Finland -- Geography --
Official Name: Republic of Finland
Capital City: Helsinki
Languages: Finnish (official), Swedish (official)
Official Currency: Euro
Religions: Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (75%), Orthodox Church of Finland (1%) and others.
Population: 5 500 000 (2018)
Land Area: 304 610 sq km
Landforms: Over 70% of the land is forest. Central and southern Finland is generally
flat 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
Finland -- History --
More than 10 000 years ago, northern Europe was covered by ice
that was believed to have formed 110 000 years earlier. When the ice finaly retreated, people began to arrive in the area that now is Finland, particularly from the south.
Ancient Finland developed in line with other European areas outside Ancient Rome. Local rulers and administrative organisations were typical for teh era. Key sources of livelihood included hunting, fishing and trade.
Perhaps as early as in 900. Orthodox Christianity prevailed in a significant portion in Southern Finland, influenced by Constantinople.
In the 12–14 century a big part of Finland is conquered by the Swedes. The force of the cross and sword integrated Finland into western, Catholic Europe. It became part of Sweden for more than 600 years. In 1581 it becomes a Great principality - formally equal in rights part of Sweden.
Sweden and Russia had battled over the location of their borders for centuries. As a result of the Swedish-Russian war (1808-1809) Finland became a part of 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.
At 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. Finland made peace with Soviet Union in autumn 1944 and repelled German troops from its territory.
After the war it pursues politics of neutrality. Finland is in the grey zone between western countries and Soviet Union. The country maintains a democratic goverment and market economy.
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. In 1955 Finland joined United Nations and Nordic Concil (created in 1952 by Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland).
When the Soviet Union fell in 1991 Finland is surprised and suffers economically as till the moment trade with Soviet Union provided significant financial benefits. The country joined the European Union in 1995, where Finland is an advocate of federalism contrary to the other Nordic countries that are predominantly supportive of confederalism.
Finland -- 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. It became first an associate (1961) and later a full member (1986) of the European Free Trade Association before leaving that organization to join the European Union in 1995.
Finland is a wealthy Nordic country. Its GDP per capita is 37 500 euro (2014). Only three EU countries has larger GDP per capita(Sweden, Denmark and Luxembourg).
Services form 70% of GDP, Industry -27% and Agriculture - 3%.
Forest industry, including paper production is leading. Finland is leading country in ship-building and the manufacture of large diesel engines, lifts and paper machines.
Finns also excel in the chemical industry, particularly in the treatment of clean water, and in electronics and software.
Finland -- Culture --
Nearly 90% of Finns speak Finnish. More than 5% speak Swedish. More than 2000 Finns speak Sami as their first language. About 70 000 people speak Russian with some of them living here since the years of Russian rule in Finland (1809-1917). About 50 000 speak Estonian. Estonians came in Finland mainly after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The publication of Kalevala in 1849 was probably the most important event in terms of national identity. The Kalevala is an extensive heroic epic based on folklore. It gave Finland a history.
The Kalevala was a source of inspiration for artists, composers and authors. Composer Jean Sibelius,poet Eino Leino and painters Akseli Gallen-Kallela and Albert Edelfeld, among many others, created the Golden Age of Finnish Art - the cultural core of Finland - in the late 19-th century.
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.
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).