIME: 2 pm = noon GMT.
Part of Fenno-Scandia (the Scandinavian Peninsula, Finland, Karelia, and the Kola Peninsula), Finland has an area of 337,030 sq km (130,128 sq mi), of which 31,560 sq km (12,185 sq mi) is inland water. Comparatively, the area occupied by Finland is slightly smaller than the state of Montana. Its length, one-third of which lies above the Arctic Circle, is 1,160 km (721 mi) n–s; its width is 540 km (336 mi) e–w.
Finland borders on Russia to the e, the Gulf of Finland to the se, the Baltic Sea to the sw, the Gulf of Bothnia and Sweden to the w, and Norway to the nw and n, with a total land boundary of 2,628 km (1,629 mi) and a coastline of about 1,126 km (698 mi, excluding islands and coastal indentations.
Finland's capital, Helsinki, is located on the country's southern coast.
Southern and western Finland consists of a coastal plain with a severely indented coastline and thousands of small islands stretching out to the Åland Islands. Central Finland is an extensive lake plateau with a majority of the country's 60,000 lakes; 24.5% of the area of Mikkelin Province is water.
Northern Finland is densely forested upland. The highest elevations are in the Norwegian border areas; northwest of Enontekiörises Haltia, a mountain 1,328 m (4,357 ft) above sea level. Extensive, interconnected lake and river systems provide important natural waterways.
Because of the warming influence of the Gulf Stream and the prevailing wind patterns, Finland's climate is comparatively mild for the high latitude. During the winter, the average temperature ranges from -14°c to -3°c (7–27°f), while summer mean temperatures range from 13–18°c (55–65°f). Snow cover lasts from about 90 days in the Åland Islands to 250 days in Enontekiö. Average annual precipitation (including both rain and snow) ranges from 40 cm (16 in) in northern Finland to 71 cm (28 in) in southern Finland.
Forests, chiefly pine, spruce, and birch, are economically the most significant flora. There are more than 1,100 native species of higher plants; flora is richest in southern Finland and the Åland Islands. Of 22,700 species of fauna, more than 75% are insects. At least 60 species of mammals are native to Finland. Fur-bearing animals (otter, marten, ermine) are declining in number, while elk, fox, and beaver have increased. Of some 248 species of breeding birds, the best known is the cuckoo, the harbinger of spring. Of some 66 species of freshwater fish, 33 have some economic importance; in fresh waters, the perch, walleyed pike, great northern pike, and others are plentiful. Salmon remains the favorite of fly rod enthusiasts.
Finland's main environmental issues are air and water pollution, and the preservation of its wildlife. Finland's principal environmental agency is the Ministry of the Environment, established in 1983. Beginning in 1987, environmental protection boards were established for every community with more than 3,000 inhabitants. To preserve the shoreline profile, 30–50% of the shores suitable for recreational use may not be built on. Industrial pollutants from within the country and surrounding countries affect the purity of both the nation's air and water supplies. In 1996 carbon dioxide emissions from industrial sources totaled 59.1 million metric tons. However, the total dropped to about 53.4 million metric tons in 2000. Acid rain from high concentrations of sulfur in the air has damaged the nation's lakes. The nation has 107 cu km of renewable water resources with 85% used for industry and 12% used in domestic and urban areas. In 1993, the Finnish Council of State introduced new approaches to the control of water pollution. Lead-free gasoline was introduced in 1985.
Care is taken to protect the flora and fauna of the forests, which are of recreational as well as economic importance. Closed hunting seasons, nature protection areas, and other game-management measures are applied to preserve threatened animal species. As of 2003, about 9.3% of Finland's total land area was protected. According to a 2006 report issued by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN), threatened species included 3 types of mammals, 10 species of birds, 1 species of fish, 1 type of mollusk, and 1 species of plant. Endangered species include the Siberian sturgeon, European mink, and the Saimaa ringed seal.
The population of Finland in 2005 was estimated by the United Nations (UN) at 5,246,000, which placed it at number 110 in population among the 193 nations of the world. In 2005, approximately 16% of the population was over 65 years of age, with another 18% of the population under 15 years of age. There were 96 males for every 100 females in the country. According to the UN, the annual population rate of change for 2005–10 was expected to be 0.2%, a rate the government viewed as satisfactory. The projected population for the year 2025 was 5,427,000. The population density was 15 per sq km (40 per sq mi). Population distribution is uneven, however, with the density generally increasing from northern and inland regions to the southwestern region.
The UN estimated that 62% of the population lived in urban areas in 2005, and that urban areas were growing at an annual rate of 0.24%. The capital city, Helsinki, had a population of 1,075,000 in that year. Other large cities and their estimated populations include Espoo, 229,443; Tampere, 206,097; Vantaa, 185,429; and Turku, 175,059. Rovaniemi, with a population of 58,500, is considered the capital of Finnish Lapland.
From 1866 to 1930, a total of 361,020 Finns emigrated, mostly to the United States and, after the US restriction of immigration, to Canada. After World War II, about 250,000 to 300,000 Finns permanently emigrated to Sweden. This migration ended by the 1980s because of a stronger Finnish economy.
More than 400,000 people fled the Soviet occupation of the Karelia region during World War II. There was also a heavy migration from rural areas, particularly the east and northeast, to the urban, industrialized south, especially between 1960 and 1975. By 1980, 90% of all Finns lived in the southernmost 41% of Finland.
From 1990 to 2000, the number of foreign citizens in Finland increased from 21,000 to 100,000. In April 1990, it was declared that all Finns living within the former Soviet Union, many known as Ingrians, could be considered return migrants to Finland. As of 2003, 25,000 Ingrians had returned to Finland, with approximately the same number awaiting entry interviews. Finland's long-standing ethnic minorities include Swedes, Sami (indigenous population), Jews, Romani or Gypsies, Tartars, and Russians. However, by 2004 its foreign born population represented over 168 nations. Most of these foreign born were from the former Soviet Union, former Yugoslavia, Sweden, Iraq, Somalia, Turkey, the United States, China, Vietnam, Thailand, and returning Finns. The estimated net migration rate in 2005 was 0.89 migrants per 1,000 population.
During the latter half of the 1990s, Finland received an average of 700–900 asylum seekers per year. Approximately 60% of applicants were granted a residence permit. By July 1999, more than 1,000 Slovak Romas applied for asylum, prompting the Finnish government to implement a temporary four-month visa plan for Slovak citizens. By August 1999, some 993 people had been evacuated from Macedonia to Finland; the evacuees were granted temporary protection. As of 2004, Finland had 11,325 refugees and asylum seekers.
Finland accepts 500 refugees each year for those who need an alternative to their first country of asylum.
The Finns are thought to be descended from Germanic stock and from tribes that originally inhabited west-central Russia. Excluding the Swedish-speaking minority, there are only two very small non-Finnish ethnic groups: Lapps and Gypsies. Finns constitute about 93.4% of the total population, Swedes make up 5.7%, Russians account for 0.4%, Estonians for 0.2%, Roma for 0.2%, and Sami (Lapps) for 0.1%. Several societies have been established to foster the preservation of the Lappish language and culture.
From the early Middle Ages to 1809, Finland was part of the Kingdom of Sweden, and its official language was Swedish. Finnish did not become an official language until 1863. In 2003, 92% of the population was primarily Finnish-speaking and 5.6% was primarily Swedish-speaking. Swedish-speaking Finns make up more than 95% of the population of the Åland Islands and Swedish-speaking majorities are also found in parts of Uudenmaan, Turun-Porin, and Vaasan provinces. Swedish, the second legal language, is given constitutional safeguards. Only a minority of individuals have another language as their mother tongue, principally Lapp, Russian, English, or German. Finnish belongs to the Finno-Ugric language group and is closely related to Estonian; more distantly to the Komi, Mari, and Udmurt languages spoken among those peoples living in Russia; and remotely to Hungarian.
Both the Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Orthodox Church are considered state churches. As of 2004, about 84.1% of the inhabitants belong to the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Reports indicate, however, that only between 2–10% of Lutherans attend services on a regular basis. Approximately 1% of the inhabitants, largely evacuees from the Karelian Isthmus, are members of the Orthodox Church in Finland. Another 1% belong to the Pentecostal Church. Other religious bodies include the Free Church, Jehovah's Witnesses, Adventists, Roman Catholics, Methodists, Mormons, Baptists, Swedish Lutherans, and Jews. There are about 20,000 Muslims in the country. About 10% of the population claim no religious affiliation.
Freedom of religion has been guaranteed since 1923. As a state church, the Evangelical Lutheran Church has an elected Church Assembly that makes legislative proposals to the parliament, which can be approved or rejected, but not altered. The Orthodox Church has three dioceses, in Helsinki, Karelia, and Oulu, and owes allegiance to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. Citizens who belong to one of these state churches pay a church tax as part of their income tax. For members, the church handles state registrar duties, such as record keeping for births, deaths and marriages. There is a registration service available for members of other faiths. Religious groups must register with the government in order to qualify for tax relief.
In 2004 there were an estimated 78,168 km (48,620 mi) of roads, of which 50,616 km (31,483 mi) were paved, including 653 km (406 mi) of expressways. In 2003 registered motor vehicles included 2,259,383 passenger cars and 334,009 commercial vehicles.
There were 5,851 km (3,639 mi) of broad gauge railway lines in operation in 2004, of which 99% were operated by the Finnish State Railways, and some 2,400 km (1493 mi) were electrified. In 2005, there were 94 ships in Finland's merchant fleet of 1,000 GRT or more, totaling 1,152,175. Import traffic is concentrated at Naantali, Helsinki, Kotka, and Turku, while the ports of Kotka, Hamina, Kemi, Oulu, and Rauma handle most exports. Icebreakers are used to maintain shipping lanes during winter months. More than 900 people were killed in September 1994 when the ferry Estonia sank in rough seas off the Finnish coast while sailing from Estonia to Sweden. In 2004 there were 7,842 km (4,877 mi) of navigable inland waterways, of which includes the 3,577 km (2,224 mi) Saimaa Canal System, of which the southern part was leased from Russia.
Airports numbered 148 in 2004, of which 76 had paved runways as of 2005. Helsinki-Vantaa is the principal airport, located at Helsinki. State-run Finnair is engaged in civil air transport over domestic and international routes. In 1962, Finnair took over Kar-Air, the second-largest air carrier in Finland. In 2003, around 6.184 million passengers were carried on scheduled domestic and international airline flights.
Finland, a province and a grand duchy of the Swedish kingdom from the 1150s to 1809 and an autonomous grand duchy of Russia from 1809 until the Russian Revolution in 1917, has been an independent republic since 1917. Ancestors of present-day Finns—hunters, trappers, agriculturists—came to Finland by way of the Baltic regions during the first centuries ad, spreading slowly from south and west to east and north. Swedish control over Finnish territory was established gradually beginning in the 12th century in a number of religious crusades. By 1293, Swedish rule had extended as far east as Karelia (Karjala), with colonization by Swedes in the southwest and along the Gulf of Bothnia. As early as 1362, Finland as an eastern province of Sweden received the right to send representatives to the election of the Swedish king. On the basis of the Swedish constitution, Finland's four estates—nobles, clergy, burghers and peasant farmers—were also entitled to send representatives to the Diet in Stockholm. As a result of over six centuries of Swedish rule, Finnish political institutions and processes (marked by growing constitutionalism and self-government), economic life, and social order developed largely along Swedish lines. Swedish colonization in Finland was concentrated in the southern and western regions of Finland.
When Sweden was a great power in European politics in the 17th century, Finland and the Finns bore a heavy military burden. Finland was a battleground between the Swedes and Russia, whose encroachments on southeastern Sweden were persistent as Swedish power declined in the 18th century. After Sweden's military defeat in the Napoleonic wars of 1808–09, sovereignty over Finland was transferred to Russia from Sweden after Napoleon and Tsar Alexander I concluded the Peace of Tilsit. Under the Russian rule of Alexander I, Finland was granted a privileged autonomous status that enabled Finland to continue the grand duchy's constitutional heritage. Alexander I, like his successors, took a solemn oath to "confirm and ratify the Lutheran religion and fundamental laws of the land as well as the privileges and rights which each class and all the inhabitants have hitherto enjoyed according to the constitution." Toward the end of the 19th century, a Russian drive to destroy Finland's autonomy ushered in several decades of strained relations and galvanized the burgeoning nationalist movement. Culturally, the nationalist movement in Finland was split linguistically between the Fennomen who advocated Finnish language and culture and the Svecomen who promoted the continued dominance of Swedish. By the end of the 19th century, the Fennomen had gained the upper hand. In Russia's Revolution of 1905, Finland managed to extract concessions that included the creation of a modern, unicameral parliament with representatives elected through universal suffrage, including women. Thus, Finland was the first European country to offer women political suffrage at the national level. After the Bolshevik seizure of power in Russia in the late fall of 1917, Finland declared its independence on 6 December. A short civil war ensued (28 January–10 May 1918) between the Red faction supported by the Soviet Bolsheviks and the White faction supported by Germany. The White forces, led by General Mannerheim, were victorious, but Finland was forced to reorient its alliances toward the western allies when Germany was defeated in WWI.
In July 1919, Finland became a democratic parliamentary republic. In the nearly two decades of peace following the settlement of disputes with Sweden (over the Åland Islands) and the former USSR (East Karelia) there were noteworthy economic and social advances. Despite its neutral pro-Scandinavianism in the 1930s and support for the collective security provisions of the League of Nations, the country was unavoidably entangled in the worsening relations between the great powers. Negotiations with the former USSR, which demanded certain security provisions or territorial concessions, broke down in 1939, and two wars with the USSR ensued. The Winter War, lasting from 30 November 1939 to 13 March 1940, ended only when Finland ceded areas of south-eastern Finland and the outer islands of the Gulf of Finland to the Soviets. However, Finland watched warily as the Soviets annexed the independent Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. After appeals to western allies went unfulfilled, Finland turned toward Germany for protection, and when Germany attacked the USSR on 26 June 1941, Finland entered the war on the German side. During the early part of the Continuation War, which lasted from 26 June 1941 to 19 September 1944, the Finns pushed the Soviets back to the old frontier lines and held that position for nearly three years. In 1944, a Russian counterattack forced Finland to ask for peace. The armistice terms of 1944, later confirmed by the Paris Peace Treaty of 10 February 1947, provided for cession of territory and payment of reparations to the Soviets and required Finland to expel the German troops on its soil; this resulted in German-Finnish hostilities from October 1944 to April 1945. Under the 1947 peace treaty Finland ceded some 12% of its territory to the USSR, imprisoned several prominent politicians, reduced its armed forces, and undertook to pay heavy economic reparations. A Soviet naval base was established only 25 km from Helsinki. A separate Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance, concluded in 1948 under heavy Soviet pressure, obligated Finland to resist attacks on itself or the USSR and in effect precluded Finland from undertaking any significant foreign policy initiative without the Kremlin's approval.
Finland's postwar policy, based on the Paasikivi Line named for the president that formulated the policy, has been termed dismissively as "Finlandization." It is true that Finland maintained a scrupulous and cautious policy of neutrality in foreign affairs. However, after 1955, when the Soviets withdrew from their Finnish base, Finland became an increasingly active member of the United Nations and the Nordic Council, as well as various Western economic organizations. Despite Soviet pressure, the Finnish Communist Party steadily declined in influence. Finland's standing was further enhanced by the signing of the 1975 Helsinki treaty, which called for pan-European cooperation in security, economic, political, and human rights matters. The dominant figure of postwar politics was Urho Kekkonen, the Agrarian (later Center) Party leader who held the presidency from 1956 to 1981, when he resigned because of ill health. The cornerstone of his policy was maintenance of a center-left coalition (including the Communists), good relations with the former USSR, and a foreign policy of "active neutrality."
Despite the negative connotations, "Finlandization" was something of a success. Unlike the Baltic states, Finland maintained sovereign independence and even managed to prosper in the post-WWII environment. Postwar political stability allowed a striking economic expansion and transformation in Finland. In 1950, nearly 70% of Finns worked on the land; now that figure is about 8%. Kekkonen's long rule ended in a resignation owing to ill health and the Social Democratic leader Mauno Koivisto, then prime minister, became acting president in October 1981. Koivisto was elected president in his own right in January 1982 and reelected in 1988.
Koivisto's tenure as president ended in 1994. In the presidential elections of February 1994 when voters for the first time directly elected the president, Martti Ahtisaari, former UN mediator and of the Finnish Social Democratic Party, defeated Elisabeth Rehn (defense minister) of the Swedish People's Party in a runoff election. Ahtisaari chose not to run for reelection in 2000, and in that contest no fewer than five candidates for the presidency were women. On 6 February 2000, Finns elected their first female president, Tarja Halonen, the Social Democratic foreign minister in the Lipponen government, who won 51.6% of the vote in a runoff electoral contest with Esko Aho, leader of the Center Party.
Finland faced a deep recession brought about in part by the collapse of the Soviet market that accounted for 20% of Finnish exports. During 1991–94, the recession pushed unemployment up to nearly 20%. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the dissolution of the FCMA Treaty by mutual agreement of Finland and the USSR prompted Finland to reassess its relationship with Europe. In March 1994, Finland completed negotiations for membership in the EU. Finland's relationship with the EU was a major issue of political debate even within the governing coalition. Following a referendum held in October 1994 with 57% approval, Finland formally joined the EU at the beginning of 1995. Finland also joined the European economic and monetary union in 1999, and adopted the euro as its currency in 2002.
While a relative newcomer to European politics, Finland entered the political limelight as it took over the six-month rotating presidency of the European Union in the second half of 1999. The priorities of the Finnish presidency included a number of pressing issues: preparing for institutional reform necessary prior to enlargement of the Union; increasing the transparency of the functioning of EU institutions; boosting employment and deepening the social dimension of European cooperation; environmental responsibility; and finally, in the area of foreign policy, the Finns championed the "Northern Dimension" which would extend a number of cooperative schemes to include the EU and non-EU countries along the Baltic, including increased ties with northwestern Russia. Though highly touted, this last initiative foundered as Europe continued to be preoccupied with ongoing NATO efforts in Kosovo. At the presidency's concluding summit (December 1999) of the European Council in Helsinki, the Finns could nonetheless point to a number of successes under their presidency. The groundwork for opening accession negotiations with six more applicant countries from Eastern Europe and recognizing Turkey's applicant status were approved by the 15 heads of state. In addition, the European Council approved the establishment of a rapid reaction force outside the structure of NATO, which would allow Europe to have an independent capacity to react in areas in which NATO was not engaged. This was an important accomplishment for Finland, whose neutral status makes participation in NATO actions problematic. However, in recent years, Finland has considered NATO membership; its military policy calls for increased cooperation with and participation in NATO and EU-led operations, including NATO's "Partnership for Peace" program. But the majority of Finns oppose NATO membership.
The issue of Finland's support for the US-led war in Iraq that began on 19 March 2003 was a deciding factor in the 16 March parliamentary elections. Opposition leader Anneli Jäätteenmäki accused sitting Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen of moving Finland too close to the US position on the use of military force to disarm Iraq, and her party went on to win the elections, albeit by a slim majority. Finland donated €1.6 million for humanitarian aid in Iraq. In June 2003, Prime Minister Jäätteenmäki resigned amid accusations that she used leaked confidential information on Iraq to help her party win the March elections. The secret information was based on talks between Lipponen and US President George W. Bush in the run-up to the Iraq war. Jäätteenmäki was accused of lying to parliament over her use of the classified documents, which she had requested and obtained during her election campaign. Jäätteenmäki was replaced as prime minister by Matti Vanhanen. Jäätteenmäki was acquitted in March 2004 of inciting an aide to Lipponen to leak the documents.
In May and June 2005, workers in the paper industry—which accounts for one-quarter of total Finnish export earnings—went on a seven-week strike over the issues of holiday pay and working hours. The paper industry workers wanted better pay and shorter working hours during the Christmas and midsummer holiday seasons. A lockout instituted by paper mill employers resulted in the closure of mills around the country. In July, unions and employers gave backing to a new three-year work and pay package.
Presidential elections were held on 15 January 2006. President Tarja Halonen came out ahead, with 46.3% of the vote, and Sauli Niinistö came in second with 24.1% of the vote. Since no candidate received a majority of the vote, a runoff election was held on 29 January. Results were Halonen, 51.8%, and Niinistö, 48.2% of the votes cast.
Finland's republican constitution combines a parliamentary system with a strong presidency. Legislative powers are vested in the Eduskunta (parliament), a unicameral body established in 1906. Members of parliament are elected for four-year terms by proportional representation from 15 multi-member electoral districts under universal suffrage at age 18. Finland was the first country in Europe to grant suffrage to women in national elections (1906). After the 2003 elections nine parties were represented, but the five largest (and traditional) parties shared 181 seats. The 1994 presidential election was the first direct presidential vote since the country gained independence in 1917. Previously voters selected slates of electors who then chose the president. Currently the president is elected directly in a two-stage vote. If no candidate gets a majority in the first round, a second round is held between the two candidates with the largest first round totals. The president is elected for a six-year term.
Finland's political system traditionally has been more like the French than most other European parliamentary democracies because of the division of executive power between the president and the prime minister. The president is the constitutionally designated head of state that appoints the cabinet, serves as commander-in-chief of the armed forces and, until recently, had primary responsibility for foreign policy. Traditionally, Finnish presidents have been responsible for foreign policy and remained neutral on domestic issues. During the Cold War, Finnish presidents had a special role in reassuring the USSR of Finnish good intentions. The president previously had the power to dissolve the legislature and order new elections, initiate legislation, and issue decrees. The president could veto legislation by not signing a bill, but if the Eduskunta after a general election passed it again without amendment, it became law.
On 1 March 2000, a new Finnish constitution entered into force. The new constitution increases the power of the parliament in relation to the government (cabinet) and increases the power of the government in relation to the president. The power of the Finnish presidency has been circumscribed in rather dramatic fashion while the power of the prime minister has increased. In the past, the Finnish president had the right to intervene in the formation of the government and to dissolve a recalcitrant government. Under the new constitution, the president only formally appoints the prime minister and is bound by the decisions derived from negotiations among the parliamentary groups. Party leaders with the most seats in parliament select the prime minister, in a complex bargaining process. The president appoints other ministers on the recommendation of the prime minister. The president may accept the resignation of a government or minister only in the event of a vote of no confidence by the parliament. In addition, under the new constitution, the government is more responsible to the parliament. For instance, the government must submit its program to parliament immediately after being appointed so that the parliament may take a vote of confidence in the government. Foreign and security policy have become shared responsibilities between the president and the government, with the prime minister and foreign minister taking an active role in formulating a consensus approach to Finnish foreign policy. The government, not the president, now has responsibility over issues related to EU affairs, given the impact of much European law on domestic legislation. The parliament has created a "Grand Committee" to scrutinize EU matters and to ensure parliament's influence on EU decision-making.
Since 1945 no single party has ever held an absolute parliamentary majority, so all cabinet or governmental decisions involve coalitions. The cabinet is composed of the heads of government ministries and has as its primary responsibility the preparation of governmental budgets and legislation and the administration of public policies. The prime minister and cabinet serve only so long as they enjoy the support of a working majority in parliament, and there have been frequent changes of government.
Women are fairly well represented in both the executive and legislative branches of government in Finland. Women hold 37% of the seats in the 200-member Eduskunta and there were 8 women among the 18 cabinet members after the 2003 elections. Women have held top leadership positions, including defense minister (Elisabeth Rehn) and foreign minister (Tarja Halonen) and speaker of parliament. In February 2000, Finns elected Tarja Halonen their first female president. Anneli Jäätteenmäki was named prime minister following elections in March 2003. Halonen was reelected president in 2006.
Four major partisan groupings have dominated political life in Finland, although none commands a majority position among the electorate. The Finnish Social Democratic Party (Suomen Sosialidemokraattinen Puolue—SDP) was organized in 1899 but did not become a significant political force until 1907, following the modernization of the country's parliamentary structure. Swedish-speaking Socialists have their own league within the SDP. The party's program is moderate, and its emphasis on the partial nationalization of the economy has in recent decades given way to support for improvement of the condition of wage earners through legislation. The SDP has generally worked closely with the trade union movement and has been a vigorous opponent of communism.
The Center Party (Keskusrapuolue—KESK; until October 1965, the Agrarian League—Maalaisliitto) was organized in 1906. While initially a smallholders' party, it won some support from middle and large landowners but virtually none from nonagricultural elements. In an effort to gain a larger following in urban areas, the party changed its name and revised its program in 1965. In February 1959, an Agrarian League splinter party, the Finnish Small Farmers' Party, was formed; in August 1966, it took the name Finnish Rural Party (Suomen Maaseudun Puolue—SMP). The Liberal People's Party (Liberaalinen Kansanpuolue—LKP) was formed in December 1965 as a result of the merger of the Finnish People's Party and the Liberal League; in 1982, the LKP merged with the KESK.
The National Coalition Party (Kansallinen Kokoomus—KOK), also known as the Conservative Party, was established in 1918 as the successor to the conservative Old Finnish Party. Its program, described as "conservative middle-class," has traditionally emphasized the importance of private property, the established church, and the defense of the state.
The Finnish Christian League (Suomen Kristillinen Liitto—SKL), founded in 1958, was formed to counter the increasing trend toward secularization and is usually found on the political right with the KOK.
The Swedish People's Party (Svenska Folkpartiet—SFP), organized in 1906 as the successor to the Swedish Party, has stressed its bourgeois orientation and the need for protecting the common interests of Finland's Swedish-speaking population.
The Finnish People's Democratic League (Suomen Kansan Demokraattinen Liitto—SKDL) represents the extreme left. Emerging in 1944, and illegal before then, the SKDL was a union of the Finnish Communist Party (organized in 1918) and the Socialist Unity Party. The SKDL had urged close relations with the former USSR and the Communist bloc, but it later moderated its demands for the establishment of a "people's democracy" in Finland. In 1986, a minority group within the SKDL was expelled; for the 1987 elections, it established a front called the Democratic Alternative (DEVA). Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the SKDL in May 1990 merged with other left parties to form the Left Alliance (Vasemmistoliitto—VL).
The Greens, an environmentalist alliance, won four seats in the Eduskunta in 1987, although they were not formally organized as a political party.
From the end of World War II until 1987, Finland was ruled by a changing center-left coalition of parties that included the SDP, KESK, SKDL, LKP, SFP, and SMP. The government formed on 30 April 1987 included seven members of the KOK, including the prime minister, Harri Holkeri; eight from the SDP; two from the SFP; and one from the SMP. Conservative gains in the 1987 election put non-Socialists in their strongest position in parliament in 50 years. Following the general election of March 1991, the Center Party led by Esko Aho emerged as the largest single party in parliament. A new four-party, center-right coalition was formed composed of the Center Party, the National Coalition Party, the Swedish People's Party, and the Finnish Christian League.
The victory by the SDP in the 1995 parliamentary elections ended the reign of the right-center coalition that held control during four years of economic stagnation. The SDP's leader, Paavo Lipponen, became Finland's new prime minister in April 1995. Lipponen fashioned a "rainbow coalition" following the March 1995 elections that included the following: the Social Democratic Party (with Lipponen as prime minister), the National Coalition Party, the Left Alliance, the Swedish People's Party, and the Green League. In opposition were the Center Party, the Finnish Christian League, the Young Finns, the Ecology Party, the True Finns, and the Åland Island's Party representative.
The parliamentary election in 1999 reflected a mixture of discontent and continuity. A cooling economy (caused by Russia's economic collapse in 1998), the opposition's plans for radical tax cuts, and controversy about EU policies dominated the campaign. Opposition leader (and former prime minister) Aho promised radical tax and economic policy changes. He could govern only if he succeeded in prying the Conservatives out of Lipponen's coalition. SDP party scandals over privatization of the telecommunications sector and other issues threatened the otherwise impressive performance of the rainbow coalition that many thought would not survive the full parliamentary term.
The outcome of the 1999 elections was a setback for the Social Democrats, whose share of the votes declined from 28.3% in 1995 to 22.9% in 1999. The SDP parliamentary delegation declined from 63 to 51. The Conservatives advanced from 17.9% of the vote in 1995 (and 39 seats) to 21% in 1999 (and 46 seats). The three smaller coalition parties continued to share 42 seats among them. The opposition Centrists advanced modestly from 19.9 to 22.4% of the vote (gaining four seats for a total of 48). The SDP remained the largest parliamentary group, and Lipponen retained the right to renew his coalition, making it the longest-serving government in Finnish history.
The elections of 2003 were colored by disagreements between Lipponen's Social Democrats and the Center Party led by Anneli Jäätteenmäki. Jäätteenmäki accused Lipponen of closely aligning Finland with the US position on forcibly disarming Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq. Jäätteenmäki's criticisms were popular with voters, and the Center Party emerged with 24.7% of the vote to take 55 seats in the Eduskunta. The representation of the other parties in parliament in 2003 was as follows: SDP, 22.9% (53 seats); KOK, 18.5% (40 seats); the Left Alliance, 9.9% (19 seats); the Greens, 8%, (14 seats); the Christian Democrats, 5.3% (7 seats); the People's Party, 4.6% (8 seats); the agrarian True Finns Party, 1.6% (3 seats); and the representative from the Åland Island's Party held one seat. Jäätteenmäki formed a coalition government with the Social Democratic Party and the Swedish People's Party. She later resigned in June as a result of accusations that she misused confidential government documents regarding talks between Lipponen and President George W. Bush over the run-up to the Iraq war. Jäätteenmäki in 2004 was acquitted of charges she incited an aide to Lipponen to leak the documents.
There is an ancient and flourishing tradition of local self-government extending back to the 14th century. The present law on local government was enacted in 1976. There are six provinces (lääni ), each headed by a governor appointed by the president. One of them, Ahvenanmaa (Åland Islands), has long enjoyed special status, including its own elected provincial council, and a statute effective 1 January 1952 enlarged the scope of its autonomy. The other provinces are directly responsible to the central government.
Below the provincial level, the local government units in 2005 included 432 municipalities. The number of municipalities has fluctuated over the years, but the trend has been downwards. (In 1955, there were 547 municipalities.) Each local government unit is self-governing and has a popularly chosen council. Local elections are held every four years; being partisan in nature, they are regarded as political barometers. The councilors are unsalaried. Local administration is carried out under the supervision of council committees, but professional, full-time managers usually run day-to-day affairs. The functions of local government include education, social welfare, health, culture, utilities, and collection of local taxes.
There are three levels of courts: local, appellate, and supreme. The municipal courts of the first instance are staffed in each case by a magistrate and two councilors. Each of the six appellate courts is headed by a president and staffed by appellate judges. In certain criminal cases these courts have original jurisdiction. The final court of appeal, the Supreme Court (Korkeinoikeus), sits in Helsinki. There are also the Supreme Administrative Court, a number of provincial administrative courts, and some special tribunals. The administration of justice is under the supervision of a chancellor of justice and a parliamentary ombudsman.
The judiciary is independent from the executive and legislative branches. Supreme Court judges are appointed to permanent positions by the president and are independent of political control. Retirement is mandatory at age 70.
Like most other Nordic judicial systems, Finland's constitution calls for a Parliamentary Ombudsman. The Ombudsman is an independent official from the legal field, who is elected by the parliament and charged with "overseeing the courts of law, other public authorities and public servants in the performance of their official duties as well as public employees and other persons in the exercise of public functions…In discharging his or her duties, the Parliamentary Ombudsman shall also oversee the implementation of Constitutional rights and international human rights." The Ombudsman and Deputy Ombudsman investigate complaints by citizens regarding the public authorities, conduct investigations, and may intervene in matters of his or her own initiative. Th is important institution assists citizens in navigating the often Byzantine bureaucratic maze of the social welfare state and provides greater accountability and transparency in the enormous Finnish public sector.
Total armed forces in Finland numbered 28,300 active personnel in 2005, with reserves totaling 237,000. The Army had 20,500 personnel, while the Navy had 5,000, and the Air Force 2,800. The Army's equipment included 226 main battle tanks, 263 armored infantry fighting vehicles, 614 armored personnel carriers, and 1,446 artillery pieces. Major naval units included 11 patrol/coastal vessels, 19 mine warfare ships, six amphibious landing craft, and 35 logistical/support vessels. The Air Force had 63 combat capable aircraft, consisting of fighter ground attack aircraft. The Air Force also operated one antisubmarine warfare aircraft and 22 transports. Finland's paramilitary frontier guard numbered 3,100. The defense budget in 2005 totaled $2.7 billion. Finland's armed forces also provided observers and troops to nine different UN and NATO operations in 2005.
Finland has been a UN member since 14 December 1955; it participates in several UN specialized agencies, such as the FAO, World Bank, IAEA, ILO, UNESCO, UNIDO, and the WHO. Finland is also a member of the OECD, the WTO, G-9, and the Paris Club. The country joined the European Union in 1995. In addition, Finland plays a role in the African Development Bank and Asian Development Bank, and is involved in a number of bilateral projects, primarily in African countries. The nation holds observer status in the Western European Union and the OAS.
Officially neutral, Finland seeks to maintain friendly relations with both the United States and Russia, its powerful eastern neighbor. Finland has hosted many major meetings and conferences, including rounds I, III, V, and VII of the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) between the United States and USSR (1969–72). In November 1972, the multilateral consultations on the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE, now the OSCE) began in Helsinki. These initial consultations were followed by the first phase of CSCE at the foreign ministerial level and then by the third phase at the highest political level, culminating with the signing of the Final Act in Helsinki on 1 August 1975. Foreign ministers of the United States, Canada, and 33 other European countries met in Helsinki on 30 July 1985 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Final Act.
Finland has a close relationship with the other Scandinavian (Nordic) countries. The main forum of cooperation is the Nordic Council, established in 1952; Finland joined in 1955. A common labor market was established in 1954, granting citizens of member states the right to stay and work in any other Scandinavian country without restrictions. Finland also belongs to the Council of the Baltic Sea States (est. in 1992).
Finland is part of the Australia Group, the Nuclear Suppliers Group (London Group), the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), the Nuclear Energy Agency, the Zangger Committee, and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. In environmental cooperation, Finland is part of the Antarctic Treaty; the Basel Convention; Conventions on Biological Diversity, Whaling, and Air Pollution; Ramsar; CITES; the London Convention; International Tropical Timber Agreements; the Kyoto Protocol; the Montréal Protocol; MARPOL; the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty; and the UN Conventions on the Law of the Sea, Climate Change and Desertification.
At the end of World War II, Finland's economy was in desperate straits. About 10% of the country's productive capacity had been lost to the former USSR, and over 400,000 evacuees had to be absorbed. Between 1944 and 1952, Finland was burdened with reparation payments to the USSR, rising inflation, and a large population growth. However, the GDP reached the prewar level by 1947, and since then the economy has shown consistent growth.
Handicapped by relatively poor soil, a severe northern climate, and lack of coal, oil, and most other mineral resources necessary for the development of heavy industry, the Finns have nonetheless been able to build a productive and diversified economy. Th is was made possible by unrivaled supplies of forests (Finland's "green gold") and waterpower resources ("white gold"), as well as by the Finnish disposition toward hard work, frugality, and ingenuity. Agriculture, long the traditional calling of the large majority of Finns, has been undergoing continuous improvement, with growing specialization in dairying and cattle breeding. The industries engaged in producing timber, wood products, paper, and pulp are highly developed, and these commodities continue to make up a significant proportion of the country's exports. After World War II, and partly in response to the demands of reparations payments, a metals industry was developed, its most important sectors being foundries and machine shops, shipyards, and engineering works. The 1990s saw Finland develop one of the world's leading high tech economies. Dependent on foreign sources for a considerable portion of its raw materials, fuels, and machinery, and on exports as a source of revenue, the Finnish economy is very sensitive to changes at the international level.
The annual growth of GDP averaged 4.3% between 1986 and 1989, after which it was hard hit by the collapse of the former USSR, formerly Finland's chief trading partner. For 40 years, Finland and the USSR had conducted trade on a barter basis, a practice that ended in 1991. GDP was flat in 1990, fell by 7.1% in 1991, a further 4% in 1992, and 3.6% in 1993.
The regional economic recovery in Europe during 1994 helped Finland's economy to turn around. By early 1995, the economy began to show signs of strong growth—GDP had grown 4.5% by the end of that year, and by 2000, it had reached 6.1%. In October 1996 Finland agreed to join the European currency grid, which limits currency fluctuations to 15% up or down, and proclaimed its determination to join European economic and monetary union (EMU); it joined the EMU in 1999. Thus far, it is the only Nordic EU member to join, as Denmark and Sweden decided to opt out of the EMU.
The success of the Finnish economy in the late 1990s was largely due to the country's success in the high tech sector. Finland has one of the highest rates in the world for per capita Internet connections and mobile phone ownership; in 2002, 75% of Finns owned a mobile phone. Chief among Finnish companies is Nokia, the world's leading producer of mobile phones.
In 2001, the global economy was in a downturn, and Finland's economy was duly affected. Demand for Finnish exports declined, and industrial production shrank for the first time in 10 years. In 2001, Finland's GDP growth was among the lowest of the euro zone, at 0.7%, and unemployment remained above the euro zone average (9%). However, the service sector (accounting for over 60% of GDP) remained strong. In 2004, the government cut taxes and tempered inflation in order to prod private consumption and promote GDP growth. GDP growth was estimated at 1.6% in 2005, and was forecast to accelerate to 2.5% in 2006 and 2.7% in 2007, still well below the growth rates seen in the latter part of the 1990s. The inflation rate was expected to be 1.3% in 2005, rising to 1.8% in 2006 and 2% in 2007. The unemployment rate was estimated at 8.9% in 2004, above the EU average, but the government estimated the unemployment rate would drop to 8.5% in 2005. A relatively inflexible labor market and high employer-paid social security taxes hamper growth in employment.
The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) reports that in 2005 Finland's gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $158.4 billion. The CIA defines GDP as the value of all final goods and services produced within a nation in a given year and computed on the basis of purchasing power parity (PPP) rather than value as measured on the basis of the rate of exchange based on current dollars. The per capita GDP was estimated at $30,300. The annual growth rate of GDP was estimated at 1.7%. The average inflation rate in 2005 was 1.2%. It was estimated that agriculture accounted for 3.1% of GDP, industry 30.4%, and services 66.5%.
According to the World Bank, in 2003 remittances from citizens working abroad totaled $642 million or about $123 per capita and accounted for approximately 0.4% of GDP.
The World Bank reports that in 2003 household consumption in Finland totaled $84.55 billion or about $16,223 per capita based on a GDP of $161.9 billion, measured in current dollars rather than PPP. Household consumption includes expenditures of individuals, households, and nongovernmental organizations on goods and services, excluding purchases of dwellings. It was estimated that for the period 1990 to 2003 household consumption grew at an average annual rate of 2.1%. In 2001 it was estimated that approximately 17% of household consumption was spent on food, 10% on fuel, 4% on health care, and 15% on education.
The Finnish labor force numbered an estimated 2.61 million in 2005. Of these workers, 32% were engaged in public services, 22% in industry, 14% in commerce, 10% in finance, insurance, and business service, 8% in agriculture and forestry, 8% in transport and communications, and 6% in construction. From the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s, the rate of unemployment fluctuated between 1.5% and 4% of the total workforce. Since then, however, the unemployment rate has crept upward, reaching 8.5% in 2002. In 2005, the unemployment had fallen slightly to an estimated 7.9%.
The law provides for the right to form and join unions. As of 2005, about 79% of workers were members of a trade union. These unions are not regulated by the government or political parties. Labor relations are generally regulated by collective agreements among employers, employees and the government. Workers have the right to strike, but such actions are considered legal only if an employment contract is not in effect and that the strike is being carried out pursuant of new contract negotiations. Strikes that may involve the national security are put before an official dispute board that can make nonbinding recommendations to the cabinet as to the strike's duration.
Child labor regulations are strictly enforced by the labor ministry. Minors under the age of 16 cannot work at night or more than six hours per day. In addition there are occupational health and safety restrictions applied to child labor. The law does not mandate minimum wages, as it is established by industry in collective bargaining negotiations for each sector of the workforce. The workweek is legally set at 40 hours with five days of work and premium pay for overtime, which is limited to 250 hours annually and 138 hours in any four-month period. Health and safety standards are effectively enforced.
Finnish farming is characterized by the relatively small proportion of arable land under cultivation, the large proportion of forestland, the small-sized landholdings, the close association of farming with forestry and stock raising, and the generally adverse climatic and soil conditions. Farming is concentrated in southwestern Finland; elsewhere, cultivation is set within the frame of the forest. In 2004, there were 70,983 farms. The average farm had about 31 hectares (78 acres) of arable land. Small-sized farms were encouraged by a series of land reforms beginning with the Lex Kallio of 1922. The Land Use Act of 1958 sought to improve the conditions of existing farms by increasing the land area, amalgamating nonviable farms, and introducing new land-use patterns. The agricultural labor force was 5.5% of the economically active population in 2000. In 2003, agriculture contributed 5% to GDP.
The principal crops in 2004 (in tons) were barley, 1,725,000; oats, 1,002,000; sugar beets, 1,064,000; potatoes, 619,000; and wheat, 782,000. A total of 2,243,000 hectares (5,542,000 acres) were classified as arable in 2004.
Livestock production contributes about 70% of total agricultural income. Livestock in 2004 included cattle, 969,000 head; hogs, 1,365,000; sheep, 109,000; and horses, 61,000. There were 3,981,000 poultry that same year. Some 201,000 reindeer are used by the Lapps as draft animals and for meat.
In recent years, Finland has attained exportable surpluses in some dairy, pork, and eggs. Production in 2004 included pork, 198,000 tons; beef, 93,000 tons; eggs, 58,000 tons; butter, 58,000 tons; and cheese, 93,000 tons. Milk production in 2004 was estimated at 2.3 billion liters.
At the beginning of 2004, the Finnish fishing fleet consisted of 3,798 vessels, with an average vessel capacity of 5 GRT. The total catch in 2003 was 135,295 tons and exports of fishery commodities totaled $13 million. The most important catch is Atlantic herring, with 64,020 tons caught in 2003. Other important species are rainbow trout, perch, pike, salmon, and cod. In 2005, salmon and herring caught in the Gulf of Bothnia and Gulf of Finland were found to contain higher levels of dioxins potentially harmful to human health.
Forestry in Finland has been controlled since the 17th century. Since 1928, the government has emphasized a policy of sustainable yields, with production reflecting timber growth. Forest land covered 26.3 million hectares (65 million acres), or over 85% of the total land area, in 2003. The total growing stock is around 2.0 billion cu m (71 billion cu ft), and the annual increment is estimated at 83 million cu m (2.9 billion cu ft). The most important varieties are pine (47% of the total growing stock), spruce (34%), birch (15%), aspen, and alder. About 61% of the productive woodland is privately owned (in 440,000 holdings); 24% is owned by the state; the remainder is owned by companies, communes, and religious bodies. There are 170 major sawmills in Finland with a combined output of 13.5 million cu m (477 million cu ft) in 2004. Numerous small sawmills serve local markets.
In 2004, the roundwood harvest was estimated at 53.8 million cu m (1.9 billion cu ft), of which 13.5 million cu m (477 million cu ft) were processed as sawnwood, 25 million cu m (883 million cu ft) as wood pulp, and 4.5 million cu m (159 million cu ft) as firewood. Finland ranks fourth in Europe (after Sweden, Germany, and Russia) as a producer of sawn softwood. Over 70% of annual Finnish forestry output is exported, including over 90% of all printing paper and 50% of all particleboard produced. Over 60% of forestry product exports are sent elsewhere in Europe; Finland supplies Europe with about 10% of its demand. In 2004, exports of forestry products were valued at nearly $11 billion, or about 25% of total exports.
In 1999, Finland launched its National Forest Program 2010. The goal of the program is to raise industrial roundwood production to 63–68 million cu m (2.2–2.4 billion cu ft) while adhering to ecosystem management principles. The Finnish Forest Research Institute estimates that roundwood harvesting can rise to 74 million cu m per year and still sustain the growing stock.
For the metals industry, a key sector of its industrialized market economy, Finland depended on imports of raw materials, especially crude oil, iron ore, nickel matte, petroleum products, and zinc concentrate. Copper refining and metals production constituted a major mineral industry, with most output destined for export. Outokumpu Oyj was the third-largest zinc metal producer in Europe (15% share of the market and 5% share of world zinc production). In 2004, Finland mined chromite, copper, nickel, zinc, feldspar, lime, nitrogen, phosphate rock, pyrite, sodium sulfate, limestone and dolomite, quartz silica sand, sulfur, talc, and wollastonite. The Kemi mine, on the Gulf of Bothnia near the Swedish border, was the only chromium mine in Scandinavia and one of the largest in the world, with estimated reserves of 150 million tons and an annual capacity of one million tons. Mine output of zinc in 2004 was 69,333 metric tons, down from 70,652 metric tons in 2003; feldspar, 57,149 metric tons, up from 48,353 metric tons in 2003; chromite (gross weight of ore, concentrate, and foundry sand), 550,000 metric tons, up from 549,000 metric tons in 2003 and copper (mine output), 15,500 metric tons, up from 14,900 in 2003. Exploration activities were focused largely on diamond, gold, and base metals deposits (sulfide zinc, zinc, copper, chalcopyrite, pyrite, sphalerite, and platinum-group metals, or PGM). Finland also had capacities to mine mica, phophate-apatite, quartz, and quartzite, and to mine and produce 8 million tons per year of apatite.
Mineral reserves were declining, and many were expected to be exhausted soon, as a result of extensive mining over the past 400 years. Although Finland had scarce mineral resources, it was influential in the global mining industry as a world leader in mining technology, ore processing, and metallurgy. With the acquisition of the metallurgical businesses of Lurgi Metallurgie AG of Germany, Outokumpu Technology became the world's leading supplier of copper and zinc plants, a major supplier of aluminum technologies, and the key supplier of innovative technologies for the ferrous metals and ferroalloy industries. Government involvement in the mineral industry was considerably higher in Finland than elsewhere in the EU. State-owned companies such as Finnminers Group, Kemira Oyj, Outokumpu, and Rautaruukki Oy dominated the domestic minerals industry, while institutions such as the State Geological Research Institute and the State Technological Research Center were active in exploration and research.
Finland relies upon imports to meet its fossil fuel needs. In 2002, imports of crude oil and refined petroleum products averaged 315,460 barrels per day, with consumption at 215,790 barrels per day. Exports of the difference averaged 115,220 barrels per day. Imports and consumption of dry natural gas came to 160.01 billion cu ft, and 159.94 billion cu ft, respectively in 2002.
Finland's electric power generating capacity in 2002 stood at 16.475 million kW, of which the bulk, 10.898 million kW, was dedicated to conventional thermal generation. Hydropower capacity, nuclear and geothermal/other came to 2.895 million kW, 2.640 million kW and 0.042 million kW, respectively in 2002. Total electricity production for that year amounted to 71.303 billion kWh, of which conventional thermal sources totaled 29,770 billion kWh. Hydroelectric, nuclear and geothermal/other sources produced: 10.668 billion kWh; 21.180 billion kWh; and 9.685 billion kWh. Consumption of electricity was 78.312 billion kWh in 2002. Finland has four nuclear power plants, two 465-MW reactors at the Loviisa plant and two 735-MW reactors at the Tvo facility. Most of Finland's waterpower resources are located along the Oulu and Kemi rivers.
Since the end of World War II, industrial progress has been noteworthy. Contributing factors include the forced stimulus of reparation payments, large quantities of available electric power, increased mining operations, growing mechanization of agriculture and forestry, development of transportation and communications, and steady foreign demand for Finnish exports. In terms of value of production and size of labor force, the electronics and electrical industry is, as of 2005, the most important, displacing the metals industry. Also highly significant are the food, pulp and paper, machinery, chemical, and shipbuilding industries. The most important industrial regions center around Helsinki, Tampere, Turku, Lappeenranta, Lahti, Jyväskylä, and the valleys of the Kymi and Kokemäki rivers, and coastal towns like Kotka, Rauma, and Pori. The state no longer owns a majority of the outstanding stock in most industrial companies.
The growth in Finnish industry, from 25.8% of GDP in 1990 to 28.4% by 2000 and 30.2% in 2004, is atypical for developed countries, where the services sector has tended to increase more than industry. In 2004, industry employed 22% of the labor force. Finland is a world leader in the making of cellular telephone handsets, paper machinery, medical devices, and instruments for environmental measurements. Nokia, the largest company in the country, produces the most mobile telephones in the world (it is, however, nearly 90% foreign-owned, especially by American pension foundations). Biotechnology is an increasingly important sector, with strength in pharmaceuticals, biomaterials, diagnostics, and industrial enzymes. Finland's biotechnology industry ranked sixth in Europe in 2005. The software industry is one of Finland's most promising industrial sectors; currently, there are more than 3,000 software companies in Finland, many of them start-ups or in early growth stages. The electrical engineering industry's roots go back to the late 19th century: the company founded by Gottfried Strömberg, who built generators and electric motors, is now a profitable arm of the Asea Brown Boveri Group. Finnish companies such as Instru, Vaisala, and Neles (now part of Metso) have succeeded in areas such as industrial automation and medical and meteorological technology. Metso, formed from Valmet and Tampella, is today the world's leading producer of paper machines. Although certain fashion (Luhta and Marimekko) and footwear (Palmroth) design companies are important, the previously strong "heavy" textile industry—making cotton, woolen, and other fabrics—has virtually disappeared due to foreign competition.
Scientific research is carried out at state research institutes, private research centers, and institutions of higher learning. The Technology Development Center, established in 1983 under the Ministry of Trade and Industry, oversees technological research and coordinates international research activities. The Academy of Finland (founded in 1947), a central governmental organ for research administration, reports directly to the Ministry of Education. It promotes scientific research and develops national science policy by maintaining research fellowships, sponsoring projects, and publishing reports. Finland has 13 universities offering courses in basic and applied sciences. The University of Helsinki operates a natural history museum that has zoological, botanical, and geological components. The principal learned societies, all in Helsinki, are the Federation of Finnish Scientific Societies (founded in 1899), the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters (founded in 1908), and the Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters (founded in 1838); preeminent in technological development is the Finnish Technical Research Center (founded in 1942) at Espoo.
In 1987–97, science and engineering students accounted for 39% of university enrollment. In 2002, science degrees (natural sciences, mathematics and computers, and engineering) accounted for 32.2% of all bachelor's degrees awarded.
In 2002, expenditures on research and development (R&D) amounted to $4.7 billion or 3.46% of GDP. Business enterprises, including those in which the central or local government owns major shares, financed 69.5% of the nation's research, followed by government at 26.1%, with foreign sources and higher education accounting for 3.1% and 0.2%, respectively. High technology exports in 2002 totaled $9.139 billion, or 24% of the country's manufactured exports. In that same year, there were 7,431 researchers (excluding technicians) per million people actively engaged in research and experimental development.
Domestic trade is carried on through the customary wholesale and retail channels. Kesko is Finland's largest retailer. The S-Group consists of cooperative societies and SOK with their subsidiaries. The S-Group's largest retail area is the grocery trade. Valio, a dairy company, is the leading food business company in terms of net turnover.
Office hours are from 8 am to 5 pm, Mondays through Fridays, with lunch lasting from one to two hours. Government offices are open from 8 am to 4 pm. Stores and shops are open from 9 am to 6 pm, Monday through Friday, and 9 am to 3 pm on Saturday, but department stores and shopping malls stay open until 8 pm on weekdays and until 4 pm on Saturday.
Advertising is found on television, radio, the Internet, and in traditional print sources. There are two public and two commercial television stations in Finland. In 2005, Finland became the first European country to issue a license for commercial television service for mobile phones. By 2005, there were 83 commercial radio stations in Finland with almost 300 frequencies around the country; commercial radio in Finland got its start in 1985. Finland
|Italy-San Marino-Holy See||2,017.8||1,556.3||461.5|
|(…) data not available or not significant.|
recently rescinded a ban on alcohol advertising, but maintains a ban on tobacco advertising.
Exports of goods and services contribute 33% of the country's GDP. Exports in 2004 totaled $61.04 billion, and imports totaled $45.17 billion, for a trade surplus of $15.87 billion. The EU is by far Finland's largest trading partner. In 2003, 53% of all exports went to the EU, and 55% of all Finnish imports originated from the EU. Although Germany—Finland's largest EU trading partner in 2004—is within the euro zone, its other two main EU trading partners, the United Kingdom and Sweden, are outside it. Therefore, in 2003, only 32.8% of exports went to the euro area, and only 34.5% of imports originated there. Finland's leading markets in 2004 were Sweden (11.1% of all exports), Germany (10.7%), Russia (8.9%), the United Kingdom (7%), and the United States (6.4%). Leading suppliers in 2004 were Germany (14.6% of all imports), Russia (13.1%), Sweden (10.9%), China (4.6%), and France (4.5%).
Finnish households and businesses became more cautious in spending, due to the deep recession in the early 1990s and the slowdown in the global economy that began in 2001. Nonetheless, the financial health of Finnish companies improved in the late 1990s and into the 2000s.
The trade surplus in 2004 stood at $15.87 billion. The current account surplus stood at $11.39 billion in 2004. The current account surplus averaged 6.2% of GDP from 2000–04. Public debt was estimated at 46.8% of GDP in 2004.
The central bank is the Bank of Finland—the fourth-oldest in Europe—established in 1811 with headquarters in Helsinki and seven branch offices. Possessing extensive autonomy though subject to parliamentary supervision, and endowed with extensive monetary and fiscal powers, the Bank is administered by a six-member board of management appointed by the president of the republic.
|Balance on goods||13,390.0|
|Balance on income||-1,115.0|
|Direct investment abroad||7,538.0|
|Direct investment in Finland||2,899.0|
|Portfolio investment assets||-9,872.0|
|Portfolio investment liabilities||8,943.0|
|Other investment assets||-16,164.0|
|Other investment liabilities||-1,389.0|
|Net Errors and Omissions||-3,582.0|
|Reserves and Related Items||507.0|
|(…) data not available or not significant.|
It has an exclusive monopoly over the issuance of notes. Completing its preparations for Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), on 17 January 1997 the government submitted to the Eduskunta a proposal for a new Act of the Bank of Finland. The main purpose of the act was to prepare the Bank of Finland institutionally for Stage 3 of EMU by providing for its independence ahead of the move to a single currency, in line with the requirements set out in the Maastricht treaty.
As of 1999, leading deposit banks in Finland included: Nordea (Merita Nordbanken, the result of a merger between Merita and Swedish Nordbanken, Danish Unidanmark, and Norwegian
|Revenue and Grants||56,864||100.0%|
|General public services||6,384||12.7%|
|Public order and safety||1,578||3.1%|
|Housing and community amenities||359||0.7%|
|Recreational, culture, and religion||579||1.1%|
|(…) data not available or not significant.|
Christiania Bank); OKO Bank (the Cooperative Bank Group, the first bank in the world to offer online banking transaction services, in 1996); and the Sampo Group (the result of a merger between Sampo Insurance Company and the Leonia bank group). Eight major commercial banks and 40 savings banks serve the country. Six foreign banks have branches in Finland.
In 1996 the markka stayed firm against the German mark. In the fourth quarter of 1996 Finland's three-month money-market rate, the Helibor, fell by nearly 40 basis points, from 3.48% to just 3.09%. The fall resulted in further convergence with German money-market rates. The International Monetary Fund reports that in 2001, currency and demand deposits—an aggregate commonly known as M1—were equal to $37.3 billion. In that same year, M2—an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual funds—was $59.8 billion. The money market rate, the rate at which financial institutions lend to one another in the short term, was 4.26%.
An exchange at Helsinki (established in 1912) is authorized to deal in stocks. As of 2004, there were 134 companies listed on the Helsinki Stock Exchange (HEX), which had a market capitalization of $183.765 billion in that same year. In 2004, the HEX 25 rose 19.6% from the previous year to 1,831.0.
Insurance in Finland is highly developed and diversified. There are 56 Finnish insurance companies, 16 of them engaged in life insurance. Workers' compensation, hunter's liability, workers' pension, nuclear liability, ship owners' and employers' liability, and automobile third-party insurance are compulsory. Other forms of insurance include fire, burglary, water damage, maritime, funeral, livestock, fidelity guarantee, and credit.
In 2003, direct premiums written totaled $14.123 billion, of which life insurance accounted for $11.065 billion. The country's top nonlife insurer that same year was If Vahinkovakuutus, with $962.2 million in gross nonlife premiums written. Nordea was the country's leading life insurer that year with $1,040.7 million of life premiums written.
Budget estimates are prepared by the Ministry of Finance and submitted to the legislature. They are referred to the finance committee and subsequently reported back to the full body. Supplementary budgets are usual. Finland's budget balance continued its sharp deterioration in 1992, as the deep recession resulted in decreased tax revenues and increased social expenditures. Extensive government support for the fragile banking system and increased interest expenditures were also responsible. The rest of the 1990s, however, proved much more auspicious for the fast-growing Finnish economy. GDP grew 5.6% in 2000, fueled by a booming electronics industry.
The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) estimated that in 2005 Finland's central government took in revenues of approximately $99.6 billion and had expenditures of $97.1 billion. Revenues minus expenditures totaled approximately $2.4 billion. Public debt in 2005 amounted to 42% of GDP. Total external debt was $211.7 billion.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) reported that in 2002, the most recent year for which it had data, central government revenues were €56,864 million and expenditures were €50,390 million. The value of revenues was us$53,514 million and expenditures us$47,415 million, based on an exchange rate for 2002 of us$1 = €1.0626 as reported by the IMF. Government outlays by function were as follows: general public services, 12.7%; defense, 4.0%; public order and safety, 3.1%; economic affairs, 10.4%; environmental protection, 0.5%; housing and community amenities, 0.7%; health, 8.2%; recreation, culture, and religion, 1.1%; education, 12.5%; and social protection, 47.2%.
As of 1 January 2005 the standard corporate income tax rate was 26%, which is also the capital gains tax rate. Branches of foreign companies are taxed equally. The Lutheran Church and the Orthodox Church receive a share of the corporate tax. Withholding taxes, reduced or eliminated through double taxation treaties which Finland has with about 60 countries, are otherwise 28% on dividends, and on income from royalties. Interest paid to resident persons received from debentures, bonds, and bank deposits are subject to a 28% withholding tax. Generally, nonresidents are exempt from this tax. Dividends paid from one resident company to another resident company are also exempt.
Personal income taxes are assessed in a progressive schedule up to 33.5% on taxable income over €56,900. Local income taxes vary from 16–21% of income, depending upon the taxing municipality. Also at the municipal level is a religious tax with proportional rates ranging from 1–2.25% of taxable income. Other direct taxes include a wealth tax, a tax on the transfer of property assets (4.1%), and a tax on transfers of movable assets (1.6%). The amount of national, local, wealth, and health insurance taxes are limited to no more than 60% of taxable income.
Main indirect tax is a value-added tax (VAT) with a standard rate of 22%. A reduced rate of 17% is charged on basic foodstuffs and animal feed. Medicines, books, public transportation, hotel services, and cultural events at subject to an 8% VAT. Exports, the sale or rental of immovable property, insurance, healthcare, educational and financial/bank services are exempt.
Finland, as a member of the European Union, allows imports from EU and EFTA countries to enter duty-free. Finland is also a part of the European Economic Area, an agreement that eliminates trade barriers in Europe. Because it is a member of the European Union, Finland complies with trade agreements the EU has made with non-EU countries. Customs duties are levied based on the goods' CIF value (cost, insurance, and freight) at the time and place of importation.
Finland is favorably disposed toward foreign investment and there is in general no ban on wholly foreign-owned enterprises. Regulations have been liberalized over the years and are generously interpreted. Certain acquisitions of large Finnish companies may require follow-up clearance from the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the purpose of which is to protect "essential national interests." The Aland Islands are an exception to these open investment practices: based on international agreements dating from 1921, property ownership and the right to conduct business are limited to only those individuals with right of domicile in the Aland Islands.
The government started to privatize fully state-owned companies in the early 1990s. By 2005, however, the state, on the global and competitive markets, had switched its role to a risk investor in new, promising, and innovative high-technology companies.
By international standards, the amount of direct investment in Finland had in the past been relatively modest. From 1988 to 1990 its share of world foreign direct investment (FDI) was only half of its share of world GDP. In terms of overall attractiveness as a foreign investment destination, Finland was ranked sixth out of the 140 countries in UNCTAD's study of inward FDI potential. In the 1990s, this potential became more fully realized as foreign investments increased steadily. In the period 1998 to 2000, Finland's share of (FDI) flows grew to be almost twice its share of world GDP. It has continued to be ranked highly in overall attractiveness for foreign investment in the early 2000s. In 2005, Finland was ranked by Transparency International as the second least corrupt country in the world, tied with New Zealand and just behind Iceland.
Annual FDI inflow stood at over $12 billion in 1998, up from $2.1 billion in 1997. FDI inflow fell to $4.6 billion in 1999, but increased to $8.8 billion in 2000. In the global slowdown of 2001, FDI inflow to Finland fell to $3.6 billion. Most investment comes from Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, and France. Finnish investment abroad is in the form of longterm export credits and direct investment by private companies. In 2003, there was a net inflow of investment to Finland, in the amount of €5.2 billion. At the end of 2003, the book value of the stock of outward direct investment was €60.3 billion, and the book value of the stock of inward direct investment was €36.6 billion.
The corporate tax rate stood at 26% in 2005 (down from 29%), and the tax rate on capital gains was 28%. The net wealth tax was to be abolished as of 1 January 2006. The Finnish labor force is highly skilled and well educated, which makes for an attractive investment climate.
Over a decade after the end of the Cold War, Finland has entered a new phase in its economic development. After a three-year recession in which the Finnish economy reeled from the collapse of the Soviet market in the early 1990s, Finland rebounded by shifting its economic sights westward. The successful development of high tech industries has placed Finland in the forefront of the communications boom. This factor, combined with European Union (EU) membership in 1995, radically altered Finland's economic significance.
Economic activity is spread between the north and the south of the country, particularly in the information and communications technology sector. Oulu in northern Finland is a technology center, for example, as is the Helsinki region in the south. Agricultural activity is concentrated in the southern part of Finland, although reindeer husbandry is focused in the far north.
Finland's educational system is one of the best among OECD countries, and its highly developed welfare state allowed the country to convert easily to the euro. Early retirement has depressed the labor supply, however, and the population is aging rapidly. This could lower potential economic growth in the future. Pension reform was enacted in 2002. The main domestic issue for Finland in 2005 remained improving the labor market, both by reducing the unemployment rate, and by increasing participation in employment. Recent tax cuts have been intended to stimulate the labor market and to keep public finances on a sound footing. Finland must further its integration with the EU and develop better relations with Baltic-rim countries, particularly Russia. Finland remains vital as a transshipment channel to Russian markets, especially in the northern regions.
Finland has put relatively more funds into research and development than most other western countries, as demonstrated by the success of the electronics and other high-tech industries.
Social welfare legislation in Finland is patterned largely on Scandinavian models. The system has evolved gradually in response to social needs. Major benefits include employees' accident insurance, old age and disability pensions, unemployment insurance, sickness insurance, compensation for war invalids, and family and child allowances. The first laws were implemented in 1927, with the most recent update in 2003. Family allowance payments are based on number of children and marital status of the parents. There are also birth grants, and child home care allowances for parents who stay home to care for a child under age three. A universal pension system currently covers all Finnish citizens who have lived in the country for at least three years and foreign nationals with at least five years' residence. Payments begin at age 65.
Women have a high level of education and hold a large number of elective political posts. Finland has a comprehensive equal rights law. However, women seldom hold high-paying management positions in the private sector, and it was estimated in 2004 that women earn on average only 82 cents for every dollar that a male earns. Although there is violence against women, the government takes actions to combat it. There are strict criminal penalties for violence against women, and there are many shelters and programs to assist victims. The relatively high level of domestic violence seems to be due to the high rate of alcoholism.
Indigenous Sami (Lapps) receive government subsidies, which enable them to maintain their traditional reindeer herding lifestyle. Minorities' rights and culture are traditionally protected by law. However, increasing hostility toward immigrants in recent years prompted the passage of a new law designed to facilitate the integration of immigrants into Finnish society and the granting of political asylum.
In Finland, the local authorities are responsible for the majority of health services. The entire population is covered by health insurance, which includes compensation for lost earnings and treatment cost. This program is run by the Social Insurance Institution and is supplemented by private services. In 1991, a new Private Health Care Act took effect to enhance the quality of services provided.
In 2004, there were an estimated 311 physicians per 100,000 people. In addition, Finland had approximately 2,171 nurses per 100,000 people, the largest per capita number of nurses in the world. There were also an estimated 91 dentists, 149 pharmacists, and 77 midwives per 100,000 people. Health care, safe water, and sanitation are available to 100% of the population. An estimated 6.8% of the GDP went to health expenditures.
Approximately 80% of married women (ages 15 to 49) were using contraceptives. The fertility rate was 1.7 children per woman throughout her childbearing years. Children were vaccinated against the following diseases: diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 100%; polio, 99%; and measles, 98%.
The infant mortality rate in 2005 was 3.57 per 1,000, one of the world's lowest. Heart disease among men is high relative to other European countries and diseases of the circulatory system cause about half of all deaths in the country, with cancer being the second leading cause of death. The likelihood of dying after age 65 from heart disease was 366 per 1000 men and 351 per 1000 women. Life expectancy in 2005 was 78.35 years.
While female health is good by international standards, male mortality in the over-25 age bracket is much higher in Finland than in most industrial countries. The main reason for the excessive male death rate is cardiovascular disease. Tobacco consumption decreased from 1.7 kg (3.7 lbs) in 1984–86 to 1.5 kg (3.3 lbs) a year per adult in 1995. The HIV/AIDS prevalence was 0.10 per 100 adults in 2003. As of 2004, there were approximately 1,500 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. There were an estimated 100 deaths from AIDS in 2003.
In 1994, Finland became the first country to eradicate indigenous cases of measles, German measles, and mumps. The diseases have disappeared except for a small number of cases brought in from abroad.
At the end of World War II, Finland faced a critical housing shortage. About 14,000 dwellings had been severely damaged during the war and only a modest amount of new housing was built from 1939 to 1944. Some 112,000 dwellings were lost to the ceded territories, and homes had to be found for the displaced persons. Government participation was inevitable in this situation. Two measures passed in the late 1940s, the Land Acquisition Act and the Arava Law, made large-scale credit available on reasonable terms. In the period 1949–59, a total of 334,000 dwellings were built, including 141,900 supported by the Land Acquisition Act and 89,400 supported by the Arava Law.
The migration into urban centers that continued throughout the 1950s and 1960s resulted in a constant urban housing shortage even after the war losses had been replaced. During the period 1960–65, the number of new dwellings averaged about 37,000 annually. To stimulate housing construction, the government passed the Housing Act in 1966 providing for increased government support. As a result of this Act, the number of new dwellings supported by government loans rose rapidly. In the period 1966–74, a total of 466,900 dwellings were completed, of which 214,700 were supported by government loans.
From 1974 through 1985, another 558,000 new units were added to the housing stock. In 1991, 51,803 new dwellings were completed, down from 65,397 in 1990. The total number of dwellings in 2000 was 2,512,442. In 2003, the total number of dwelling units was about 2,604,000. About 57.6% of all units were owner occupied. About 53.9% of all households are in single-family residences; 40% of all households are in single-family detached dwellings. Overcrowding, which is defined as more than one person per room (excluding the kitchen), affects about 20% of the population.
The public school system unites the primary school and lower secondary school into a compulsory nine-year comprehensive school, with a six-year lower level and a three-year upper level. Instruction is uniform at the lower level. At the upper one, there are both required and elective courses. The upper secondary school (gymnasium) and vocational schools continue with three-year programs.
In 2001, about 55% of children between the ages of three and six were enrolled in some type of preschool program. Primary school enrollment in 2003 was estimated at about 100% of age-eligible students. The same year, secondary school enrollment was about 95% of age-eligible students. Nearly all students complete their primary education. The student-to-teacher ratio for primary school was at about 16:1 in 2003.
People's high schools and workers' academies are evidence of the widespread interest in popular or adult education. Although they are owned by private foundations or organizations, these ventures also receive state subsidies. Higher education falls into three categories: universities and institutions of university status; people's high schools or colleges; and workers' academies. Entrance to the universities is through annual matriculation examinations. There are 20 universities and 20 polytechnical schools. All of the universities are owned and operate by the state. The polytechnic schools are co-funded by state and local governments. Among the best known institutes are the University of Helsinki (founded 1640), Turku University (founded 1922), the Helsinki School of Economics, and the University of Tampere. University study is free of charge. In 2003, about 88% of the tertiary age population were enrolled in some type of higher education program; 80% for men and 96% for women. The adult literacy rate for 2000 was estimated at 100%.
As of 2003, public expenditure on education was estimated at 6.4% of GDP, or 12.7% of total government expenditures.
The largest library in Finland is the Helsinki University Library, with 2.6 million volumes in 2002; it acts both as the general library of the university and as the national library. Next in size are the Helsinki City Library (a regional library with 1.76 million volumes) and the libraries at Turku University (1.9 million) and Åbo Academy (1.7 million). There are about 400 research and university libraries in Finland, most of which are small. There are 19 regional libraries in the country. The Espoo City Library is one such regional library; it sponsors 14 branch locations, 2 institutional locations, and 2 mobile units.
The number of museums has grown rapidly since World War II. There are over 200 museums and 19,100 monuments and historic sites throughout the country. Many museums, which are accessible only from May to September, are open-air, depicting local or rural history. Among the better-known museums are the National, Mannerheim, and Municipal museums and the Ateneum Art Museum in Helsinki; the Turku Art Museum and Provincial Museum; the Runeberg Museum at Porvoo; and the outdoor museums at Helsinki and Turku.
Telephone lines are both state and privately owned, but long-distance service is a state monopoly. In 2003, there were an estimated 492 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were approximately 910 mobile phones in use for every 1,000 people.
Broadcasting is run by Oy Yleisradio Ab, a joint-stock company of which the government owns over 90%, and MTV, a commercial company. Regular television transmission began in 1958. As of 1999 there were 6 AM and 105 FM radio stations and 120 television stations. In 2003, there were an estimated 1,624 radios and 679 television sets for every 1,000 people. The same year, there were 441.7 personal computers for every 1,000 people and 534 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet. There were 1,283 secure Internet servers in the country in 2004.
In 2001, there were about 256 newspapers, with 56 dailies. Major newspapers, with their political affiliation and daily circulation in 2002, are Helsingen Sanomat (in Helsinki), independent, 472,600; Ilta-Sanomat (Helsinki), independent, 218,100; Aamulehti (Tampere), conservative, 132,900; Turun Sanomat (Turku), independent, 113,400; Iltalehti (Helsinki), 101,980; Kaleva (Oulu), independent, 83,800; Kauppalehti (Helsinki), 80,000; Keskisuomalainen (Jyväskylä), Center Party, 79,200; Hufvudstadbladet (Helsinki, Swedish), independent, 59,200; Satakunnan Kansa (Pori), conservative, 58,000; and Kansan Uutiset (Helsinki), Finn. People's Democratic League, 42,400. The leading weekly journals in 1995 were Seura (circulation 276,000) and Apu (254,000).
The broadcast and print media enjoy independence and support from the government, which abides by legally provided free speech and press.
The cooperative movement is highly developed. Cooperatives have developed extensive educational and informational programs, including a lively cooperative press and many training schools. They are divided into three major groups. Pellervo-Seura is the Central Organization of Farmers' Cooperatives. It provides educational and advisory services to its 800 member organizations. All the agricultural cooperative central organizations are members of Pellervo: the Cooperative Dairy Association, Meat Producers' Central Federation, Central Cooperative Egg Export Association, a wholesalers' cooperative for farm inputs and products, and the forest products cooperative. The Kulutusosuuskuntien Keskusliitto (KK) Cooperative Organizations, the so-called progressive cooperatives, include the KK (educational union of KK cooperatives), OTK (general wholesalers for KK cooperatives), and insurance associations. The FSA Cooperative Organizations are the Swedish-speaking cooperatives. Among their members are the FSA (general union of the Swedish-Finnish cooperatives), Labor (cooperative purchasing wholesalers), Åland Central Cooperative (a central cooperative for cooperative dairies on the Åland Islands), cooperative marketing associations for eggs and dairy products, and the Central Fish Cooperative.
Occupational and trade associations are numerous. In the agricultural sector the most influential is the Central Union of Agricultural Producers, a nonpolitical farmers' trade union. The Federation of Agricultural Societies concentrates on advisory and educational functions. Important in industry and commerce are the Confederation of Finnish Industries, Central Federation of Handicrafts and Small Industry, Central Board of Finnish Wholesalers' and Retailers' Associations, and the Finnish Foreign Trade Association. Professional associations are available for a wide variety of fields. The Central Chamber of Commerce of Finland has its headquarters in Helsinki.
Cultural and philanthropic organizations are also numerous; among the most influential are the Finnish Academy, the Finnish Cultural Fund, and the Wihuri Foundation. Other national cultural organizations include the Fine Arts Association of Finland and the Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters. There are also associations for a variety of hobbyists.
The Finnish Medical Association promotes research and education on health issues and works to establish common policies and standards in healthcare. There are also several associations dedicated to research and education for specific fields of medicine and particular diseases and conditions, such as the Finnish Heart Association and the Finnish Diabetes Association.
National youth organizations exist for a variety of interests, including Finnish 4-H Federation, Finnish Union of Students, Guides and Scouts of Finland, the Youth League of the Coalition Party, and chapters of YMCA/YWCA. Some youth organizations are linked to political parties, such as the Youth League of the Coalition Party. The National Council of Women of Finland is an umbrella organization for women's rights groups throughout the country. The Finnish White Ribbon Union works with groups dedicated to helping women and youth who are victims of drug and alcohol addictions.
The Finnish League for Human Rights is based in Helsinki. At the level of international cooperation are such organizations as the Norden societies and the League for the United Nations. The Red Cross, Amnesty International, and Greenpeace also have active chapters.
Finland offers natural beauty and tranquility in forest cottages and on the tens of thousands of islands that dot the 60,000 lakes and the Baltic Sea. Winter offers cultural events and cross-country skiing; winter festivals feature sled and skating competitions, ice castles, and crafts. Finland is the original home of the sauna, a national tradition. Popular sports include skiing, cycling, fishing, golfing, running, rowing, and wrestling. A valid passport is required. Visits of over 90 days require a tourist/business visa.
In 2003, approximately 4,527,000 foreign visitors arrived in Finland, of whom 35% came from Russia. There were 55,767 hotel rooms with 120,051 beds, and an occupancy rate of 46%. Tourist expenditure receipts totaled $2.6 billion.
In 2005, the US Department of State estimated the daily cost of staying in Helsinki at $304. Other areas averaged $310 per day.
Great Finnish literary figures include Elias Lönnrot (1802–84), compiler of the national epic, the Kalevala; Johan Ludwig Runeberg (1804–77), the most important of the 19th-century Finnish-Swedish writers, known for his Elk Hunters and Songs of Ensign Stål; Aleksis Kivi (1834–72), the founder of modern Finnish-language literature and author of The Seven Brothers; Juhani Aho (1861–1921), master of Finnish prose; Eino Leino (1878–1926), perhaps the greatest lyric poet to write in Finnish; Frans Eemil Sillanpää (1888–1964), a Nobel Prize winner (1939), known to English-language audiences through his Meek Heritage and The Maid Silja; Toivo Pekkanen (1902–57), whose novels portray the impact of industrialization on Finnish life; Mika Waltari (1908–79), member of the Finnish Academy; Väinö Linna (1920–92), a Scandinavian Literature Prize winner (1963) and author of The Unknown Soldier (1954); and the antiwar novelist and playwright Veijo Meri (b.1928).
Finnish architects who are well known abroad include Eliel Saarinen (1873–1950) and his son Eero Saarinen (1910–61), whose career was chiefly in the United States; Alvar Aalto (1898–1976); Viljo Revell (1910–64); and Aarne Ervi (1910–77). Leading sculptors were Wäinö Aaltonen (1894–1966) and Eila Hiltunen (1922–2003); Laila Pullinen (b.1933) is also famous. Five representative painters are Helena Schjerfbeck (1852–1946), Albert Edelfelt (1854–1905), Akseli Gallen-Kalléla (1865–1931), Pekka Halonen (1865–1933), and Tyko Sallinen (1879–1955). Arts and crafts hold an important place in Finnish culture: leading figures are Tapio Wirkkala (1915–85) and Timo Sarpaneva (b.1926). Finnish music has been dominated by Jean Sibelius (1865–1957). Also notable are the composer of art songs Yrjö Kilpinen (1892–1957), the composer of operas and symphonies Aulis Sallinen (b.1935), and opera and concert bass Martti Talvela (1935–89).
Scientists of international repute are A. I. Wirtanen (1895–1973), Nobel Prize winner for chemistry in 1945; Rolf Nevanlinna (1895–1980), mathematician; Pentti Eskola (1883–1964), geologist; V. A. Heiskanen (1895–1971), professor of geodesy; Aimo Kaarlo Cajander (1879–1943), botanist and silviculturist; Edward Westermarck (1862–1939), ethnographer and sociologist; and Yrjö Väisälä (1891–1971), astronomer. Ragnar Arthur Granit (1900–1991) shared the Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine in 1967. Linus Torvalds (b.1969) is a software engineer best known for initiating the development of Linux.
Outstanding athletes include Hannes Kolehmainen (1890–1966) and Paavo Nurmi (1897–1973), who between them won 14 Olympic medals in track. Another distance runner, Lasse Viren (b.1949), won gold medals in both the 1972 and 1976 games. Other Olympic gold medalists include skier Janne Lahtela (b.1974) and Nordic combined athlete Samppa Lajunen (b.1979).
Major political figures of the 19th century were Johan Wilhelm Snellman (1806–81) and Yrjö Sakari Yrjö-Koskinen (1830–1903). Inseparably linked with the history of independent Finland is Marshal Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim (1867–1951), and with the recent postwar period President Juho Kusti Paasikivi (1870–1956). Sakari Tuomioja (1911–64) was prominent in UN affairs. President Urho Kekkonen (1900–86) was instrumental in preserving Finland's neutrality. Mauno Henrik Koivisto (b.1923) served as president from 1982 until 1994. Martti Oiva Kalevi Ahtisaari (b.1937), a former president (1994–2000) and UN diplomat, is noted for his international peace work. Tarja Kaarina Halonen (b.1943) became Finland's first woman president in 2000. She was reelected in 2006.
Finland possesses no territories or colonies.
Annesley, Claire (ed.). A Political and Economic Dictionary of Western Europe. Philadelphia: Routledge/Taylor and Francis, 2005.
Bako, Elemer. Finland and the Finns: A Selective Bibliography. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1993.
Dun and Bradstreet's Export Guide to Finland. Parsippany, N.J.: Dun and Bradstreet, 1999.
International Smoking Statistics: A Collection of Historical Data from 30 Economically Developed Countries. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.
Jussila, Osmo. From Grand Duchy to Modern State: A Political History of Finland since 1809. London, Eng.: Hurst, 1999.
Maude, George. Historical Dictionary of Finland. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow, 1995.
Nordstrom, Byron J. Scandinavia since 1500. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000.
Salminen, Esko. The Silenced Media: The Propaganda War between Russia and the West in Northern Europe. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999.
Siikala, Anna-Leena (ed.). Myth and Mentality: Studies in Folklore and Popular Th ought. Helsinki: Finnish Literature Society, 2002.
COPYRIGHT 2007 Thomson Gale