Finland is one of the Scandinavian countries in Europe that borders Russia. Finland, like many of the countries in the far north experience extremely cold winters as part of the Arctic Circle. Much of the population of the country lives in or around one of the three major cities: Helsinki, Turku, and Tampere. Throughout its history, Finland has continued to be the overtaken by the Swedish or the Russians.
Population: 5,246,000 people
Capital City: Helsinki (1,075,000 people)
Languages: Finnish, Swedish
Religion: Evangelical Lutheran
Area: 130,558 sq mi (338,145 sq km)
Currency used: Euro
Literacy Percentage: 100
Life Expectancy: 78 years
Not much is known about the people that lived in the area we call Finland when the glaciers receded exposing the land, but it is believed that the first people began living there from 10,000 to 12,000 years ago.
- Archeological evidence shows that in between the various ice ages, various peoples lived in Finland.
- The first settlers in Finland migrated from Russia and Estonia.
- Both the Swedes and the Russians looked at Finland as an area to expand to and the Russians were always looking for waterways to bring them further exploration abilities.
- In 1155, what we now call Finland was under the rule of Sweden but defining borders in those days was difficult and it took 200 years before the border of Russia (then called Novgorod) and Sweden was established.
In the 13th century the Swedish government wanted to attract people to settle in their new lands and they often gave away tracts of land as well as lowered taxation rates to encourage people to move.
- Throughout the 1500’s the Swedish Kings were involved in constant battles with Russia to claim additional lands.
- By the 17th century Sweden was experiencing what is called its ‘Golden Age’, now claiming many of the countries in their area as part of their own, including Finland.
- The 18th century brought Russian rule into Finland as the Russian Tsar, Peter the Great, claimed Finland for themselves. For seven years the Russians ransacked and destroyed everything that they could in Finland.
Battles between Russian and Sweden continued to happen over the years including treaties that were signed and broken. Finally, Sweden gave up Finland as part of a deal with Russia and it seemed that this time they might benefit due to the encouragement of independent development.
By the 19th century the people of Finland were beginning to feel that they wanted to be their own country. Their involvement in the Crimean War was only due to the fact that they were an annex country of Russia. Following this war the Finnish movement towards independence was gaining strength and in 1905 they introduced the first bills of equality, including women, that were to be seen anywhere.
The communist revolution in Russia made Finland an attractive place to take over and remove their independent attitudes, but the Finnish people fought back and retained their independence.
- Even though they had a rough history, Finland and Russia maintained very close ties until the fall of the USSR in 1991. They had been forced to give up much of their land and some of their islands to Russia in the past.
- The government of Finland experienced a success on its own in the 1980’s and then, like maby of the European countries began to decline.
- In 2000, Finland elected Tarja Halonen, as their president. The first woman to hold that position, Finland was the only country at the time to have women in the position of both prime minister and president.
- The people that live in Finland refer to their country as “Suomi”.
- Much of the land area of Finland is covered in coniferous forests. Finland also has 180,000 lakes and needs a fleet of icebreaker ships to keep all of their ports free from ice in the long winters.
- Finland has maintained a consistent record of ranking very high for the quality of life for their people.
Finland has a great tourism industry with many people visiting from all over the world.
The Finnish industries include high tech, electronics, pulp and paper, shipbuilding, copper refining and metal products.
Agriculture ranks high in Finland with their ability to grow wheat, barley, potatoes, sugar beets as well as raise dairy cattle and an excellent fishing industry.
Finland exports paper, pulp, chemicals, metals, machinery and equipment and timber.