50 Fascinating Facts about Finland

Finland is a small country of a little over 5 million people, sandwiched between Russia and Sweden. Archaeological discoveries suggest that Finland was first inhabited by humans about 125,000 years ago. Some claim that the first Finnish-speaking people settled in the country in the eighth century. Other scholars believe that a form of Finnish has been spoken in Finland as far back as 3000BC. Settlements were firmly established by the stone age around 8500 BC and Archaeologists have since reconstructed early dwellings. In the last millennium, it has been subjugated by one or other of its two neighbouring countries. To this day Swedish remains one of the two official languages of Sweden though only about 5% of the population speak it. In the 12th century Sweden was part of the Kingdom of Sweden which included Denmark and Norway too. In the 18th century Russia invaded and ruled with an iron fist. In 1808 and 1809 Sweden and Russia were at war over the right to rule Finland and Russia won. It was not till 1917 that Finland gained some form of independence although Russian and Finish troops were still fighting in Finland a year later. The country became a republic in 1919 and became officially independent in 1920. It became a member of NATO in 1994 and joined the EU in 1995. With Finland being somewhat tucked away in the Baltics, we do not hear very much about it. Perhaps, as a result of its long history of subjugation to Sweden and Russia it is a first in many areas connected with human dignity. Some facts about Finland may surprise you:

Finland Facts

1
Between 1906 and 1907, Finland became the first country in the world to both allow ALL its adult citizens the right to vote AND to run for office.
2
At the start of 2017 Finland launched an experimental programme of FREE MONEY for 2000 unemployed Finns. The programme is to last until 2019. €560 a month will be given regardless of any other income that the beneficiaries might receive. One of the objectives of this trial is to see if without the stresses of having to keep body and soul together, people are better able to cultivate a successful entrepreneurial culture. It also simplifies Finland’s very complicated social security structure.
3
Finland hosts one of the most long-established Muslim communities in Western Europe, ‘The Tatars’. There are about 1000 of them.
4
The Tatars were originally farmers and merchants that had come to settle in Finland from the Volga region in Russia. The Russians also employed many of them on construction work while they were ruling the area. The origins of the Tartars go back to Turkey and they have maintained their own Turcic language.
5
Finland has a ‘Women Only’ island resort called ‘SuperShe’. SuperShe is the brain-child of founder Kristina Roth. Kristina utters assurances that she does not hate men. The SuperShe claim is quite simply that women need a to have time together to give each other mutual support and nurturing.
6
Between 1930 and 1935 Finland ran a sterilisation programme. It included an act in 1935 to make sterilisation compulsory for the mentally retarded. Eugenics was the main motive of this sterilisation programme, but not many sterilisations were performed. 629 between 1920 and 1939. Sterilisation soared when a later law in 1950 made abortion legal if it was followed by sterilisation. Considerable disapproval was voiced by Church officials.
7
The Finnish Language did not originate, as one might have expected, either from neighbouring Scandinavia or Russia but more distant Hungaria. This seems to be the traditionally held view of the origin of the language based on the fact that the two languages share some 600 similar words. Some people say that this is not sufficient evidence.
8
The Population density of Finland is the third lowest in any European country and the lowest in the EU. On average it has 18 inhabitants per square kilometre.
9
As of 2014 there were 322,700 people registered of foreign background – just under 6% of the population. Foreign immigrants are mainly from Russia, Estonia, Yugoslavia, Somalia and Iraq.
10
In winter in the Northern areas of Finland the sun does not rise at all for several months and in the summer, it does not set for up to 73 days.
11
The Finnish Education system is quite unorthodox focussing on nurturing children rather than have them compete. It has brought about considerable academic successes. Finnish children don’t go to school until they are seven years old. They all learn in the same classes regardless of ability. They don’t take many exams until they are teenagers. 66% of children go on to college, a bigger percentage than anywhere in Europe.
12
Finland has one standard exam at the end of secondary education. Children are not pushed into stressful competition all their lives.
13
Finland’s Higher Education is ranked No 1 in the world by the World Economic Forum
14
Finland has the highest proportion of internet users in the EU. In 2009 it became one of the first countries in the world to make access to the internet a legal right.
15
Finland has spawned a number of top high-tech companies such as Nokia.
16
Finland has no less than 248 species of breeding birds and 70 species of fish.
17
The brown bear is Finland’s National Animal
18
There are 168,000 lakes in Finland
19
In 2016 Finland earned €2.5 billion from foreign tourists. It welcomed 7.7 million foreign visitors. €3.8 billion was the revenue generated by tourism as a whole, that year.
20
Baltic Cruises play a significant part in attracting tourists to Finland, especially to the Northern areas where visitors can experience the polar night and midnight sun.
21
Finland boasts 40 National Parks spanning vast area of virgin land.
22
Finland has a state-run, modern railway system. The government maintains approximately 5865 kilometres of railway track at a cost of €350,000 a year.
23
About 1 billion Euros a year is spent on the upkeep of Finland’s very extensive road network.
24
Most imports into the country come by sea-freight. When the seas freeze over during winter ice-breaker ships keep the shipping lanes open.
25
Traditionally most of Finland’s exports have centred round forestry and metalworking. Most of the world’s cruise liners are built in Finnish boatyards.
26
Finland’s carbon resources are mainly wood from its forests and peat.
27
Finland derives about 15% of its electricity from hydro-power.
28
Finland currently has four nuclear power stations producing 30% of the country’s electricity.
29
The new Areva nuclear power station is scheduled to start in 2019. Two further nuclear plants are also being planned.
30
The UN’s Earth Institute rated Finland 2nd in a ‘World Happiness’ report.
31
The Okiuloto Nuclear Power Station is the third most expensive building in the world and cost approximately $US 9 billion to build.
32
‘Angry Birds’ is a very popular computer and mobile phone game which originated in Finland. Since its launch in 2009 over 12 million copies of the game have been purchased from the iOS App Store
33
Hunting is popular in Finland, with Elk and hare being the most popular prey.
34
Citizenship is not automatically granted just because a person is born in Finland. Usually at least one Finnish parent is required for citizenship to be given.
35
Submarine cables provide telephone links to Sweden and Estonia
36
Finland shares with the other Nordic countries the use of the Inmarsat satellite for international telephone links.
37
All Finnish Television is broadcast digitally
38
A small minority of the Finnish population (0.01% in 2006) is made up of Sami indigenous peoples who have lived from ancient times in Norway, Sweden, Russia and Finland.
39
The Sami Language has nine different dialects.
40
Sami religion is polytheistic and focuses much on spirits.
41
The Finnish population includes about 10,000 Roma (0.01%). They have been established in Finland for 500 years and are well integrated into Finnish society.
42
Finns were converted to Christianity by the Swedish Crusaders in the 12th Century.
43
Lutheran Protestantism is the main religion in Finland today.
44
The first sailing across the arctic was made by Finish explorer, A.E. Nordenskiold in 1879-1880.
45
The Markka was the currency used in Finland until it was replaced by the Euro at the beginning of 1999 at a rate of a little under 6 Markka to the Euro.
46
Finland has extremely cold winters – especially in Lapland in the North where temperatures can fall to -45C
47
Typically, average temperatures in Finland will be below zero C for 100 days a year.
48
Aurora Borealis is a fascinating feature of Finland’s Lapland region and one that draws many tourists. Aurora Borealis are also known as the Northern Lights and are caused by particles of plasma, or solar wind, being ejected from the sun and causing spectacular light effects when they reach our earth 40 hours later.
49
Finland’s National defence is provided by both a professional army and conscription for 6-12 months of all males when they reach 18. There is also a volunteer post-conscription service that includes around 500 women volunteers.
50
Finland provide its citizens with one of the most comprehensive social security systems in the world.

Along with its Nordic neighbors, Norway and Sweden, Finland is regularly listed as being among the best places to live in the world. In fact, it has even topped the UN's World Happiness list for 2018. It's not hard to see why – Finland's progressive attitudes, robust social programmes, and focus on education and innovation make it a great place to live. It's stunning scenery, filled with dreamy lakes and lush forests, not to mention the possibility of seeing the amazing Northern Lights, also make Finland a fantastic destination for the kind of tourist who prefers a winter paradise to a sun lounger. Welcome to the real happiest place on Earth!

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