Finland

About Finland

Geography
History
Economy
Culture
Life style
Policy
Guide
History
Geography
Economy
Culture
Life style
Political system, law and government
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National Institutions
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President of the Republic
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Finland -- Geography --

Official Name: Republic of Finland
Capital City: Helsinki
Languages: Finnish (official), Swedish (official)
Official Currency: Euro
Religions: Evangelica Lutheran, others
Population: 5,213,000
Land Area: 304,610 sq km
Landforms: Over 70% of the land is forest. Central and southern Finland is generally lat with more than 60,000 lakes. The north is mostly low mountains.
Land Divisions: 6 provinces, including: Aland, Etela-Suomen Laani, Ita-Suomen Laani, Lansi-Suomen Laani, Lappi, and Oulun Laani




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Beginning***Europe


Finland -- History --

Around the beginning of the A. C. the territory of Finland is populated by Finnish tribes. In the XII – XIV century a big part of Finland is conquered by the Swedes. In 1581 it becomes a Great principality- formally equal in rights part of Sweden. As a result of the Swedish-Russian war (1808-1809) it is annexed to Russia as a Great Finnish principality with a limited autonomy. After the victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution, Finland is given its independence (6th December 1917). In January 1918 a Worker's Revolution burst out in the country and a revolutionary government is formed. In May the same year The Revolution is crushed by the Finnish bourgeoisie with the help of German armies. In 1919 – 20 together with the countries of The Entente, Finland takes part in anti-Soviet intervention. In 1921 the Finnish Karelia is invaded by the White Finns, but they are completely defeated in 1922. In the beginning of 1930 fascist elements are activated in the country. The Soviet-Finnish war (1939 - 40) ends with a defeat for Finland. During the World War 2 Finland takes the side of Germany. After the war it pursues politics of neutrality. Finland is a member of UNO (1955). Treaties signed in 1947 and 1948 with the Soviet Union include obligations, restraints and reparations on Finland vis-a-vis the Soviet Union as well as further territorial concessions by Finland (compared to the Moscow Peace Treaty of 1940). Finland cedes most of Finnish Karelia, Salla and Petsamo. After the Second World War, Finland is in the grey zone between western countries and Soviet Union. The "YYA Treaty" (Finno-Soviet Pact of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance) gives the Soviet Union some leverage in Finnish domestic politics and includes a guarantee whereby Finland promises to defend her territory and airspace against Germany or her allies, in practice NATO. Many politicians, like President Kekkonen (1956–81), use their relations with Moscow to solve party controversies, which mean that the Soviet Union gains even more influence; other people work single-mindedly to oppose the Kremlin. However, Finland maintains a democratic goverment and market economy, unlike other countries bordering the Soviet Union. The post-war era is a period of rapid economic growth and increasing wealth and stability for Finland. The war-ravaged agrarian country is transformed into a technologically advanced market economy with a sophisticated social welfare system. When the Soviet Union fell in 1991 Finland is surprised and suffers economically, but is free to follow her own course and joins the European Union in 1995, where Finland is an advocate of federalism contrary to the other Nordic countries that are predominantly supportive of confederalism.


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Beginning***Europe

Finland -- Economy --

Finland's economy is based primarily on private ownership and free enterprise; in some sectors, however, the government exercises a monopoly or a leading role. After World War II, Finland was still only semi-industrialized, with a large part of the population engaged in agriculture, mining, and forestry. During the early postwar decades, primary production gave way to industrial development, which in turn yielded to a service- and information-oriented economy. The economy grew especially rapidly in the 1980s, as the country exploited its strong trading relations with both eastern and western European countries. By the early 1990s, however, the country was experiencing economic recession, largely because the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 deprived Finland of its chief trading partner. The economy began a slow recovery in the mid-1990s, as Finland refocused its trade primarily toward western Europe. The Finnish government derives most of its revenue from taxes onincome and property, sales taxes, and excise duties. About two-fifths of the government's expenditures are for education and social services, including housing and health care. This pattern of expenditure is markedly different from the years following World War II; then, much of the Finnish annual budget went to paying war reparations and to rebuilding the nation's infrastructure. Industrial nationalization has not been a general policy in Finland, but in some cases the state has continued to hold a controlling interest in enterprises it has helped to establish. Examples include the railways (Valtionrautatiet), air transportation (Finnair), oil refining and natural gas distribution (Neste), and the national electrical power network (Imatran Voima). In the early 1990s the government began a program of gradually relinquishing its controlling interest in some of those industries. Unemployment was relatively low in Finland until 1991, when it increased rapidly. After peaking at nearly 20 percent of the workforce in 1994, the unemployment rate gradually began to decline. Finland's largest employer organization is the Confederation of Finnish Industry and Employers (formerly called the Finnish Employers' Confederation); the largest trade-union groups are the Central Organization of Finnish Trade Unions and the Confederation of Unions for Academic Professionals. Finland has subscribed to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade since 1949 and to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development since 1969. It became first an associate (1961) and later a full member (1986) of the European Free Trade Association before leaving that organization to join theEuropean Union in 1995; Finland also became a member of the constituent European Community (until 1993 called the European Economic Community), with which it had maintained a free-trade agreement since 1974.


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Beginning***Europe


Finland -- Culture --

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Beginning***Europe

Finland -- Life style --

Many young couples choose to live together before or instead of marriage. When a couple marries, the two have the right to keep their original surnames or take that of their spouse. Their children may also bear either surname. Families are small (having one or two children in the norm), and the Finnish government, worried about a shrinking labor force having to fund benefits for increasing number of retired people, has been trying to increase the birthrate. Maternity and child-care provisions are among the most generous in the world – women are entitled to paid maternity leave of up to 11 months, and their husbands can share a portion of that leave. Day care facilities are provided by the government free of charge, and mothers receive a regular allowance for each child under age 17. Both parents usually work outside the home. 48 percent (1999) Finns take it for granted that women are involved in careers, politics and social issues, as well as motherhood, and that men share household responsibilities. Finland was the first European country to give women the vote, in 1906. Most families own their own homes, and many have access to summer cottages for vacations.
Finnish cuisine has been influenced by many cultures, from French to Russian, but it includes a wide variety of Finnish specialties using fish and seafood, wild game and vegetables. Reindeer steak is a traditional specialty, as is salmon. Wild berries blueberries, cloudberries, strawberries and raspberries) are popular in desserts and liqueurs. Potatoes, cheeses, and a Finnish buffet (such as the smorgasbord) are also very popular. Rye bread is common, and open-faced sandwiches are eaten for snacks and at breakfast. Milk and coffee are the most common beverages for everyday drinking. Mealtime etiquette is much the same as in other parts of Northern Europe. The hosts usually indicate where people should sit, and everyone waits for the hosts to start eating before they do. It is common for guests to be asked to help themselves from a dish rather than be served by the hosts. Socializing It is customary to shake hands when greeting. The phrase for a general greeting is Hyvaa paiva (“Good morning” or “Good afternoon”), or just Paiva. Another expression for “Good morning” is Hyvaa huomenta. Finns are fairly informal and the use of first names is now widespread. When invited to someone’s home, it is important to be punctual, and it is usual to take a gift of cut flowers. Guests are sometimes invited to join their hosts in the sauna, a steam bath produced by pouring water over heated rocks - a Finnish invention.
The outdoors and physical fitness are important to the Finns, who enjoy a wide range of activities, including walking, fishing (and ice fishing), hunting, camping, skiing, track and field, basketball, Finnish baseball (pesapallo), ice hockey, cycling, and boating. Golf is gaining in popularity; some people even play on the ice in the winter. The sauna is a traditional way to relax and socialize for people of all ages. During a retreat to a summer cottage, a popular activity is to run from a hot sauna for a swim in a cold, clear lake nearby. People enjoy watching television and going to the movies. In Helsinki, the arts are well supported. Holidays and celebrations Official holidays include New Year’s Day (1 January), Epiphany (16 January), Easter (Friday through Monday), Labor and May Day (30 April and 1 May), Ascension, Whitsunday (Pentecost), Midsummer (two days around the June solstice), Independence Day (6 December), Christmas Eve (25 December), and 26 December. The Finland Festivals (16 of them) are held between June and September around the country and include art, music, dance, opera, and theatre events. On Palm Sunday preceding Easter, children dress up as Easter witches and go from door to door reciting charms. They receive sweets or money for their verses. At Easter, families decorate eggs and grow grass on plates in the home. For both Labor and May days (Vappu), people enjoy street carnivals and other celebrations in honor of both laborers and springtime. Midsummer is celebrated with huge bonfires by a lake, and urban residents usually leave cities and towns to go to the countryside for the day. The blue-and-white Finnish flag is also prominent on Midsummer’s day. Christmas is a time of peace, family and gifts. The main festive meal is eaten on Christmas Eve after a visit to family graves. Later, Father Christmas arrives with gifts for the children. Families in rural areas enjoy time in the sauna on Christmas Eve as well. Christmas Day and 26 December are days for visiting and relaxing.


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Beginning***Europe


Finland -- Political system, law and government --

Finland is a republic, with a democratic and parliamentary form of government. The country is governed under a constitution that was adopted on July 17, 1919. Finland is headed by a president, who is elected to a six-year term by direct popular vote. The Council of State (cabinet) is appointed by the president, subject to the approval of parliament, and is headed by the prime minister. The minimum voting age is 18. The Finnish parliament is a unicameral body known as the Eduskunta. Its 200 members are popularly elected on a proportional basis for a term of up to four years. Among the most active political parties are the Finnish Social Democratic Party (SDP, 1899), advocating state ownership of certain essential industries; the Center Party (KESK, 1906), which derives its support from the small farmers and advocates free enterprise; the Left-Wing Alliance (VL, 1990), formed by the 1990 merger of the Finnish People’s Democratic League (1944) and the Communist Party of Finland (1918); the National Coalition Party (KOK, 1918), an advocate of private enterprise; and the Swedish People’s Party (SFP, 1906), representing the Swedish-speaking minority in Finland. Executive power in the Finnish provinces is exercised by a prefect or governor, who is appointed by the country’s president. In Ahvenanmaa, which has been granted considerable autonomy, a provincial council is elected by the residents; the provincial council in turn chooses an executive council that shares governing power with the governor. The local court system of Finland is divided into municipal courts in towns and district courts in rural areas. Appellate courts are located in Abo, Vaasa, Kuopio, Kuovila, Rovaniemi, and Helsinki. The supreme court, which sits at Helsinki, is the final court of appeal for all civil and criminal cases. The Finnish social-welfare system provides unemployment, sickness, disability, and old-age insurance; family and child allowances; and war-invalid compensation. Medical coverage has often been dispensed through a person’s place of employment, but the National Health Act of 1972 provided for the establishment of health centers in all municipalities, and also provided for the elimination of doctor’s fees. Military service for up to 11 months is compulsory for all males 17 years of age or over. Finland has an army, a navy, and an air force, but the armed forces are restricted by the Paris peace treaty of 1947 to maximum personnel of 41,900; in 2001 about 31,850 people were in the armed services. Reserves total about 500,000. In 1994 Finland joined the Partnership for Peace program as a first step toward full membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).


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Beginning***Europe

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