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Finland (Finnish: Suomi; Swedish: Finland ), officially the Republic of Finland,is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Livonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.
Around 4.8 million people reside in Finland, with the majority concentrated in the southern region. It is the eighth largest country in Europe in terms of area and the most sparsely populated country in the European Union. Finland is a parliamentary republic with a central government based in Helsinki and local governments in 336 municipalities. A total of about one million residents live in the Greater Helsinki area (which includes Helsinki, Espoo, Kauniainen and Vantaa), and a third of the country's GDP is produced there. Other larger cities include Tampere, Turku, Jyväskylä, Lahti, Vasa and Kuopio.
Finland was historically a part of Sweden and from 1809 on, an autonomous Grand Duchy within the Russian Empire.The Finnish Declaration of Independence from Russia in 1917 was followed by a civil war.
Finland was a relative latecomer to industrialisation, remaining a largely agrarian country until the 1950s. Thereafter, economic development was rapid, Finland built an extensive welfare state and balanced between the East and the West in global economics and politics. The country tops continuously the international comparisons of national performance. Finland ranks the best country in the world in the Newsweek survey based on health, economic dynamism, education, political environment and quality of life. Finland has also been ranked the second most stable country in the world and the first in the 2009 Legatum Prosperity rating. In 2010, the World Economic Forum deemed Finland the 7th most competitive country in the world. Finland is currently ranked as having the 3rd highest graduation rate, percentage of graduates to the population at the typical age of graduation, in the OECD Factbook 2010.