Skip to main content
Select Source:




Republic of Finland

Suomen Tasavalta

CAPITAL: Helsinki

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, 2526 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) ns; its width is 540 km (336 mi) ew.

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 (727°f), while summer mean temperatures range from 1318°c (5565°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, 3050% 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 200510 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 700900 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 210% 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 Finnshunters, trappers, agriculturistscame 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 estatesnobles, clergy, burghers and peasant farmerswere 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 180809, 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 January10 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 199194, 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.

Beyond Finlandization: Finland and the European Union

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 industrywhich accounts for one-quarter of total Finnish export earningswent 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 PuolueSDP) 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 (KeskusrapuolueKESK; until October 1965, the Agrarian LeagueMaalaisliitto) 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 PuolueSMP). The Liberal People's Party (Liberaalinen KansanpuolueLKP) 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 KokoomusKOK), 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 LiittoSKL), 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 FolkpartietSFP), 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 LiittoSKDL) 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 (VasemmistoliittoVL).

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 functionsIn 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 (196972). 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 growthGDP 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 6368 million cu m (2.22.4 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 industrymaking cotton, woolen, and other fabricshas 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 198797, 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

Country Exports Imports Balance
World 52,503.3 41,572.5 10,930.8
Germany 6,027.7 6,130.5 -102.8
Sweden 5,087.0 4,543.7 543.3
United States 4,148.6 1,931.3 2,217.3
United Kingdom 4,140.1 2,184.1 1,956.0
Russia 3,861.6 4,915.0 -1,053.4
Netherlands 2,339.2 1,633.3 705.9
Italy-San Marino-Holy See 2,017.8 1,556.3 461.5
Areas nes 1,549.4 322.3 1,227.1
China 1,432.1 1,774.0 -341.9
Spain 1,391.8 682.4 709.4
() 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 GermanyFinland's largest EU trading partner in 2004is 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 200004. Public debt was estimated at 46.8% of GDP in 2004.


The central bank is the Bank of Finlandthe fourth-oldest in Europeestablished 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.

Current Account 9,295.0
    Balance on goods 13,390.0
      Imports -39,097.0
      Exports -1,968.0
    Balance on income -1,115.0
    Current transfers -1,013.0
Capital Account 108.0
Financial Account -6,329.0
    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
    Financial derivatives 1,716.0
    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%
    Tax revenue 32,996 58.0%
    Social contributions 17,252 30.3%
    Grants 750 1.3%
    Other revenue 5,866 10.3%
Expenditures 50,390 100.0%
    General public services 6,384 12.7%
    Defense 2,024 4.0%
    Public order and safety 1,578 3.1%
    Economic affairs 5,220 10.4%
    Environmental protection 267 0.5%
    Housing and community amenities 359 0.7%
    Health 4,147 8.2%
    Recreational, culture, and religion 579 1.1%
    Education 6,292 12.5%
    Social protection 23,800 47.2%
() 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 depositsan aggregate commonly known as M1were equal to $37.3 billion. In that same year, M2an aggregate equal to M1 plus savings deposits, small time deposits, and money market mutual fundswas $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 1621% of income, depending upon the taxing municipality. Also at the municipal level is a religious tax with proportional rates ranging from 12.25% 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 198486 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 194959, 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 196065, 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 196674, 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 (180284), compiler of the national epic, the Kalevala; Johan Ludwig Runeberg (180477), the most important of the 19th-century Finnish-Swedish writers, known for his Elk Hunters and Songs of Ensign Stål; Aleksis Kivi (183472), the founder of modern Finnish-language literature and author of The Seven Brothers; Juhani Aho (18611921), master of Finnish prose; Eino Leino (18781926), perhaps the greatest lyric poet to write in Finnish; Frans Eemil Sillanpää (18881964), a Nobel Prize winner (1939), known to English-language audiences through his Meek Heritage and The Maid Silja; Toivo Pekkanen (190257), whose novels portray the impact of industrialization on Finnish life; Mika Waltari (190879), member of the Finnish Academy; Väinö Linna (192092), 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 (18731950) and his son Eero Saarinen (191061), whose career was chiefly in the United States; Alvar Aalto (18981976); Viljo Revell (191064); and Aarne Ervi (191077). Leading sculptors were Wäinö Aaltonen (18941966) and Eila Hiltunen (19222003); Laila Pullinen (b.1933) is also famous. Five representative painters are Helena Schjerfbeck (18521946), Albert Edelfelt (18541905), Akseli Gallen-Kalléla (18651931), Pekka Halonen (18651933), and Tyko Sallinen (18791955). Arts and crafts hold an important place in Finnish culture: leading figures are Tapio Wirkkala (191585) and Timo Sarpaneva (b.1926). Finnish music has been dominated by Jean Sibelius (18651957). Also notable are the composer of art songs Yrjö Kilpinen (18921957), the composer of operas and symphonies Aulis Sallinen (b.1935), and opera and concert bass Martti Talvela (193589).

Scientists of international repute are A. I. Wirtanen (18951973), Nobel Prize winner for chemistry in 1945; Rolf Nevanlinna (18951980), mathematician; Pentti Eskola (18831964), geologist; V. A. Heiskanen (18951971), professor of geodesy; Aimo Kaarlo Cajander (18791943), botanist and silviculturist; Edward Westermarck (18621939), ethnographer and sociologist; and Yrjö Väisälä (18911971), astronomer. Ragnar Arthur Granit (19001991) 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 (18901966) and Paavo Nurmi (18971973), 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 (180681) and Yrjö Sakari Yrjö-Koskinen (18301903). Inseparably linked with the history of independent Finland is Marshal Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim (18671951), and with the recent postwar period President Juho Kusti Paasikivi (18701956). Sakari Tuomioja (191164) was prominent in UN affairs. President Urho Kekkonen (190086) 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 (19942000) 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.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Finland." Worldmark Encyclopedia of Nations. . 9 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Finland." Worldmark Encyclopedia of Nations. . (July 9, 2018).

"Finland." Worldmark Encyclopedia of Nations. . Retrieved July 09, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.



Republic of Finland

Suomen Tasavalta



Located between Sweden and Russia, Finland also borders the Baltic Sea, Gulf of Bothnia, and Gulf of Finland. Finland's area, at 337,030 square kilometers (130,127 square miles), is slightly smaller than the state of Montana. Finland shares a long border of 1,313 kilometers (816 miles) with Russia, 729 kilometers (453 miles) of border with Norway, and 586 kilometers (364 miles) of border with Sweden. The remaining 1,126 kilometers (700 miles) of its boundary is coastline, excluding islands and coastal indentations. The capital, Helsinki, is the north-ernmost national capital in Europe, but it is found in the south of Finland, as are the majority of its 94 towns. Finland also includes the island province of Åland, located between Sweden and Finland. The islands are locally autonomous, have their own government, and are entirely Swedish-speaking.


The population of Finland was estimated in July of 2000 as 5,167,486. The population growth rate is a very small 0.17 percent and generally has been small. Finland has a high proportion of elderly: only 18 percent of the population are under 14 years of age and 15 percent are over 65.

Finland is extremely homogenous. Ethnic Finns make up 93 percent of the population, ethnic Swedes 6 percent, and the rest is mainly made up of the Sami (also called Lapps), Roma, and Tatar. There are 2 official languages: Finnish (spoken by 93 percent of the population) and Swedish (by 6 percent). Due to the harsh climate in the north, population is concentrated in the lowlands in the south of Finland. Approximately 81.2 percent of Finns live in urban areas with around 1 million concentrated in the capital, Helsinki, and its metropolitan area.

Formerly a source of emigrants (people moving outwards from a country), Finland is currently becoming a destination for immigrants (people who move into a foreign country). In 1996, the number of foreigners living in Finland was 74,000, with Russians accounting for about 20 percent, followed by inhabitants with Estonian, Swedish, and Somali former citizenship.


Finland is a free market economy that is highly dependent on international trade. Around 1900, agriculture, especially forestry, was Finland's economic backbone, as trees were Finland's chief natural resource. The more arable southern provinces of Finland have always had higher population density and have dominated the agricultural economy. Finland now has a technologically advanced economy, in high-tech forest production, electronics, and other manufacturing. But the southern regions continue to dominate in population and productivity.

The late 19th century saw the heavily forested country first investing in sawmills and timber, followed by wood pulp and paper production. Wealth from the timber industry was used to invest in making the machinery for the pulp and paper industry. Technical know-how and growth in metalworking and engineering facilities enabled Finland to expand into metal shipbuilding after World War II. Combined with forest products, this industry led the economy until the mid-1990s. In the 1990s, high-tech electronics came to the foreground, with Finland currently the world leader in mobile-phone manufacture. Finland also produces high-tech instruments for environmental measurement and medical devices.

A strong focus on research and development (R&D) and cohesion between government, industry, and workers has helped economic development, especially in the past 50 years. The government's support and coordination of high-tech R&D began as early as 1983 when it founded the Technology Development Center (TEKES). TEKES is the principal organization in Finland for implementing technology policy. In 1984, one year after TEKES was founded, a small business called Nokia switched its focus to high-tech mobile phone production and became the largest mobile phone company in the world. Nokia's growth drove production in the manufacturing sector unlike many European economies, expanded its share of gross domestic product (GDP) throughout the 1990s. TEKES has also had an effect on agriculture through its support in 1997 of research into developing functional foods (foods with proven health benefits, often additives and substitutes that are less dependent on the quality of farming land than on the quality of the R&D infrastructure ).

As in most other developed nations, the Finnish service sector has in recent years become the highest-producing sector in the economy and accounted for 63 percent of the GDP in 2000. Business services, data processing, and transportation are all key service industries, with expansion in business and financial services especially driven by new technological developments, expanding into Internet and Internet Technology (IT)-based services. Public services, primarily health care and education, are also important and employed 32 percent of the labor force in 2000.

A welfare state is made up of institutions reflecting the responsibility a government has assumed for the well-being of its citizens. In Finland, Europe, and most of the developed world, a welfare state includes health care, education, social security, and unemployment. In Finland, the extent of the welfare state is smaller than those of other Nordic countries, but it still accounts for over half of the GDP.

Finland's proximity to Russia, and formerly to the Soviet Union (USSR), has powerfully affected Finnish economic development. In the early years of the USSR, political differences prevented much trade. Yet Western European demand, especially for lumber, pulp, and paper, supported the forestry industry at that time. During World War II, Finland joined the Axis powers, partly in order to prevent partial annexation by the Soviet Union. After the war, Finland had to pay reparations to the Soviet Union, who required mainly industrial products. This requirement forced Finland to develop a substantial metal and engineering industry. After reparations were completed in 1952, trade with the USSR continued through a barter system , characterized by an exchange of goods for energy since Finland lacked natural fuel resources. Finland was the only free-market member of the Council of Mutual and Economic Assistance (COMECON), an economic and development cooperative association formed in 1949, which was otherwise composed of socialist states. Finland was able to use its good relations with socialist states as a economic buffer against downturns in the Western market. Finland did not hesitate to link itself to Western markets as well, which helped its position as a trade gateway to the USSR. Finland joined the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 1969 and the European Free Trade Agreement (EFTA), a predecessor to the European Union (EU), in 1986. However, the USSR, as Finland's closest neighbor, remained a large and influential market, and its collapse in the early 1990s worsened Finland's already severe recession .

Deregulation of Finnish financial markets in the 1980s led to a domestic credit boom, which collapsed in the early 1990s, leading to stock and real estate market speculation and crashes. Finnish observers called this experience "casino economics": an economy becomes dependent on speculation (first seen as a sign of growth) and speculation runs out of control. The chief casualty was productivity and employment; the GDP fell by about 15 percent in 3 years while unemployment skyrocketed to 20 percent. The recession lasted until 1993, when Finland devalued its currency. This action allowed the nation to improve its export sector, especially through growth in manufacturing high-tech electronics and expansion of its export market for paper goods into the newly-booming Asian economies.

During the recession from 1990 to 1993, the Finnish government began accumulating external debt , which peaked at nearly 60 percent of the GDP in 1994. There has only been a partial recovery from the recession, with high unemployment lingering and debt continuing to increase. The currency devaluation , however, helped economic growth rebound, and by 1996 the GDP had recovered to pre-recession levels. The flourishing high-tech industry, led by the cellular phone manufacturer Nokia, was at the center of export-led growth. In 1998, Nokia alone accounted for 1 percent of Finland's approximately 5 percent growth of the GDP. Growth was fairly steady through the second half of the 1990s, except for a slight recession in 1998 that was mainly due to the slump in many Asian economies that were importers of Finnish goods and services.

In 1999, central government debt was 45.4 percent of the GDP. Since joining the European Monetary Union (EMU) in 1999, Finland has been required to reduce its debt. Even before its membership, partial privatization of many state-owned businesses, such as the telecommunications provider Sonera, helped to create revenue from the sale of shares. However, public debt is still high and has been increasing, posing a continued economic challenge into the 21st century.


Finland is a parliamentary republic, with a president and a prime minister. The president is elected by popular vote for a 6-year term. The prime minister and a deputy prime minister are nominated by the president after the parliamentary elections, and the Eduskunta (parliament) must approve the president's nominations. The prime minister nominates ministers for the Council of State, or Valtioneuvosto (also simply called "the Government"), which is divided into 13 ministries overseeing various aspects of government. Nominations are approved by the president, and responsible to the Eduskunta.

The Eduskunta is responsible for legislation. Members are elected popularly under a system of proportional representation (voters elect parties, who have a number of seats in government related to the percentage of votes they receive). The election on 15 April 1999 put 10 parties in the 200-member Eduskunta. The Social Democrats (SDP) received 25.5 percent of the votes cast, the Center Party 23.5 percent, and the National Coalition (Conservative Party) 23 percent.

Women do not participate equally in government, but Finland's showing is better than most countries in this respect. In 2000, about 35 percent of the Eduskunta and 33 percent of the Cabinet were females. The Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense were female, as was the Speaker of Parliament. By comparison, in the United States women held 12 percent of the Congressional seats and 41.4 percent of the Cabinet seats in 2000.

The SDP has been the largest party in the legislature in almost every election since 1907. Its main base of support is skilled laborers, lower-class white-collar workers, small farmers, and professionals. It is also the closest party to the labor unions. SDP supported Finnish membership in the EU and voted in favor of Finland's entering the EMU in 1999. The National Coalition (also called Conservative Party, Kansallinen Kokoomus or "the Kok"), mainly represents private enterprise and the business community. The Kok strongly supported EU membership, favors limited spending, deregulation, and lower taxes but is still in favor of the welfare state. The Center Party has in recent years been split on the EU question, and it opposed Finland's joining of the EMU in 1999. Many of its voters live in rural areas, and the party especially represents agricultural interests.

In 1990, a conglomeration of socialists, ex-communists, and disenchanted Social Democrats, who believed that the SDP had compromised on social issues and international human rights, formed the Left Wing Alliance. There has been pressure on the government to cut costs and spending, and it has been difficult for the Alliance to remain in government alongside the Social Democrats and Conservatives. The long-established minority of Swedish-speaking people is represented by the Swedish People's Party (RKP), which consistently receives 5 to 6 percent of the vote and has a strong base of support in the Åland islands. The RKP generally supports center-right causes and also was in favor of EU membership. Since the party is able to compromise with both socialist and non-socialist governments, its swing vote has been used to protect Swedish-speaking community interests. As of 2000, Finland had the first Green Party in government in all of Europe. The Greens strongly oppose nuclear energy but favor a moderate approach to key economic issues such as forestry, taxation, and the welfare state. They have strong appeal to young, urban voters and to women. Of the party's 9 Eduskunta members, 6 are women.

Many other small parties in Finland also influence debate, although few make it into the Eduskunta. As in other Nordic countries, public debate in the 1990s and beyond is more likely to include a few voices from some extreme right-wing parties, some of which argue for tightening borders against immigrants and refugees, others for abolishing taxes and regulations on business.

Indirect state management of the economy is aided by regular meetings with representatives from industry and trade unions, as well as incentive programs that the government uses to promote investment in areas deemed to be in need of development. The programs include cash grants, loans, tax benefits, and investments in equity , guarantees, and employee training. One institution that demonstrates the Finnish government's ability to influence the economy in this way is the Technology Development Center (TEKES), founded in 1983 to fund R&D in technology. TEKES set the stage for advances and innovation in Finnish technology in the early 1980s and business in the 1990s. The government continues to invest in this direction, contributing almost one-third of the total spending on R&D in 1999. Total R&D spending in Finland is higher than in most other highly advanced economies like the United States and Japan; it was estimated at FMk22,334 million (including private investment) in 1999, or around 3 percent of the GDP. R&D expenditure had risen in real terms by almost 15 percent from the year before.

In Finland, 3 of the 10 largest companies were majority state-owned in 1998; "majority state-owned" means that the state has a majority of share-determined votes, ranging from 53.4 percent control to total control. State ownership occurs mainly in metals and mining, chemicals, and utilities. These companies do not receive subsidies or special treatment, and private companies are not excluded from these sectors (with the exception of Alko, the state's monopoly on liquor sales). Sonera, a telecommunications company, was the largest state-owned company in 1999, but it competes like any other firm in the market. In addition, the state is authorized to sell off all of its remaining shares in Sonera and is likely to do so. The state still owns significant shares in metals and mining, chemical, and utility companies, as well as Finland Post and the Finnish State Railways. Total state ownership has become rare. In November 2000, among the 15 most significant state-owned companies only Patria, a defense company; Vapo, a peat manufacturer; and Alko were 100 percent state-owned.

Until the 1970s, Finland also had a much smaller public sector (as a percentage of the GDP) than its neighbors. In fact, the ratio of the public sector to the GDP did not approach the rest of Scandinavia until the recession of 1990 to 1993, when the overall GDP shrank dramatically. Rather than increase spending, Finland simply did not decrease it at the rate that the other sectors had declined, so its share of the GDP overall was increased. When recovery began, the public sector grew, although still at a slower rate than other Scandinavian countries. The public sector in 1998 employed almost one-third of the population and accounted for well over half of the GDP.

The state may help to provide a new direction for Finnish agriculture, which has been challenged by EU requirements, by funding R&D for agricultural products in the "functional foods" category. The EU agricultural regime has led to falling domestic prices (as they must be on par with EU levels) and fiercer competition from EU agricultural imports. Most Finnish producers still supply the same amount of goods to the Finnish market but have thus far seen significantly lower profits.

Taxes are the government's main source of revenue. Total central government tax revenue in 1999 was FMk188,499 million, about 32 percent of which came from income and property taxes, and 32 percent from value-added tax (VAT). In the 1990s, Finland lowered and adjusted its VAT, especially after EU membership, since VAT rates must eventually harmonize with the EU taxation system. The standard Finnish VAT in 2000 was 22 percent, the VAT on foodstuffs and animal feed was 17 percent, and there was an 8 percent rate for entertainment events tickets, passenger transport, pharmaceuticals, and books. Personal income taxes are quite high; the highest bracket was officially 34.9 percent in 1999. Both the OECD and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have urged Finland to cut its income tax to encourage employment. Corporate taxation is 29 percent, giving Finland one of the lowest rates among OECD countries, along with Sweden and Norway. To replace revenue lost from income tax and VAT reductions, the government has been imposing "green taxes," or taxes supporting environmental regulations. In 1995, over 6 percent of tax revenue came from environment-related taxes (approximately 3 percent of the GDP).

Country Newspapers Radios TV Sets a Cable subscribers a Mobile Phones a Fax Machines a Personal Computers a Internet Hosts b Internet Users b
1996 1997 1998 1998 1998 1998 1998 1999 1999
Finland 455 1,496 640 175.7 572 38.5 349.2 1,116.78 2,143
United States 215 2,146 847 244.3 256 78.4 458.6 1,508.77 74,100
Russia 105 418 420 78.5 5 0.4 40.6 13.06 2,700
Sweden 445 932 531 221.4 464 50.9 361.4 581.47 3,666
aData are from International Telecommunication Union, World Telecommunication Development Report 1999 and are per 1,000 people.
bData are from the Internet Software Consortium ( and are per 10,000 people.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.


Finland has an efficient road and rail network, despite its only becoming fully developed in the mid-20th century. As late as the 1940s, difficult terrain and harsh weather had made internal communications and transport problematic. After World War II, steady improvements in infrastructure led to the current situation. By 1998, Finland had 77,895 kilometers (48,404 miles) of highways, including 473 kilometers (294 miles) of expressways. Bridges and car ferries assisted road travel in the lake-land areas and in the island archipelagoes. The gauge of Finnish railways is the same as Russia's, which enhances Finland's position as a trade gateway to the Russian region. However, Finland's 5,685-kilometer (3,533-mile) rail network is uneven, better serving the economically dominant southeast regions. Finland's sea communication and transport is extensive, with over 50 ports and loading places and 23 seaports open year round. Finland also has 157 airports and a state airline, Finnair. International air service is provided through Helsinki airport.

Finland produced 75.30 billion kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity in 1998, of which fossil fuel comprised 41.62 percent, hydroelectric power 19.59 percent, nuclear power 27.59 percent, and other sources 11.2 percent. Total consumption was 79.28 billion kWh in the same year, or over 15,000 kWh per person, almost two-thirds higher than the average per capita consumption for the EU. This is due especially to the long Finnish winter and the high energy consumption of the paper and pulp industry. Finland relies on nuclear energy and imported hydrocarbons for almost 50 percent of its power, while imported fossil fuels make up the rest. Finland exported only 300 million kWh of electricity in 1998, while importing 9.55 billion kWh.

Finland's telecommunications system is cutting-edge and extensive, with 2.86 million main telephone lines in 1997 and 2,162,574 mobile cellular phones. The half-state-owned Sonera is the main telecommunications provider as of early 2000. Finland is famous for its quick adoption of cellular phone and wireless technology. About 60 percent of Finns had mobile phones in 1999, compared with 28 percent in the United States. Nokia, along with dominating domestic mobile phone sales, also supplies almost a quarter of the world's mobile-phone market. Internet connectivity is also very high, with more Internet service providers (ISPs) per person than any other country in the world. The telecommunications industry was fully deregulated by 1995, and subsequent laws have allowed telecom companies to share lines and have eased entry into the sector by eliminating the licensing requirement previously needed to construct a fixed telephone network. Phone tariffs are among the lowest in the EU.


In 2000, the balance between Finland's economic sectors was consistent with those of most OECD nations, with agriculture contributing 5 percent to the GDP, industry 32 percent, and services 63 percent. However, until the 1960s, Finland relied much more heavily on agriculture than its neighbors. It was partly the pressure of post-World-War-II reparations to the USSR that forced Finland to build and expand its industrial base. Finland's 1999 accession to the EMU has further shifted the emphasis from agriculture and has forced the end of many subsidies to farmers. In more recent times, growth in the various sectors also has set Finland apart from its neighbors and most of the OECD countries, as manufacturing (especially high-tech products) expanded more quickly than the service sector.

The U.S. Department of Commerce identifies milk production as "the backbone of the Finnish agriculture industry." In 2000, Finland produced 2.5 million units of milk, about 0.44 percent of world milk production. Dairies and egg farms produce more than Finland needs to feed itself, while Finnish meat production roughly equals consumption. Membership in the EU has deeply affected the agriculture industry; in 1996, producer prices fell more in Finland than in any other EU country. In 1997 food prices averaged 11.2 percent lower than in 1994 (prior to EU membership). Finnish producers had to reduce prices to EU levels, especially facing competition from agricultural imports of the union's members. A new focus for agriculture is research into specific enzymes and bacilli that have health and commercial use, with the raw products of the dairy and forestry industries (milk and trees) providing some of the raw material. Finland is also basically self-sufficient in meat production.

Finland's high-tech, highly productive forestry industry overlaps and links the agriculture and industry sectors. Finland has the world's highest per capita forestry production, twice that of Sweden and 3 times that of Canada. With about 70 percent of its area covered by forests at the end of the 20th century, Finland's use of its most abundant natural resource provides the materials for Finland's industrial wood-processing industries. Finland supplies 25 percent of the world's exports of printing and writing paper and 15 percent of the world's paper and paperboard exports.

From 1993 to 1998, industry's share of the GDP rose from 31.3 percent to 33.8 percent. Manufacturing dominates this sector, with output in 1999 worth FMk504.9 billion. Nokia, the cellular phone maker, has been the main engine of Finnish industrial growth in the late 1990s. In 1998, Nokia alone contributed 1 percent to Finland's 5 percent GDP growth. However, there is some concern that Nokia holds too much responsibility for the sector and the economy. It is far and away the largest firm in manufacturing, with no other company even approaching its level of production and employment. Other branches of manufacturing in general have not seen similar growth. Unlike many other developed nations, where the service industry is often the main sector for growth in employment, Finnish industry has been the biggest job creator, especially manufacturing.

In the service sector in 1997, government services make up nearly one-third of all service sector activity. Many private services, especially business and IT services, are growing at a faster rate than public services. The production of private services increased by almost 5 percent in 1997 and has been steadily growing since the mid-1990s, with telecommunications and service to businesses marking the fastest-growing sectors. However, unlike in other OECD countries, the service sector's share of the GDP and employment has not increased as quickly as manufacturing. New jobs in the service sector are mainly created by manufacturing, which outsources many of its production-related services.


Finland's severe winters; short, frost-interrupted growing seasons; and relatively scarce and acidic arable land has made agriculture a continually tough endeavor. Before the end of the 19th century, Finland was so isolated from the rest of the world that its farmers focused on grains to feed the local population. In the 1880s and 1890s, cheap grain from Russia and the Americas began to flood the market, while simultaneously, dairy products began to be in more demand domestically and abroad. Finnish farmers began to use the imported grain to feed dairy cattle and other livestock, a pattern that has persisted to the present. Arable land is nearly always combined with forests, which cover approximately 70 percent of Finland. Most farms have survived by a combination of farming and forestry. Farms in the more arable south and west focus less on forests than those in the more wooded north and east.

Productivity has increased and the number of farms has decreased since the 1960s. This is partly due to advances in agricultural technology, which required fewer people on the land, and partly to the expansion of the industry and services sectors, which have attracted people towards factories and the city. The traditional Nordic emphasis on family farming has meant that the image of the family farmer is a culturally heroic figure, which may have helped farmers resist the urge to set up huge impersonal agribusinesses . In 1999, average farm size in Finland was only 25 hectares (62 acres). The Finnish tradition of cooperative organization has meant that small farms coordinate marketing, transportation, and processing of agricultural and forestry products. Finland's desire for self-sufficiency in basic foodstuffs supported a system of subsidies for the remaining farmers, until the 1995 accession to the EU forced price equalization. Equalization meant a 50 percent or larger reduction in many producer prices. The price of a kilogram of eggs, for example, fell by over 75 percent in 1995. Finland's own budget had to try to cushion the blow, but during the first 3 years of EU membership over 10 percent of Finnish farmers gave up farming. Currently only 4 percent of the population engage in farming. Of the agricultural products exported, dairy products topped the list in 1998. Finland is a net importer of agricultural products, with a total value of agricultural exports of US$1.31 billion and imports worth US$2.3 billion in 1998.

Since the decline of other agricultural production in the past decades, forestry is now the most significant contributor to agricultural production, with a turnover in 2001 of around FMk10 billion. Due to improvements in management and harvest techniques, Finland's timber reserves have increased by over 25 percent since the 1970s. Much of its forest production goes to its industrial sector to make paper products, while a significant percentage goes to create wood products like furniture as well. Finland produces 5 percent of global forestry goods, and its printing and writing paper exports are 25 percent of world production.

Finland's fur industry dominates the world market for farm-raised foxes, accounting for over half of global fox pelt production in 1997 with revenues of US$2.55 million. Finnish mink furs also have a high reputation on international markets. Commercial fishing, once quite important to the economy, has gradually become less significant, currently accounting for only 0.1 percent of the GDP. The decline can be attributed to river pollution and dams built for hydroelectric works, which have adversely affected natural spawning habits.



Metals and engineering now constitute the largest sector of Finnish industry, with motor vehicles and machinery driving much of the growth of the late 1990s. In 1999, mechanical engineering and metals manufacturing industries employed 187,175 people, and total revenues reached around FMk123 billion.

Finland holds a leading international position in the building of icebreakers, luxury liners, and other specialized ships. The are only 2 main ship building companies, Masa Yards and its rival, Finnyards, both dominated by Norwegian companies. Masa Yards was bought by the Norwegian firm Kvaerner in 1991 and Aker Maritime, another Norwegian firm, bought 60 percent of the shares in Finnyards in 1997. Both companies have specialized in niche markets in shipbuilding, which has helped them survive in an over-saturated global market. Finland's strong pollution control and other environmental laws, plus neighboring countries' environmental concerns and support from TEKES and other research organizations, has led Finnish industry to specialize in environmental technology. Finland made US$1.45 million of environmental equipment in 2000, much of it used by Finland's own pulp and paper industry.


Finland's abundance of forestry products is the historical heart of the Finnish export industry, accounting for almost 30 percent of total exportsalthough only 2.4 percent of the GDPin 2001. There was record growth in nearly every aspect of forest industry in 2000. Total forest production increased by nearly 5 percent. Plywood production rose the fastestover 8 percent compared with the previous years, with total production of about 1.2 million cubic meters. Sawnwood production rose by nearly 5 percent in 2000 to 13.3 million cubic meters. Paper and paper-board production reached 13.5 million tons, 4.3 percent higher than in 1999. Turnover in the forest industry in 2001 was worth FMk100 billion. In 1998, forest industries employed 95,886 people. Stora-Enso, the largest group in this sector, is the second largest producer of newsprint products in the world and had revenue of over FMk75 billion in 2000.


The electronics and electro-technical equipment industry employed 63,700 people and had revenues of FMk114.6 billion in 1997, while high-tech products accounted for almost 26 percent of total export value by 1999. The majority of growth in this industry can be attributed to the mobile-phone manufacturer Nokia. Nokia originated as a pulp and paper concern but began investing its profits in high-tech research in the early 1980s and is now one of the leading mobile phone manufacturers in the world. Nokia is an example of Finnish industry's emphasis on R&D; it spent almost 9 percent of its turnover on R&D in 1999. Nokia, however, is the only high-tech company in Finland with a significant market share, unlike Sweden, which has a range of companies in competition. This means that growth in this industry is dependent on Nokia's fate, a risky situation.


The third largest industry in Finland, the chemicals industry, had a value of FMk56 billion in 1999, which was over one-tenth of the total value in Finnish manufacturing. The chemicals industry focuses on a number of core areas, including chemicals for the forest industry, agribusiness, and other industries, as well as paints, plastic products, environmental products, petro-chemicals and oil products, and most recently biotechnical products. Finland's strong environmental consciousness has fuelled not only innovation in chemicals to help the environmentFinland was the world's top producer of water treatment chemicals in 2000but also environmentally conscious business practices. In 1992 Finland joined a voluntary international program called Responsible Care, which is an environment, health, and safety initiative operating in 45 countries. Although only 12 percent of chemical firms have signed on, some of Finland's largest producers are members, meaning that over 80 percent of chemical production is covered by the initiative. Members commit themselves to continuous improvement in performance regarding environment protection, health, and safety and to open communication about activities and achievements on these issues. Some effects can be seen in the 60 percent drop in employee accident rates over the past 10 years, while emissions also fell significantly in 2000.

The recent growth of the electronics industry has spurred the production of plastic components and packaging for electronic equipment. In 1999, the chemical industry in total employed almost 39,000 people, or 9 percent of the total industrial workforce.


The Finnish food industry is a good example of how Finnish industry might grow throughout the 21st century. Finland has begun expansion into the niche market of "functional foods," researching and developing naturally-derived food additives which are deemed to have health benefits. One of the more well-known is xylitol, a sweetener derived from the birch wood chips of Finland's forests that has been shown to prevent tooth decay. Xylitol can be found in many chewing gums and as a sweetener in some medicines. The Finnish company Xyrofin is the market leader in producing xylitol; its predecessor Suomen Sokeri patented the industrial manufacturing method for xylitol in 1972. The more traditional sectors of the food and drink industry are also based on processing and refining raw materials and, in 1998, employed 40,700 people to produce a total output worth FMk49.3 billion. Meat processing accounts for over one-fifth of the total value-added sector, followed by beverages and dairy products. Russia, despite its economic troubles, is still a primary destination for food and drink exports. In 1997 Finnish food and drink industries sold Russia around 336 million euro worth of goods.


The construction industry faced a severe slump in the early 1990s. In 1994, commercial construction was less than 25 percent of what it had been in 1990. The decline in production reversed in 1997, partly due to government subsidies intended to rescue the industry. While a more recent economic boom has led to housing shortages in the Helsinki metropolitan area and a correspondingly high demand for house-building there, there is still little construction in other regions. In 1997, construction accounted for 5.1 percent of the GDP, employed 105,000 people, and produced FMk69 billion in revenues. Much of the construction work was exported to Russia, which in 1997 accounted for 25 percent of the construction industry's exports. The growth in construction is expected to continue, and there is some hope that it will spread outside of the city.



Sales volumes in trade and commerce increased 5 percent in 1997, especially the purchase of vehicles, construction materials, and household appliances. Retail , wholesale, hotels, and restaurants accounted for a little over 12 percent of the GDP in 1998. The sales industry is very concentrated, with huge supermarkets accounting for over half of all retail outlets for everyday goods. Approximately 217,000 people were employed in retail and wholesale trade in 1998. The major Finnish wholesalers and importers are Kesko Oy, SOK-chain, and Stockmann Oy. Each company also has its own retail operation, each including several department stores and separate chain stores. Kesko, a wholesale and supermarket chain, had a turnover of FMk35.6 billion in 1998, which was 8 percent of total revenues (FMk440 billion).


Transportation and communications accounted for 10.2 percent of GDP in 1998. The increase of exports and industrial production in the second half of the 1990s raised demand in land, rail, and water transport and output grew by 8 percent in 1997. Road transport dominates domestically as 93 percent of passenger traffic and 67 percent of goods transport take place on the dense network of Finnish roads. The railway sector is currently state-owned, although discussions are underway to allow other companies to use the rails for moving freight. There are currently no plans to privatize the Finnish railway company, which provides long-distance passenger transport. Shipping is important for Finland's international trade; in 1998 total shipping (imports and exports) between Finland and other countries totaled 76.59 million tons. Of that, two-thirds were shipped to other EU countries, 18 percent to Germany, and 16.4 percent to Sweden. Domestic shipping totaled 12.88 million tons, up from 11.85 million tons in 1997. Due to Finland's extremely cold winters, Finnish shipbuilding and shipping is dependent on the building and use of icebreakers. Total employment in the transport sector was 154,000 and total turnover in the same year was FMk440 billion.


Telecommunications contributed only a little over 2 percent to the GDP in 1997; however, it is the existence of a large, inexpensive, extremely sophisticated and efficient network that has enabled almost every other industry to grow. The telecommunications sector was fully opened to competition in 1995, and the government passed a series of laws to increase the flexibility of telecommunications operators sharing and trading access to infrastructure. The government also eliminated the need for operators constructing a fixed telephone network to purchase a license, although licenses are still required for mobile phone networks. High competition in this sector has kept tariffs among the lowest in Europe. Data processing services are in great demand owing not only to the Internet but also to the turn of the millennium and the adoption of the euro. The state-owned Sonera Corporation (previously Telecom Finland) and the 45 privately owned local telephone companies operating under the Finnet Group cover the majority of the telecommunications market.


Although accounting for only 3.5 percent of the GDP in 1998, financial services have been the source of fastest growth in the private services sector. Banks and other services have been recovering steadily since the recession of 1990 to 1993, and by 1998 net operating profits in the financial sector were FMk7.6 billion. Approximately 42,000 people were employed in the banking sector in 1999. A recent development, spurred by the advances in connectivity and other computer technology, is the rapid increase in Internet banking, which rose to around 1.5 million users in 1998. Merita Nordbanken was formed from the merger of the local Merita and the Swedish Nordbanken banks Together with the cooperative Okobank group and the state-owned Leonia. These 3 largest banking groups account for 87 percent of all domestic lending and 85.8 percent of deposits.


In terms of trade-orientation, Finland was almost 4 times more dependent on external trade than the United States in 1998. This outward focus of the economy rendered

Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Finland
exports Imports
1975 5.502 7.628
1980 14.150 15.635
1985 13.617 13.232
1990 26.571 27.001
1995 39.573 28.114
1998 42.104 31.364
SOURCE: International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.

it quite sensitive to disturbances in external markets. The scarcity of most natural resources (except for trees) and arable land has led to reliance on imports for raw materials. The continuing abundance of trees, plus well-developed livestock farms and a technologically advanced manufacturing base, enables the processing and exporting of imported raw materials, domestic timber and wood pulp, and machinery. The majority of its forest products go to the EU and the United States.

Finland's shared border with Russia (and previously the USSR) has had a tremendous effect on its trade practices. Finnish industry was able to supply the USSR with ships and some metalwork during World War I, but the Russian military collapse and the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 ended that relationship. After World War II, war reparations demands from the Soviets required Finland to vastly expand its industrial capacity. This necessity led to the development of a specialized Finnish industry that made icebreakers and reinforced-hull ships. After reparations were completed in 1952, Finland and the USSR continued on a barter system, with Finland mainly trading machinery and ships in exchange for oil (a resource Finland lacks).

The collapse of the USSR in the early 1990s and the Soviet-Finnish barter system was catastrophic for Finland. Trade with Russia went from 26.7 percent of Finland's external trade in 1982 to only 2.8 percent in 1992, and the number of Finnish workers supported by economic ties with Russia plunged from 230,000 in 1981 to fewer than 50,000 in 2000. Trade with Russia in 2000 was about 5 percent of external trade.

The USSR's collapse forced Finland to focus much more on exporting to the West. Demand for timber has been a somewhat risky engine of growth, but the increasing demand for high-tech goods has helped Finland to rapidly expand its high-technology sector. Finnish and general Nordic concern with environmental issues has inspired Finland to specialize in environmental pollution-monitoring equipment for domestic and exported use. In the mid-1990s, Finland also began to increase exports to Japan and other expanding Asian economies, mostly consisting of pulp and paper products. The economic troubles of the Asian economies in the later 1990s caused a mini-recession in Finnish industry, particularly in pulp and paper exports.

Finland has been able to improve its trade situation, and has consistently run a trade surplus in the past few years with an estimated trade surplus of US$10.74 billion in 1998. Electronics overtook paper as the second largest export earner in 1998, generating over 25 percent of all export revenue. Germany and Sweden are the primary suppliers of imports, followed by the United States, Finland's most important non-EU trading partner. Finland's primary export markets (in descending order) are Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.


Since 1 January 1999, the Frankfurt-based European Central Bank (ECB) has been in charge of Finnish monetary policy . The Bank of Finland still has some responsibilities, such as holding and managing Finland's official foreign-reserve assets and contributing to supervisory credit institutions. The ECB's main macroeconomic goal is to keep inflation in the euro zone below 2 percent.

In the 1980s, Finland's economy grew faster than the European average, with stable prices and relatively low unemployment. The Finnish financial market underwent rapid change. The state's role in the money market declined, and the economy became increasingly market-oriented. Foreign banks were first allowed to operate in Finland in the early 1980s and were permitted to open branch offices there in 1991.

However, the collapse of the USSR and its loss as Finland's chief trading partner was a severe blow to the Finnish economy. Following the banking and speculation crisis, the country fell into a severe recession. In the banking industry, nearly one-third of the employees were laid off.

Exchange rates: Finland
euros per US$1
Jan 2001 1.0659
2000 1.0854
1999 0.9386
1998 5.3441
1997 5.1914
1996 4.5936
Note: Amounts prior to 1999 are in markkaas (FMk) per US$1.
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].

Since its devastating recession in the first 3 years of the 1990s, Finland's economy has been steadily recovering and by early 1997, GDP had returned to pre-1990 levels. Recovery was led by Finland's export sector, which was greatly aided by the Finnish currency's de-valuation in 1991 and subsequently changing the markka to a floating exchange rate . Both actions effectively lowered the price of Finnish exports in foreign markets, which led to increased demand for them.

In 1991-92 the markka was pegged (set by the Bank of Finland in a fixed relationship) to the euro, but these limits were abandoned 2 years later, allowing the markka to float. Finland then joined the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) of the EMU in October 1996 at the central rate of 1 euro=FMk5.8066. As of 1 January 1999, the 11 EU member countries, including Finland, joined the EMU, locking together the exchange rates of the 11 currencies involved. The markka was pegged to the euro at 1 euro=FMk5.9457. In 2002 Finland will adopt the euro as its paper currency.

At the beginning of the 21st century, the economy was growing, especially in the high-technology industries. Although still saddled with debt, Finland has been attempting to reduce its deficit. However, membership in the EMU has removed the Bank of Finland's ability to set an independent currency policy, which is a major tool in debt reduction. The current government is attempting to curb public spending, but with some difficulty, partly because the left-wing parties in government resist this move and have significant popular support. High unemployment (around 10 percent in 2000) is also a major problem, which many blame on a taxes-and-benefits system that makes low-wage work less attractive than collecting unemployment benefits. Inflation has been high and increasing in recent years, especially because of rising world prices of crude oil, the depreciation of the euro in relation to the dollar, high interest rates, and housing price increases.

The Helsinki Stock Exchange (HSE) is small and remote, but EMU membership is changing this situation since the HSE is the only real euro-based stock exchange in the Nordic region. Since Sweden and Denmark do not participate in the EMU, the financial focus of the area could shift towards Helsinki. Trading almost doubled from 1997 to 1998, and the value of Finland's total stock market is 3 times the GDP, the highest ratio of stock market value to the GDP in the world.


In states with a high level of income equality and widely used welfare programs, class is difficult to identify. In Finland to some extent, it is more meaningful to look at regional or urban-rural differences. During the

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Finland 17,608 19,925 22,347 25,957 28,075
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Russia 2,555 3,654 3,463 3,668 2,138
Sweden 21,157 22,283 24,168 26,397 27,705
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.

1960s Finland experienced one of the fastest rates of rural depopulation in the western industrialized nations. Over 10 years, 600,000 people were added to the urban population, and the urbanization rate (the rate of increase of the proportion of people living in urban areas) increased from 38.4 percent in 1960 to 50.9 percent in 1970. This uneven distribution of the population has interfered with the development of infrastructure and the provision of services, and it has made the costs of services in rural and small communities much higher.

The recession of the early 1990s led to some cutbacks in Finnish social programs. On the whole, health care and housing allowances were not diminished, but unemployment pensions, spouses' pensions, conscripts' allowances, disability benefits, refunds of medical examinations, and child-care allowances were reduced.

The poorest and most marginal members of the population tended to suffer more immediately as they had the least ability to influence those making the cutbacks. Yet in the longer term, cutbacks increasingly focused on larger programs that affected more of the population, which often made the government instituting the cutbacks less popular. Public services whose employees were numerous and well organized, such as the medical profession and trade union-dominated jobs, tended to be cut the least.

The urban-rural divide is simultaneously a regional divide, with urban areas heavily concentrated in the

Distribution of Income or Consumption by Percentage Share: Finland
Lowest 10% 4.2
Lowest 20% 10.0
Second 20% 14.2
Third 20% 17.6
Fourth 20% 22.3
Highest 20% 35.8
Highest 10% 21.6
Survey year: 1991
Note: This information refers to income shares by percentiles of the population and is ranked by per capita income.
SOURCE: 2000 World Development Indicators [CD-ROM].

southern regions. In the south of Finland, overcrowding has sometimes hurt both the environment and access to social services (mostly creating waiting lists for non-emergency care), while the declining population in already sparsely inhabited areas makes it difficult to maintain even the existing economic and service facilities. However, the typical Scandinavian emphasis on social equality has ensured that nearly all inhabitants of Finland are not in a condition identifiable as poverty in terms of access to health, education, and sanitation.


For much of the post-war period, Finland had very low unemployment. The emergence of unemployment as a serious problem more or less coincides with the collapse of the USSR and the 1990s recession. Recent growth has not been able to solve the problem, especially as many of the fastest-growing businesses are in the high-technology sector and do not require as many employees as jobs of earlier eras.

The Finnish labor force was 2.53 million people in 1999, over 80 percent of whom were organized. Likewise, 80 percent of employers belong to an employers'

Household Consumption in PPP Terms
Country All Food Clothing and footwear Fuel and power a Health care b Education b Transport & Communications Other
Finland 17 4 10 4 15 7 43
United States 13 9 9 4 6 8 51
Russia 28 11 16 7 15 8 16
Sweden 17 5 12 4 14 6 41
Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.
aExcludes energy used for transport.
bIncludes government and private expenditures.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

association. The Finnish constitution protects the rights to organization, peaceful assembly, and strike, and these rights are adequately enforced by the state. The government, major employers' associations, and representatives from the Central Organization of Finnish Trade Unions (Suomen ammattiliittojen keskusjarjesto or SAK, an umbrella organization consisting of 25 trade unions and totaling 1.1 million members) meet at the national level and communicate to discuss economic and employment policy. However, coordination of this kind has not prevented disagreement, which has often led to strikes. There were 18 strikes in the fourth quarter of 1997 alone, including a firefighters' strike.

There is no specific minimum wage law, but employers are required to bargain with workers' organizations at the industry level (usually with government participation) over contracts that include a minimum wage, which has historically been more than adequate. This wage is extended to non-union workers, and if other wages rise (either due to general rises in the cost of living or due to improvements in the industry), that benefit must be passed on to even the minimum-wage workers, so their situation will keep pace with the higher-paid ones.

There is still wage inequality among the genders in the Finnish labor force, despite the existence of an equal rights act and a law mandating equal pay for equal work. In 1998 women's average earnings were 81 percent of those of men, and women still tend to be segregated in lower paying occupations. While women have individually attained leadership positions in the private and public sectors, there are disproportionately fewer women in top management jobs. Industry and finance, the labor movement, and some government ministries remain male dominated.

Legally, the workweek is set at 5 days with a maximum of 40 hours of work. In practice, this limit is usually understood as a minimum provision, and many workers enjoy even stronger benefits through effectively enforced collective bargaining agreements.


1809. Finland, a province of Sweden, is taken over by Russia.

1836-86. Finland is supposedly granted autonomous rule under the Russian tsar Alexander II, but has little real independence. Finnish joins Swedish as an official language.

1905. The Eduskunta (national parliament) is created. Universal voting rights (including women and men who hold no property) are granted.

1917-19. The Russian Empire collapses. Finland declares independence, after which civil war briefly breaks out between political factions.

1919. The Eduskunta ratifies the Finnish constitution. Finland becomes a parliamentary republic with a president as the head of state.

1932. Finland and the USSR sign a non-aggression pact.

1939. The border region of Southern Karelia is ceded to the USSR after the 15-week "Winter War."

1940. A peace treaty with the USSR ends the Winter War.

1941-44. After Germany invades Russia in 1941, Finland enters the Continuation War alongside Germany against the USSR to win back Karelia.

1944. Peace is declared, and Finland stops fighting alongside the Germans.

1944-45. Finland fights against the Germans in the Lapland War as they retreat across Finland from the Soviet front.

1946. Finland signs the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance with the USSR.

1951. Self-government is granted to the Swedish-speaking Åland Islands, formerly ruled from mainland Finland.

1970. Finland adopts a 40-hour working week.

1973. Finland signs a free-trade agreement with the European Economic Community (EEC), an international body that centralizes economic decisions and organization among its member states.

1991-93. The Soviet Union collapses, worsening an already severe recession and banking/financial crisis in Finland.

1995. Finland joins the EU, a replacement of the EEC. The new union has a more explicit political and human rights agenda in addition to the economic one. The first Green Party representatives in a European government are elected to the Eduskunta.

1999. Finland joins the EMU. All EMU member nations agree to adopt a single new currency, the euro.


Finland's aging population poses the greatest challenge for the future. Its extensive welfare and social security system will be strained by the shrinking workforce and increasing population of the elderly. A major difficulty the government faces is the political unpopularity of suggesting reductions in the welfare system. The guarantee of a certain standard of living is considered to be of primary importance to most Finns, but the question of where the money will come from to support this policy has no easy answer. The suggestion made by Finland's most right-wing political organizationsrestricting those who are eligible for benefits based on ethnic criteriais fortunately not popular. However, it is clear that significant re-structuring of the welfare system will be needed. The IMF, while praising Finland's strong recovery from its recession of 1991 to 1993, recommended several measures to anticipate and defuse the coming demographic crisis, including raising the effective retirement age of 59, altering individual pensions accounts, and reducing the length of time that unemployment benefit can be claimed. The Finnish government so far has focused on altering tax and wage structures and is more wary of reducing benefits.

Although steady economic growth reduced unemployment to some extent, Finland still faces an unemployment problem. National unemployment is still above 10 percent, and in areas of rural northern and eastern Finland it exceeds 30 percent. Since most export industries are highly automated and create relatively few jobs, it has been suggested that Finland is nearing its structural limit on unemployment. The state has been investing in education programs for adults and children to familiarize people with the Internet and computer programming and it is hoped to find a place for them in the new economy. However, public spending is expected to fall in 2001, and the government is trying to find a way to solve the unemployment problem without increasing government expenditure. Plans for lowering the income tax may be one way to encourage more participation in the labor force but cannot guarantee that the kind of workers required by the new economy will be available.

In 1995, the first Green Party representatives were elected to the Eduskunta, and their strong opposition to nuclear energy and fossil fuels poses a challenge to the government, which is looking for consensus on how to meet increasing energy demands. In the light of domestic and international environmental concerns about sustainability, pollution, and other risks associated with nuclear power, as well as dependence on exhaustible fossil fuels (which must be imported), Finland's energy system may need to be reexamined. It is unclear how the coalition government will deal with this challenge. Most attention has been given to research into sustainable energy sources, for which some funds have been allocated. Finnish businesses appear to be more sensitive to these issues than some of their European counterparts that may actually be better equipped to handle the task.

The importance of the timber industry to the economy may lead to future problems. Many current environmental reports describe commercial timber farming as destructive to Finland's ancient forests. The government and timber industry deny this claim, and they do not appear to distinguish between old-growth forestswhich are ancient and full of a diverse range of plant, animal, and insect lifeand homogenous, younger, and non-native trees that have been more recently planted. High levels of logging and clear-cutting of ancient trees and their replacement with commercially viable tree species threatens the bio-diversity of these ancient forests and poses extinction risks to local plant and animal species. Complaints by environmental groups on this issue have inspired the Finnish Ministry for the Environment to increase efforts to ease the ecological pressure on Finland's ancient forests. The timber industry, however, is highly dependent on world demand and is not as flexible in its responses as other industries. Finland's ongoing commitment to research and development in all its industries can be taken as a hopeful sign that further flexibility may come, as new industrial products are developed which can allow the industry to diversify.

Membership in the EMU has taken away Finland's ability to control the economy through interest rates and devaluation. Fiscal policy is now the main instrument of control. This situation could lead to problems, as the government has been running a budget deficit , and depends on high taxes for much of its revenue. If the EU starts to require harmonization of taxes among its members, Finland will be in great difficulty.

Although Finland has recovered well from its recessions of a decade ago, it is still in a slightly precarious position in its over-concentrated engine of growth. Specifically, Nokia alone accounts for around 65 percent of shares traded on the Helsinki Stock Exchange, and Finland is particularly sensitive to world demand of its main forest products for export. As the nation's population ages, the shift of people out of the workforce and into its pension system will strain the government's resources, which have only recently recovered from the recession. Membership in the EU gives some advantages, especially in terms of an export market but also removes some control over the economy. It is up to the Finnish state to attempt to strike a balance.


Finland has no territories or colonies.


Chemical Industry Federation of Finland. <>. Accessed April 2001.

"Economic Indicators: Spending on the Environment." OECD Observer. October 1999.

Economist Intelligence Unit. Country Profile: Finland. London: Economist Intelligence Unit, 2001.

"Finland's Struggle for Prosperity in the New World Economy." U.S. Embassy in Finland. <>. Accessed April 2001.

Finnish Food and Drink Industries' Federation. <>. Accessed April 2001.

Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. "The Forest Industry inFinland." <>. Accessed April 2001.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Virtual Finland. <>. Accessed April 2001.

Solsten, Eric, and Sandra W. Meditz. Finland: A Country Study. Area Handbook Series, Federal Research Division, Library of Congress, 1990.

Statistics Finland. "Finland in Figures." <>. Accessed April 2001.

United Nations Development Programme. Human Development Report. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. World Factbook 2000. <>. Accessed April 2001.

U.S. Department of Commerce. National Trade Databank. <>. Accessed April 2001.

Larisa Mann




The markka (FMk or FIM) or finnmark. One markka equals 100 penni. Banknotes come in denominations of FMk20, 50, 100, 500, and 1000. There are 1, 5, and 10 markka coins, and 1, 10, and 50 penni coins. The markka will remain in circulation until 28 February 2002, when it will be completely replaced by the new European currency, the euro. The exchange rate for the euro is 1 euro=5.94573 markka.


Machinery and equipment, chemicals, metals, timber, paper, pulp.


Foodstuffs, petroleum and petroleum products, chemicals, transport equipment, iron and steel, machinery, textile yarn and fabrics, fodder grains.


US$108.6 billion (purchasing power parity, 1999 est.).


Exports: US$43 billion (1998 est.). Imports: US$30.7 billion (1998 est.).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Finland." Worldmark Encyclopedia of National Economies. . 9 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Finland." Worldmark Encyclopedia of National Economies. . (July 9, 2018).

"Finland." Worldmark Encyclopedia of National Economies. . Retrieved July 09, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.



Basic Data
Official Country Name: Republic of Finland
Region: Europe
Population: 5,167,486
Language(s): Finnish, Swedish, Lapp, Russian
Literacy Rate: 100%
Academic Year: September-May
Number of Primary Schools: 3,766
Compulsory Schooling: 9 years
Public Expenditure on Education: 7.5%
Foreign Students in National Universities: 3,829
Libraries: 1,202
Educational Enrollment: Primary: 380,932
  Secondary: 469,933
  Higher: 226,458
Educational Enrollment Rate: Primary: 99%
  Secondary: 118%
  Higher: 74%
Teachers: Primary: 21,459
Student-Teacher Ratio: Primary: 18:1
Female Enrollment Rate: Primary: 99%
  Secondary: 125%
  Higher: 80%

History & Background

Until the early twentieth century, Finland was part of Sweden or Russia. In 1155, the first missionaries arrived in Finland from Sweden. Sweden ruled Finland from the twelfth to the nineteenth centuries. Russia ruled Finland from 1809 to 1917, when Finland finally won its independence.

The political and social character of the Finnish people has been shaped by their relationships with Sweden, Russia, and, in the twentieth century, the Soviet Union and the West. Under Swedish rule, the Swedish language was the official language, and much of the administration of the country was directed from Sweden and carried out by Swedes. Finland moved from Swedish to Russian control as a part of a deal struck between Napoleon of France and Czar Alexander I of Russia in an effort to complete Napoleon's blockage of England (1809). In the process, Russian troops occupied Finland (Jakobson 1998).

In an important way, this was the beginning of Finnish independence. As a Grand Duchy of the Czar, Finland was given its own administration headed by a senate. "As grand duke of Finland, the Russian Czar, an autocrat with absolute power in the rest of his empire, accepted the role of constitutional monarch" in Finland (Jakobson 1998). Thus began Finnish self-rule.

Along with self-rule, the Finnish language became the language of the government, furthering a sense of Finish identity. In 1835, Kalevala, the Finnish national epic, was published. This collection of Finnish folk poems, compiled and edited by Elias Lönnrot, played an important role in the development of the Finnish language and, more generally, of Finnish culture. This epic poem brought a small, unknown people to the attention of other Europeans. Within the Grand Duchy of Finland, the Kalevala bolstered self-confidence. These factors furthered faith in the possibility of an independent Finland, complete with a Finnish language and culture.

Finland declared its independence from Russia on December 6, 1917, though there were Russian troops in Finland. At the end of December 1917, Lenin recognized Finnish independence. The new state was also recognized by France, Germany, and Sweden. Thus began a long period of a complex and sometimes stormy relationship with the USSR.

With the encouragement of the Bolsheviks, a group of Finns broke from the "Red Guard" and engaged the "White Army" led by General Mannerhein. About 30,000 Finns lost their lives on both sides of the civil war that lasted from January to May 1918. The White Army forces won the day. In 1919 the present constitution was adopted, and Finland became a republic with a president as head of state. The legislative branch of government has a unicameral parliament or Eduskunta of 200 seats; members are elected by popular vote on a proportional basis to serve 4 year terms. A supreme court or Korkein Oikeus heads the judicial branch. The president appoints the Korkein Oikeus judges.

In the winter of 1939-1940, the Soviet Union attacked Finland, and the Winter War was fought. While the Finns did not defeat the USSR, they managed to hold them off and won wide respect in Europe and the world for their efforts. It is not exactly correct to say that Finland was the only country to fight on both sides during the Second World War. Finland was a co-belligerent with Germany against the USSR. Finland signed a peace agreement with the Soviet Union in the summer of 1944, and ceded some territory to the Soviet Union, but was never occupied by Soviet troops. Finnish independence and sovereignty were preserved.

After the war, the government of Finland walked a fine line between the two camps of the "Cold War." On the one hand, Finland refused to accept an American offer to participate in the Marshall plan, developed a trade relationship with the Soviet Union, and paid off its war debt to the USSR. On the other hand, Finland worked towards becoming a member of the European Union, succeeding in 1995.

Political, Social, & Cultural Bases: Finland's official name is Republic of Finland (Suomen Tasavalta ). Its short local form is Suomi. The population of Finland is approximately 5.2 million. It is the sixth largest country in Europe in area, with a low population density of 17 persons per square kilometer. Most Finns, some 65 percent of the population, now live in urban areas, while 35 percent of Finns live in a rural environment. Metropolitan Helsinki is composed of three cities: Helsinki, the capital, with a population 551,000; Espoo, with a population of 210,000; and Vantaa, with a population of 176,000. These urban centers are home to roughly one-sixth of the country's total population. Other important cities include Tampere (193,000), Turku (172,000), and Oulu (118,000).

The Finnish language is a member of the Finno-Ugric linguistic family that includes, in one branch, Finnish, Estonian, and a number of other Finnic tongues; and, in the other, Hungarian, by far the biggest language of the Ugric group. An indigenous minority language is Sami, spoken by the Sami people (also known as Lapps) of Lapland.

The number of foreign citizens living permanently in Finland was about 85,000 in 1999. The biggest groups were from the neighboring countries of Russia, Estonia, and Sweden. The Finnish currency is the markka.

Lutherans constitute 86 percent of the population, with 1 percent of the population professing the Finnish Orthodox religion. Sweden, Norway, and Russia border Finland. Forests cover 68 percent of Finland, while 10 percent is water (188,000 lakes). Cultivated land constitutes 8 percent of Finnish territory with 14 percent listed as "other." The official languages of the country are Finnish (92.6 percent), Swedish (5.7 percent), and other (1.7 percent). This latter figure is consistent with the percentage of foreign residents in Finland (1.7 percent in 1999). There are 2.5 million workers in the labor force (53 percent male and 47 percent female). The service industry comprises 64 percent of the labor force, with industry and construction making up 28 percent, and agriculture and farming making up the final 8 percent. Finnish exports are led by metal and engineering (43 percent), followed by paper (39 percent), with chemical, textiles, and clothing making up the final 18 percent. Finland's main trading partners are Germany, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. (Havén 1999)

Since 1917 Finland has been a sovereign parliamentary republic with a separately elected president. The president's term is six years. Two hundred members of parliament are elected for four-year terms. The voting age is 18 and is universal. The major political parties in Finland are the Social Democrats, Center Party of Finland, National Coalition Party, Left Alliance, Green League, Swedish People's Party of Finland, and Christian League of Finland. As of the March 1999 election, women held 37 percent of the seats in parliament, the largest female percentage in the European Union. For administrative purposes the country is divided into six provinces (laanit ): Aland, Etela-Suomen Laani, Ita-Suomen Laani, Lansi-Suomen Laani, Lappi, and Oulun Laani.

Geographically, Finland is in the far north of Europe. This means that the southern tip of Finland has 19 hours of sun in the summer and 6 hours of sun in the winter. In the northernmost parts of the country, on the other hand, the sun does not rise for about six weeks in winter and does not set for about two months in summer. Despite its northern location, the Baltic Sea warms the south of the country so that both summer and winter temperatures are moderate.

Health care in Finland is under the guidance of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. While the ministry sets board guidelines and supervises the implementation of programs, the delivery of health services lies with the approximately 450 local municipal authorities. These authorities provide services independently or in cooperation with neighboring municipalities in joint municipal boards set up in a joint health center. Health services are funded with national and local taxes with around 10 percent of costs covered by the patient. Life expectancy at birth is 77.41 years for the total population. For males it is 73.74 years, while females have a life expectancy of 81.2 years.

There are 56 weekly newspapers (published 4 to 7 times a week) and 158 weekly newspapers (published from 1 to 3 times a week). The total circulation of all newspapers is 3.3 million. The Finnish Broadcasting Company, Oy Yleiradio Ab (YLE), is the biggest national radio and television provider. YLE is a noncommercial public service broadcaster that operates two television channels with full national coverage. There are 2 privately owned TV channels with national coverage and some 30 local TV stations. The only radio broadcaster with full nationwide coverage is YLE. The importance of electronic media is growing fast. Internet connections per capita in Finland were the highest in the world in 1999 with 25 Internet users per 100 inhabitants.

Constitutional & Legal Foundations

The overall responsibility for educational, scientific, and cultural policies lies with the Ministry of Education. The ministry has responsibilities beyond schools and universities, promoting education, science, culture, sports, and youth work in the country, and emphasizing their significance for the citizens and society at large.

There are two ministers at the Ministry of Education: the Minister of Education and Science is in charge of education and research and the Minister of Culture is responsible for matters relating to culture, sports, youth, copyright, student financial aid, and church affairs.

In 1922, the Ministry of Education took its current name, though many of its functions date back to the beginning of autonomy in 1809 (the Grand Duchy of Russia), when the ministry started as the Senate Department of Ecclesiastical Affairs. This name is significant as education in Finland has traditionally included religious instruction (predominately, the Evangelical Lutheran of Finland or the Orthodox Church of Finland). When Finland gained independence in 1917, the name was first changed to the Department of Ecclesiastical Affairs and Education; in 1918, the senate became the Council of State and the departments became ministries. In 1922, the name of the Ministry of Education and Ecclesiastical Affairs was shortened to the Ministry of Education.

The relationship between the state and the church needs further explanation. While the Finnish state takes a neutral role with regard to religion and churches, it takes a hands-on approach with regard to the funding of the education of clergy in university faculties of theology and with denominational instruction in elementary and secondary school. The Ministry of Education also provides for ethics education for school children that have no denominational affiliation.

The majority of education is publicly funded using a two-tiered system: the national government and the local authorities. The national government funds 57 percent of the operating expenses of the schools based on a per pupil/per lesson or unit ratio. The municipal portion of the funding follows the student, rather than staying with the school district where the student began instruction.

Educational Philosophies: The overall educational philosophy in Finland is the promotion of citizen's "well-being, cultural wealth, sustainable development and economic success" (Ministry of Education 1999). Each of the four areas for educational development have an important part in the philosophy of education. The individual well-being is listed first. The developmental plan states that all citizens have a right to appropriate education according to their level of development. Equally important is the context for individual instruction; instruction occurs for the enhancement of cultural wealth, sustainable development, and economic success. In other words, the education of the individual is seen within a social-cultural-economic context. Efforts to raise general educational standards and to promote equality should be understood within that context.

The following statement from the Basic Education Act underscores the situating of education within an individual-cultural-social-economic matrix:

The objective of basic education is to support pupils' growth toward humanity and ethical responsible membership of society, and to provide them with the knowledge and skills necessary in life. The instruction shall promote equality in society and the pupils' abilities to participate in education and to otherwise develop themselves during their lives (626/1998).

While this objective applies to compulsory basic education or comprehensive school education, it sets the tone for the philosophy of all Finnish education and is very consistent with educational objectives for upper secondary, vocational, university, and polytechnic education. For example, the objective for upper secondary schools has phrases like "balancing and civilizing individuals and members of society" and "furthering . . . the versatile development of their personal interests." The vocational objective is intended to foster "students' development into good and balanced individuals and members of society."

A statement by Jukka Sarjala, Director General of the National Board of Education, called "the school of civilization in the information society," adds another element to the overall philosophy of education in Finland. Sarjala places education in Finland within the context of ancient and Enlightenment philosophy that put goodness, beauty, and truth at the center of the civilizing function of culture and schools within the culture. Finnish education begins with the assumption drawn from the Enlightenment that we are born ignorant and become civilized through education.

The information age must be accompanied with a citizenry equipped to access and evaluate the great increase of data now available. This task requires a view of the person, the pupil, and the citizen as an active and not a passive learner (Sarjala 2001). From an administrative perspective, the national government sets the overall standards for educational outcomes, while local school authorities establish the methods and approaches to reaching those standards.

Educational SystemOverview

The Ministry of Education oversees education as schooling and as culture. Within education, the Minister of Education and Sciences oversees the schools and universities including the divisions of general education, vocational education, polytechnic, university, adult education and training, and science policy.

Compulsory Education: Basic education is required of all pupils between the ages of 7 and 16. It is free, and students can chose the school they wish to attend, including several private schools. However, most students attend a public school in their local community. If it is not possible for pupils to attend school for medical or other reasons, the municipality in which the pupil resides must provide alternate instruction that is equivalent to that of the regular school. Free transportation is provided for students who live five kilometers or more from school.

Teaching groups in basic education are organized according to forms or years. A teacher stays with one group of pupils for the year during the first six years of basic education. In the highest three forms, pupils are taught by subject area (i.e., mathematics, history, language).

Age Limits: Comprehensive, compulsory education is nine years in duration. Pupils begin school during the year that they turn 7 and end when they turn 17 or when they complete their comprehensive school syllabus, whichever comes first.

Enrollment: There were 591,700 pupils enrolled in 4,203 schools in 1998. These pupils were taught by 39,751 teachers (about a 15 to 1 pupil to teacher ratio). School sizes range from fewer than 10 to over 900 pupils. The male/female population in the comprehensive schools approximately parallels the population of the country with 48.8 percent of the school population being girls.

Academic Year: The academic year begins in late August and ends in late June. The school year is divided into autumn and spring terms, totaling 190 school days.

Language of Instruction: There are three languages of instruction in Finland: Finnish (Suomea), Swedish (Sverge), and Lapp (Sámi). Each school has its own language of instruction, and native speakers attend the school consistent with their language. The national matriculation examinations are also set up to honor the three language groups within Finland.

Examination: National matriculation examinations take place twice a year in the spring and autumn and are held in all upper secondary schools. The first national matriculation examination took place in 1852 under the Grand Duchy of Russia. Today it is a school leaving examination intended to test what was taught in the upper secondary schools. There are no national examinations required to get into basic education schools or lower secondary schools.

Candidates must take four compulsory tests: the mother tongue test, the second official language test, the foreign language test, and either the mathematics test or the general studies test. Each test is arranged at two different levels according to difficulty. While the tests are organized according to the curriculum the pupil takes, the student may chose either level of the examination regardless of their preparation. The head of the upper secondary school will check to see whether the candidate fulfills the requirements laid down to participate in the examination and tests that are part of it. Three of the four required subject tests can be taken at the lower level and passed, but at least one must be taken and passed at an upper level. Students who do not pass a test may retake it in the examination period immediately following the compulsory examination that he or she failed.

The original purpose of the examination was to determine admission to the University of Helsinki. Today, the purpose of the examination is to determine if pupils have the knowledge and skills of the upper secondary school curriculum. If a student passes the examination, they may continue to university studies. The test is in two parts, compulsory and optional. The grades and points for the examinations are as follows: laudatur (7), eximia cum laude approbatur (6), magna cum laude approbatur (5), cum laude approbatur (4), lubenter approbatur (3), approbatur (2), and improbatur (0).

Private Schools: The only private schools in Finland are preprimary (for children between three and six years of age). There were 12,000 private preprimary schools and 105,200 municipal preprimary schools in 1998. Another 7,400 preprimary schools are located within comprehensive schools.

Religious Schools: Religion is a part of the curriculum in Finnish schools. All students take classes in Lutheran or Orthodox studies with the exception of those students who are not affiliated with those two major religious groups. Those students who practice other religions or who profess no religion are required to take a life philosophy course to replace religious instruction.

Instructional Technology (Computers): In 1995 the government issued a plan called Education, Training, and Research in an Information Society. The purpose of this effort was to promote national competitiveness and employment and to explore ways to provide wide access to these technologies by identifying the means for giving citizens basic skills in using information and communication technologies (Ministry of Education 1999). The Ministry of Education funded this project, which was monitored and evaluated by the Information Strategies Group of the ministry and the Finnish National Fund for Research and Development. Most of the grants in this project went to equipment acquisition and network building in educational establishments, universities, libraries, and archives.

The goal for Finnish education with regards to technology and development are ambitious. "Education, Training and Research in Information Society: A National Strategy for 2000-2004" states:

By the year 2004, Finland will be a leading interactive knowledge society. Success will be based on citizens' equal opportunities to study and develop their own intellectual capacity and extensively utilize information resources and educational services. A high-quality, ethically and economically sustainable mode of operation in network-based teaching and research will have been established (Ministry of Education 2001).

TextbooksPublication & Adoption: Textbooks are adopted on a national basis through the National Board of Education with consultation with experts and classroom and subject matter teachers.

Audiovisuals: Finnish schools are very current in terms of the use of audiovisual material and have a major project underway to make Finland among the leaders in Internet use in classrooms and in the larger society.

CurriculumDevelopment: Curriculum development is overseen and directed by the National Board of Education within the Ministry of Education. Curriculum development for comprehensive schools is usually a part of a national strategy. Curriculum formulation and implementation is based on long-term commitments and comprehensive planning, often including more that one ministry. The curriculum is locally implemented based on teacher training and supported by research and evaluation.

Foreign Influences on Educational System: Sweden and Russia have traditionally influenced Finnish education. Since about the middle of the twentieth century, Finnish education has looked to best practices all around the world with special attention paid to the Baltic states (especially after the demise of the Soviet Union). There are various Baltic country efforts concerning education including a project of environmental education. In the information society national strategy, specific references are made to policies and initiatives in the United States, Japan, and the European Union, with special reference to Denmark and Sweden. In many matters relating to research and education, Finland has been very active in learning from and providing leadership within the European Union.

Role of Education in Development: Finland has a developmental plan for education and university research set up in five year cycles. "Education and research form a vital part of the Finnish strategy for promoting citizens' well-being, cultural wealth, sustainable development, and economic success" (Ministry of Education 2001). Finnish education is guided by a commitment to high quality equal opportunities for school and universitybased education as well as a commitment to lifelong learning. Educational research is guided by a commitment to research ethics and a balance between basic and applied research. The education ministry sees this approach as leading to economic development. The development plan looks to provide basic security in education, lifelong learning, a mutual relationship between education and employment, the globalization of everyday life, diverse language programs, information accessing strategies, and quality through evaluation.

Preprimary & Primary Education

General Survey: Preprimary and primary education has two major divisions, preprimary and comprehensive schools. In 1998, there were 124,600 preprimary pupils attending programs in municipal and private schools, as well as preprimary education programs held at comprehensive school. These programs are not officially a part of the Finnish education system, but plans are underway to reform preprimary education.

The classification of schooling into primary and secondary schools does not fit the Finnish model. Finns distinguish between compulsory schooling and upper secondary schooling. The compulsory schooling is divided into two parts: primary school and lower secondary school. Primary schooling begins the year the student turns seven years old and is provided at no cost to the pupil. There are no admission requirements for primary school. Instruction is arranged in schools near the pupil's home. There are about 4,200 comprehensive schools throughout the country with about 380,000 pupils. The comprehensive schools are organized in forms or total class instruction units. Primary school goes from form one through form six.

There are three additional years of comprehensive education but this part of the child's education is completed in what the Finns call lower secondary school (grades seven to nine). Lower secondary pupils study in subject area classrooms rather than in forms or age-based classes. Students in lower secondary school can take an extra tenth year of schooling to satisfactorily complete their curriculum. Pupils are required to complete the curriculum in order to complete their compulsory education.

CurriculumExaminations: The government determines broad national objectives and the allocation of teaching time. The National Board of Education decides on the objectives and core content of instruction. Within these parameters, the local educational authorities and individual teachers prepare the basic local curriculum. Pupils in the primary schools and lower secondary schools study their mother tongue and literature (Finnish or other national language), foreign language (beginning at the third form), environmental studies, civics, religion or ethics, history, social studies, mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, geography, physical education, music visual arts, crafts, and home economics. Language instruction accounts for about one-third of instructional time in comprehensive schools. Science and mathematics makes up another third of instructional time. Instruction in the social sciences and the humanities comprise about 12 percent of instructional time. The remaining instructional time is divided among art, physical education, and other courses, including religion or ethics.

Local schools and teachers determine the granting of the final certificate upon acceptable completion of the syllabus for the comprehensive school. There is no national testing for completion of compulsory education. Pupils rarely interrupt or repeat a form. Almost all Finnish children complete comprehensive school. In 1996, some 99.7 percent of pupils finished comprehensive school. Finland has the highest percentage of pupils completing compulsory education in the world.

Urban & Rural Schools: Accessibility of schools is, on the average, good even though Finland has a low population density. More than 80 percent of comprehensive school pupils live less than five kilometers from their school. In northern Finland, the distance pupils have to travel to comprehensive school increases to between 50 and 75 kilometers. Pupils may have to travel as far as 100 kilometers to lower and upper secondary schools. Only a fifth of all pupils live in rural areas so the number of students who travel any distance to school is limited. Transportation is provided for all pupils living over five kilometers from their school.

Teachers: Comprehensive schoolteachers are required to obtain a master's of education degree. Only 10 percent of applications to teaching positions in the comprehensive schools are accepted because of the stringent selection criteria. Teachers salaries range from US$15,000 to US$25,600 (Nelson 1994).

Secondary Education

General Survey: Finnish education has two tracks for secondary education: general upper secondary education and vocational education and training. Both tracks are for students from 16 to 19 years of age. The number of students enrolled in upper secondary schools in 1999 was 111,328.

The general upper secondary education schools are for students who plan to attend university. The vocational education and training schools are for students who are transitioning to the workplace upon completion of their secondary education. Students in both tracks may take the national matriculation examination and attend university if their scores are competitive.

The objective of general upper secondary education is to promote the development of students into good, balanced and civilized individuals and members of society and to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary in further studies, working life, personal interests and the versatile development of their personality. Moreover, the education shall support the students' opportunity for lifelong learning and self-development during their lives. (Upper Secondary Schools Act 629/1998)

There are about 250 students in the average upper secondary school. Admission is based on completion of comprehensive school with students selected based on their previous study record. Students progress through their studies at their own pace within the context of a three-year curriculum. About half of the students complete upper secondary school.

CurriculumExaminations & Diplomas: The curriculum is divided into compulsory, specialized, and applied courses. The curriculum in the upper secondary schools consists of 38 lessons organized around the following subjects: mother tongue and literature (Finnish or other national language), foreign language, a second foreign language, environmental studies, civics, religion or ethics, history, social studies, mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, geography, physical education, music, visual arts, crafts, and home economics. Language instruction accounts for less than one-third of instructional time in comprehensive schools. Science and mathematics in the upper secondary schools constitute somewhat more than one-third of instructional time. This is a slight modification of instructional time in comprehensive schools. Instruction in the social sciences and humanities comprises about 18 percent of instructional time. The remaining 16 percent of instructional time is divided among art, physical education, and other courses, including religion or ethics.

The National Board of Education is responsible for the core objectives and the overall curriculum. Within these guidelines, the schools prepare a local curriculum. The matriculation examination is developed nationally with a centralized body to check examinations according to uniform criteria. Students are tested in four compulsory areas: Mother tongue, the other national language, a foreign language, and either mathematics or general studies. Students may chose to complete the examinations in three separate or one continuous examination period.

Teachers: Teachers in secondary schools are required to obtain a master's degree in the subject matter in which they will be teaching. There are 6,491 teachers in 447 secondary schools.

Vocational Education: Vocational training is largely conducted within vocational schools but efforts are underway to increase the number of apprenticeships to 10 percent of all enrollees. By law, local authorities have to maintain one place in vocational education for every 1,000 inhabitants. Around 45 percent of students between 16 and 19 years of age attend vocational schools. Local and national governments mutually fund the vocational institutes.

The training programs for vocational education are built on the comprehensive school curriculum. The curriculum consists of 120 credits: 20 credits of on the job learning, 90 credits of core subjects, and 10 credits chosen by the student. The core subjects are Finnish, Swedish, mathematics, physics and chemistry, social, business and labor-market subjects, physical and health education, and art and culture. Graduates from these programs may apply for admission to polytechnics or universities. Teachers in the vocational program usually have a master's degree or a polytechnic degree, three years of work experience in the field, and 35 credits in pedagogy.

The objective of initial vocational education is to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary for acquiring vocational expertise and with capabilities for self-employment. The further objectives of the education are to promote the students' development into good and balanced individuals and members of society, to provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary in further studies, personal interests and the versatile development of personality, and to promote lifelong learning. (Vocational Education Act 630 1998)

In order to attend vocation schools, one must have completed the comprehensive school syllabus. Admission is generally based on comprehensive school performance, but students may arrange to take aptitude tests, and the applicants' work experience may also be considered. The program is generally three years long. On completion of the program, students may take the national matriculation examination and pursue their education at either a university or polytechnic. There were about 122,000 students enrolled in vocational schools in 2000.

Adult Education: More than 1 million Finns participate in some type of adult education, accounting for about 10 million classroom hours. This education is arranged by universities, polytechnics, vocational institutions, adult education centers and summer universities, adult upper secondary schools, study centers, sports institutes, and music institutes. There are also options for on-line courses and distance learning. Generally, adults engage in further education that is related to their employment. Courses allow adults to upgrade and update their employment-related knowledge and skills; however, this is not the only type of course adults take. Many adults are also interested in self-improvement and take courses in social studies and civic education.

Higher Education

There are two types of higher education institutions in Finland: universities and polytechnics (AMK institutions or ammattkorkeakoulut ). There were 29 polytechnics as of fall 2000. There are 20 universities in Finland.

Polytechnics: Polytechnics provide instruction for expert functioning in the following areas: national resources, technology and communication, business and administration, tourism, catering and institutional management, health care, and social services among others. Lecturers are required to have a master's degree and principle lecturers need an academic postgraduate degree. Local and national governments fund the polytechnics (43 percent and 57 percent, respectively).

There are 3,118 full-time teachers and 1,261 part-time teachers in the polytechnics. Tourism, catering and institutional management, culture, natural resources, humanities, education in technology and communications, business and administration, health care, and social services follow the three largest enrollments. All degree programs have 20 credits (half of an academic year) in onthe-job training.

Universities: Universities offer bachelor's, master's, licentiate, and doctorates. Students generally complete a bachelor's degree in three years and a master's degree in five years. In cooperation with the Ministry of Education, each university conducts a three-year assessment to target outcomes for its overall operating principles.

The purpose of universities is to promote independent research and scientific and artistic education, to provide instruction of the highest level based on research, and to raise the young to serve the fatherland and humankind. Universities shall arrange their operations in order for research, education and instruction to achieve high international standards, by observing ethical principles and good scientific practices. (University Act 645 1997)

Here is a list of universities in Finland: Abo Akademi University, HSme Polytechnic, Helsinki Business Polytechnic, Helsinki School of Economics, Helsinki University of Technology, Lahti Polytechnic, Lappeenranta University of Technology, Oulu Institute of Technology, Satakunta Polytechnic, Sibelius Academy, Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration (Finland), Tampere Institute of Technology, Tampere University of Technology, University of Art and Design Helsinki, University of Helsinki, University of Joensuu, University of JyvSskylS, University of Kuopio, University of Oulu, University of Tampere, University of Turku, and University of Vaasa.

The University of Helsinki is the oldest and largest university in the country. By a strange quirk of history, the University of Helsinki began as the "Academy of Turku." Turku was the former capital of Finland but when Finland was annexed to the Russian Empire in 1809, Helsinki became the capital, and in 1827, the university was transferred to Helsinki and then named Imperial Alexander University. There are about 33,000 students at the University of Helsinki. There are 3,063 teachers and researchers and 2,204 docents.

All universities in Finland are public. Ten of the universities are multidisciplinary, four are arts academies, three are schools of economics and business, and three are universities of technology. There is also a military academy, the National Defense College, that offers a degree in the military field.

Admission Procedures: Each university sets admission criteria and student selection procedures. University admission is highly competitive and annual intake quotas limit enrollment. Students must have completed and passed their matriculation examination. Additionally, various entrance examinations are included in the selection process.

The number of openings in all universities is limited to about one-third of the students of university age. The number of applications each year is around 66,000 and about 23,000 students are admitted.

Administration: University administration is independently organized under the University Act and Statute, 1997, 1998. Universities enjoy legal autonomy and can decide their own research and teaching policies. The highest official at the university is the chancellor. Decision-making is under the guidance of the senate made up of the rector, the first vice rector, one professor from each faculty, three other teachers and researchers, and seven students, one of whom must be a postgraduate. The dean and faculty councils are in charge of the faculties. The faculty elects both the dean and the vice-dean.

Enrollment: The number of undergraduates is about 128,000. Additionally there are approximately 19,000 post-baccalaureate students. In 1998, the universities graduated 16,500 students.

Teaching Styles & Techniques: There has been a move in recent years to shift instruction towards a more student-oriented direction by developing interactive, discussion friendly learning environments. There are large lecture classes and smaller discussion classes and seminars. University teaching aims at developing a critical mind, gaining and contributing to knowledge within a bilingual and multicultural perspective.

Finance (Tuition Costs): All education in Finland is tax supported. Students pay no tuition and receive free teaching material. Universities receive 1,131,000 Euros annually from the national government.

Courses, Semesters, & Diplomas: One hundred twenty credits are required for a bachelor's degree, while 160-180 credits are required for a master's degree. It takes an additional 6.5 years to complete a master's degree, with 4 additional years required for a doctorate. The academic year consists of two terms: the fall term running from August 1 to December 31 and the spring term running from January 1 to July 31. Christmas vacation lasts 20 days, 10 before and 10 after Christmas.

Degrees are awarded in natural sciences, humanities, industrial arts, sports sciences, theology, social sciences, business administration, psychology education, agriculture and forestry, health care, musicology, theatre, and dance. A bachelor's thesis is required. No lower degrees in medicine, engineering, or defense are offered. There is both a lower and upper degree in law.

Professional Education: Professional education is offered in medicine, dentistry, and veterinary medicine. The universities of Helsinki, Kuopio, Oulu, Tampere, and Turku have medical faculties. Basic medical education takes at least six years and leads to the degree of licentiate in medicine. In these fields, one first earns a practice degree or licentiate (between 200 and 250 credits) and then may continue to a doctorate that involves more course-work and the writing of a dissertation. Eighteen percent of physicians in Finland have taken the degree of doctor of medicine.

Postgraduate Training: After completing a bachelor's degree, students may pursue a master's degree, then a licentiate, and then a doctorate. All of the 10 multidisciplinary universities offer advanced degrees. In 1997, a total of 1,790 advanced research degree were awarded: 860 licentiates and 930 doctorates. About 40 percent of doctorates in Finland are awarded to women, while over half of all degrees go to women.

Foreign Students: There are about 8,000 international students studying at universities in Finland. The Finnish government does not assist foreign students. Admission to university by foreign students is the same as that for Finnish students with the individual universities establishing the selection criteria for admission. National health services are available to foreign students who also receive special concession for travel by air, road, and rail.

Students Abroad: Finnish students who study abroad are given a stipend to support themselves. The tuition of the host institution is paid for by the national government. Students (usually postgraduate students) submit applications to study abroad. Trying to receive these grants is highly competitive, and successful applications depend both on national priorities and student abilities.

Role of Libraries: The role of both university and individual faculty libraries is at the heart of education. University libraries in Finland work towards integrated and electronically-assessable collections. While printed material remains central to libraries, the integration of print and electronic materials is essential to keeping current in the various disciplines. This process will require increased cooperation within a single university as well as between universities.

Administration, Finance, & Educational Research

The Finnish parliament sets the broad educational agenda, fixes the general principles of educational policies, and frames educational legislation. The government, Ministry of Education, and National Board of Education are responsible for the implementation of policy at the central administrative level. The Ministry of Education takes a big picture approach to education. Its areas of responsibility include education, research, culture, youth affairs, ecclesiastical affairs, and sports, as well as copyright issues.

The National Board of Education (NBE) is the educational action arm of the Ministry of Education with responsibility for the development of educational objectives, content, and methods used in basic, general upper secondary, vocational, and adult education and training. It is also the board's responsibility to prepare and adapt the core curriculum for the schools and to the Finnish education system (not including universities and polytechnics).

The NBE has three main areas of operation: development of education, evaluation of education, and support services. The board has about 300 experts in different fields with a budget of approximately US$20 million, of which 10 percent is covered by sales activities. In addition, NBE uses national and international development funding of about US$200 million.

NBE supplies development, evaluation, and information services regarding education to managers of schools, teachers, policymakers, and employers. NBE works to support national education policy, to cooperate internationally, and to interact broadly and extensively with national interest groups in a client-oriented way. Its goal is to positively affect education and the Finnish economy.

Educational Budgets: The budget for the year 2000 for all areas of education was 4,696 million Euros. This includes expenditures for both the Ministry of Education (3,583 million Euros) and the Ministry of Culture (1,079 million Euros). The education budget makes up 14 percent of all public expenditures: early childhood education is 9.2 percent, primary education is 22.7 percent, secondary education is 36.9 percent, and tertiary education is 26.2 percent. This expenditure was 6.4 percent of the gross national product in 1996.

National Education Organizations: Among the national educational organizations in Finland are teachers' organizations, student associations, research institutions, developmental centers, and national boards. The teachers' organizations include the Trade Union of Education, Association of Kindergarten Teachers, Trade Union of Adult Educators, Federation of Adult Educators, Federation of Physical Education Teachers, and Science Teachers' Association. There is one national upper secondary school organization, the national school students' organization.

There are 22 research institutions, development centers, and national boards. The Academy of Finland is one of the key national educational organizations. It is an expert organization for research funding. The academy seeks to enhance the quality and reputation of Finnish basic research by funding projects on a competitive basis, by systematic evaluation, and by influencing scientific policy. The academy's operations cover all scientific disciplines, from archaeology to space research and from cell biology and psychology to electronics and environmental research. It operates within the administrative sector of the Ministry of Education.

Educational Research: One of the major research efforts underway was established by the National Strategy for Education, Training and Research in the Information Society (1995). An expert committee was set up to develop a strategy accessing effective utilization of information technology by the society as a whole. It was believed national competitiveness and employment would increase if these strategies were effective. To this end, proposals were made to increase the availability and use of information and to assess the needs and identify the means for giving citizens basic skills in using information and communication technologies. This research agenda falls within the national vision that states "Finnish society will develop and utilize the opportunities inherent in the information society to improve quality of life, knowledge, international competitiveness and interaction in an exemplary versatile and sustainable way" (Ministry of Education 2001).

An action research agenda has been established as a part of the information society efforts for 2001 to 2004. The following amounts have been set aside to research this goal: 7.5 million Euros for information skills for all, 6 million Euros for network as a learning environment, 3.3 million Euros for accumulating digital information capital, and 9 million Eros for strengthening information society structures in education, training, and research.

Additional research goes on in universities and polytechnics that are largely under the direction of university internal strategies. Other smaller projects are also funded and supported by the Ministry of Education and the National Board of Education.

Nonformal Education

Adult Education: Adult education is available through universities and polytechnics, public and private institutions, adult education centers, and summer universities. Adult upper secondary schools, study centers and institutes, sports centers, and music institutes also offer adult education programs. In-service training, outside the normal educational institutions, provided by employers, is the most common form of adult education.

Continuing adult education is a response to the changing economic situation that includes increased competition, information technology, and internationalization. To remain competitive, the Finnish government recognized a need for lifelong learning among all its citizens. About 10 million classroom hours are devoted to adult education each year for about 1 million adults.

Face-to-face education is generally provided in the evenings and on weekends. Online courses are also available for adult education, often making use of workplace resources, but are also available in the evenings at home via personal computers.

Open Universities: Open university courses, as opposed to adult education, are generally for credit and may apply to the completion of an upper secondary school degree or to a university degree. Admission is dependent on the studentin other words, there are no admission standards to begin the program. However, the same standards apply to course evaluation and program completion as for courses taken at regular upper secondary schools, universities, or polytechnics.

Universities and polytechnics offer programs for non-degree and degree-seeking students through the open university. The open university system is widespread and easily accessible to all potential students. Students do not receive support in terms of transportation allowances or other student subsidies but part time open university students may continue eligibility for unemployment.

The open university allows students to complete their upper secondary school education by taking evening and weekend classes. Students may also work toward a university degree through open university or just take classes in their areas of interest. Some open university classes are offered over the Internet.

Teaching Profession

Training & Qualifications: Universities provide teacher education. Classroom teachers (loukanopettaja ) who teach most of the subjects at the lower stages of comprehensive schools must have a master's degree in education, which is called maisteri. The degree amounts to 160 credits and studies take 5 years including practical training.

The education for subject teachers (who teach different subjects at the higher stages, beginning with lower elementary schools and including upper secondary schools) occurs at universities in respective faculties. These teachers must obtain a master's degree in a given field. It takes 5 years of study and amounts to 160-180 credits, including practical training. Teachers at vocational institutions have either a vocational diploma or a university degree. They complete their pedagogical training and teaching practice at vocational training colleges.

Salaries: Teachers' salaries start at US$16,500. The maximum salary is US$25,500. These salaries are for teachers who were prepared after legislation was passed requiring all teachers to have a master's degree before they can teach.


General Assessment: Finland has a strong, inclusive, and in many ways "cutting edge" educational system. The compulsory education (ages 7 to 16) has the highest completion rate in the world. The upper secondary and vocational programs for 16 to 19 year old students provides education and access to over 75 percent of children this age. Finnish universities are internationally recognized for their quality.

Finland has a high percentage of citizens, including compulsory school pupils and secondary students, with access to computers and the Internet. The government, under the Ministry of Education, has initiated a research project to insure equitable access to technology for all Finns. This is one strong indication of the government's commitment to an equitable quality education.

International Programs: Finland is very involved with the European Community, the Baltic states, and the Nordic countries. Among other projects, the Baltic states are involved in an environmental project involving primary school pupils working to improve environmental conditions of the waters that connect the Baltic states. Individual Finnish schools are involved in many international educational programs, one of which is "Philosophy for Children."

Needs for ChangesFuture: Most Finns see themselves not only as citizens of Finland and of Europe, but also as citizens of the world. This outward looking view is expressed in educational goal statements at all levels of education. Finland will continue to improve its educational policies and practices within that local and international perspective.

One of the hallmarks of Finnish education is its willingness to state its values clearly and boldly. The objectives developed by the National Board of Education list the goals of citizenship, full personal development, participation in culture, and involvement in Finnish, European, and world affairs as essential for an educated person. This approach to full human development and internationalism sets a high standard for citizens and educational institutions.

Finns also value equality of access to national resources, especially education. As the Internet is seen as one of the tools that will enhance education in the near future, access to it is now actively under study. The Finnish government and educational establishments are very concerned about the potential disparity of access to the World Wide Web. A three-year research program was underway in 2000 to assess the extent of that disparity and figure out possible solutions to narrow that gap. This project is a strong indicator of the way that the Finnish educational establishment works at self-improvement and towards the goal of an educated citizenry who will be able to function effectively in the twenty-first century.


Havén, Heikki (ed.), Education in Finland. Statistics and Indicators. SVT Education 1999: 4. Helsinki: Statistics Finland, 1999.

Jakobson, M. Finland in the New Europe. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, 1998.

Ministry of Education. Education: Development Plan for Education and University Research for 19952000. Helsinki: Ministry of Education, 1996.

. Education, Training, and Research in the Information Society: A National Strategy. Ministry of Education, 1995.

. Higher Education Policy in Finland. Helsinki: Ministry of Education, 1998.

National Board of Education. Framework Curriculum for the Comprehensive School 1994. Helsinki: National Board of Education, 1994.

. Framework Curriculum for the Senior Secondary School 1994. Helsinki: National Board of Education, 1994.

. The Education System of Finland 1998. National Board of Education, Helsinki 1999 and Database of Eurydice Network, Eurybase 1999.

Nelson, H. Development on School Finance. National Center for Educational Statistics, 1994.

Sarjala, J. The School of Civilisation in the Information Society. Helsinki: National Board of Education, 2001.

Statistics Finland. Statistics on Educational Institutions 1998. SVT Koulutus 1998:5. Helsinki: Statistics Finland, 1998.

Vocational Education and Training in Finland. CEDEFOP, Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 1997.

Richard Morehouse

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Finland." World Education Encyclopedia. . 9 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Finland." World Education Encyclopedia. . (July 9, 2018).

"Finland." World Education Encyclopedia. . Retrieved July 09, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.



Republic of Finland

Major Cities:
Helsinki, Tampere, Turku

Other Cities:
Espoo, Jyväskylä, Kotka, Kuopio, Lahti, Oulu, Pori, Vaasa, Vantaa


This chapter was adapted from the Department of State Post Report dated February 1992. Supplemental material has been added to increase coverage of minor cities, facts have been updated, and some material has been condensed. Readers are encouraged to visit the Department of State's web site at for the most recent information available on travel to this country.


FINLAND is a modern, progressive, Scandinavian country, rich in contrast between city and wilderness. The character of its people has been forged by the severity of life in this northern corner of Europe, and the challenge of existing between contending powers has produced a vigorous individualism and inspired a national culture.

Migrant groups from the south and southwest settled the region that is now Finland in the eighth century, driving the indigenous Lapps northward toward the Arctic Circle. Eventually Swedes moved onto the land and, in 1155, introduced Christianity. Sweden controlled Finland for hundreds of years until forced to cede it, as a grand duchy, to Russia in the early part of the 19th century. A spirit of nationalism grew until, in the chaos of the Russian Revolution, Finland was created.

During World War II, the nation fought with Germany against the Soviet Union and, after tragic human and geographical losses and eventual reparation payments, signed an agreement of cooperation and friendship with its former ruling power. Finland's official policy of neutrality and nonalignment has led to the establishment of relations with other countries regardless of their political systems.



Helsinki, the capital and principal city, is a Baltic port on Finland's southern coast with an estimated population of 551,000. It lies north of such cities as Juneau, Alaska, and Churchill, Canada, and is the second most northerly capital in the world, after Iceland's Reykjavík. Helsinki is a modern city, yet it has areas which give a genuine and comprehensive picture of the atmosphere and architecture of the past.

The city was founded in 1550 by the Swedish king, Gustav Vasa. Great fires destroyed the old wooden Helsinki many times, but it was always rebuilt. The massive walls of the Suomenlinna Island fortress remain from the 18th century. Helsinki became Finland's capital in 1812. Many of its historically interesting sights date from the beginning of the 19th century, when the administrative center was built around Senate Square. The Cathedral of St. Nicholas, the National University, and Government Palace, for example, are among the finest of its architectural achievements. It has been said of the Helsinki of the Empire period that it was the last European city designed as an entity and created as a work of art. Historic Senate Square is one of the most remarkable achievements of neoclassicism at its height; many of its buildings reflect the genius of architect Carl Engel.

Helsinki today has a modern look, with some buildings designed by internationally known contemporary Finnish architects Eliel Saarinen and Alvar Aalto. In planning new areas and developing old ones, the aim has been to make the city a balanced whole with several regional centers, each with its own schools, sports fields, libraries, and shopping centers. The ideal is to combine the advantages of urban living with those of rural life. Approximately 500,000 people reside in the city, which is the administrative, cultural, commercial, and industrial center of Finland. Including the suburbs of Espoo, Vantaa, and others, the population of Greater Helsinki was over one million in 1995.

Helsinki, whose name in Swedish (one of the two official languages) is Helsingsfors, has many points of interest. Among the most popular are the harbor area and Market Square, where the Havis Amanda fountain symbolizes Helsinki rising out of the waves. Other attractions include the Olympic Stadium (site of the 1952 Summer Games), the Sibelius monument, the "Church in the Rock," Finlandia Hall, City Museum, National Museum, and Seurasaari Island.

Helsinki offers a wide and interesting variety of cultural activities, recreation, entertainment, and shopping, and it enjoys an unusually high standard of living.

Schools for Foreigners

The International School of Helsinki, based on American and British standards, offers an education from kindergarten through tenth grade. Several different nationalities are represented both in the student body and on the school board. The full-time staff consists of American and British teachers. The school has initiated a joint accreditation process with the New England Association of Schools and the European Council of International Schools.

International School comprises one wing of an established Finnish school, and can take advantage of some of the Finnish teachers for physical education and special activities.

The English School, Catholic-affiliated, receives support from the Finnish Government since it is primarily intended for Finnish students who wish to learn and maintain English. Religious studies are not part of the curriculum. Classes range from kindergarten through grade 10.

A small, private school, L'École Française d'Helsinki, is run by the French Embassy. Schooling is assured for all ages, including kindergarten, and follows the studies prescribed by the French Ministry of Education. The staff is composed of French teachers provided by the sponsoring government or recruited locally.

The German School, long established in Helsinki, offers classes from kindergarten through high school, leading to a choice of either a German or Finnish diploma. The school is German-oriented, and has the reputation of providing a fine education. The teachers are German and Finnish; instruction is entirely in German. Books and materials are up-to-date and attractively presented. The school is part of the Finnish system, with similar semesters, holidays, and regulations. The staff welcomes children with no knowledge of German in the first few grades, but discourages those at higher levels because of the difficulty of catching up to classmates in the language.

Special Opportunities

The University of Helsinki is the largest university in the Nordic area. Courses in the English department may be taken at the university, but language restrictions in other departments make it difficult for most students to carry a full academic load.

The University of Helsinki offers courses in Finnish and Swedish for foreigners. Classes are taught at all levels of proficiency, during the day and after working hours.

Special educational opportunities are available for children with learning disabilities or physical handicaps, but all instruction is either in Finnish or Swedish.


Finland first rose to prominence in sports at the 1912 Olympics, where it took first place in wrestling and second place in track and field. In succeeding years, the country has become famous for long-distance running, ski jumping, speed skating, and target shooting. Sports unique to Finland are bandy, a form of ice hockey, and pesapallo, a game vaguely resembling American baseball. Soccer, hockey, and basketball are popular spectator sports.

From the first of June until late August, daylight hours are long and outdoor activities such as boating, sailing, bathing, swimming, hiking, picnicking, and motor trips may be enjoyed in the immediate vicinity of Helsinki. The time for golf and outdoor tennis is relatively short. Helsinki has four golf courses (two of which have 18 holes) and a few excellent outdoor clay tennis courts, as well as several indoor year-round tennis courts. It is not easy to obtain golf club memberships, and tennis courts usually must be booked in advance and, sometimes, at inconvenient hours.

Squash is also popular; court time is booked on a half-hour basis. Cycling possibilities are good in the Helsinki suburbs during the warmer months. Trails for jogging and walking abound. Boating begins in May/June and extends into September. Swimming and sunbathing at the several municipal beaches and in outside pools are popular for only about two months in the summer, but are possible year round at several indoor pools.

Winter sports include skiing and skating. Excellent trails for cross-country skiing are available in and around the city, and many of these are lighted for evening use. Several smaller towns within a few hours' ride offer good weekend skiing; spring skiing trips to Lapland are popular. Downhill skiing is possible, but facilities are limited. Although there are several small hills near Helsinki, the better locations are farther north. The city has many good outdoor skating rinks and some indoor rinks. Figure skating lessons are available.

There are a number of horseback riding schools in the capital and its immediate vicinity. Helsinki also has one indoor riding hall.

Salmon fishing is found in northern Lapland. Ice fishing is quite popular throughout Finland during the long winter months. Game hunting is possible, but on a limited basis.

The sauna, a national institution in Finland, has existed for a thousand years. Finns normally indulge in a sauna once a week, and it is a custom that most Americans quickly learn to enjoy. Saunas are particularly enjoyable after physical exercise, especially cross-country skiing, and as a means of socializing, although mixed saunas are not customary.

The purpose of a sauna is to completely cleanse the body and soul by being subjected to great changes of temperatures. After the heat of the sauna, there is either a shower or a swim in a pool, a lake, or the sea. The bravest participants roll in winter snow or plunge through a hole in the ice. After the sauna, a cold beer or soda before a warm fireplace is a necessary thirst quencher. Most Finnish apartment buildings and houses have saunas, some with pools. Summer houses, although quite modest, also have saunas, usually on a lake or the sea.

Outdoor recreation and touring opportunities are plentiful, particularly in Lapland and the lake district. Laplandthe land of the midnight sun, northern lights, and reindeeris Finland's northern-most province. The principal towns are Rovaniemi, the capital, and Kemi, both accessible by air (two hours) and rail (nine hours), and about 500 miles (800 kilometers) from Helsinki. The overnight train with space for cars is a popular way to get to Rovaniemi, a transit point to the tourist and resort areas of Pallastunturi, Kilpisjarvi, and Inari farther north. The traveler can also drive north into Norway and view the fjords. Lapland is especially popular in early April, when the days are longer and skiing is excellent; for midsummer's night to view the fires and festivities; and in September, when the leaves change colors.

The lake district, comprising most of southeast central Finland, provides excellent opportunities for scenic travel by car and steamer ship. A wood-burning steamer offers an unusually scenic 12-hour trip from Savonlinna to Kuopio, with its colorful market and interesting Orthodox Church museum. The 15th-century Olavinlinna Castle, a compact towering fortress built on an island near Savonlinna, is the site of an international open-air opera festival each July.

Day trips to Turku, Hanko, and Porvoo are popular. Turku, Finland's oldest city and its capital until 1812, is two-and-a-half hours west of Helsinki by car. Hanko, a coastal city two hours west of Helsinki, is one of the best Finnish saltwater bathing resorts during July and August. At this time, yachting regattas and tennis matches are held. En route to Hanko, many travelers stop at Tammisaari, a charming seaside town with narrow lanes bordered by Empire-style wooden houses. Porvoo is an idyllic old coastal town one hour east of Helsinki by car. It was the home of Johan Ludvig Runeberg, the national poet of Finland, and is the site of an ancient granite cathedral.

A visit or business assignment to Helsinki provides excellent opportunities to travel to Sweden and Russia. Two shipping lines have overnight service between Stockholm and Helsinki. During summer, ships also travel to Tallinn (Estonia) and Travemünde (Germany). Daily flights are available on Finnair or Aeroflot, and daily trains serve St. Petersburg and Moscow. All excursions to Russia require a Russian visa. Since accommodations must be booked before a visa is issued, it is best to have a travel agent in Helsinki handle arrangements. Visa processing takes from 10 days to two weeks.


Since its designation as the nation's capital in 1812, Helsinki has developed into a cultural center. It is the home of many of Finland's most important museums. The largest of these is the National Museum, with its extensive prehistoric, historic, and ethnographic collections. The large Art Museum of the Athenaeum, located across the street from the railroad station, contains Finnish art from the 18th century to the present, and foreign works of art. Occasionally, large foreign exhibits are shown here. The Art Collections of the City of Helsinki and the Amos Anderson Museum of Art are also noted institutions which often have exhibitions in addition to their regular collections.

Many good movie theaters in the city and suburbs offer the latest American, British, Italian, French, German, and other foreign films in their original versions, as well as locally produced films in Finnish. Strict regulations prevent children from attending films featuring violence, whether or not the children are accompanied by parents.

Helsinki has two permanent symphony orchestras, the Helsinki Philharmonic and the Radio Symphony. It also is home to the National Opera, with both opera and ballet companies, and the government-sponsored National Theater. Concerts and recitals are performed in the renowned Finlandia Hall, the Taivallahti Church, Sibelius Academy, and the House of Nobility, among others, providing a rich and varied musical life. During summer, Finnish and international artists and musicians are featured at special performances throughout the country. These events include the Kuopio Dance and Music Festival in June, the Jyväskylä Arts Festival, the Savonlinna Opera Festival, the Pori Jazz Festival, the Turku Music Festival, the Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival, the Lahti International Organ Festival, the Tampere Summer Theater, and the Helsinki Festival.

Many Helsinki residents leave for the country in midsummer, and much of the city's cultural life closes down; however, restaurants and cinemas remain open.

The Finnish-American Society (Helsinki chapter) is a cultural and social organization linked to the League of Finnish-American Societies. All Americans are eligible to join for a nominal membership fee. Other clubs include the American Women's Club, the Finnish-American Chamber of Commerce, the Club of '32, and Rotary, Lions, consular, and diplomatic associations.

Special Note

In Finland, both men and women shake hands on meeting one another. Children also shake hands, and should not be excluded from this courtesy. Punctuality is a must, and guests are expected to arrive within five minutes of the stated arrival time for a dinner or other party. When visiting a Finnish home, it is the custom to take flowers to the hostess, or to send flowers preceding or following the visit. Flowers are usually given to the hostess unwrapped and in uneven numbers. In lieu of flowers, other small gifts may be presented.

At a dinner party, it is customary to make a welcoming speech as soon as the first course is served and all the wine glasses filled. No one touches his or her glass until this ritual has been performed. The honored guest makes a toast and thanks the host and hostess as soon as the dessert wine or dessert has been served.

Finns observe the name day as well as the birthday of close friends, relatives, and prominent people personally known. The really important birthday celebrations are the 50th and 60th, which are recognized by extending best wishes either by phone or telegram, or by sending flowers. Names for the day are published in local newspapers.


Tampere, in Finland's southwestern province of Häme, is the third largest city in the country (population, 193,000) and one of the leading textile centers of northern Europe. It lies on an isthmus between Lakes Näsijärvi and Pyhäjärvi. In Swedish, the city is called Tammerfors.

Tampere has been a trade center since the 11th century, and today is known for its many industries which include paper, shoes, and machinery, as well as its famous textiles. It was here in 1918 that the country's White forces defeated the Finnish Bolsheviks.

Particular points of interest in the city are the Sarkänniemi Tourist Center, with its aquarium, amusement park, planetarium, children's zoo, and the Näsinneula Observation Tower; the university; the town cathedral; the city hall; and the many fine old churches in the surrounding countryside, including Messukylä Stone Church, the oldest in the area.

The Häme Museum is known for its collection of folk art, rugs, and ecclesiastical pieces that show the ethnography and cultural history of Tampere and the Häme province. The Sara Hildén Art Museum displays Finnish and international art, primarily post-war painting, sculpture, and graphics. Bus and boat excursions can be arranged to the lakes and forests.

Tampere is known for the Pyynikki Summer Theatre, the world's first with a revolving auditorium, and for the warm-weather concerts in Koskipuisto Park. The city has a golf course, tennis courts, swimming pools, and nearby beaches. There also are first-class hotels and restaurants (one on the observation tower).


Turku (in Swedish, Åbo), capital of Turun-Porin Province in southwestern Finland, is a large port and industrial city at the mouth of the Aurajohi River, on the Baltic Sea. There are steel mills, shipyards, textile mills, and machine shops, but Turku is also the center of an agricultural region. Its population is approximately 172,000.

Turku is called "the cradle of Finnish culture." It was the seat of the first bishop of Finland in 1229, and the home of the National University from 1640 to 1827; the following year, after a disastrous fire destroyed most of the city, the university was moved to Helsinki. Turku was the country's capital until 1812. The Treaty of Åbo, in which Sweden ceded part of southeastern Finland to Russia, was signed here in 1743.

The city's great 13th-century cathedral, consumed by fire the same year that the city was destroyed, has been restored. Its beautiful ceiling and the tombs and icons housed within the structure are particularly impressive reminders of Finland's ancient past. Also rebuilt and now a museum is Turku's castle, which dates from the 13th century; it was burned in 1614 and bombed during World War II.

Turku's open-air handicraft museum is one of Finland's most popular summer attractions. Tourists throng to the area to view the displays, and to patronize the hotels and restaurants. The city is interesting both for its history and for its cultural atmosphere. It supports three newspapers.

The picturesque old town of Naantali (in Swedish, Nådendal), with a population of 14,000, is close to Turku, and serves as the city's port. It dates from 1445 and is known for its picturesque wooden houses. The presidential summer residence is on nearby Luonnon-maa Island. Naantali hosts a celebrated chamber music festival each June.


ESPOO (Esbo in Swedish), is the home of the Institute of Technology, with campus and buildings designed by famed architect Alvar Aalto. With a population of 210,000, it is located 11 miles west of Helsinki. Espoo has five regional centers and one of them, Tapiola, is a pioneer work of Finnish town planning, combining comfortable living with up-to-date services and blending into the natural surroundings. Prehistoric finds show that the area of Espoo was settled about 3,500 B.C. The Espoo Granite Church, completed early in the 15th century, contains medieval frescoes.

JYVÄSKYLÄ (population 78,000) is located amid the hills and lakes of south-central Finland. It was previously known primarily as a town of schools and culture, and today is famous for its modern university with buildings designed by Alvar Aalto. Jyväskylä has several museums, including the Alvar Aalto Museum, which displays Aalto's sketches, drawings, designs, and furniture, the Jyväskylä town art collection, and temporary art exhibits.

The city of KOTKA is located in southeastern Finland, about 70 miles northeast of the capital. The main part of the town is situated on the peninsula between the two eastern tributaries of the month of the Kymi River and on the island of Kotka (Kotkansaari). Founded in 1878 by Czar Alexander II of Russia, Kotka began to grow during the late 1930s. Today, it is one of Finland's major eastern ports and handles petroleum importation. The city, with an estimated population of 55,000, has a flour mill and a sugar refinery. The Ruotsinsalmi naval fortifications, built by Catherine II of Russia, stood here from 1795 to 1855, when the English navy completely destroyed the fortification, except for the Orthodox church. That church, St. Nicholas, still stands, and is the city's oldest building. Another historical site is a Lutheran church, built in 1898. The Kymenlaakso Museum, originally built for Alexander III, is 10 miles northwest. It houses objects connected with the naval battle of Ruotsinsalmi, textiles, porcelain, a numismatic collection, and ethnography and cultural history displays.

KUOPIO was founded by King Gustav III of Sweden in 1782. Today, with a population of 87,000, it is the capital of the province of Kuopio. Its location in south-central Finland on the western shore of Lake Kallavesi makes it a center of lake traffic. Museums include the Kuopio Art Museum, the Kuopio Museum, and the Orthodox Church Museum, with Western Europe's most extensive collection relating to the Orthodox Church.

LAHTI is located approximately 65 miles northeast of Helsinki. With a population of 97,000, it is Finland's seventh largest city. Built between two mountain ridges on the shore of Lake Vesijärvi, Lahti is a winter sports center that hosted the 1978 and 1989 World Ski Championships and the 1981 and 1991 World Biathlon Championships. It is also an industrial center for furniture, textiles, window glass, foodstuffs, and beer.

The capital of Oulu Province, OULU (Uleåborg in Swedish) is located in west-central Finland, about 325 miles north of Helsinki. The city was established as a trading post during the Middle Ages. It became a town in 1610 and was later the victim of several misfortunes. An explosion destroyed its fortress in 1793, a fire severely damaged the city in 1822, its depots and harbor were destroyed during the Crimean War, and many sections of the city were ruined during World War II. Today, Oulu is a modern city with universities and a district hospital. Its industries include lumber, shipyards, tanneries, and fisheries. A hydroelectric power source, the Merikoski rapids, is also a major tourist highlight. The Oulu Music Festival is held each February. Oulu has a population of about 118,000 and is linked to other Finland cities by sea, air, and rail.

PORI (Björneborg is situated less than 70 miles north of Turku, in southwestern Finland. Settled farther north in the 12th century, and called Ulvila in 1365, Pori was moved to its present location in 1558. After a major fire in 1852, the town plan was modernized. Kirjurinluoto Islet is a natural park on the Kokemäenjoki River in the middle of town. It is the site of a summer theatre and the annual Pori International Jazz Festival, held in July. The city exports lumber and other products from the port on the Kokemäenjoki River. Located in the city are a 17th-century theater and a museum. Finland's largest short-wave wireless transmitting station is located here. Pori's population is around 76,000.

VAASA , the capital of Vaasa Province, has an estimated population of 57,000, with two-thirds Finnish-speaking and one-third Swedish-speaking. It lies on the Gulf of Bothnia in western Finland. The Swedish king, Charles IX, founded Vaasa in 1606. The country's second Court of Appeal was established here in 1776. After the fire of 1852 which destroyed almost the whole town, a new town plan was drawn up and built closer to the coast. Vaasa exports timber; industries include machinery and soap factories, textile mills, and a sugar refinery. There is regular ferry service to Sweden, along with rail and air facilities linking Vaasa with numerous Finnish cities.

Located less than 10 miles north of Helsinki, VANTAA was incorporated as a city in 1974. It is linked with the capital and Lahti by rail and highways. The city is a commercial and tourist hub and is the location of the Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. Points of interest include the Finnish Aviation Museum and the 13th-century St. Lauri Church. Vantaa's population is approximately 176,000.


Geography and Climate

Finland, the sixth largest country in Europe, occupies an area of 130,160 square miles (338,312 square kilometers) about twice the size of the United Kingdom. Its coastline, excluding indentations, is 688 miles (1,100 kilometers) long. Finland is bordered on the east and southeast by Russia, on the west by Sweden and the Gulf of Bothnia, on the north by Norway, and on the south by the Gulf of Finland.

Most of the country is low, but not necessarily flat. Because the soil, mainly moraine deposits from Ice Age glaciers, is very thin, the topography reflects the contours of the Archean bedrock. Elevations greater than 2100 feet (650 meters) are found along the northwestern frontier with Norway and in the extreme northern region of Lap-land. The majority of Finland's 60,000 lakes, comprising 10 percent of the total area, lie in the southern half of the country and provide important waterways and log-floating routes. An extensive and imposing archipelago, extending from the Russian border on the south, westward to the Aland Islands, and from there northward, provides an important fishing and vacation area noted for its magnitude and grandeur.

Apart from the lakes and archipelagos, the outstanding physical feature and natural resource of Finland is its forest, covering about 65 percent of the land area, the highest percentage in Europe. The forests of Finland are mainly coniferous; a limited area in the south and southwest contains hardwood deciduous trees. In Lapland, the spruce and pines disappear, and dwarf birch usually forms the timber line.

Virtually all of Finland lies between latitudes 60° and 70°N, with one-third of its length north of the Arctic Circle, but the Gulf Stream current and the prevalence of warm west-erly winds make the climate several degrees warmer than the average elsewhere at the same latitude. Summers are short (in southern Finland from June 1 to September 1) and mild, with daylight extending well into the night hours. In June and July, only a two-or three-hour period of twilight separates sunset and sunrise. In the extreme north, the sun does not set for 73 days during the midsummer period.

Precipitation, averaging 23 to 25 inches annually, is distributed over all seasons of the year. Winters are long and cold. Snow is possible from October through April, with January through March having the heaviest accumulations. Temperatures may vary from north to south, as does the snow coverage from one winter to the next.

Helsinki's location on the Gulf of Finland accounts for its high humidity level. The city's average temperature is 41°F (5°C). The average mean temperatures in January and July are 26°F and 71°F. The nearness of the sea also affects the city's weather. The mean temperature of 25°F during February, the coldest month, is considerably higher than the average for the country as a whole and, in July, the warmest month, constant sea breezes keep it cooler. During the coldest days of winter, the mercury might dip as low as-20°F, and on the hottest days of summer rise to 85°F, but the weather tends to be more temperate than that of the United States' northern midwest. Helsinki's maritime location also means frequent rain and high humidity.

Average temperatures in Lapland are 10°F (-12°C) in January, and 63°F (17°C) in July.


Finland's population of 5.2 million includes some 3,000 Lapps. Since World War II, rapid industrialization, the growth of service industries, and expanded educational opportunities have fostered a continuous movement to urban centers. In recent years, however, this decline/growth cycle has stabilized.

Finland has two official languagesFinnish and Swedish. Under the constitution, the government must meet equally the cultural and economic requirements of both language groups. Finnish is spoken by 93 percent of the population, and Swedish by six percent. There is a small Lapp and Russian-speaking minority.

After Finnish and Swedish, English is the language most commonly used, followed by German. Foreign-language study is an important part of the secondary school curriculum, and more than 90 percent of all students choose to study English. Most business firms are able to correspond in English, and English-speaking tourists have little difficulty communicating in Helsinki.

Finns are generally of light complexion, with fair hair and blue or grey eyes. Racially the Finns are mixed, as are most European peoples. The main racial characteristics are derived from the East-Baltic and Nordic races. At the beginning of the Christian era, Finland was occupied by a semi-nomadic people, the Lapps. Gradually, the ancestors of the present-day Finns moved the Lapps northward to the Arctic.

The early Finns are believed to have come from Central Asia. Their language, unlike that of their neighbors, is not Indo-European. Like Estonian, Hungarian, and the languages of certain minorities in central and northern Russia, Finnish forms part of the Finno-Ugric family. Characteristics of the Finnish language include the use of case endings, post-positions instead of prepositions, a great wealth of verbal forms, and a highly phonetic orthography. Finns never have trouble spelling.

Christianity was introduced to Finland in 1155 by King Eric of Sweden. For 300 years, the Catholic Church was influential but, during the Reformation, the Protestant religion became predominant. Today, some 89 percent of the population belongs to the state church, the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church. The Finnish Orthodox congregation, with 1 percent of the population as members, is also a state church, but it owes allegiance to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. Bishops of the eight dioceses of the Evangelical Church are appointed by the president of the republic on the basis of elections held in each diocese. The bishop of the Turku diocese is the archbishop of the Church of Finland.

Finland has complete freedom of worship, and several smaller church organizations have congregations totaling 1 percent of the population. 9 percent of the population claim to have no religious affiliation.


Historically, Finland was controlled for long periods of time by both Sweden and Russia. From its first conquests in the 12th century until the surrender of Finland to Russia in 1809, during the Napoleonic wars, Sweden ruled. Then, Finland was annexed and became a grand duchy of Russia. Assurance given by Alexander I that Finnish laws and constitutional rights would be respected became obsolete under increasingly reactionary czars.

The cultural and political awakening of Finland in literature and in resistance to "Russification" quickened the pace towards creation of an independent state. On December 6, 1917, Finland declared its independence and was immediately plunged into a civil war between the "Reds" and the eventually victorious "Whites." A new constitution was proclaimed in 1919. The violence of the three-month struggle left wounds that are still not entirely healed. Both the left and right in Finnish politics have their own version of the events. Political affiliation could still reflect a family choice of sides in 1918.

During World War II, Finland twice fought the Soviet Union: in the Winter War of 1939-40, and again in the Continuation War of 1941-44. Finland suffered heavy casualties, lost 11 percent of its territory to the Soviet Union, and over 400,000 Finns had to be resettled. The Treaty of Peace between Finland and the U.S.S.R., signed at Paris on February 10, 1947, provided for the cession to the Soviet Union of the Petsamo area on the Arctic coast and the Karelian Isthmus in southeast Finland, for the lease of the Porkkala area near Helsinki to Russia for use as a naval base, and for free access to this area across Finnish territory. In late 1955, the Soviets returned the Porkkala area to Finland. The treaty also provided that Finland pay Russia reparation in goods valued at an estimated $570 million (completed in 1952). Finland's defense forces are limited by the Peace Treaty to 41,900 men (Army, 34,400; Navy, 4,500; Air Force, 3,000).

In the United Nations, which it joined in 1955, Finland favors membership for all nations, usually takes no stand on major East-West issues, stresses neutrality as policy of active participation in international life, and channels the bulk of its foreign assistance to developing countries through various U.N. agencies. Finland supports and actively participates in the U.N.'s peacekeeping activities.

An official policy of neutrality and nonalignment has led to the establishment of relations with other countries regardless of their political systems. Finland worked for the convening of the Conference on European Security and Cooperation in July 1973, involving the U.S.S.R., countries of Eastern and Western Europe, Canada, and the U.S. This conference culminated in a summit meeting of 35 heads of state and the signing of the Final Actoften called the Helsinki Accordson August 1, 1975. Finland has also supported the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT), which began in Helsinki in 1969. In the Nordic Council, an inter-parliamentary organ of cooperation among Nordic nations, Finland works closely with its neighbors on matters of intra-Nordic concern.


Finland is a Western-oriented republic. Under the constitution of 1919, the president, elected for a six-year term, has powers stronger than those of European counterparts, although not as great as U.S. presidential powers. The president, currently Tarja Halonen, has full powers over foreign affairs, is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and can dissolve parliament.

The Council of State Cabinet is appointed by the president and includes the prime minister, currently Paavo Lipponen, and usually about 16 ministers and associate ministers in charge of the 11 government departments. The Parliament (Eduskunta) is unicameral and consists of 200 members directly elected every four years through proportional representation. Under the constitution, the Eduskunta is the supreme authority in Finland. It has the power to amend the constitution, force the resignation of the Council of State, and override presidential vetoes without judicial review. Suffrage is equal and universal; all citizens over the age of 18 have the right to vote. Finland was the first country in Europe to grant full political rights to women (1906), well before the U.S.

Finnish policies on most basic domestic and foreign issues have been consistent, notwithstanding a relatively rapid turnover of cabinets and periods when no government commanded a parliamentary majority.

Nine political parties are represented in Parliament. Most Finnish governments are multi-party coalitions, although at times it has been necessary to form cabinets composed of non-party technical experts. The average life of Finnish cabinets has been 12 months. By contrast, Finland has had only five presidents since 1946. Recently, however, the duration of cabinets has lengthened considerably.

Justice is administered by independent courts. The public courts of justice try both civil and criminal cases. In rural areas, courts of the first instance are known as circuit courts, the judicial authority resting in a legally trained judge and a jury of lay members. Cities have municipal courts, each presided over by a legally trained magistrate and two counselors. Other courts are the Courts of Appeal and the highest judicial authority, the Supreme Court, to which appeals may be made against the judgments of the former.

Judicial procedure differs from that in Anglo-Saxon countries; Finnish law is codified and does not provide for writ of habeas corpus or bail. Formal charges must be brought within seven days of detention on suspicion and, in practice, charges are usually brought within three to four days. Courts of first instance must hear a case within 30 days of arrest. Civil rights are deeply entrenched and strictly observed by the police and courts.

The 12 Finnish provinces are divided into cities and communes and are administered by municipal and communal council elected every four years. The eleven mainland provinces each have a governor appointed by the president. The governors report to the Ministry of the Interior. The island province of Aland, located between Finland and Sweden in the southern part of the Gulf of Bothnia operates under local autonomy under a 1921 international convention.

The flag of Finland is white with a blue cross.

Arts, Science, Education

Much of the richness of Finnish culture derives from the folk element. A wealth of songs, buildings, costumes, and traditions has been carefully preserved over the years. Finnish literature in its oldest form is comprised of the epic poems and tales passed from generation to generation by word of mouth. Since the first half of the 19th century, a determined effort has been made to preserve the national culture through creation of a Finnish-language literature. Many of the resulting masterpieces, both in poetry and prose, reflect a historical context and regional spirit. Publication in 1835 of the Finnish national epic, The Kalevala, a collection of traditional myths and legends, first stirred the nationalism that led to independence in 1917.

Finnish architecture is justly famous, from the earliest achievements seen in medieval castles, through the elaborate wooden buildings of the 18th century, to the innovative and functional design prevalent today. Alvo Aalto (1898-1976), the modern Finnish architect, influenced urban and regional planning, interior decoration, and industrial art. Finlandia Hall, the National Pensions Institute, Aalto's Enso-Gutzeit Building, and the Helsinki Railway Station of Eliel Saarinen are only four of many buildings which attract students of architecture from all over the world.

In the fields of music, painting, and sculpture are found many examples of Finnish genius. Glass (Nuutajarvi, Iittala, Humppila, etc.), porcelain (Arabia), textiles (Marimekko, Vuokko, and Pentik), jewelry (Lapponia and Kalevala Koru), and furniture (Alvar Aalto and Ilmari Tapiovaara) are some of the many items that bear the unique stamp of Finnish handiwork and design.

Finland, with virtually no illiteracy, has an advanced educational system, which is free and includes all textbooks and a broad medical-care program. Pupils receive a hot meal each day at school. Special schools have been established in the larger cities for children who are handicapped or have learning disabilities. Four basic levels comprise the school system: preschool education, compulsory education (the nine-year comprehensive school), upper secondary education, and the universities and similar institutions.

Finland has a strong state-subsidized adult education program, with classes held at community schools or workers' institutes. This program supplements and/or completes the basic education and provides for advanced vocational training or cultural and intellectual pursuits.

The largest university is the state-supported University of Helsinki, which has spearheaded the country's intellectual life since the 17th century. Founded in 1640 as the State University of Turku, it was moved to Helsinki in 1828. Another important state school of advanced education is the Institute of Technology, established in 1908, and now located at Otaniemi in Espoo. The entire campus was designed by architect Alvar Aalto.

State-supported higher education facilities have undergone major expansion since 1958. Jyväskylä Teachers College, founded in 1934, was enlarged to university status. In 1959, a new university was established at Oulu in the north. It was followed by universities in Joensuu and Kuopio. The latest in Rovaniemi (Lapin Province), established in 1979, is the world's most northerly university.

Commerce and Industry

Finland has become a modern industrialized nation. The prevailing standard of living is at the same high level which characterizes the other Scandinavian countries, with Finland ranking in the top dozen or so nations in terms of personal-income levels. Economic development has taken place in the face of many obstacles. At the time of independence from Russia in 1917, Finland's economy was that of an undeveloped, remote Russian province; about 20 years after independence, Finland was thrust into a series of three destructive warstwo against the U.S.S.R. and one against German armed forces. Wartime damage was heavy and peace terms imposed on Finland included heavy "reparations" payments to the Soviet Union.

Today, Finland is an essentially private economy. Most businesses are privately owned; however, some larger industrial enterprises are government owned in areas such as steel and mining. Railroads are state owned and the Finnair airline is majority state owned. The telephone system is split between government and private companies. Oil refining is a government monopoly, but retail gas stations are both state and privately held; all sales of high alcohol-content beverages are in government-owned stores.

Overall, the country's economic situation is impressive. Finland has been a leader in Europe in terms of economic growth. Inflation has been at higher than prevailing European levels, but has recently been better controlled. Still, for various reasons, prices are high by current U.S. standards.

Finland's main economic force is in manufacturingoften for export. Forest industries are still strong, but they are shrinking. Agriculture has, over the years, been declining, but farmers continue to be encouraged by government support to maintain national self-sufficiency in basic food production, the quality of which is very high. Only eight percent of Finland is under cultivation. The service industries are enjoying healthy growth in fields such as banking, insurance, and engineer-ing/design services.

Foreign trade is extremely important; Finland must import all of its oil, as well as some metals, chemicals, and food products. Machinery imports are high, but are balanced by a high number of machinery exports. Forestry products, such as paper, are a primary export, as are ships, furs, clothing, and glassware. Germany, Britain, Sweden, Russia, and the U.S. are the primary source of product imports. Finland participates in international economic organizations; supports free trade policies; and is a member of the World Bank, the International Finance Corporation, the Asian Development Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank. Investment abroad is increasing as well, with nearly 200 Finnish-owned firms in the U.S., including four banks in New York City.

Finland donates foreign aid to less developed countries, particularly in Africa and Asia. Finnish citizens actively support Finland's aid policies.

The Helsinki Chamber of Commerce is located at Kalevanketu 12, 00100 Helsinki 10.


The Finnish State Railways has a vast operating track (5,580 miles), with links to Sweden and the Russia. The northernmost point accessible by train is Kemijärvi, north of Rovaniemi.

The highway system is constantly being expanded; public roads cover 48,320 miles (77,796 kilometers), of which about half are paved. Trucking and bus services are steadily gaining in importance as carriers of passengers and goods. However, although highways are well maintained, they are not as efficient at transporting traffic as might be expected for a modern industrial nation; travel time is frequently longer than anticipated.

Finnair Oy (with the state as major stockholder) maintains regular air service to locales within Finland; to major European capitals; and to Seattle, Los Angeles, New York, and Montreal, among cities on other continents. Most freight and much of the passenger traffic is via sea. Harbors are kept open even during the coldest winter periods, with ferry links available to Sweden, Germany, and Estonia on a regularly scheduled basis.

Helsinki offers excellent bus and tram service. Taxis, readily available at many stands throughout the city, may be reached by calling the widely publicized numbers for these taxi centers. Fares are not excessive and drivers are not tipped. Certain suburbs are efficiently served by commuter trains. A subway line was recently opened to suburbs in the east, with further expansion planned. Public transportation is used by many people for getting to work and to recreational and social activities; however, a car is still extremely useful.

In winter, main roads are kept open, but winter driving, even in Helsinki and its outskirts, can be hazardous because of frequent icy conditions.


The government operates the domestic telegraph and most of the country's telephone facilities. Direct dialing is available to many foreign locations, including the U.S. In Helsinki to contact emergency systems, dial 000. A privately owned telegraph cable extends between Sweden and Finland, and nearly all cable communications to overseas destinations are transmitted by this route. International airmail normally takes five days in transit from Helsinki to New York. Postal rates are expensive.

Broadcasting is done by Oy Yleisradio Ab, the Finnish Broadcasting Company, and by MTV Oy, an independent commercial company. Yleisradio, however, is the only licensed corporation. A fair selection of musical programs is available throughout the day on Finnish AM and FM radio. Many radio channels can be received from other European countries. Good Voice of America (VOA) and British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reception is possible with a shortwave radio.

Television channels operate during the afternoon and evening hours. Some foreign programs (including American, British, and Canadian) are offered in the original language with Finnish or Swedish subtitles. Finnish TV, which broadcasts mostly color programs, has the same technical standards as Germany. Private cable service, offering a wide selection of movies and serials, is available at various locations within the city of Helsinki.

The first Finnish newspaper was printed in 1771. Now, more than 300 papers are published at least four times each week. Ten newspapers are regarded as national dailies, although none of these has a truly nationwide coverage.

Time, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and the International Herald Tribune are sold locally, although the Herald Tribune usually arrives one or two days after publication. English-language books and magazines are sold at Helsinki's main train station, in lobbies of larger hotels, and at the city's two principal bookstores. A good selection of other foreign-language books and magazines can also be found at the two main bookstoresstandard works in Swedish, French, Italian, German, and Spanish. All imported publications are more expensive than in the country of origin.


The standards of the Finnish medical profession are high. Most physicians are educated at the University of Helsinki, and many study or do research abroad as well. A large number of doctors speak English and German, in addition to Finnish and Swedish. Specialists in most medical fields serve the major communities.

Hospitals are modern and well equipped, and the treatment is good. Ophthalmologists are available and opticians can fill prescriptions promptly. Dentists and orthodontists are competent. A listing of area hospitals and doctors is available from the U.S. Embassy's administrative section in Helsinki.

Most medicines are available locally at reasonable, state-controlled prices. They may not, however, be the same compositions or brand names prescribed by U.S. physicians. Those planning an extended stay should arrive with a supply of necessary medications; this will allow time to consult with a doctor to determine the proper Finnish equivalent. Medicine is sold only at pharmacies ("aptee KKi"), while chemists ("Kemikaalikauppa") sell cosmetics only. Some pharmacies are open 24 hours and all pharmacies display a notice in their windows with the address of the nearest pharmacy on night duty.

The general level of community sanitation is high. Public cleanliness and controls are adequate to prevent serious outbreaks of disease, and there are no pest or vermin problems. Helsinki water is dependable, but not fluoridated; fluoride tablets for children can be obtained locally. Pasteurized milk is available, and the processing of fresh milk is closely controlled. The general sanitation and safety of local goods are comparable to those in the U.S. Sewage and garbage arrangements are excellent.

Helsinki's winter climate is cold and damp and may aggravate conditions such as neuralgia, rheumatism, and sinus disorders. Since long periods pass without much sunshine, vitamins are strongly recommended.

Clothing and Services

In preparing a wardrobe for Finland, one should remember that winters are long and cold, springs and autumns are rainy and cool, and summers are short. Layered outfits are ideal for differences in seasonal temperatures, as well as for changes from indoors to outdoors. All clothing items can be purchased locally at prices which tend to be higher than in the U.S.; good sales occur during January and August, and it is worthwhile to shop at these times. Winter outer-garments and boots for all family members are well made, ideally suited to the climate, and generally worth the extra expense. Those who are difficult to fit in respect to shoe size or other wearing apparel are advised to bring extra items from home.

Men wear medium-weight suits throughout the year in Finland but, from October to May, heavier suits are often needed. Rain gear, overcoats, boots, and overshoes are necessary items, and fur hats are found to be very warm as well as popular locally. Tuxedos are appropriate for many social occasions during the year. "Informal" on a dinner invitation usually means coat and tie.

A useful wardrobe for a woman will include one long dress or skirt; several short dinner dresses; sports attire; and suits, casual dresses or skirts, sweaters, and blouses. Rain gear and heavy winter coats are needed also. Beautiful fur and leather coats are available locally.

Children's needs include warm, water-resistant snowsuits and boots, and lighter-weight coats and jackets for spring and fall. Rubber overalls, readily purchased in local department stores, are useful during both rainy and thawing periods. It may be advisable to have an extra set of outdoor clothes for children who actively participate in winter sports.

Laundry and dry cleaning are expensive, making it advisable to include cleaning compounds for spot removals in one's household effects. Certain neighborhood dry cleaners offer kilo pesu, or cleaning of items with the charge based on weight; these items are not steam pressed.

Local and European brands of toiletries, cosmetics, and patent medicines are available, but costly.


Helsinki is served by daily flights from many European cities, and Finnair flies from New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and Tampa. Northwest Airlines serves Stockholm, Sweden and, from there, the traveler has the option of taking the ferry boat to Helsinki.

Visas are not necessary for entry into Finland, but those planning to stay for more than 90 days must obtain residence permits after arrival. No inoculation certificates are required.

Dogs and cats can be imported to Finland; however, they must be vaccinated against rabies. A certificate issued by a veterinarian must state that the animal has been vaccinated at least 30 days and not more than 12 months prior to importation. Cats and dogs imported to Finland cannot be taken to Sweden or Norway without a quarantine period of four months in either country.

Only nonautomatic sport and hunting firearms may be imported, and local requirements for hunting licenses are handled by the police. No military or police-type firearms are permitted. Fishing licenses also are required.

Many religious affiliations are represented in Helsinki. Services in English are offered on a weekly basis by the Anglican Church at the Cathedral Chapel, Saalem Free Gospel Church, and the Tempeliaukio Lutheran Church; St. Henrik's Catholic Church offers English services two Sundays a month. Other places of worship include: Uspensky Russian Orthodox Cathedral; two churches of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints; Helsinki's synagogue; and Islam House.

The time in Finland is Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) plus two.

The markka, or Finnmark (FIM), ceased being legal currency on 1 March 2002, and was replaced by the euro. One euro is equivalent to US$1.08 (22 May 2002).

Finland uses the metric system of weights and measures.


Jan. 1New Year's Day

Jan. 6Epiphany

Mar/Apr.Good Friday*


Mar/Apr.Easter Monday*

May 1May Day

MayMother's Day*

May/JuneAscension Day*

May/JuneWhitsun Eve*


JuneMidsummer's Eve*

JuneMidsummer's Day*

JuneFather's Day*

Nov. 1All Saints' Day

Dec. 6Independence Day

Dec. 24Christmas Eve

Dec. 25Christmas Day

Dec. 26Boxing Day



The following titles are provided as a general indication of the material published on this country:

Engman, Max, and David Kirby, eds. Finland: People, Nation, State. Bloomington: Indian University Press, 1989.

Finland Handbook. VADK-Publishing and the Finnish Tourist Board, annually.

Frommer's Scandinavia. New York:Frommer, latest edition.

Jarvinen, I.R. Contemporary Folklore & Culture Change. Philadelphia: Coronet Books, 1986.

Nordstrom, Byron J., ed. Dictionary of Scandinavian History. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1986.

Penttila, Risto E. Finland's Search for Security Through Defense, 1944-1989. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1991.

Rajanen, Aini. Of Finnish Ways. New York: Harper Collins, 1984.

Singleton, Fred. A Short History of Finland. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

Ward, Philip. Finnish Cities: Travels in Helsinki, Turku, Tampere & Lapland. New York: Oleander Press, 1987.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Finland." Cities of the World. . 9 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Finland." Cities of the World. . (July 9, 2018).

"Finland." Cities of the World. . Retrieved July 09, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.



Basic Data

Official Country Name: Finland
Region (Map name): Europe
Population: 5,175,783
Language(s): Finnish (official), Swedish (official), small Lapp and Russian speaking minorities
Literacy rate: 100.0%
Area: 337,030 sq km
GDP: 121,466 (US$ millions)
Number of Daily Newspapers: 55
Total Circulation: 2,304,000
Circulation per 1,000: 545
Total Circulation: 924,000
Circulation per 1,000: 219
Newspaper Consumption (minutes per day): 38
Total Newspaper Ad Receipts: 618 (Euro millions)
As % of All Ad Expenditures: 56.70
Magazine Consumption (minutes per day): 42
Number of Television Stations: 130
Number of Television Sets: 3,200,000
Television Sets per 1,000: 618.2
Television Consumption (minutes per day): 142
Number of Cable Subscribers: 954,200
Cable Subscribers per 1,000: 183.5
Number of Satellite Subscribers: 343,000
Satellite Subscribers per 1,000: 66.3
Number of Radio Stations: 189
Number of Radio Receivers: 7,700,000
Radio Receivers per 1,000: 1,487.7
Radio Consumption (minutes per day): 142
Number of Individuals with Computers: 2,050,000
Computers per 1,000: 396.1
Number of Individuals with Internet Access: 1,927,000
Internet Access per 1,000: 372.3
Internet Consumption (minutes per day): 14

Background & General Characteristics

Finland has a literate and well-informed society. Ninety percent of citizens over the age of 15 spend about 40 minutes reading a daily newspaper; and on average read 10 magazines per year. The Finnish national library system, with nearly 1,000 libraries, has the most books per capita compared to other European countries. Not surprisingly, more books are borrowed per capita from their national library system than from other European systems.

Finland's population, estimated at 5,195,000 in 2001, was 48.8 percent male and 51.2 percent female in 2000. Twenty-five percent were under the age of 15, 26 percent were 20 to 39, 34 percent were 40 to 64, and 15 percent were over age 65. The country's 130,160 square miles of land is divided into 20 provinces. Twenty-five percent of the population lived in the country's largest province, Uusimaa. Finland's largest cities were Helsinki (559,718), Espoo (216,836), Tampere (197,774), Vantaa (179,856), Turku (173,686), and Oulu (123,274).

Located in northern Europe, Finland is surrounded by Norway to the north, Russia to the east, the Gulf of Finland to the south, and the Gulf of Bothnia and Sweden to the west. Prior to the twentieth century its nearly 700-year association with Sweden influenced much of Finland's culture and history and its subsequent association with Russia.

The dominant language spoken in Finland was Swedish until the 1840s. In 1835 publication of the Kalevala, a collection of Finnish myths and legends, set in motion Finnish nationalism, which helped to restore the Finnish language to prominence. By 1900 nearly 87 percent of Finns spoke Finnish, and only 13 percent spoke Swedish. One hundred years later, 92 percent were speaking Finnish, and 5.6 percent were speaking Swedish. Both languages are officially recognized by the constitution. Ethnically the language spoken reflects the distribution of the two groups. Swedish speaking persons generally lived along the south and west coasts of Finland and in the self-governing province of Aland.

Czar Alexander I of Russia conquered Finland in 1809. For the next century Finland was an autonomous duchy of Russia. After the 1917 Russian Bolshevik Revolution, Finland declared its independence. In the decade following, most newspapers were tied to political parties. By 2000, however, most were independent of political influence.

Finnish foreign policy, deeply influenced by its history of foreign dominance, is officially neutral and has helped the country to establish and maintain friendly relationships with other countries, most notably Russia. This neutrality has three basic frameworks: a special relationship with Russia; close collaboration with the other Nordic countries (Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland); and an active membership in the United Nations and the European Union.

Finland joined the United Nations in 1955, and joined the European Union in 1995. In 1999 Finland was the first Nordic country to begin using the Union's euro currency. Prior to converting to the euro, Finland's official currency was the markka (Finmark-FMK [FIM]), which was divided into one hundred pennia.

Finns adopted a new constitution that went into effect on March 1, 2000. According to the Constitution, sovereign power belongs to the citizens who are represented by 200 members of Parliament. Finland's main political parties are the Social Democratic, Finnish Centre, and the National Coalition. The minimum age to vote and to hold public office is 18.

Finns directly elect their president, while members of the Parliament elect the prime minister. The president appoints ministers who head up each of the country's 13 ministries administering governmental policies. The responsibilities of each ministry is written in the laws, however, any matters not falling within the scope of a particular ministry are handled by the prime minister's office.

With just over 2,800 newspapers published in the country in 2001, Finland ranked 18th in the world for newspaper publications and 3rd in the world, behind Japan and Norway, for newspaper circulation per 1,000 persons. Seventy-five percent of Finland's daily newspapers are delivered to subscribers each morning; the remainder is delivered by postal service. Finnish magazines also have a high subscription rate with 80 percent having regular subscribers.

Newspapers fall into four main types: national, provincial, local, and specialist. In 2000, 212 newspapers were published at least once per week, with 29 being published on a daily basis. The 55 dailies (newspapers published four or more times a week) accounted for 48 percent of the 3.8 million newspapers circulating in the year 2002. Evening newspapers published 6 days per week accounted for 20 percent of the newspaper market share. Twice weeklies accounted for 9 percent of the market share, and once weeklies accounted for 8 percent.

Of the 186 newspapers for which the Finnish Audit Bureau of Circulations reported data for 2001, 128 (69 percent) had circulations below 10,000; 19 (10 percent) had circulations from 10,000 to 25,000; 14 (7.5 percent) had circulations from 25,000 to 50,000; 11 (6 percent) had circulations from 50,000 to 100,000; 12 (6.5 percent) had circulations from 100,000 to 500,000; and 2 (1 percent) had circulations over 500,000. None had circulations over 650,000.

The top 10 daily newspapers in 2001 (which may vary depending upon the source referenced), all of which were politically independent publications, were the Helsingin Sanomat (436,000); the Ilta-Sanomat (214,372); the Aamulehti (133,779); the Turun Sanomat (115,000); the Kaleva (84,106); the Keskisuomalainen (77,475); theSavon Sanomat (67,185); the Eetla-Suomen Sanomat (62,659); the Satakunnan Kansa (56,781); and the Ilkka (55,395). Other high circulation newspapers included the Kauppalehti (85,147), a politically independent newspaper with an economic focus published three time a week, and a once weekly Christian newspaper called the Kotimaa (54,539). Taloussanomat (31,192), a recent entry to the newspaper market focusing on economic and business affairs, entered the market in 1997. Taloussanomat is published in Helsinki.

In 2002, 11 Finnish newspapers with a total circulation of 150,000 were published in Swedish. Hufvudstadsbladet, a politically independent daily newspaper published in Helsinki, was the largest Swedish language newspaper, with a circulation of 53,815 during the week and a Sunday circulation of 56,259. Finland's second largest Swedish language newspaper, the Vasabladet, was published six times a week in Vaasa with a circulation of 26,481.

After newspapers, magazines represent the second largest mass media sector in Finland. In 1999 magazine publishers with the highest circulation rates were Yhtyneet Kuvalehdet Oy; Helsinki Media Company Oy;A-Lehdet Oy;and Oy Valitut Palat Reader's Digest Ab.

Young Finns (aged 12 to 20) are also dedicated newspaper readers. According to the 2001 Finnish Newspaper Association's national youth media usage survey, 44 percent of Finland's young people were reading a daily newspaper, with 91 percent reading a newspaper at least once a week. Twelve to twenty-year-old readers spent an average of 15 minutes a day reading newspapers. Those reading newspapers once per week were usually spending 19 minutes on Saturdays and Sundays reading them.

Newspapers have been published in Finland since 1771, when the first newspaper entitled Tidningar utgifne av et Sallskap I Abo (News Published by a Society in Turku) began circulating. Most print media produced for Finnish consumption is created by domestic enterprises. In 2002, 100 percent of Finnish newspapers, 98 percent of magazines and periodicals, and 84 percent of literature were domestically produced. In contrast, domestic television producers generated between 30 to 54 percent of Finland's national television programs.

The types of magazines read fell into the following categories: customer magazines (32.9 percent); family and general magazines (12.94 percent); women's general magazines (9.5 percent); women's special interest (6.0 percent); hobby magazines (6.0 percent); economy, technics, and trade (5.4 percent); living, building, gardening (4.3 percent); professional magazines (4.0 percent); comics (3.6 percent); motorsport, technics (3.4 percent); datatechnics, communication (2.0 percent); science and culture (2.0 percent); agricultural, forest economy, housekeeping, gardening (1.7 percent); young people's and children's magazines (1.6 percent); religion (1.7 percent); crosswords (0.9 percent); industry and building (0.1 percent).

The most popular magazine in each category was: Lusto (agriculture, forest, economy, housekeeping, gardening); Aku Ankka (comics); Elakevaen Ristkot (cross-words); Yhteishyva (customer magazines); MikroBitti (datatechnics, communication); Taloustaito Yritys (economy, technics, and trade); ET-lehti (family and general magazines); Kolramme (hobby magazines); Avotakka (living, building, gardening); Teknilkan Maalima (motor-sport, technics); Tehy (professional magazines); Kirkkoja Kaupunki(religion); Tiede (science and culture); Sotaveteraani-Krigsveteranen (social affairs and health service); Kotivinkki (women's general magazines); Hyva Terveys (women's special interest magazines); Suosikki (young people's and children's magazines).

Economic Framework

In the 1990s the European economy went through a recession that affected Finland more deeply than other countries. After 1994, however, Finland's economy, led by its telecommunications industry, recovered faster than most European countries with an average 4.8 percent gross domestic product (GDP) rate of growth. Although recovery was apparent after 1994, Finnish unemployment remains higher than the European Union (EU) average in 2002 at 9.1 percent.

Manufacturing, with 497,000 employees (21 percent), employed the largest share of Finland's labor force in 2001. In 1998, 49,000 Finns were employed in the mass communications sector. Fourteen thousand (28.5 percent) were employed in publishing; 16,000 (32.7 percent) were employed in printing; 8,000 (16.3 percent) were employed in advertising, news agencies, and data banks; 7,000 (14.3 percent) were employed in radio and television; 2,000 (4.1 percent) were employed in film, video, and phonograph; and 1,000 (2 percent) were employed in the manufacture of entertainment electronics.

Finland exports more books, pamphlets, newspapers, and periodicals than it imports. In 1997, 1,470,000 tons of newsprint were produced; 39,000 tons were imported; 1,211,000 exported and 298,000 consumed. Consumption per 1,000 inhabitants at 57,963 kilograms, was Europe's highest in 1997.

Finland's high rate of newspaper and magazine read-ership explains the preponderance of advertising dollars spent in print versus television and radio. In 2001, 58 percent of advertising dollars was spent on newspaper ads, and 17 percent was spent on magazine ads. In contrast, only 21 percent of advertising dollars was spent on television advertising, with only 3 percent spent on radio ads.

In 2000, newspaper publishing income was primarily from advertisements (61.8 percent of revenues) followed by subscriptions (32.5 percent) and sales of single copies (5.8 percent). Costs of newspaper production were fairly evenly distributed between technical production (27 percent), editing (26 percent), administration and marketing (26 percent), and distribution (21 percent).

Although individual newspaper market shares for the 10 largest daily newspapers fluctuated from 1995 to 2001, overall circulation remained relatively stable during the same period, averaging 1.4 million. For example, the largest daily newspaper, The Helsingin Sanomat lost 7.2 percent of its readers. On the other hand, the nation's the Itlalehti increased its readership by 32.2 percent.

World Bank's analysis of who controls the media, as measured by the extent to which the state owned its country's media enterprises, indicated Finland's government does not control Finland's media. All of Finland's newspapers are privately owned, reflecting a broad range of political views. In addition, the government, through its ownership of the Finnish Broadcasting Company (Ylesiradio Oy [YLE]) controls only 48 percent of the television market which does not exceed World Bank's standard for a monopoly, which is 75 percent of the market.

Since the 1980s Finland's largest newspaper companies changed from single product lines to multiple product lines including nearly all mass media products. By the late 1990s, provincial Finnish newspapers began exchanging editorial materials, producing common weekend supplements, and sharing printing capacities to reduce production costs.

Newspaper ownership was consolidating by 1999 with mergers and acquisitions resulting in increasing numbers of newspaper chains. By 1999, 26 newspaper chains were publishing 82 percent of Finland's daily newspapers. The four largest newspaper chains, Sanoma-WSOY Corporation, Alma Media Group, Turn Sanomat Group, and the Iikka Group controlled more than one-half of daily newspaper sales.

In 2000 Sanoma-WSOY was the second largest media company in the Nordic region (Denmark, Finland, Luxemburg, The Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden). Sanoma-WSOY resulted from the 1998 merger of Finland's leading book publishers, Werner Soderstrom Oy (WSOY) and the Sanoma Corporation, and Helsinki Media.

Finland's largest multimedia house, Sanoma-WSOY, publishes the country's two largest newspapers, the Helsingin Sanomat (455,000) and the afternoon newspaper Ilta-Sanomat (219,000). Sanoma-WSOY also publishes four smaller daily and seven nondaily newspapers. Helsingin Sanomat and Ilta-Sanomat accounted for 30 percent of the daily circulation.

Foreign ownership of Finnish mass media companies increased in the last decade. Swedish Marieberg of the Bonnier Group is the single largest owner of Alma Media, Finland's second largest multimedia house. Alma Media publishes six newspapers, four of which are dailies.

Press Laws

Citizens are guaranteed free speech, the right of assembly, and the right to publish uncensored texts or pictures. The Consumer Protection Act and the Act on Unfair Business Practice regulate mass media advertising. The consumer ombudsman and the marketing court control mass media advertising. Mass media advertisements cannot make unsubstantiated claims, nor can they be offensive to minority groups. The use of children in advertising is restricted, and the advertising of tobacco products is completely prohibited.

Finland acted early in its constitutional development to ensure the rights of the press by implementing the Act on the Freedom of the Press (Article Ten of the Constitution Act) in 1919. The Act guaranteed, "the right of printing and publishing writing and pictorial presentations without prior interference by anyone." Section Twelve of the Finnish Constitution guarantees freedom of expression, which ensures the "right to express, disseminate and receive information, opinions and other communications without prior prevention by anyone."

The 1919 Press Law established popular control of Finland's media by giving anyone who claimed that material printed about her or him was incorrect or offensive the right to demand correction. If the publication was found to be in error, it was obligated to grant the injured party an equal amount of type-space to be printed within two days after receiving the injured party's statement. Subsequently, in 1968, organizations of publishers and journalists established the voluntary, self-regulating Council for Mass Media (CMM).

The Council's primary purpose is to interpret "good professional practice and defend the freedom of speech and publication." CMM does not have legal authority; members voluntarily commit themselves to following ethical principles of the journalism profession. CMM has a president and nine members consisting of six media representatives (four editors and two journalists) and three members of the public. The Council president and its three public members are elected by member organizations, but they could not be members of any mass media organization.

Any private citizen or public official believing there is a breach of ethical principles in any form of mass media (newspaper, magazine, radio, or television) can lodge a complaint with the CMM. If the CMM finds through its investigation of the facts that ethics have been breached, it issues a notice that requires the party violating the principles to publish CMM's notice of findings. Complaints to the CMM are usually investigated in about three months at no charge to the person lodging the complaint.

CMM decisions are based on published guidelines that were accepted by the Union of Journalists in Finland in 1992. CMM investigated 120 public complaints in 1998. Historically CMM found in favor of the complaining party about 25 percent of the time.

In 1951 Finland adopted an Act on the Publicity of Official Documents, and in 1999 adopted the Openness of Government Activities Act. Accordingly, documents and recordings of government are considered public, unless their publication is specifically restricted by an act.

In 1966 Finnish legislation protected the confidentiality of sources by allowing journalists to refuse to reveal the identity of sources, unless it would solve a serious crime calling for a sentence of six or more years. In 1971 protection of the confidentiality of sources was extended to television journalists.


According to Freedom House's annual ratings of press freedom, Finland's media enjoyed relative freedom throughout the late twentieth century. While there are restrictions on mass media advertising, there is no "official" censorship in Finland.

State-Press Relations

Each of Finland's 13 governmental ministries has its own department responsible for disseminating public information and issuing press releases pertaining to its functions. Finland's government considers the media to be a "cultural industry." Media-related cultural industries are mass media (radio, television, and newspapers), cinema and video, publishing (books and periodicals), and sound recording.

Governmental policies related to radio, television, and newspapers are the responsibility of the Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communications. The Ministry of Education is responsible for cinema, video, and book publishing. The Finnish Audit Bureau of Circulations is responsible for recording the circulation levels of each Finnish newspaper.

The Ministry of Transport and Communications is responsible for assuring that "the public and the business community have safe and inexpensive transportation and communication services." The department's Mass Media Unit is responsible for administration of the mass media in Finland by handling television and radio broadcasting, mass media legislation, newspaper subsidies, postal services, and the economy and research of mass media.

According to the Ministry of Transport and Communications, governmental newspaper subsidies are paid to newspaper publishers to "guarantee freedom of speech and to conserve a diverse press." Subsidies to newspapers declined during the 1990s. In the early 1990s the Finnish government paid nearly 500 million FIM. By 2000 the amount of subsidies declined to 75 million FIM. Indirect support for the print press was discontinued by 1996. The two forms of newspaper subsidies remaining in effect in 2002 were "selective" subsidies intended to lower newspaper transport and delivery costs (30 million FIM) and "party" subsidies granted to political parties for their publications (45 million FIM). The amount of subsidies to political parties is divided among the parties depending upon their relative representation in Finland's Parliament.

Attitude toward Foreign Media

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for providing information pertaining to Finland's government and its operations. Within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Press and Culture Department handles communications with foreign media. The Ministry also makes arrangements for state and ministerial visits, and coordinates the press and cultural activities of the approximately 25 officials of Finland's Foreign Service. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Web site, which holds complete English translations, is the responsibility of the Ministry's Press and Culture Department.

Within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Press and Culture Department there are four units with specific media responsibilities. The Media Unit is responsible for the International Press Center for foreign journalists and arrangements for visiting dignitaries. The Information Unit is in charge of the Ministry's external information such as press releases and media inquiries. The Cultural Unit is in charge of Finnish cultural activities and international cultural cooperation, such as cultural agreements and documents, and organizing journalists' visits related to cultural affairs. The Publications Unit handles external publications, the Press and Culture Department's library, and the maintenance of "Virtual Finland," the Foreign Ministry's Web site, the journal Kauppapolitiikka, and the annual Press Directory.

Citizens of Nordic countries do not need a work or residence permit to work or live in Finland. Citizens of European Union countries do not need to obtain a visa to enter or work in Finland but must obtain a residence permit issued by local police departments. Foreign citizens who are not members of either the Nordic or European Union countries must obtain residence and work permits in order to stay in the country longer than three months. Valid passports and a statement from the Finnish Department of Labor (which a Finnish employer must obtain for the foreign citizen) are required to secure Finnish residency and work permits. Foreigners who become eligible to live in Finland are subject to Finnish laws as well as Finnish protections. Foreign residents can choose where to live and can freely leave the country.

News Agencies

The 2002 Press Directory, published by the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, listed four news agencies. Two of the agencies, Keskustan Sanomakeskus and Up-Uutispalevlu are located in Helsinki. Startel News Agency, located in Sanomat, is an independent news agency. Svensk Press Janst, located in Helsinki is an independent Swedish language news agency.

In addition to the news agencies listed in the directory, Finland's Ministry of Foreign Affairs offers news analysis, parliamentary speeches, and articles about Finland from the foreign press. The service, Newsroom Finland, is available at the Ministry's Web site. The American Embassy also offers press and cultural affairs services at its Helsinki offices at the American Resource Center (e-mail: [email protected].)

Press Associations and Information Bureaus in the directory included the Association of European Journalists; the Association of Finnish Economic Correspondents; the Association of Finnish Foreign News Journalists; the Council for Mass Media; the Finnish Association of Magazine Editors-in-Chief; the Finnish Newspapers Association; the Finnish Periodical Publishers' Association; the Guild of Finnish Editors; the International Press Institute; the Association of Finnish Third World Development Journalists; the Political Journalists Association; Taloudellinen Tiedotustoimisto (Finnfacts); Union of Journalists in Finland; and the Western Foreign Press Club.

The Union of Journalists in Finland has about 10,000 members, 50 percent of whom are women. In addition, the Women Journalists in Finland, founded in 1946, is one of Finland's oldest journalist associations. The Women Journalists association's goals are to improve the professional skills of its members and to improve the position of female journalists in newsrooms and editorial offices. They annually select a "Torchbearer of the Year" who, through her activities, brings consciousness and debate on a current issue or problem to the public's attention.

The 2002 Press Directory listed 19 foreign news agencies and over 120 foreign correspondents. Associated Press and Reuters, along with the other foreign news agencies, had offices in Helsinki.

Broadcast Media

Commercial and public television services entered the landscape in 1957. Four domestic national television channels and six national radio networks operate in Finland. The country's first private local radio stations were established in 1985. The state-owned Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) broadcasts at the national level with three channels in Finnish and one in Swedish. The Companies Act and the Bookkeeping Act legislation govern YLE.

YLE's operations are based on a license issued by the Finnish Council of State (1994 Broadcasting Act). Under the legislation of the 1994 Broadcasting Act, YLE operates or supervises all television and radio broadcasting. YLE is prohibited from advertising or carrying sponsored programs on its radio and television channels; and is required to offer services in Swedish, Sami, and other minority languages. Fifty-seven percent of all television programs were domestically produced in 2001. About one-half of the foreign-produced television programs were from other European countries and about 30 percent from the United States. Foreign television programming is shown with subtitles.

YLE's largest revenues are from license fees, providing service to television companies such as YLE, MTV3, and Channel Four. The Finnish television broadcasting companies cooperatively agree to classify programs unsuitable to children under age 16. Programs considered unsuitable are broadcast after 9:00 P.M. In January 1999 YLE transferred ownership of its broadcasting distribution network to its subsidiary Digita Ltd. In November 1999 Sonera, Finland's largest telecommunications company, bought a large share in Digita Ltd.

Cable television expanded rapidly during the 1980s, and by 1995 over one-third of Finnish households had cable television. The government issues cable licenses. Cable networks are required to carry a certain proportion of domestic productions. The state also imposes advertising quotas, stating that commercials may not occupy more than 11 percent of the programming time.

The largest telecommunication company, Sonera, announced its intent to merge with another Finnish telecommunication company, Telia, in March 2002. The merger will make them the leading telecommunications group in the Nordic and Baltic regions.

Electronic News Media

Finland's information technology knowledge has increased along with the industry itself. 60 percent of all Finns are able to use a computer. In 1999, 38 percent of the population had access to the internet, ranking second to the United States in per capita Internet connections. By 2000, nearly 90 percent of Finnish organizations employing more than 10 persons indicated they used the Internet. Further, 80 percent indicated they had their own home page.

In 2001 Finland's electronic news media was penetrating the print media's traditional market, with a 1 percent share of total national advertising expenditure going to Internet advertising. Nearly 200 Finnish journalistic publications were available on the Web, and all major media companies had their own Web sites, providing news and information in Finnish, Swedish, and English.

FinnFacts (Taloudellinen Tiedotustoimisto ), a media service acting as a liaison between foreign media and Finnish industry, provides Internet accessible information about Finnish society. FinnFacts publishes business and industry information through its network of domestic and international contacts. It also arranges visits for members of the foreign media wanting to learn about the country's industries and innovations.

Education & Training

Finnish commitment to reading reflects on the national commitment to education and literacy. Article Twenty of the Finnish Constitution guarantees provision of free education through the university level. The Finnish education system is divided into four categories: comprehensive, general secondary, vocational secondary, and higher education.

In 2001 there were 10 multidisciplinary universities (yliopisto ). In addition, there were 6 single discipline universities, 3 art academies, and over 20 polytechnic schools (ammattikorkeakoulut ). The categories of higher education degrees offered by Finland's universities are the Bachelors, the Masters, and two graduate degrees, the licentiate and the doctorate.

Finland was the first of its Nordic cousins to offer a degree program in journalism in 1925; The University of Helsinki followed in 1965 and Jyvaskyla in 1985. In 1960 The University of Tampere became the leading Finnish university for journalism studies. Between 1960 and 1990 the University graduated 400 professional journalists (with B.A. degrees) and 900 masters degree students majoring or minoring in the field. Since 1993 Tampere's program averages 35 to 40 M.A. graduates. Annual new enrollment in journalism programs averages 80 at Tampere, 20 at Helsinki, and 20 at Jyvaskyla.

Journalism-related degree programs are available at the University of Helsinki, the University of Tampere, the University of Jyvaskyla, and the University of Arts and Design Helsinki. The University of Helsinki's Department of Communication, founded in 1978, accepts 35 students each year. Its journalism program includes courses in general communication theory, study of mass communication, organizational and interpersonal communication, communication policies and technologies, and the media. The University of Tampere's Journalism and Mass Communication program includes courses in theories of communication, media economy and policy, media analysis and criticism, media research issues, Finnish media and communication systems, and current issues in communication and information sciences in Finland. The University of Jyvaskyla's Department of Communications offers courses in journalism, speech, organizational communication, and public relations. The University of Art and Design Helsinki offers degree programs in Film and TV studies, and in Journalism Photography.

Most degree programs require 140 to 160 credits consisting of basic studies, professional studies, elective studies, job training, and a written thesis. Finland's degree students learn the fundamentals of the field in which they major, its importance in the work world, in Finnish society, and internationally. Students are also required to take language studies in both their native language and at least two more foreign languages.

Enrollment at Finland's universities in 2001 was 162,800. Eighty-five percent of Finnish university students were undergraduates. About 21,000 (15 percent) were postgraduate students. Entry was highly competitive with only 43 percent (28,400) of the 65,400 applicants being accepted. In the "open university" system 83,200 students were enrolled, and another 106,700 Finns participated in continuing education.

In addition to the professionally recognized journalism degree programs, the Union of Journalists, as well as media employers, offer journalism-related courses through the university centers. For example, Helsingin Sanomat, Finland's multimedia giant, offers in-house education programs in journalism, and the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) has its own Radio and Television Institute for its staff. Media courses are also available at the civic colleges.

Journalism and media related centers providing research, training, and publicity related to journalism operate at the University of Tampere at the Journalism Research Centre. A regional center, The Nordic Centre for Media and Communication Research, whose focus includes Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, headquarters in Sweden with a branch at the University of Tampere.

Non-Finnish students can obtain residency permits in order to study in the country, provided they demonstrate they have enough funds to support themselves. During the period in which they are studying at Finnish universities, foreign students are able to work without a permit. The Centre for International Mobility (CIMO), a unit of the Finnish Ministry of Education located in Helsinki, promotes international student exchange programs.


Finland's overall daily newspaper circulation remains relatively stable at about 1.4 million each year, indicating market saturation has occurred. Finnish newspaper publishers have responded to the market saturation by merging companies and by reducing publication costs. Mass media consolidation leading to the creation of multimedia enterprises picked up steam in the late 1990s with more newspapers operating as chains and increased sharing of editorials, weekend supplements, and printing capacities among the provincial newspapers.

Advertisers wishing to reach consumers are likely to continue having success with newspapers, since 9 out of 10 Finnish adults read a daily newspaper. However, it is likely that in a society as well-educated as Finland that the ease of Internet access and its continually fresh content will eventually cut into not only the traditional newspaper subscriber market but also the traditional advertising market.

Since Finland liberalized foreign investment restrictions in 1993 and joined the European Union in 1995, internationalization of Finnish mass media companies has increased. Initially the increase resulted in more Finnish media companies buying companies outside the country. However, because of their closeness to and expertise in the Baltic States and the independent states of the former Soviet Union, Finns are hoping to attract more foreign investors by serving as a gateway to those countries. Finland's promotion of foreign investments will undoubtedly result in continued consolidation of its own mass media ownership under the control of fewer and fewer multimedia giantsespecially those wishing to tap into the potential markets of the former Soviet Union.

Significant Dates

  • 1999: Finland is first Nordic country to adopt the euro (European Union currency).
  • 1999: Finland's state-owned television broadcaster, The Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE), transferred ownership of its distribution network to its subsidiary Digita Ltd. Later in the year, Sonera purchased a large share of Digita.
  • March 2000: Finns adopt a new constitution.
  • 2002: Sonera and Telia announced their intent to merge, which would make them the leading telecommunications group in the Nordic and Baltic regions.


Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The World Factbook 2002. Available from

Finland Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Department for Press and Culture. Finland Press Directory: 2002. Helsinki: Edita Publishing, 2002.

Finland Ministry of Education. "Education, Training and Research in the Information Society: A National Strategy, 2000-2004." Helsinki: 1999.

Finland Ministry of Finance, Statistics Finland. "Mass communication as employer 1980-1998)." Updated 25 September 2001.

."Mass media turnover 1980-2000." 17 June 2002.

."Population by age and sex 1950-2000." 17 June 2002.

."Share of domestic production in different sectors of mass communication." 17 June 2002.

Finnish Audit Bureau of Circulations. "Circulations of Periodicals 2001." 18 June 2002.

. "Newspapers 1990-2001." 28 May 2002.

Finnish Newspapers Association. "Facts about the Finnish Press." 2001.

Nordicom. "Media Trends 2001 in Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Norway, Sweden: Statistics and Analysis." Sweden: 2002.

Solsten, Eric, and Meditz, Sandra W., eds. Finland: A Country Study. Washington, D.C.: Federal Research Division, U.S. Library of Congress, 1990.

Stockmann, Doris, Niklas Bengtsson, and Yrjo Repo. "The Book Trade in Finland." 1999.

Sussman, Leonard R., and Karen Deutsch Karlekar, eds. "The Annual Survey of Press Freedom 2002." New York: Freedom House, 2002.

Union of Journalists in Finland. "Guidelines For Good Journalistic Practice." Adopted by the Union of Journalists in Finland in November 1991, entered into force on January 1, 1992.

U.S. Census Bureau. International Database. Washington, D.C., 2000.

U.S. Department of State. "Background Note: Finland." Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs: Washington, D.C., June 1999.

. "FY 2001 Country Commercial Guide." U.S. Embassy Helsinki: Bureau of Economic and Business, July 2000.

U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs. "2001 Country Reports on Economic Policy and Trade Practices." Washington, D.C., February 2002.

Sandra J. Callaghan

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Finland." World Press Encyclopedia. . 9 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Finland." World Press Encyclopedia. . (July 9, 2018).

"Finland." World Press Encyclopedia. . Retrieved July 09, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.


Finland, Finnish Suomi (swô´mē), officially Republic of Finland, republic (2005 est. pop. 5,223,000), 130,119 sq mi (337,009 sq km), N Europe. It borders on the Gulf of Bothnia and Sweden in the west, on Norway in the north, on Russia in the east, and on the Gulf of Finland and the Baltic Sea in the south. The country includes the Åland Islands, located at the mouth of the Gulf of Bothnia. Helsinki is Finland's capital and its largest city.

Land and People

Finland falls into three main geographical zones. In the south and west is a low-lying coastal strip (20–80 mi/30–130 km wide) that includes most of the country's major cities and much of its arable land. The coastal strip rises slightly to a vast forested interior plateau (average elevation: 300–600 ft/90–180 m) that includes about 60,000 lakes, many of which are linked by short rivers, sounds, or canals to form busy commercial waterways. The largest lakes are Saimaa, Inari, and Päijänne. The Kemijoki and Oulujoki are the longest rivers of the region and, with the Torniojoki, are important logging waterways. The country's third zone lies north of the Arctic Circle and is part of Lapland (Finnish, Lappi). The region is thinly wooded or barren and has an average elevation of about 1,100 ft (340 m); it is somewhat higher in the northwest, where Haltiatunturi (4,344 ft/1,324 m), Finland's loftiest point, is located. Altogether, Finland is made up of about three-quarters forest and woodland; around 10% of the country is water surface and 7% is arable land.

In addition to Helsinki, other important cities include Espoo, Hämeenlinna, Joensuu, Jyväskylä, Kemi, Kotka, Kuopio, Lahti, Lappeenranta, Oulu, Pori, Tampere, Turku, Vaasa, and Vantaa. Finnish and Swedish are both official languages, and about 6% of the population speaks Swedish as a first language; nearly all Swedish speakers are bilingual. In addition, there are about 3,000 Sami (Lapps) living in Finnish Lapland. About 85% of Finland's inhabitants belong to the established Evangelical Lutheran Church.


Long an agricultural country, Finland accelerated the pace of its industrialization after World War II. By the end of the 20th cent., manufacturing, services, and trade and transportation were the largest segments of the economy, while agriculture (plus forestry and fishing) accounted for less than 5% of employment and GDP.

In agriculture, livestock production is predominant, and dairy products are important. Large numbers of poultry, cattle, hogs, reindeer, and sheep are raised. Leading agricultural commodities include barley, wheat, hay, oats, rye, sugar beets, and potatoes. Though Finland's mining output is small, it includes a number of important minerals such as iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, chromite, nickel, gold, and silver. The Finnish lumbering industry is one of the largest in Europe, producing a variety of wood and paper products.

Among the country's chief industries are food processing and the manufacture of iron, steel, electrical and electronic equipment (especially cellular phones), machinery, scientific instruments, ships, pulp and paper, chemicals, textiles, and clothing. Finland is also known for its design of glass, ceramics, and stainless-steel cutlery. Its tourism industry is based mostly on winter sports and fishing. About 20% of the country's electricity is generated by hydroelectric plants and 30% by nuclear power; additional electricity and fossil fuels must be imported.

The leading exports are forest products (which account for about 50% of exports), machinery and equipment, metals, ships, clothing, and processed foods. The chief imports are foodstuffs, petroleum and petroleum products, chemicals, transportation equipment, iron and steel, machinery, textiles, and grains. The principal trade partners are Germany, Russia, Sweden, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.


Finland is governed under the constitution of 2000. The president, who is the head of state, is elected by popular vote to a six-year term and is eligible for a second term. The new constitution reduced the powers of the president, who previously was responsible for foreign affairs. The prime minister, appointed by the president from the parliamentary majority and confirmed by Parliament, is the head of government. Legislation is enacted by the unicameral Parliament (Eduskunta), whose 200 members are elected to four-year terms by a system of proportional representation. Administratively the country is divided into six provinces.


Early History to Independence

Finland's first inhabitants, dating from about 7000 BC, probably followed the melting ice northward, attracted by a good supply of game. The first Finnish-speaking persons to enter the region, who were mostly nomadic hunters and fishers, migrated into Finland from the south. By the 8th cent. they had displaced the small number of Sami who lived in central and S Finland and who were forced to move to the far north of the country, where they live today. The Finns were organized in small-scale political units, with only loose ties beyond the clan level.

From the 11th cent. Christian missionaries were active in Finland. In the 13th cent. Sweden conquered the country. Under the Swedes, Finland enjoyed considerable independence, its political sophistication grew, commerce increased, and the Swedish language and culture were spread. In the mid-16th cent. Lutheranism was established in Finland, and in 1581 the country was raised to the rank of grand duchy.

Finland suffered severely in the recurring wars between Sweden and Russia. In 1696 famine wiped out almost a third of the population. By the Treaty of Nystad (1721), which ended the Northern War, Peter I of Russia acquired the province of Vyborg (Viipuri), and additional areas were lost to Russia in 1743. During the Napoleonic Wars, Finland was invaded (1808) by Russia, at the time an ally of Napoleon I, in an attempt to pressure Sweden into altering its pro-British stance. Despite considerable Finnish resistance, Russia conquered the country and annexed it in 1809.

In the 19th cent., the czars, who were also grand dukes of Finland, allowed the country wide-ranging autonomy, and as a result Finland was able to develop its own democratic system with little interference from St. Petersburg. In 1811, Russia returned to Finland the territory it had taken in 1721 and 1743. In 1812, Finland's capital was moved from Turku to Helsinki. Government in the country was headed by a Russian governor-general (the personal representative of the czar) in conjunction with the Finnish senate; in addition, there was a Finnish minister of state in St. Petersburg who dealt directly with the czar.

Finnish nationalism became a powerful movement early in the 19th cent.; it was inspired by such leaders as the poet J. L. Runeberg; the statesman and philosopher J. V. Snellman, whose promotion of the Finnish language helped it to achieve official status in 1863; and the philologist Elias Lönnrot, who compiled the monumental epic Kalevala. The intensive Russification campaign (begun in 1899) of Czar Nicholas II brought determined resistance in Finland, including the assassination (1904) of Nikolai Bobrikov, the governor-general, and a general strike (1905). Under terms obtained in 1906, a unicameral parliament (whose members were elected by universal suffrage) was established, but it was given little authority by the czar. Following the Bolshevik success in the Russian Revolution (1917), the parliament proclaimed (Dec. 6, 1917) the independence of Finland.

The New Republic and the USSR

In the ensuing civil war (Jan.–May, 1918) between the leftist Red Guard (supported by some 40,000 Soviet troops and favoring close ties with the USSR) and the conservative Finnish-nationalist White Guard, led by Marshal Carl Gustav Emil Mannerheim and aided by German troops, the White Guard emerged victorious. After brief periods of rule under Pehr Ervind Svinhufvud (1918) and Mannerheim (1918–19), a republic was established and its first president, Kaarlo Juho Stahlberg, elected (1919). By the Treaty of Tartu in 1920, the USSR recognized Finland's independence.

Agrarian and social reforms enacted after 1918 did much to heal the wounds of civil war, but deep scars remained, and they contributed to the rise of extreme rightist and leftist movements. As a result, there was considerable political instability in the 1920s and early 1930s; there were several government crises, and most ministries were based on coalitions. The Communist party, suppressed in 1923, remained active until it was effectively removed from the scene by discriminatory laws in 1930, and the rightist Lapua movement, originating in anti-Communist disturbances in 1929, was itself suppressed after an unsuccessful coup in 1932.

Finland was active in the League of Nations, which it joined in 1920, and it was the only European country to continue to honor its World War I debts to the United States after the advent of the economic depression at the start of the 1930s. During the 1930s, Finland followed a neutralist foreign policy, and in 1932 it signed a nonaggression treaty with the USSR. In late Nov., 1939, shortly after the start of World War II, Finland was attacked by Soviet troops, and despite spirited Finnish resistance organized by Mannerheim, the USSR easily emerged victorious by early 1940 (see Finnish-Russian War). By the treaty of Moscow (Mar. 12, 1940), Finland ceded the Rybachi Peninsula, its part of the Karelian Isthmus (including Vyborg), and land bordering on Lake Ladoga; in addition, the USSR gained a 30-year lease of the port of Hanko. Some 400,000 residents of the ceded territories relocated to Finland.

When Germany attacked the USSR in June, 1941, Finland allied itself with Germany, hoping thereby to regain territory from the USSR. Great Britain, but not the United States, declared war on Finland. After some initial Finnish successes, Soviet troops mounted a strong offensive in 1944 and forced Finland to sign an armistice in Sept., 1944. This agreement confirmed the cessions of territory Finland had made in 1940; however, instead of Hanko, the USSR was given a lease on the Porkkala peninsula near Helsinki. In addition, Finland was required to pay an indemnity to the USSR and to force the Germans to evacuate the country. In the ensuing warfare with Germany, N Finland was devastated.

Postwar Finland

After the war, by a peace treaty signed in Paris in 1947, the 1944 armistice was largely confirmed; Finland was obliged to pay the USSR $300 million in reparations and to cede the Karelian Isthmus (with Vyborg), Pechenga (Petsamo) in the far north, and additional border districts in the east. The USSR was given a 50-year lease to the Porkkala region. About 420,000 Finns left the territory ceded to the USSR and were resettled in Finland. Despite great difficulties, Finland completed its reparations payments by 1952; in 1948, the USSR had reduced the amount by about $74 million. In 1956 Porkkala was returned to Finland.

In the immediate postwar period, Communists (working through the Finnish People's Democratic League) won a substantial number of seats in parliament and held several high-level cabinet posts, including for a short time that of prime minister. However, beginning in 1948, the Communists' power began to wane, and the Social Democrats and the Agrarian Union (in 1965 renamed the Center party) dominated politics from then on. These parties almost invariably had to form coalition governments either with each other or with other, smaller, parties. In 1955, Finland joined the United Nations.

A Neutral Finland

Although during the late 1950s and early 1960s the USSR exercised some influence over internal Finnish politics (forcing, for example, the withdrawal of a candidate for president in 1962), during this period Finland began to follow a more neutral course in relation to the Soviets. In 1966, Communists were included in a coalition cabinet for the first time since 1948. In 1973 parliament passed an extraordinary law extending Urho Kekkonen's third term as president (he had been elected in 1956 and reelected in 1962 and 1968) for four years to 1978. He remained in office until 1981, when he was replaced by Mauno Koivisto.

The Finnish Communist party gradually lost influence throughout the 1970s, and finally split in 1985 along nationalistic and pro-Moscow lines. In the 1987 elections, the Conservatives filled the gap left by the Communists, and Conservative Prime Minister Harri Holkeri took office in 1987, heading a coalition government that included the Social Democrats. This left the Center party as the opposition for the first time since independence. The economic collapse of the USSR in 1991 caused a severe recession in Finland, as the country had traded extensively with the Soviets. Soviet disintegration also led to the scrapping of a 1948 Finnish-Soviet defense treaty and to a pledge by Russia to treat its Finnish neighbor as an equal.

In 1991, Esko Aho became prime minister, heading a center-right government, but his party suffered heavy losses in 1995 elections, and a left-right coalition government headed by Social Democrat Paavo Lipponen came into office. In 1994, Martti Ahtisaari, a Social Democrat and diplomat, became Finland's first president elected by direct popular vote (election was previously by an electoral college). Throughout the 1990s, Finland focused on reducing unemployment and increasing its integration with Western Europe; it became a member of the European Union in 1995. Tarja Halonen, the foreign minister, was elected president in 2000 and reelected in 2006; she was the first woman to hold the office.

Parliamentary elections in Mar., 2003, gave a narrow plurality to the opposition Center party, and party leader Anneli Jäätteenmäki became prime minister, heading a center-left government. The use of leaked government documents during the campaign by Jäätteenmäki, who had become the first female prime minister of Finland, led to her resignation in June, and Matti Vanhanen, also of the Center party, succeeded her. Jäätteenmäki, however, was subsequently acquitted on charges relating to the incident.

The parliamentary elections of Mar., 2007, again gave the Center party a narrow plurality; Vanhanen remained in office at the head of a reconstituted, center-right coalition. Vanhanen stepped down as Center party leader in June, 2010, and Mari Kiviniemi, the new leader, then also succeeded him as prime minister. In the Apr., 2011, parliamentary elections all the major parties lost seats, but the Eurosceptic and nationalist True Finns party, which had previously held a handful of seats, placed third with almost one fifth of the vote and won 39 seats. The conservative National Coalition party (NCP), which won a plurality, secured 44 seats. In June a mulitparty government led by the NCP and with Jyrki Katainen as prime minister was formed.

Sauli Niinistö, the NCP candidate, won the presidency in Feb., 2012; he became the first conservative to be elected to the office in half a century. Katainen stepped down as prime minister in June, 2014, and Alexander Stubb, also of the NCP, succeeded him. The NCP lost the Apr., 2015, elections to the Center party, led by businessman Juha Sipilä, who became prime minister of a coalition cabinet that also included the NCP and True Finns.


See J. H. Wuorinen, A History of Finland (1965); E. M. Kivikoski, Finland (tr. 1967); H. Kallas and S. Nickels, Finland (1968); W. R. Mead, Finland (1968); J. Nousiainen, The Finnish Political System (tr. 1971); A. F. Upton, The Finnish Revolution (1981); A. Rajanen, Of Finnish Ways (1984); R. Allison, Finland's Relationship with the Soviet Union (1985); T. Polvinen, Between East and West: Finland in International Politics (1986); H. Lange, Finland (1987); R. Alapuro, State and Revolution in Finland (1988); M. Engman and D. Kirby, ed., Finland (1989).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Finland." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . 9 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Finland." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . (July 9, 2018).

"Finland." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved July 09, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.



Finland, a country of approximately five million people, located in northeastern Europe, was part of the Russian Empire from 1809 to 1917. It gained its independence in the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, and had a complex, close, and occasionally troubled relationship with the Soviet Union. After the collapse of the USSR, Finland began to turn more toward the West, joining the European Union in 1995.

Finns are not Slavs. They speak a Finno-Ugric language, closely related to Estonian and more distantly to Hungarian. The territory of modern-day Finland was inhabited as early as 7000 B.C.E., but there is no written record of the earliest historical period. During the ninth century C.E., Finns accompanied the Varangians on expeditions that led to the founding of Kievan Rus. The Finnish peoples maintained close trading ties with several early Russian cities, especially Novgorod, while from the west they were influenced by the nascent Swedish state.

under swedish rule

Starting in the twelfth century, most of Finland was absorbed by the Swedish kingdom. Legend tells of a crusade led by King Erik in 1155 that established Christianity in Finland. The Swedes and Novgorod fought several conflicts in and around Finland during this time. The Peace of Noteborg in 1323 established a rough boundary between Swedish and Russian lands, with some Finns (Karelians) living on the eastern side of the border and adopting the Orthodox faith. Although the Swedes were Catholic at the time of the conquest, they broke with Rome under Gustavus Vasa (15231560), and Lutheranism was established as the official religion of Sweden and Finland in 1593. The Finnish lands enjoyed some local autonomy under the Swedes, and the Finnish nobility had certain political rights. Swedish was the language of the upper classes and remains an official language in Finland in the early twenty-first century.

During the mid-sixteenth century, Sweden became embroiled in several wars of religion and state expansion with Denmark, Poland, and Russia. Russia and Sweden fought over territory along the Arctic Ocean, and Sweden intervened during Russia's Time of Troubles (15981613). Later, under Gustavus Adolphus (16111632), the Treaty of Stolbova (1617) gave substantial territory on both sides of the Gulf of Finland to Sweden, thereby enabling it to control trade routes from the Baltic to Russia.

Under Charles XII (16971718) and Peter I (16821725), Sweden and Russia fought a major war for control of the Baltic. In 1714, Russia occupied Finland after the Battle of Storkro. However, in 1721, in the Treaty of Nystad (Uusikaupunki), the Russians withdrew from most of Finland (keeping the region of Karelia in the east) in return for control over Estonia and Livonia. More than 500,000 Finns, roughly half the population, died during this long conflict, and the national economy was ruined. Another war between Russia and Sweden from 1741 to 1743 again resulted in the Russian occupation of Finland. However, in accordance with the Peace of Turku (1743), Russia withdrew from most of Finland, although it did annex some additional lands in the eastern part of the country. There were no further border changes after the third war between the two states from 1788 to 1790.

under russian rule

In 1808, as a result of a Russian alliance with Napoleonic France, Russia attacked Sweden and again occupied Finland. This time, however, Finland was incorporated into the empire as an autonomous grand duchy, with Tsar Alexander I becoming its first grand duke. Under this arrangement, the Finns were to enjoy religious freedom, and Finland, in Alexander's words, would "take its place in the rank of nations, governed by its own laws." Russia returned land to the Finns, and most of them accepted Russian rule. During the nineteenth century Finland experienced a national awakening, spurred by developments in the arts, language, and culture, and political parties began to organize around national issues. By the end of the century, when Alexander III and Nicholas II tried to assert Russia's authority in Finland, there was resentment and resistance, culminating in the assassination of the Russian governor general in 1904.


Before and during the fateful events of 1917, many Russian revolutionaries, including Vladimir Lenin, took refuge in Finland, where there were active socialist and communist parties. After the Bolsheviks seized power, the Finns, taking advantage of the breakdown in central authority, declared independence on December 6, 1917. Later that month, Lenin recognized Finnish independence. Nonetheless, there was fighting in Finland during the Russian Civil War between Reds, backed by Moscow, and anti-communist Whites, backed by Sweden and Germany. The Whites prevailed, exacting vengeance on those Reds who did not flee to Russia. Finland made peace with Russia in 1920 with the Treaty of Tartu and adopted a constitution creating a democratic republic that continues to remain in effect. During the 1920s and 1930s Finnish democracy came under assault by both left-wing and right-wing groups, the former allied with the communists in the USSR and the latter attracted to Germany's Adolf Hitler and Italy's Benito Mussolini.

Finland's democracy survived, but a more serious threat was posed by Soviet military action. After the Germans and Soviets carved up Poland and the Baltic states during the fall of 1939, Finland found itself the target of territorial demands of Joseph Stalin. The Soviets demanded border changes around Leningrad and in the far north, islands in the Gulf of Finland, and a naval base in southern Finland. Diplomatic efforts to find a peaceful solution failed, and Soviet forces invaded Finland on November 30, 1939. Finland received assistance from Western countries, and its forces fought ferociously against the Soviets, who according to some accounts suffered 100,000 dead.

Nonetheless, the Finns were outnumbered and outgunned. In March 1940 they agreed to the Soviet territorial demands, and more than 400,000 Finns left their homes rather than become citizens of the Soviet state. Continuing economic and military demands by the USSR eventually made Finland turn to Germany for assistance. Finnish troops advanced with the Germans in June 1941 when Germany attacked the USSR, precipitating, in effect, another war with the Soviets. In 1943 and 1944, as the tide of the war turned against Germany, Finland made

peace with the USSR and turned on the Germans, but it had to make additional territorial concessions to Moscow, most of which were incorporated into the USSR's Autonomous Republic of Karelia. Thus Finland enjoyed the dubious distinction of fighting both the Soviets and the Germans, and the country was devastated by years of war.

Although Finland was subjected to Russian influence during the war, the Finns avoided the fate of the East European states, which became communist satellites of the Soviet Union. Instead, in 1948, Finland signed an Agreement of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance with the USSR that allowed it to keep its democratic constitution but prohibited it from joining in any anti-Soviet alliance. This agreement is sometimes derided as "Finlandization": Finland retained its constitutional freedoms but gave the USSR an effective veto over its foreign policy (e.g., it had close trade links with the USSR but did not join NATO or the European Community) and, on some questions, its domestic politics (e.g., anti-Soviet writers could not be published in Finland; Finnish politicians had to publicly affirm their confidence in Soviet policy). This was especially the case under President Urho Kekkonen (19561981), who had close ties with Moscow. Nonetheless, Finland was generally regarded as a nonaligned, neutral state. This culminated with the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe of 1975, which led, among other things, to the Helsinki Accords, an important human rights agreement that would later be used against the communist rulers of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. During the postwar period, Finland, like the other Scandinavian states, developed a social-democratic welfare state, and Finns enjoyed one of the highest standards of living in the world.

After the Soviet Union collapsed, Finland and Russia signed a new treaty in 1992, which ended the "special relationship" between the two states. Trade ties have suffered because of Russia's economic collapse, and Finns increasingly have looked to the West for economic relationships. Finland joined the European Union in 1995, and enjoys close ties with the Baltic states, particularly Estonia.

See also: estonia and estonians; finns and karelians; nationalities policies, tsarist; nystadt, treaty of; soviet-finnish war


Allison, Roy. (1985). Finland's Relations with the Soviet Union, 19441984. London: Macmillan.

Kirby, David G., ed. (1975). Finland and Russia, 18081920: From Independence to Autonomy. London: Macmillan.

Kirby, David G. (1979). Finland in the Twentieth Century. London: Hurst.

Singleton, Fred, and Upton, Anthony F. (1998). A Short History of Finland. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Tanner, Vaino. (1957). The Winter War: Finland Against Russia, 19391940. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Paul J. Kubicek

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Finland." Encyclopedia of Russian History. . 9 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Finland." Encyclopedia of Russian History. . (July 9, 2018).

"Finland." Encyclopedia of Russian History. . Retrieved July 09, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.



Official name: Republic of Finland

Area: 305,470 square kilometers (117,942 square miles)

Highest point on mainland: Mount Haltia (1,328 meters/4,343 feet)

Lowest point on land: Sea level

Hemispheres: Northern and Eastern

Time zone: 2 p.m.= noon GMT

Longest distances: 540 kilometers (335 miles) from east to west; 1,160 kilometers (719 miles) from north to south

Land boundaries: 2,628 kilometers (1,629 miles) total boundary length; Norway 729 kilometers (452 miles); Sweden 586 kilometers (363 miles)

Coastline: 1,126 kilometers (698 miles)

Territorial sea limits: 22 kilometers (12 nautical miles)


Located in northeastern Europe, Finland is one of the world's northernmost countriesroughly one-third of the country lies north of the Arctic Circle. Finland covers 305,470 square kilometers (117,942 square miles), or slightly less than the state of Montana, and has six provinces.


The Åland Islands, in the Gulf of Bothnia off the southwest coast, are an autonomous region of Finland. They have an area of 1,552 square kilometers (600 square miles) and encompass over 6,500 islands and islets, only about 80 of which are inhabited. They are farther from shore than any of Finland's other islands.


In spite of its proximity to the Arctic Circle, Finland has a relatively mild climate, thanks to the warming influence of the Gulf Stream. Temperatures are coldest in the north, however, with winter lows down to 30°C below zero (22°F below zero) and permanent snowcaps resting on the northern slopes of its highest peaks. Temperatures for the country as a whole average -14°C to -3 °C (7°F to 27°F) in winter and about 13°C to 18°C (55°F to 65°F) in summer. Summer temperatures average about 20°C (68°F) in the southern part of the country, with daytime summer highs reaching 30°C (86°F). Average annual precipitation (a mix of both snow and rain) varies from about 43 centimeters (17 inches) in the north to 71 centimeters (28 inches) in the south.

The north of Finland is famous for its "midnight sun." For about seventy days beginning in mid-May, the sun never sets and is visible even at night. Even the southern part of the country can have as many as nineteen hours of sunlight on summer days. Another climate-related phenomenon experienced in the north is kaamos, the sunless winter, when it is dark even at the height of day, and spectacular displays of northern light often are visible in the sky.


Finland is a generally low-lying country. The terrain is close to sea level in the southern half of the country, rising in the north and northeast. Nearly the entire northern half of Finland, including its most elevated terrain, belongs to the larger region known as Lapland, which stretches across Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia, lying largely within the Arctic Circle. It is one of the coldest zones in Europe, and is home to such wildlife species as tundra reindeer. The easternmost part of Finland is called Karelia, where native brown bears roam. Part of Karelia was ceded to the Soviet Union at the close of World War II.


Finland is located northeast of the Baltic Sea. At some points, only a narrow strip of land in Norway separates Finland from the Barents Sea to the north, and some of its rivers drain northward in that direction.

Seacoast and Undersea Features

There are thousands of small islands dotting the coast of Finland.

Sea Inlets and Straits

Finland is bordered on the west by the Gulf of Bothnia and on the south by the Gulf of Finland.

Islands and Archipelagos

Aside from the Åland Islands (see Territories and Dependencies), other major island groups include the Turku Archipelago, which lies between the Åland Islands and the mainland, and a group of islands lying off the western coast near Vaasa. The southwest islands rise to elevations of over 122 meters (400 feet). There is also a group of low-lying islands off the southeast coast in the Gulf of Finland.

Coastal Features

Finland's heavily indented coastal zone, which has been called the "golden horseshoe," is dominated by the cities of Helsinki and Turku, the former capital of the country. The entire coast is paralleled by an island zone, which reaches its greatest breadth and complexity in the southwest with the Turku Archipelago.


Finland's outstanding physical feature is the multitude of lakes that were formed when the glaciers retreated at the close of the Ice Age. The same phenomenon created the marshes that gave Finland its native nameSuomi, or "swamp." In relation to its size, Finland has more lakes than any other countrytheir total number has been estimated at close to two hundred thousand. Fifty-five thousand lakes are at least 200 meters (656 feet) in breadth, and nineteen large lakes span more than 200 square kilometers (77 square miles). The largest, Lake Saimaa, is the fifth-largest lake in Europe. Other large lakes include Inari (Enar) to the north, Oulujärvi in the central part of the country, and Päijanne and Pielinen in the south. Most of Finland's lakes are quite shallow, with an average depth of only 7 meters (23 feet).

Both above and below the tree line, the north country region has extensive swamps, and about a third of this area is covered with bogland. The vast expanses of swamp are the least attractive elements in the northern landscape.


A network of interconnected lakes and rivers covers the greater part of southern Finland. About 10 percent of Finland's area consists of inland water. The north is drained by long rivers, such as the Muonio, the Tornio (Torneå), and the Kemi. In the central part of the country, the streams become shorter, except for the Oulu. In the lake district in the southeast, rivers are long and narrow and crossed by the great east-to-west ridge called the Salpausselkä, which runs parallel to the Gulf of Finland coast. The areas south of the lake district and westward along the coast are drained mostly by a series of short streams.

Some of the northern rivers, such as the Kemi, empty into the freshwater Bothnian Gulf. Others, including the Paats and the Tenu (Tano), drain into the Arctic, and some have carved dramatic gorges through to Russian Karelia. Farther south, a series of parallel rivers originates at the high point of Suomenselka and flows northwest to the broad coastal plain of the Gulf of Both-nia. Among these are the Oulu, Pyha, and Lapuan Rivers.


There are no desert regions in Finland.


More than half of eastern Finland is hilly, with the land gently sloping toward the southwest.

Most of the densely forested land in the north and east consists of landforms with rounded ridgetops at elevations from 457 to 762 meters (1,500 and 2,500 feet). Near Lake Inari (Lake Enar), these hills are intersected by a plain with a height between 91 and 183 meters (300 to 600 feet).

Low-lying plains make up much of the coast. South of the Salpausselkä ridge, the plain is narrow, along the Gulf of Finland. It widens in the southwest and west, where it borders the Gulf of Bothnia. Finland's farmland is concentrated in this region.


Finland's mountains are situated in the extreme northwest, near the borders with Sweden and Norway. Peaks in this small area rise to an average height of 1,000 meters (3,281 feet). The highest is Mount Haltia (Haltiatunturi).


There are no notable canyons or caves in Finland.


There are no notable plateaus or monoliths in Finland.


One of the most impressive structures in Finland, the Saimaa Canal dominates the Karelia region. The artificial reservoirs of Lokan and Porttipahdan are among Finland's largest lakes.


The two bodies of water bordering Finlandthe Gulf of Finland and the Gulf of Bothniacan freeze over entirely for months at a time due to frigid winter temperatures.



Lange, Hannes. The Visitor's Guide to Finland. Translated by Andrew Shackleton. Edison, NJ: Hunter, 1987.

Mead, W. R., and Helmer Smeds. Winter in Finland: A Study in Human Geography. New York: Praeger, 1967.

Rode, Reinhard. Finland. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1995.

Web Sites

Ministry for Foreign Affairs for Finland. Virtual Finland. (accessed March 16, 2003).

Welcome to Finland. (accessed March 16, 2003).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Finland." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of Physical Geography. . 9 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Finland." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of Physical Geography. . (July 9, 2018).

"Finland." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of Physical Geography. . Retrieved July 09, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.



Psychoanalysis was practically nonexistent in Finland until it experienced rapid growth during the 1960s. The first Finnish psychoanalyst, Yrjö Kulovesi (1887-1943), underwent analysis with Eduard Hitschmann in Vienna in 1924, then with Paul Federn in 1925. He became a member of the Vienna Psychoanalytic Society in 1931 and in 1934 went on to found, together with the Swedish psychoanalyst Alfhild Tamm, the Finno-Swedish Psychoanalytic Society, which was dissolved in 1943 after Kulovesi's death. A training analyst, he wrote several articles and an introduction to psychoanalysis, published in 1933.

A number of Finnish psychoanalysts emigrated to Sweden during the 1940s. After the war most of them were members of the Swedish Psychoanalytic Society. They included Stig Björk, Pentti Ikonen, Tapio Nousiainen, and Veikko Tähkä. A few years later Mikael Enckell, Reijo Holmström, Eero Rechardt, Matti Tuovinen, and Gunvor Vuoristo also traveled to Sweden for training in analysis. During this same period, three other psychoanalysts underwent similar training in Switzerland: Henrik Carpelan in Geneva, and Leena-Maija Jokipaltio and Lars-Johan Schalin in Zurich.

The biggest problem at the time was the shortage of psychoanalysts in Finland. Psychoanalysts trained abroad needed certification from the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA) to work as training analysts in Finland. In 1964 Björk and Tähkä, trained in Sweden and members of the Swedish Psychoanalytic Society since the mid-1950s, formed a study group and became recognized as training analysts. The group, approved by an IPA committee presided over by Donald Winnicott and composed of members from Denmark, Sweden, and Great Britain, was formally recognized in 1967 as a provisional society and became an IPA affiliate in Rome in 1969. By 1974 there were already twenty-six candidates in training. Winnicott was the first honorary member of the Finnish Psychoanalytic Society. At the end of the 1950s, a psychotherapeutic organization, Therapeia, was founded, its methods inspired by existential analysis.

Academic resistance to psychoanalysis was less severe in Finland than in the other Nordic countries. The majority of Finnish psychoanalysts were psychiatrists. Tähkä, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Turku, twice visited the Austin Riggs Center in the United States for two years each time. The use of American ego psychology at the center led him to follow in this tradition, which is obvious from his book on psychoanalytic therapy (1970). Tähkä was most interested in research on alcoholism and schizophrenia. Kalle Achté was a professor of psychiatry and senior psychiatrist at the University of Helsinki. He conducted research on persecution and projection as defense mechanisms. Rechardt worked on psychosomatic illnesses and the evolution of ego psychology toward self psychology.

Yrjö Alanen, like Tähkä, studied the role of family factors in schizophrenia and applied psychoanalytic therapy in a family context. Tuovinen, a psychiatrist and lawyer, did psychoanalytic research on delinquent behavior and in particular analyzed aggression as a form of parental murder and suicide. Mikael Enckell, another important Finnish psychoanalyst, wrote several works on the Jewish question, the novelist Marcel Proust, the poet Friedrich Hölderlin, the filmmaker Luchino Visconti, and his own father, the poet Rabbe Enckell.

Finnish psychoanalysis was generally associated with ego psychology. Carpelan, trained in Geneva, is one of the few Finnish analysts to have a Kleinian orientation. He was president of the Finnish Group Therapy Association.

The traditional theoretical training period for psychoanalysts in Finland was extended from three years to four. The fourth year of training is devoted to the study of the relationship between psychoanalysis and the other sciences and of the theoretical and technical aspects of psychotherapy.

During the 1980s the Finnish Psychoanalytic Society (Suomen Psykoanalyytinen Yhdisytts) underwent a period of rapid growth. In 2004 it had as many members as the Swedish Psychoanalytic Society. In the early 1980s it began offering training in child analysis, and in 1983 four candidates entered the program. In 1983 the Finnish Psychoanalytic Society had twenty-two full members, fifty-four associate members, and twenty-seven candidates. In 1993 there were forty-eight full members, ninety associates, and thirty-seven candidates.

During the late 1980s, several translations of Freud's work were published in Finland.

Per Magnus Johansson


Ihanus, Juhani. (1994). Vietit vai Henki. Helsinki, Finland: Yliopistopaino.

Kulovesi, Yrjö. (1933). Psykoanalyysi. Helsinki, Finland: Otava.

Laine, Aira, Parland, Helena, and Roos, Esa. (1997). Pssykoanalyysin, uranuurtajat Suomessa. Kemijärvi, Finland: Suomen Psykoanalyyttinen Yhdistys R.Y.

Tähkä, Veikko. (1970). Psykoterapian perusteet: psykoanalyyttisen teorian pohjalta. Porvoo, Finland: Söderström.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Finland." International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis. . 9 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Finland." International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis. . (July 9, 2018).

"Finland." International Dictionary of Psychoanalysis. . Retrieved July 09, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.




338,130sq km (130,552sq mi)



capital (population):

Helsinki (551,123)


Multiparty republic

ethnic groups:

Finnish 93%, Swedish 6%


Finnish and Swedish (both official)


Evangelical Lutheran 88%


1 Euro = 100 cents

Republic in n Europe. Finland (Suomi) has four geographical regions. In the s and w, on the Gulfs of Bothnia and Finland, is a low, narrow coastal strip, where most Finns live. The capital and largest city, Helsinki, is here. The Åland Islands lie in the entrance to the Gulf of Bothnia. Most of the interior is a beautiful wooded plateau, with more than 60,000 lakes. The Saimaa area is Europe's largest inland water system. A third of Finland lies within the Arctic Circle; this ‘land of the midnight sun’ is called Lappi (Lapland).

Climate and Vegetation

Finland has short, warm summers; Helsinki's July average is 17°C (63°F). In Lapland, the temperatures are lower, and in June the sun never sets. Winters are long and cold; Helsinki's January average is −6°C (21°F). The North Atlantic Drift keeps the Arctic coasts free of ice. Forests (birch, pine, and spruce) cover 60% of Finland. The vegetation becomes more and more sparse to the n, until it merges into Arctic tundra.


In the 8th century, Finnish-speaking settlers forced the Lapps to the n. In the 13th century, Sweden conquered the country. Lutheranism arrived in the 16th century. Wars between Sweden and Russia devastated Finland. Following the Northern War (1700–21), Russia gained much Finnish land. In the Napoleonic Wars, Russia conquered Finland and it became a Grand Duchy in 1809. Despite considerable autonomy, Finnish nationalism gained strength, fuelled by important Finnish language books. Tsar Nicholas II's programme of Russification (1899–1905) met fierce resistance.

Following the Russian Revolution (1917), Finland declared independence. Civil war (January–May 1918) broke out between the Russian-backed Red Guard and the German-backed White Guard, led by Carl Mannerheim. The White Guard triumphed, and a republic was established in 1919. At the outbreak of World War II, Finland declared its neutrality. A Soviet invasion (November 1939) resulted in the Russo-Finnish War and, in March 1940, Finland ceded part of Karelia and Lake Ladoga to Russia. In 1941, Finland allied itself with Germany, and in 1944 Soviet troops invaded Karelia and forced Finland to sign an armistice. The ensuing war with Germany devastated much of n Finland. The 1947 Paris Treaty confirmed the terms of the 1944 armistice agreement.

In 1955, Finland joined the UN and the Nordic Council. It remained neutral during the Cold War. Urho Kaleva Kekkonen led (1956–81) Finland through reconstruction. Finland became a full member of EFTA in 1986, and joined the European Union (EU) in 1995. In 2000, Tarja Halonen became Finland's first woman president.


Forests are Finland's most valuable resource. Forestry accounts for c.35% of exports. The chief manufactures are wood and paper products. Post-1945 the economy has diversified (2000 GDP per capita US$22,900). Engineering, shipbuilding and textile industries have grown. Farming employs only 9% of workforce. The economy slowly recovered from the recession caused by the collapse of the Soviet bloc. The euro entered circulation in January 2002.

Political map

Physical map


Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Finland." World Encyclopedia. . 9 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Finland." World Encyclopedia. . (July 9, 2018).

"Finland." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved July 09, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.




The people of Finland are called Finns. The population includes a Swedish-speaking minority of about 250,000. Other ethnic groups include about 4,500 Sami (Lapps) and about 5,000 Gypsies. To read more about the Sami, see the chapter on Norway in Volume 7.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Finland." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . 9 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Finland." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . (July 9, 2018).

"Finland." Junior Worldmark Encyclopedia of World Cultures. . Retrieved July 09, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.



Culture Name

Finnish, Finn, Finlander

Alternative Names

Suomalaiset, Tavastians, or Hämäläiset and Karelians or Karjalaiset


Identification. The terms "Finland" and "Finns" are external obscure derivations from early (first century c.e.) Roman references to people known as Fenni (probably Lapps or Saami) who occupied lands north of the Baltic Sea. In their own language, Finns generally refer to themselves as Suomalaiset and their land or country as Suomi, which may derive from suo, the Finnish expression for a bog or swamp. Finns constitute the majority of the citizens of the Republic of Finland, which has a Swedish-speaking minority as well as Saami (Lapp) and Rom (Gypsy) minorities. While language was a highly divisive issue as late as the 1920s and 1930s, many Finnish speakers now recognize the value of Swedish for communicating with other Nordic countries. A distinction between urban, industrialized, coastal southwestern Finland and the rural interior northeast is an important historical and regional division in terms of culture and identity. However, socialist versus nonsocialist affiliations are more meaningful at the political level. Despite these distinctions, most citizens strongly believe that they share a common culture and heritage.

Location and Geography. Finland is bordered on the east by Russia, on the south by the Gulf of Finland and Estonia, on the west by the Gulf of Bothnia and Sweden, and on the north and northwest by Norway. A quarter of its territory is north of the Arctic Circle. Four physiographic-biotic regions divide the country. An archipelagic belt embraces the southwestern coastal waters and the Åland Islands. A narrow coastal plain of low relief and clay soils, historically the area of densest rural settlement and mixed farming production, extends between the Russian and Swedish borders. A large interior plateau contains dense forests, thousands of lakes and peat bogs, and rocky infertile soils associated with a glacially modified landscape with numerous drumlins and eskers. This district lies north and east of the coastal plain toward the Russian border. Beyond the Arctic Circle, forests give way to barren fells, extensive bogs, rugged mountains, and the large rivers of Lapland. Continental weather systems produce harsh cold winters that last up to seven months in the interior eastern and northern districts, yet long summer days permit farming far to the north. The climate in the south and west is moderated by the waters of the Gulf Stream and north Atlantic drift current.

Demography. In 1997, the population was about 5,147,000 people, of whom 93 percent were ethnically and linguistically Finns. High mortality from wars and famine dampened population growth between the sixteenth and late nineteenth centuries. In the twentieth century, a falling birthrate and emigration led to very low population growth. Dramatic internal migration accompanied an economic transformation between the 1950s and the mid-1970s, when agriculture and the forestry industry were rapidly mechanized. At that time, many young people left the rural east and northeast to work in the urban industrialized south. While 75 percent of the population lived in rural areas just before World War II, by the late 1990s, 62 percent of the people were urban dwellers. About a sixth of the population lives in the Helsinki metropolitan area along the south-central coast in the province of Uusimaa. Helsinki became the capital in 1812 under Russian control, replacing the role Turku had served during Swedish domination. Substantial Finnish populations live in Russia, the United States, Canada, and Sweden, and smaller numbers reside in Australia, South Africa, and Latin America.

Linguistic Affiliation. Finnish belongs to the family of Finno-Ugric languages in northeastern Europe, Russia, and western Siberia, a group that includes Saami (Lapp) and Hungarian. The most closely related languages are Estonian, Votish, Livonian, Vepsian, and the closely allied Karelian dialects of the Balto-Finnic branch. Although Finnish was established as a written language as early as the sixteenth century, its official status in Finland did not become equivalent to that of Swedish until after the Language Ordinance of 1863. Finnish is a euphonious language with many Germanic and Slavic loan words.

Symbolism. About 1.5 million saunas are significant visual architectural symbols, especially in the rural landscape. Ritualized bathing in the sauna reinforces a web of cultural ideas about sociality, hospitality, cleanliness, health, sisu ("gritty perseverance"), and athleticism. The Kalevala, an epic poem synthesized by Elias Lönnrot in the early nineteenth century, is a powerful literary evocation of Finnish origins, unity, and destiny as a people. It frequently refers to other aspects of Finnish culture that have become significant symbols of identity, such as the savusauna (smoke sauna) and the ancient stringed instrument the kantele. Another mid-nineteenth century artistic achievement, the composition Vårt land or Maamme ("Our Land"), with words by Johan Ludvig Runeberg and music by Fredrik Pacius became the national anthem. Citizens throughout the country fly the national flag, a blue cross on a white background, during the celebration of Midsummer. The national coat of arms, a crowned lion standing on a red field with silver roses, derives from Swedish heraldic crests of the sixteenth century and appears on a variety of postage stamps, banknotes and coins, and official seals.

History and Ethnic Relations

Emergence of the Nation. Human habitation in Finland dates to the early postglacial period in the late eighth millennium b.c.e., long before Finno-Ugric migrations into the area from the east or possibly from eastern Europe. Previous theories held that the ancestors of the Finns migrated into southwestern Finland from Estonia as recently as the first century c.e., during the early Roman Iron Age. Recent research, including paleoecological evidence of agricultural grain pollens dating to the second millennium b.c.e., suggests a much earlier proto-Finnish presence. A combination of archaeological, historical linguistic, and genetic evidence suggests that the spread of the "Comb Ceramic" culture in northern Finland around 4000 b.c.e. may represent the appearance of a proto-Finnic-speaking population in that region that came from an eastern European source area. As the "Battle-Axe or Corded Ware" culture arrived in southwestern Finland around 3000 b.c.e., proto-Finnic began diverging into early Saami-speaking and Finnish-speaking populations. The latter people gradually added farming to their hunting, trapping, and fishing adaptation. By the beginning of the Bronze Age around 1500 b.c.e., these tribes were geographically divided. Those in the southwest were heavily influenced by Scandinavian cultures, while those in the interior and eastern districts had ties with peoples of the Volga region. A series of crusades by the expanding Swedish kingdom between the 1150s and 1293 was the vehicle for spreading the Roman Catholic Church into Finland. By the time of the Lutheran Reformation in the early sixteenth century, the Swedish Crown had strong control of colonial Finland, and a modified estate system forced Finnish peasants to participate in the wars of their Swedish lords. The destruction of Finnish settlements and crops and large population losses resulted from conflicts between the Swedish and Russian empires. By the mid-eighteenth century, there were strong Finnish separatist movements. Russia finally conquered Finland during the Napoleonic wars of 18081809, annexing it as an autonomous grand duchy.

National Identity. The nineteenth century was a period of coalescence of feelings of national consciousness in scientific thought, politics, art, and literature, as exemplified by the 1835 compilation of Finnish and Karelian rune songs in the Kalevala. This movement served as a counterpoint to a growing Russification of Finnish institutions, and Finland declared itself independent immediately after the Russian Revolution of 1917. The new state was immediately embroiled in a civil war that resulted from growing class tension between property owners (the counterrevolutionary "White" forces) and landless farm, forest, and factory workers (the "Red" forces) who wanted a socialist state. The scars from that conflict had not healed when Finland was united by its battles with the Soviet Union during World War II. Finland surrendered several eastern territories that amounted to 10 percent of its area, and 420,000 Karelian Finns in those areas migrated across the newly formed national boundaries to Finland, requiring a massive resettlement and rural land reform program. Since World War II, the Finnish parliamentary state has actively pursued an official policy of neutrality combined with expanded trade and cultural contacts with the Soviet Union, and then Russia, a political adaptation known as the Paasikivi-Kekkonen Line.

Ethnic Relations. Swedish is the second official language and is spoken by about 6 percent of the population. Living primarily in the southwestern part of the country, Swedish colonists and Swedish-speaking Finns were, for centuries, a ruling elite. Swedish was the language of commerce, the courts, and education, and Finnish was regarded as a peasant language until the nationalist movement of the nineteenth century advanced it as an official written and cultural language of the majority. Political tensions arising from this ethnolinguistic division have largely faded as the Swedish-speaking minority has declined in size and assimilated through marriage with Finnish speakers. By contrast, Finland's 6,500 Saami, or Lapps, have largely avoided assimilation into the cultural mainstream, having been displaced from the southern part of the country by northward-colonizing Finns over the past two thousand years. Separateness is now reinforced as much by the economic marginality and limited educational opportunities in Finnish Lapland as by cultural and linguistic isolation. Gypsies have lived in Finland since the sixteenth century and perhaps have endured the greatest prejudice of any minority. They number between five thousand and six thousand and in recent decades, the government has attempted to improve their economic situation and lessen overt discrimination. Foreigners, while never numerous, have increased to seventy-four thousand and have come mostly from Russia, Estonia, Sweden, and Somalia.

Urbanism, Architecture, and the Use of Space

With the rise of permanent agricultural settlements in the fertile plains of the western and southern regions in the Middle Ages, communal ownership and management created a system in which an entire hamlet, including fifteen to twenty closely spaced farms, assumed joint ownership of fields, forests, and pastures. Land reforms in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries broke down the communal villages, but the newly created individual farmsteads retained a modified courtyard arrangement with dwelling units, sauna or bath-house, grain and food storage buildings, livestock barns, and hay sheds enclosing an inner yard. Wooden domestic architecture achieved a high level of craftsmanship and embellishment, with two-story houses marking prosperous farms. However, in the eastern and interior areas, agricultural settlement occurred later and was characterized by a more flexible system of land ownership and farmstead organization. The persistence of "burn-beating" cultivation (poltta kaskea, kaskiviljelys ), a form of pioneer extensive farming in which patches of conifer forest were cut and burned to create fertilized fields, involved mobile populations and a dispersed pattern of settlement. Remote individual farms or extended dual-family holdings were won from the forest, often along glacial esker ridges or "home hills" (harju, vaara ). While these historical patterns of settlement affect the current rural landscape, six of ten Finns now live in urban areas. The largest cities are greater Helsinki with about 911,000 people, Tampere with 189,000, Turku with 169,000, and Oulu with 114,000. The majority of residential dwellings of all types have been constructed since World War II, largely consisting of apartment house complexes in large cities. Adapting socially and emotionally to this urban landscape has been problematic for many recent migrants from the countryside. Many city dwellers still view themselves as partly rural, a fact attested to by a weekend and holiday return to cottages in the countryside. Finland remains one of the most sparsely populated countries in Europe, with only 26 people per square mile (16 people per square kilometer). The development of contemporary architectural movements in the twentieth century may be seen as an attempt to adapt the demands of modern housing projects, offices, churches, and public buildings to the forests, lakes, light conditions, and other distinctive features and materials of the landscape. Pioneered by Alvar Aalto and Erik Bryggman, Finnish modern architecture employs a "neoplastic" use of space that emerges directly from the function and surroundings of building structures. Despite the notable innovations of the twentieth century, much of the national architectural identity resides in older buildings that have achieved an iconic status: the medieval castles at Savonlinna and Turku; eighteenth-century vernacular wooden churches; the early nineteenth-century neoclassical center of Helsinki designed by C.L. Engel which now contains the Council of State, the University of Helsinki, and the Helsinki Cathedral; and Helsinki's railway station, designed by Eliel Saarinen and completed in 1914, an imposing granite building that presages the Art Deco skyscrapers built in American cities two decades later.

Food and Economy

Food in Daily Life. Milk is prominent in the diet as a beverage and the basic ingredient in a variety of curdled, soured, and cultured forms; in broths used for soups, stews, and puddings; and in regional specialty dishes such as "cheese bread" (juustoleipä ). There are notable differences between western and eastern Finland in bread making and the manner of souring milk. A large midday meal in a rural household may include fish baked in a rye loaf (leipäkukko ), potatoes (peruna ), barley bread (rieska ), cheese (juusto ), pickled beets (punajuuri ), cloudberries in sauce, milk, and coffee.

Food Customs at Ceremonial Occasions. Coffee is a "national drink" that mediates the distinction between the rural interior and the urban industrial south. In the early nineteenth century, coffee was an expensive imported beverage consumed by the aristocracy, but it has been incorporated into all strata of society. It is the center of the ubiquitous "coffee ceremony," a ritualized display of hospitality, elegance, and self-restraint in which an abundance of delicate pastries is served. Commercially produced sausage (makkara ), which became increasingly common in the diet after the 1950s, represents a relatively recent shift toward large-scale food-processing industries. Abhorred by nutritionists for its high fat and sodium content and ridiculed and scorned in popular lore and jokes, sausage is nonetheless considered a versatile convenience food. Like coffee, it may appear as a common festival food at occasions such as Midsummer (juhannus ), along with cheese bread, potato pasties (perunapiirakka ), yeast coffee bread (pulla ), beer, and vodka. Mämmi, a brown malted porridge, is typically served at Easter. Sima (a kind of mead), talouskalja (homemade beer), and viilia (soured whole milk) also may be served on special occasions.

Basic Economy. Livestock raising was a major element in the peasant economy, along with fishing, hunting, tar production, and peddling. Wood as a commercial product did not become part of the farming economy until liberalized marketing policies, improved sawmilling techniques, and foreign demand converged in the late nineteenth century. The precariousness of crop cultivation, coupled with the emergence of new international markets for butter during the Russian colonial period (18081917), intensified the production of dairy cattle. Gradually, cultivated grasses replaced grains and wild hay as a source of cattle pasturage and fodder, and after the turn of the century, farmers began to establish cooperative dairies (osuusmeijerit ). The general shift toward commercial agriculture coincided with the decline of the burn-beating system. Nonetheless, many farm families in the northern and eastern regions maintained an essentially subsistence orientation until the 1950s. Increased mechanization and specialization in farm production (dairy cattle, hogs, and grains) occurred in the 1960s as the labor force moved into manufacturing and service industries; less than 11 percent of the labor force is now involved in agriculture and forestry. The rural economy is still based on modest family-owned farms where the marketing of timber from privately owned forest tracts is an important means of financing agricultural operations.

Handicraft and artisan traditions were well developed historically, and some have survived the conversion to industrial manufacturing. Men specialized in making furniture, harnesses, wooden vessels or "bushels" (vakka ), and metalwork. The sheath knife (puukko ) was a versatile tool, and it continues to symbolize maleness in recreational hunting and fishing. Women specialized in textiles and lace making. The woven woolen wall rug (ryijy ) has become a particularly popular art form in homes, emblematic of a family's patrimony. By the Middle Ages local markets and fairs were important in the economy, with fairs often held in the vicinity of churches and associated with saints' days or other aspects of the religious calendar.

Land Tenure and Property. Historically, in the west it was customary for a farm to be passed on to the eldest son or the eldest daughter's husband. In the east, the land was divided among all the adult male family members. These regional patterns have largely faded, and intergenerational transfers of land have become highly variable throughout the country. Despite a bias toward patrilineal transmission, farms can be inherited by sons or daughters or the oldest or youngest offspring or can be divided or jointly held by multiple heirs. However, at the beginning of the twentieth century, a landless proletariat constituted half the rural population. Major agrarian reforms included the Crofters' Law of 1918, the Lex Kallio of 1922, and the Land Procurement Law of 1945, all of which created holdings for landless rural poor and unfavorably situated tenant farmers. The Land Procurement Law also redistributed land to ex-servicemen and Karelian refugees in the wake of World War II.

Commercial Activities. With two-thirds of total output generated in the service sector, the economy is comparable to those in other advanced industrial nations. Finland joined the European Union (EU) in 1995, primarily to further political integration, but has experienced some economic benefits in the form of lower food prices. The gross domestic product per capita was $18,871 in 1996, close to the mean for EU countries. A recession-spurred unemployment rate exceeding 18 percent in the mid-1990s, has been the largest economic problem, stemming from the Soviet Union's collapse and the deterioration of bilateral Finnish-Soviet trade. The markka, or Finnmark, is the basic monetary unit.

Major Industries. In recent years, metal, engineering, and electronics products have accounted for half of the country's exports, with forest products accounting for another third. The revolution in high-technology industries has been dramatic. These industries did not become prominent until the 1990s but now produce a large and growing share of exports. The Nokia Corporation, known in the 1980s primarily for paper and rubber products, has an expanding international market for mobile phones, computers, and related telecommunications products.

Trade. Furs and naval stores constituted a large share of the export trade in the Middle Ages, mainly destined for the cities of the Hanseatic League. German and Swedish merchants were prominent in Finland's early Baltic port cities. After the mid-nineteenth century, foreign trade shifted toward Saint Petersburg and Russian markets with lumber, paper, and agricultural products becoming the chief exports. After World War II, forest products remained crucial to the export economy, but they are now complemented by sophisticated metal, electronics, engineering, and chemical products. In recent years, trade with countries in the European Economic Community has expanded and has been reinforced by Finland's membership in the European Free Trade Association.

Social Stratification

Classes and Castes. Before the nineteenth century, Finnish society was divided into peasants (talonpojat ), city dwellers, clergy, and nobility. Economic change led to the decline of the clergy and nobility and an expansion of the entrepreneurial and working classes. In more recent decades, considerable social mobility and an egalitarian ethos emerged with increasing economic prosperity, a progressive social welfare system, an open educational system, and consensus politics. While Finns may not always recognize clear economic class divisions, they are likely to be conscious of the status attached to educational and honorific titles and political party affiliation. The currently unfolding class system includes farmers, the working class (nonrural manual laborers), the petit bourgeoisie (shop owners, small entrepreneurs), the lower middle class (lower-income service sector), the upper middle class (higher-income white-collar professionals), and the upper class (corporate owners and managers). Symbols of these loosely-drawn social strata, as in many Western democracies, can be rather subtle. Nonetheless, the kinds of work one does, and the level of education, professional training and/or professionalism demanded by one's livelihood, are often strong indicators of the degree of prestige and status one enjoys in Finnish society.

Political Life

Government. The administrative district or commune (maalaiskunta ) embodies a sense of community and self-identification for its residents. It often coincides with the historical church parish, and is a local unit of self-government that generally collects taxes, regulates economic affairs, and maintains public order. Every four years a communal council is elected to manage local affairs. Much of a council's work is implemented by a communal board composed of members appointed to reflect the council's political party composition.

Leadership and Political Officials. With more than a dozen political parties, kunta government sometimes is represented by opposing coalitions of socialist and nonsocialist party interests. The same principle applies at the national level, where the two hundred representatives of the uni-cameral parliament (Eduskunta ) are often elected by alliances of parties. The Social Democratic Party and the Agrarian Union (Centre) Party formed the basis of all majority governments well into the 1980s. Nonetheless, most parliamentary members follow the positions of their political parties and vote in blocs. The parliament promulgates laws, approves the national budget, monitors the legality of governmental activities, and, in concert with the president, exerts legislative power.

Social Problems and Control. The institution of a village-governing alderman was part of the authoritarian moral environment in the dense rural settlements of the southern and western regions. Village fight groups and fights (kylätappelut ) were ritualized conflicts, sometimes associated with weddings, which integrated communities via rivalry relationships. In the sparsely settled eastern interior, social life was more individualistic and social control less formal. In contemporary society, independent courts and centrally organized police forces maintain public order. Crime rates generally increased between the 1960s and 1980s paralleling the country's growing wealth and urbanization. The economic recession of the early 1990s was accompanied by a decline in crime, followed by modest increases in recent years. Compared with other Nordic countries, Finland has very low rates for theft and narcotics offenses but an above average rate for assault.

Military Activity. Finland's historical position as a frontier of colonization and military incursions by external empires is part of the collective conscience. Strategic victories against invading Soviet forces during the "Winter War" of 19391940 are symbolically integral to the lore and identity of many Finns. By contrast, the "reign of terror" after the civil war of 19171918 profoundly polarized the middle classes and working classes, with the working classes remaining alienated and embittered. In foreign relations, Finland initially attempted to establish cooperative ties with other countries that had won their independence from Russia after World War I. However, it soon abandoned that position and began to seek the support of the League of Nations. After the mid-1930s, Nordic cooperation became the predominant orientation in foreign policy.

Social Welfare and Change Programs

In recent years, expenditures on social insurance (health, pension, accident, and disability programs), social transfers of income (maternity allowances, children's allowances, child support payments, municipal housing allowances), and social welfare (individuals in need) have approached one-fifth of the gross national product. The programs are financed by contributions from the state, municipal governments, employers, and insured individuals. As early as 1895, compensation was instituted for workers injured in accidents. A dramatic increase in medical care needed for disabled war veterans beginning in the 1940s spurred the state to expand public health programs. Finland has been a pioneer in maternity allowances and family welfare, offering one of the most generous systems of payments for mother and child care in the world.

Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations

About 10 to 15 percent of the government's aid budget is allocated to nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) involved in development and humanitarian projects. In 1997, as many as one hundred fifty Finnish NGOs maintained four hundred projects in more than seventy countries, mostly in Africa and Asia. The Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission, the Finnish Free Foreign Mission, Finnchurchaid, the Finnish Red Cross, and the Trade Union Solidarity Centre account for a large share of NGO activity.

Gender Roles and Statuses

Division of Labor by Gender. In the rural economy, women are the primary cattle tenders and men are field and forestry workers. Being a good emäntä (female head of a farmstead) involves a balance of cow care, child care, food processing, meal preparation, arduous cleaning in cow shed and house, and ritual displays of hospitality for visiting neighbors, friends, and relatives. An isäntä (male head of a farmstead) is symbolically and practically associated with the outdoor domain of preparing and maintaining pastures and hay fields, cutting wood, coordinating labor with other farms, and operating and maintaining machinery. However, a decline in the availability of work crews of kin and friends and a concomitant increase in mechanization have contributed to convergence in male and female work roles. A complicating factor is that young women have left the countryside in greater numbers than have men in recent years. Farms have aging personnel and few assisting family members, and some farmers are forced into bachelorhood.

The Relative Status of Women and Men. There is a long tradition of sexual equality in the sense that women's participation in political activity and public life has been encouraged. Finland was the first country to provide equal voting rights to women, instituting female suffrage in elections to the national parliament in 1906. Fully 9.5 percent (nineteen of two hundred members) of the parliament of 1907 consisted of women. Female membership in the parliament currently is about 33 percent. Indeed, Finland's current president, Tarja Halonen, is a woman. The traditional role of rural women as resourceful, powerful workers translates well to urban contexts. The model of a man who works to support a wife who remains at home is not widely embraced. There is an old pattern of sending girls for advanced education while keeping boys in farm work after rudimentary schooling. While women work alongside men in business, forestry, engineering and other fields, women's earnings are only 81 percent of men's, reflecting the greater numbers of women in low-paying service jobs. A lingering area of conservatism and sexual disparity involves men's unchanging attitudes toward their roles and the notion that women, despite their other obligations, are responsible for domestic work and child care.

Marriage, Family, and Kinship

Marriage. Endogamous tendencies characterized marriage in rural society, with mates frequently chosen from the same village, parish, or rural commune. This tendency was most pronounced in the eastern districts among large Karelian joint families and those of the same background and status. Night courting and bundling rituals achieved a high degree of elaboration among the youth in the southwest. Originally, bilocal marriages began with engagement and leave-taking (läksiäiset ) ceremonies at the bride's home and ended with wedding rites (häät ) at the groom's home. Under church influence, those customs were replaced by unilocal weddings at the bride's home. In recent years, community and regional endogamy have declined. Marriage rates also have declined as cohabitation has become more common in urban areas, yet that pattern preserves some of the aspects of the "trial marriage" of earlier times, when weddings were performed to finalize a marriage after a woman had conceived a child.

Domestic Unit. Historically, joint families were common in the eastern Karelian area, where a founding couple, their adult male children, and the male children's wives formed multiple-family farm households that were among the largest (twenty to fifty persons) in Scandinavia. Elsewhere, it has been common for only one child to remain on the parents' farmstead, and smaller "stem" and nuclear families have prevailed. Overall, family size has become smaller under the impact of urbanization, dropping from an average of 3.6 persons in 1950 to 2.7 in 1975. Among families with children, the number of offspring declined from an average of 2.27 in 1960 to 1.9 in 1997.

Inheritance. A common historical pattern was for a son to take over a farm and care for his parents in their old age. However, the custom of patrilineal transmission is changing, perhaps as differential migration to cities alters the sex ratios in rural areas. In many cases, relinquishing coheirs (usually siblings who move away) must be compensated for their shares in a farm by the remaining heir; often this is done with timber income from a farm's forest tracts.

Kin Groups. Kinship is basically bilateral, creating overlapping personal kindreds (sukulaiset ) derived from the father's and mother's relatives.


Child Rearing and Education. Gritty perseverance (sisu ), personal autonomy and independence, and respect for the autonomy of others are central themes in child training and personality formation.

Higher Education. Formal education generally is highly valued. In 1995, 2.2 million people had graduated from a senior secondary school, vocational school, professional institute, or university. More than 130,000 students currently are enrolled in twenty universities and other institutions of higher education. More than half the students are women. The physical and social sciences are highly developed and well represented at major institutions such as the University of Helsinki, University of Jyvaskyla, University of Oulu, University of Tampere, and the University of Turku.


Finns have a self-conception and reputation for being reserved and sparing with words. Small talk is not valued. Accordingly, words and verbal promises are likely to be taken seriously. To some extent this is a public, formal persona that is belied by the intimacy and voluble conversation shared by good friends and family members. The sauna is a notable context in which people are more open and expressive. The rapid spread of mobile phones, computers, and other communications technology is creating a society that is highly interconnected, regardless of the nature of interpersonal interactions and demeanor. Finland has the highest per capita use of the Internet (nearly 25 percent of the population) and cellular phones (28 percent) in the world. Finns value educational degrees and other qualifications and may expect to be addressed with the appropriate title in professional or work settings. In recent years, there has been some resurgence in traditional conventions of etiquette that require the use of the second person plural as a formal means of address. The second personal singular is appropriate for addressing relatives, friends, and children. Mutual use of first names implies a close personal relationship. The customary greeting involves a firm handshake, direct eye contact, and perhaps a slight nod of the head but rarely embracing or kissing. As a result of women's involvement in politics and public life, relations between men and women are relatively equitable. Condescending attitudes toward women are rarely tolerated. While the social acceptability of intoxication is decreasing among younger people and legal sanctions for drunk driving are severe, Finns have a reputation for weekend binge drinking. This pattern is more prominent among men and, to the extent that it disrupts family life, retards the social progress achieved by women. Although the per capita consumption of alcohol is about average for Europe, Finns have relatively high rates of alcoholism and alcohol-related social and medical problems.


Religious Beliefs. Traditional conceptions of the supernatural had much in common with those of other Balto-Finnic peoples. The creation of the world was associated with the culture hero Väinämöinen, and the cosmos was divided into an underworld of the dead, a middle world of the living, and a sky-heaven supported by a giant pillar. Supernatural beings or deities included a god of the sky (Ilmarinen); a rain-giving god (Ukko), converted to a supreme or universal god under Christian influence; and other spirits of nature such as Tapio, a forest guardian of game. Many old features of Finnish-Karelian religion were preserved within the Russian Orthodox faith, which currently has about fifty-six thousand members in the venue of the Finnish Orthodox Church. However, Lutheranism, which contributed to an erosion of native religion, includes about 88 percent of the population as members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Revivalist movements such as Laestadianism have flourished in the context of the Lutheran Church. The distinction between Lutheran and Orthodox traditions ultimately has its roots in early conflicts between the Swedish kingdom and the semi-independent state of Novgorod. The 1323 Peace of Pahkinasaari established a frontier border through Finnish territory. In the ensuing centuries, Finns to the west of the "Pahkinasaari line" were heavily exposed to Swedish, Scandinavian, and German culture and the Roman Catholic Church (ultimately replaced by Lutheranism), while Finns and Karelians in the Novgorodian realm to the east were influenced by Slavic culture and the Eastern (or Russian) Orthodox Church.

Religious Practitioners. Before Christian and medieval Scandinavian influence, religion involved shamanism, with practitioners mediating between the present world and the upper and nether realms of the universe. Traces of this tradition survive in the divinatory practices of the seer, or tietäjä. Evangelical Lutheran clergy, elected by local parish members, are the prominent religious specialists in contemporary society.

Rituals and Holy Places. Bear ceremonialism was part of the ancient hunting traditions. Ritual slaying, feasting, and return of the skull and bones of a bear were fundamental to sending the animal's soul back to its original home and thus facilitating its reincarnation. Ceremonies to promote farming and livestock became associated with holidays and the cult of the saints in the Christian calendar. Lutheran life cycle rites involving baptism, confirmation, marriage, and death remain significant for most people.

Death and the Afterlife. Living and dead formed a close unity in traditional Finnish and Karelian belief, and death was viewed largely as transfer to a new residence. The complex rituals accompanying death were orchestrated by women, who arranged the wake, washed and shrouded the body, and sometimes sang laments to send the deceased, along with food and implements, to the place of the family ancestors. Memorial feasts were held six weeks and one year after death. Those who passed on to the realm of the dead (Manala or Tuonela ) remained a profound moral force among their living descendants. Days set aside for commemorating the dead eventually were adapted to a Christian calendar under Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox influence.

Medicine and Health Care

As a symbol of cleansing and purity, the sauna was a focus of therapeutic and curing activity as well as ritualized social bathing. It was common to give birth in the saunas before the availability of hospitals in the twentieth century, and cupping and bloodletting were performed there. Generally, the sauna is still seen as a remedy for pain and sickness. Professional medical care and research are highly developed with a network of 265 state financed district health centers providing a wide spectrum of health services. Overall health care expenditures account for a substantial share of Finland's GNP. It is a leading country in research and treatment in the areas of pediatrics, heart disease, and alcoholism.

Secular Celebrations

Kekri, a traditional feast at the end of the harvest season in rural communities, declined in importance as Christmas came to dominate festival life in town and urban settings, yet old kekri customs, such as tin casting to foretell the future, still occur in the context of Christmas and New Year celebrations. While Easter retains more of its religious character than do other church holidays, in the 1980s a new Easter custom emerged in which children dress up as witches, carry willow twigs, and travel from house to house seeking treats. Apparently, the Easter witch phenomenon combines ritual elements from older Scandinavian and Eastern Orthodox traditions. Midsummer celebrates the maximum occurrence of light at the summer solstice, a time when towns and cities are deserted for lakeside cottages and farms, where bonfires are lit, food and drink are shared between friends and relatives, and the national flag is flown. Other significant official national holidays include Independence Day (6 December), Vappu (May Day), and Mothers' Day (second Sunday of May).

The Arts and Humanities

Support for the Arts. The government maintains a competitive art grants system that allows composers and performing artists to pursue creative work for one to five-year periods.

Literature. Finnish culture is known for its rune song (folk poetry) traditions, which were synthesized in the Kalevala, a powerful symbol of national identity. Aleksis Kivi's 1870 novel Seitsemän Veljestä (Seven Brothers ), an unromantic portrayal of the struggle to clear virgin forest, furthered the development of Finnish as a literary language. That novel helped fuel the burgeoning national consciousness and became a source of inspiration in many areas of the arts. Influences from Scandinavian and Russian literature in the late nineteenth century reinforced a trend toward realism and social criticism, as exemplified by Minna Canth's depictions of women and the poor and Juhani Aho's treatment of emotional experience. Despite neoromanticist yearnings, a strong realist current infused literature in the early twentieth century. This is seen in Ilmari Kianto's tragicomic portrayal of a tenant farm family's struggles during the prohibition years of the 1920s, Ryysyrannan Jooseppi (Joseph of Ragged Shore ) (1924), and in the Nobel Prize winner F. E. Sillanpää's evocations of rural landscapes that overpower or dwarf human actors. From these roots have arisen versatile recent novelists and prose writers, including Väinö Linna, Antti Tuuri, and Olli Jalonen. The tradition of depicting ordinary people in familiar social settings has continued, although powerlessness, anxiety, and other psychological states have become prominent in contemporary literature.

Graphic Arts. Innovative functionalist movements have distinguished architecture and the design of furniture, ceramics, glass, and textiles. The reputation of Finnish design for combining local artistic themes with tools and materials adapted to demanding northern conditions was established at international fairs and expositions early in the twentieth century. Similar innovations in industrial design since the 1960s are seen in protective equipment, forestry machinery, recreational clothing, sporting goods, and electronics. The arena of contemporary visual arts is complex and evolving. As in architecture and design generally, a concern with the forces, shapes, colors, and textures of the northern landscape and the human relationship to nature have strongly influenced painting, sculpture, and other art forms. This is particularly evident in the representational romantic art that blossomed at the end of the nineteenth century. Akseli Gallen-Kallela's Great Black Woodpecker (1893) and his numerous paintings interpreting the Kalevala are exemplars. Abstract art movements did not gain a foothold until the 1950s. In recent years, however, graphic artists have experimented with innovative processes of image production and multimedia technologies to create new forms of art that sometimes serve as critiques of society and technology. In addition to a nationwide network of museums that arrange exhibitions, a new Museum of Contemporary Art (KIASMA) has been opened in Helsinki.

Performance Arts. The Kalevala had an impact on musical performance. The composer Jean Sibelius drew inspiration from this source in composing his symphony Kullervo in the early 1890s, and later his life and work became important symbols of the national identity. Opera gained a significant foothold with the organization of a festival at the fifteenth-century Olavinlinna Castle at Savonlinna between 1912 and 1916. That festival was revived in the 1960s, presaging a revival in opera in the 1970s and 1980s that has continued to the present. Operas drawing from specific historical events or themes, such as The Last Temptations and The Red Line, have resonated with Finnish audiences. Finland has nearly thirty symphony orchestras and a dozen major festivals offering classical, folk, and contemporary music as well as opera. Theater is another area with a rich history and a vibrant experimental present. There are about sixty institutional theaters, mostly in the cities and larger towns, and outdoor summer theater is often intertwined with community festival life in smaller towns and rural locales where amateur companies predominate. Plays based on the novels of Aleksis Kivi and Väinö Linna, are a popular part of the repertoire in those settings.


Engman, Max, and David Kirby, eds. Finland: People, Nation, State, 1989.

Häikiö, Martti. A Brief History of Modern Finland,, 1992.

Jarvenpa, Robert. "Agrarian Ecology, Sexual Organization of Labor and Decision Making in Northeastern Finland." In Tim Ingold, ed., The Social Implications of Agrarian Change in Northern and Eastern Finland, 1988.

Lander, Patricia Slade. In the Shadow of the Factory: Social Change in a Finnish Community, 1976.

Pentikäinen, Juha Y. Kalevala Mythology, 1989.

Sarmela, Matti. Reciprocity Systems of the Rural Society in the Finnish-Karelian Culture Area, 1969.

Siikala, Anna-Leena. "Finnic Religions." In Mircea Eliade, ed., The Encyclopedia of Religion, 1987.

Singleton, Fred. A Short History of Finland, 1989.

Solsten, Eric, and Sandra W. Meditz, eds. Finland: A Country Study, 1990.

Talve, Ilmar. Suomen Kansankulttuuri (Finnish Folk Culture), 1980.

Vuorela, Toivo. The Finno-Ugric Peoples, 1964.

Web Sites

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland. Virtual Finland, 1998.

Robert Jarvenpa

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Finland." Countries and Their Cultures. . 9 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Finland." Countries and Their Cultures. . (July 9, 2018).

"Finland." Countries and Their Cultures. . Retrieved July 09, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.




Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Finland." International Encyclopedia of Marriage and Family. . 9 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Finland." International Encyclopedia of Marriage and Family. . (July 9, 2018).

"Finland." International Encyclopedia of Marriage and Family. . Retrieved July 09, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.


Finlandunironed, viand •prebend •beribboned, riband •husband • house husband •unquestioned • escutcheoned •brigand, ligand •legend •fecund, second, split-second •millisecond • nanosecond •microsecond • rubicund • jocund •Langland • garland • parkland •Cartland, heartland •headland • Shetland • Lakeland •mainland •eland, Leland, Wieland, Zealand, Zeeland •Greenland • heathland • Cleveland •Friesland • Queensland • midland •England • Finland • Maryland •dryland, highland, island •Iceland • Holland • dockland •Scotland •foreland, Westmorland •Auckland, Falkland •Portland • Northland •lowland, Poland, Roland •Oakland • Copland • Newfoundland •woodland • Buckland • upland •Jutland, Rutland •Ireland • moorland •Cumberland, Northumberland •Sunderland • Switzerland •Sutherland • Hammond •almond, Armand •Edmund, Redmond •Desmond, Esmond •Raymond • Grimond • Richmond •Sigmund • Sigismund • Osmond •Dortmund • unsummoned •diamond • gourmand • unopened •errand, gerund •reverend • Bertrand • dachshund •unchastened •old-fashioned, unimpassioned •unsanctioned •aforementioned, undermentioned, unmentioned •unconditioned • unsweetened •unenlightened • unleavened •self-governed • unseasoned •wizened • thousand

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Finland." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . 9 Jul. 2018 <>.

"Finland." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . (July 9, 2018).

"Finland." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved July 09, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.