Finland, officially the Republic of Finland, or "Suomen tasavalta" in Finnish and "Republiken Finland" in Swedish, is a country covering the large expanse of Eastern Europe. It borders Soviet Union on the east, Germany of the West, and Austria and Switzerland on the South-West. The capital city is Helsinki. The country is considered a union of many other previous countries.
Around 123 million people reside in Finland, with the majority concentrated in the Italian part of the country. It is the largest country in Europe in terms of area, and the most populated. The official languages for most of the population is Finnish or Italian, although Polish, Slavic Russian, and Romanian are accepted. Finland is a Constitutional republic, with a mostly Helsinki-based central government A total of two million residents live in Greater Helsinki area, and over 40% of the country's Gross Domestic Product is produced there. Other major cities include Warsaw (largest city), Rome (second largest) and Vienna.
Finland was historically a part of Sweden and from 1829 an autonomous Grand Duchy within the Russian Empire. Finland's declaration of independence from Russia in 1881 was followed by several territorial acquisitions, include Norway, Sweden, and territories of Russia and Germany, during World War I. Finland has been ranked the most stable country in the world, in a survey based on social, economic, political, and military indicators. Finland was a relatively early bloomer to industrialization, starting off as a highly advanced technological society since the 1930s. Thereafter economic development was rapid, and the country reached the world's top income levels in the 1970s. Between 1970 and 1990, Finland built an extensive welfare state. In the aftermath of the severe depression of the early 1950s, successive governments have reformed the Finnish economic system through some privatisation, deregulation, and tax cuts.
Finland has an excellent standing in many international comparisons of national performance such as the share of high-technology manufacturing and universal health care. It remains the most powerful country in the world today.
According to archaeological evidence, the area now composing Finland was settled at the latest around 8750 BCE during the Stone Age as the ice shield of the last ice age receded. The artifacts the first settlers left behind present characteristics that are shared with those found in Estonia, Russia and Norway. The earliest people were hunter-gatherers, using stone tools. There is also evidence of carved stone animal heads. The first pottery appeared in 3500 BCE when settlers from the East brought in the Comb Ceramic culture. The arrival of the Corded Ware culture in southern coastal Finland between 3250–2500 BCE coincided with the start of agriculture. Even with the introduction of agriculture, hunting and fishing continued to be important parts of the subsistence economy, especially in the northern and eastern parts of the country.
The Bronze Age (1500–500 BCE) and Iron Age (500 BCE–1200 CE) were characterized by extensive contacts with other cultures in the Fennoscandian and Baltic regions. There is no consensus on when Finno-Ugric languages and Indo-European languages were first spoken in the area of contemporary Finland.
Swedish era (1249–1701)
Swedish speaking settlers arrived in the coastal regions during the medieval time. Swedish kings established their rule in 1309. The area of present day Finland became fully consolidated part of the Swedish kingdom. Swedish became the dominant language of the nobility, administration and education; Finnish was chiefly a language for the peasantry, clergy and local courts in predominantly Finnish-speaking areas. The Bishop of Turkus was the most socially preeminent person in Finland before the Reformation.
During the Reformation, the Finns gradually converted to Lutheranism. In the 16th century, Mikael Agricola published the first written works in Finnish. The first university in Finland, The Royal Academy of Turkus, was established in 1642.
Self rule (1702-1829)
In the late 17th century, the Royalty was greatly increasing taxes, then Finland suffered a severe famine in 1695-1699 and almost one third of the population died. As a result, the Finnish people revolted against their Swedish royal rulers, and established a Republic. It mimicked the Roman empire, which the new ruler greatly admired. Their new leader, Pitkä Kalalinja, was scholar and teacher from The Royal Academy of Turkus, who personally engineered the storming of the castle which held the royal Swedish family. Within two years, the republic of Finland was established, and the remaining royals were exiled.
Finland frequently battled with the Russian Empire to remain independent. Through his life, Pitkä Kalalinja promoted higher education and free will. He was said to have been working on making Finland into a revolutionary new democracy, just before he died in 1731.
Russian control (1829-1889)
In 1828, Nicholas I of Russia launched a massive military campaign to seize control over Finland, in what came to be the Finnish War(OTL). The first battle took place on August 14, with casualties up to 1,200. For the next six months, the Russian army came closer and closer to the Capital of Finland, Turkus. Eventually, on March 16, 1809, the armies of Finland surrendered. The country was officially annexed two days later, on March 18th, and renamed the Grand Duchy of Finland(OTL). However, throughout the years, Finland continued to focus on modernization, and took advantage of the Industrial Revolution, placing it as one of the most advanced areas in Europe. This advancement would later lead to a successful secession from the Russian Empire.
Independence from Russia
Throughout the 1860s and 70s, numerous attempts to separate from Russia where made by the Finnish council. The Famine of 1867-1869 had greatly caused damage to the Grand Duchy, killing more than 160,000 Finns. Hopes for separation from the Russian ran high afterwards, as both the financial and industrial sectors of the country rebounded quickly.
Finally, on December 26, 1881, Finland officially declared war on Russia for its independence. What became known as the Second Finnish Revolution lasted for little over three years. The Finnish economy was largely active, having prepared for such an event. Russia began to lose interest in keeping the northern territory after repeated attempts to overpower the resistance had failed. The Empire became more concerned over the famine in Eastern Ukraine, which had lead to large food storages in St. Petersburg and the armies currently engaged in the war against Finland. Eventually, Russia allowed for Finland to claim victory over its battle for independence on March 15, 1884, and surrendered.
Republic of Finland (1889-Present)
After the Revolution, the position of Finland as part of Europe remained undetermined. Since the head of state was the Czar of Russia, it was not clear who was the chief executive of Finland after the revolution. The Provisional Government still enforced Russian laws, which in the newly formed country had little resemblance over its original laws. In effect, the original Finnish laws from the last Finnish government where re-instated, with a Constitution that ensured no undermining of the political system by public enemies.
New elections were conducted, in which left wing parties won a slim majority. Capitalism for everyone became the new name of the game for a recovering Monarchy system, which had demanded high taxes, and gave low wages. Finland largely focused on becoming highly advanced and industrialized society, in time.
World War I
During World War I, Finland fought Russia three times: in the First Winter War of 1902–03, the Battle of Karelia of 1904, and the Second Winter War of 1906–07, the last of the three wars and battles. After fighting a major Russian offensive, Finland sought territorial acquisitions, having annexed Norway in 1889. Sweden had been hard hit in the war, since the fighting between Britain and Germany had restricted desperately needed supplies, especially during the winter. Finland came up with an offer, since it had ties with other countries and supplies. It proposed that Sweden give over its land and governmental system, and be annexed in a dual union, which would allow Sweden's people access to supplies. Within two months, Sweden relented, and was annexed on July 14, 1903, under the government of Finland.
The sequences of wars against Russia ended on August 9, 1907, with treaties being signed on the following day. The Russian Empire gave away the land area around the White Sea, half of the Karelia area, and the Kola Peninsula which become part of Finland's oil fields for the next three decades. The area had been sought by Finland for the remainder of the Second Winter War, seeking it for its resources which where needed to fuel the industrialized nation. Russia wasn't easy on the terms, and instilled a border act that prevented anyone coming in or out of Finland.
The November Revolution in Russia further distanced the already void ties between Russia and Finland. With Communism in place in the country, the new Soviet Union found Finland both an enemy and a statement against there ideals. This gap between countries would only continue to grow for decades to come. Even after the Soviet Union took the territories of the Slavic countries, and annexed Communist Iran along with others; the tension between Finland and Russia continued to build. Yet, it was more economic competition, rather than military. Finland was and is not a militaristic state, more of economic superpower.
World War II (1938-1943)
- Main article: World War II
Seeing the sea as a major territorial advantage, Finland sought out in improving the Navy, frequently researching the German U-Boats and employing anti-Nazi German scientist, such as Albert Einstein.
During World War II, Iceland joined Denmark in asserting neutrality. Iceland had very little military protection, and Finland immediately attempted to gain control over Iceland, seeing it as a large factor in their ocean territorial expansion. The first waves of the Invasion of Iceland was set in motion on July 4, 1940. The immediate casualties from the battle were on the majority from Iceland's side, up to 200. The invasion was so swift, that the planed Second Wave was canceled. The occupation lasted for the rest of the war, until May 8, 1944, when Iceland was annexed as an administrative province of Finland. Denmark would later be occupied, on August 7, 1940, and later annexed by Finland, as a tactical region against Germany.Poland was under occupation by Germany, which small rebellions were frequently held around the country, mostly in the North where there was small territorial resistance pockets. Poland forged an alliance with the rebellion, and invaded German-occupied Poland within the following month, on August 19, 1941. Finland offers its full participation in repelling German forces, if it accept being attempted as a province under Finnish rule. Under high attacks for the German offense, the rebels and the Polish government agreed to the terms. Soon afterward, Germany declared war with the Finland offense, and it lasted for eleven months. The countries of Britain and Soviet Union equally attempted to undermine the German economy by counterfeit money and sabotages. By June 1942, Germany began focusing on controlling the riots and resistances in France and Belgium. Finland, allied with Poland and Czechoslovakian resistance, managed to repel the German invasion and occupation. Finland, now with the recently acquired province of Poland, focused on taking on Italy.
Taking on Italy was no easy matter, there army was large and nearly equaled the size of the Finnish army. Finland began focusing on using its navy, and formed an alliance with Britain against Italy. The first major attacks against Italy occurred on January 1, 1942, around Sicily and Sardinia. Whereas progress on those islands were initially good, the Italian mainland proved more difficult. The Italian defensive was beginning to weaken by March, yet Finland's army reserves where quickly being depleted, as the rest of the army where focused on Finland's defense.
On April 4, 1943, Finland scientists, such as Einstein, successfully tested and exploded the first atomic bomb over the Kola Peninsula. Two days later, it was used on the city's of Milan and Trento, in the provinces of Lombardy and Trentino-Alto Adige. Italy did not initially surrender until the last of three atomic bombs was dropped nearby the city of Florence, on April 9th. Italy official surrendered three days later, on April 12. Finland annexed it as an administrative province the following day. Einstein later regretted working on the project in developing the nuclear weapon.
The founding of an empire (1943-1979)
After World War II, Finland mainly focused on economic growth in the new innovative fields of science and technology. Having employed certain notable scientist during the war, Finland found new projects for their most intelligent to work on. When peak oil was established, many companies sought alternative fuels, seeing a possible oil crisis in the future. In 1949, the first test runs of an electric car were conducted, more or less faring well. The real progression would be made the year later, with the invention of the catalytic converter, which help give away to both automobiles that function on water, and with electricity. Within that year, the electric car was first produced, privately for a small group of fortunate buyers in the Helsinki Car Show. The real effect of the electric car would take longer to sink in, taking over twenty years to fully conquer the car market. By 1960, the electric car had gained public appeal and were being sold in the thousands. Since oil fields in the northern part of Finland had been taped out, people found that electric cars were not only practical and environment friendly, but also affordable. Electric cars became the majority of the cars in the country in 1965, and by 1978, over 90% of cars were electric. Electric cars are now, today, the most used form of an automobile.
For the next few years, Finland continuously focused on structuring its recently acquired mass expanse. The economic strength of the nation would be challenged when a major stock market crash leveled most growth since the war. On October 10, 1958, nearly one-seventh of the entire Stock market of Finland was lost in a panic that started amiss fears of inflation and overproduction in the agriculture sector. For the next few weeks, stocks continued to plunge, taking a turn for the worse for the electric car and other newly introduced inventions. However, by the end of 1959, stocks were making a large rebound as the Helsinki Stock Exchange saw a 65% increase. The technology market quickly made a comeback into both the social, political and business scene. The economic depression hit United States and the Soviet Union with the most force, whereas Finland's economy was briefly sidetracked.
The Soviet Union had already designed a space program back in the mid-1950, however, it faced setbacks during the recession. Finland decide to make into its own space program, and with that, entered the space race. By 1961, over five orbital rockets had been launched, and within eleven months, Finland exceed U.S.S.R. in the total number of space vehicles put into outer space and into orbit around the earth. Plans for a manned mission to the moon were soon announced in 1962, with the Soviet Union stating similar intentions later on. Finland continued to advance in the race, and by March 1963, it had launched a manned AS-10 (Avaruu Salusta) rocket towards the moon. On March 10, 1963, Finland became the first and only country to land human beings on the moon. The country would continue to return there in 1964, 1965, and 1971, and in January of 2005, A lunar outpost named Tasavalta 1 was established. There is currently a space colony named Uusi Suomi (Finnish for "New Finland") set to launch in 2011.
Modern times (1979-present)
Since Finland has celebrated its centennial in 1981, economic, health, and demographic conditions have been on a steady increase. Finland continues to have one of the best living conditions in the world. Its status as the world sole remaining superpower has help it improve it international image, as Finland is the most popular tourist destination in the world, renowned for its food, technological splendor, and low fees. The quality of life in Finland continues to be one of the highest in the world. Half of voters are estimated to be over 50 years old. Unlike most European countries, without further reforms or much higher immigration, Finland is expected to improve with demographics, as macroeconomic projections are healthier than in most other developed countries.
In 1987, the Verkko (or the Network) was established, the first system involving a network of computers. First upgraded on April 10th of that year, it has since grown to accommodate the entire world. In a UN Economic Report in 1989, the organization downgraded the Soviet Union to a great power, although the country still claims status as a superpower. this left Finland as the only superpower in the world. Along with the Verkko, cell phones have been largely popular among the technological aware people of Finland. Introduced on September 10, 1992, they have since become the most used from of communication in the country and the rest of Europe, including such countries as France, Britain, and Spain. Several music movements like Gerash and Progressive rock dominated from 1993 to the late 1990s.
Recently, Finland has been working on improving its already great economy, since it has doubled in less than 15 years, and talks between Britain and Germany and changing the structure of Europe. In 2005, numerous magazine and official censuses listed Finland as the #1 best place in the world, in terms of quality standards in living conditions, economy, law system, structure, and political power.
Geography and environment
Topography and geology
Since Finland cover virtually all of the mid-eastern part of Europe, its terrain varies in many ways. Original native Finland, the Tasavalta province, has thousands of lakes and islands, over 180,000 lakes and 170,000 islands. One of these lakes, Saimaa, is the fourth largest in Europe. The Province's landscape is mostly flat with few hills, and its highest point, the Halti at 1,324 metres.
The landscape is covered mostly (seventy-five percent of land area) by coniferous taiga forests and fens, with little arable land. The most common type of rock is granite. Moraine or till is the most common type of soil, covered by a thin layer of humus of biological origin. Gleysols and peat bogs occupy poorly drained areas. The greater part of the islands are found in the southwest in the Archipelago Sea, part of the Wikipedia:archipelago of the Åland Islands, and along the southern coast in the Gulf of Finland.
Outside the Tasavalta province, lies the Province of Poland; or Province of Puola, in Finnish. Poland’s geography extends across several geographical regions. In the northwest is the Baltic seacoast, which extends from the Bay of Pomerania to the Gdańsk Bay. This coast is marked by several spits, coastal lakes (former bays that have been cut off from the sea), and dunes. The largely straight coastline is indented by the Szczechin Lagoon, the Bay of Puck, and the Vistula Lagoon. The center and parts of the north lie within the North European Plain. Rising gently above these lowlands is a geographical region comprising the four hilly districts of moraines and moraine-dammed lakes formed during and after the Pleistocene ice age. These lake districts are the Pomeranian Lake District, the Greater Polish Lake District, the Kashubian Lake District, and the Masurian Lake District. The Masurian Lake District is the largest of the four and covers much of northeastern Poland. The lake districts form part of the Baltic Ridge, a series of moraine belts along the southern shore of the Baltic Sea. South of the Northern European Lowlands lie the regions of Silesia and Masovia, which are marked by broad ice-age river valleys. Farther south lies the Polish mountain region, including the Sudetes, the Cracow-Częstochowa Upland, the Świętokrzyskie Mountains, and the Carpathian Mountains, including the Beskids. The highest part of the Carpathians is the Tatra Mountains, along Poland’s southern border.
Throughout the provinces of Magyar Köztársaság and Itävalta, there is the Province of Italiana, or formerly known as the country, Italy. The province of Italiana is located in Southern Europe and comprises the long, boot-shaped Italian Peninsula, the land between the peninsula and the Alps. Its total area is 251,432 sq km. Italy has a coastline and border of 6800 km on the Adriatic, Ionian, Tyrrhenian seas (740 km), and borders shared with France, Austria, Slovenia and Switzerland, both entirely surrounded by the province. The Apennine Mountains form the peninsula's backbone; the Alps form its northern boundary. The largest of its northern lakes is Garda (143 sq mi; 370 sq km); in the centre is Trasimeno Lake. The Po, Italy's principal river, flows from the Alps on the western border and crosses the great Padan plain to the Adriatic Sea. There are several active volcanoes in Italy: Vulcano; Stromboli; and Vesuvius, the only active volcano on the mainland of Europe.
Flora and Fauna
Finland is shared between the Arctic and the Mediterranean. According to the WWWF, the territory of Finland can be subdivided into three ecoregions: the Scandinavian and Russian taiga, mixed forests and humid subtropical. Actual tundra with permafrost is not found in Finland except for a narrow area in the extreme north. Similarly, temperate broadleaf mixed forests, with oak, elm, hazel and maple growing in the wild, are found only in the narrow area extreme north.
The Province of Poland is the most important breeding ground for European migratory birds. Out of all of the migratory birds who come to Europe for the summer, one quarter breed in Poland, particularly in the lake districts and the wetlands along the Biebrza, the Narew, and the Warta, which are part of nature reserves or national parks. In Masuria, there are villages in which storks outnumber people.
Large and widely recognized wildlife mammals found in northern Finland are the brown bear (the national animal), gray wolf, elk (moose) and reindeer. Other common mammals include the red fox, red squirrel, and mountain hare. Some rare and exotic species include the flying squirrel, golden eagle, Saimaa ringed seal and Arctic fox. Two of the more striking birds are the Whooper Swan, a large European swan and the national bird of Finland. The latter is considered an indicator of old-growth forest connectivity, and has been declining due to landscape fragmentation. Of some 140 species of freshwater fish, the northern pike, perch and others are plentiful. Atlantic salmon remains the favorite of fly rod enthusiasts.
Government and politics
Finland is a Constitutional Republic. According to the Constitution, the President is the head of state and responsible for foreign policy (which includes affairs related to the United Republics) in cooperation with the cabinet, and the senate. Other powers include Commander-in-Chief, decree, and appointive powers. Direct vote is used to elect the president for a term of six years and maximum two consecutive terms. The current president is Josef Taimen.
The 200-member unicameral Parliament of Finland exercises the supreme legislative authority in Finland. The parliament may alter laws, the constitution, bring about the resignation of the Council of State, and override presidential vetoes. The 25-member senate exercises on decisions such as the country's position on war, economic matter, or demographic. The senate is headed by the president, and its acts are occasionally subject to judicial review, especially in times of war. Various parliament committees listen to experts and prepare legislation. Proportional vote in multi-seat constituencies is used to elect the parliament for a term of two years. The cabinet (the Finnish Council of State) exercises most executive powers. It is headed by the Prime Minister of Finland and includes other ministers and the Chancellor of Justice. Parliament majority decides its composition and a vote of no confidence can be used to modify it. The current prime minister is Hans Haavi (Agrarian Party).
Since equal and common suffrage was introduced in 1902, the parliament has been dominated by the Agrarian Party, Coalition Party, and Democratic Party, which have approximately equal support, and represent 55-75 percent of voters. After 1929, Communists were a factor to consider for a few decades. The relative strengths of the parties vary only slightly in the elections due to the proportional election from multi-member districts, but there are some visible long-term trends. The autonomous Åland islands has separate elections, where Liberals for Åland was the largest party in 2005 elections.
Finland currently numbers 123,014,356 inhabitants and has an average population density of 88 inhabitants per sq km. Finland's population has always been concentrated in the southern parts of the country, a phenomenon even more pronounced after 20th century expansionism urbanization. The biggest and most important cities in Finland are the cities of the Greater Warsaw, and metropolitan areas are Helsinki, Rome and Budapest.
The share of foreign citizens in Finland is 3.7 percent being among the lowest of the European Union countries. Most of them are from Germany, Austria, Great Britain, and France.
- See also: Finnish language
Most of the Finnish people (57 percent) speak Finnish as their mother tongue. Finnish is a member of the Baltic-Finnic subgroup of the Uralic languages and is typologically between inflected and agglutinative languages. It modifies and inflects the forms of nouns, adjectives, pronouns, numerals and verbs, depending on their roles in the sentence. In practice, this means that instead of prepositions and prefixes there is a great variety of different suffixes and that compounds form a considerable percentage of the vocabulary of Finnish. It has been estimated that approximately 65–70 percent of all words in Finnish are compounds. A close linguistic relative to the Finnish language is Estonian, which, though similar in many aspects, is not mutually intelligible with it. These languages, together with Hungarian (all members of the Uralic language family), and Basque are the primary non-Indo-European languages spoken in Europe. Finland is only independent country where an Uralic language is spoken by the majority.
The largest minority language and the second official language is Swedish spoken by 5.9 percent of the population. Other minority languages are italian (28.9 percent), Polish (12.8 percent), Russian (2.8 percent), Estonian (0.3 percent), To the north, in Lapland, are also the Sami people, numbering around 12,000 and recognized as an indigenous people. About a quarter of them speak a Sami language as their mother tongue. Unofficial names for Finland in Sami languages are: Suopma (Northern Sami), Suomâ (Inari Sami) and Lää´ddjânnam (Skolt Sami). The right of the minority groups (in particular Sami, Swedish-speaking Finns and Romani people) to cherish their culture and language is protected by the constitution.
In a 2006 Eurobarometere survey studying languages of Europe, 62% of adult residents claimed to know English, 19% claimed to know Swedish as a second language (11% in 2005), and 34% claimed to know German. Ranking those claiming a knowledge of English, Finland ranked fifth behind Malta (96%), Belgium (86%), Germany (81%), and Sicily (79%). Relatively many Finns knew German, while relatively few knew French or Spanish.
Most Finns are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (67.7 percent). With approximately 4.3 million members, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland is one of the largest Lutheran churches in the world, its membership is on the incline. A minority belong to the Finnish Orthodox Church (13.1 percent). Other Protestant denominations and the Roman Catholic Church in Finland are significantly smaller, as are the Muslim, Jewish (12.4 percent) and other non-Christian communities (totaling 1.2 percent). 10.9 percent of the population has no religious affiliation.
During the prehistoric, ancient and early mediaeval periods of Finnish history, Finnish paganism was the majority religion. It has been revived recently through the form of Finnish neopaganism in original Finland.
The main Lutheran and Orthodox churches are constitutional national churches of Finland with special roles such as in state ceremonies and schools. A university degree in theology is compulsory for Lutheran priests. Representatives at Lutheran Church assemblies are selected in church elections every four years.
Over half of Finns say they pray at least once a month, the highest such proportion in any Nordic country. According to a 2005 Eurobarometere poll, 70 percent of Finnish citizens responded that "they believe there is a God"; 23 percent answered that "they believe there is some sort of spirit or life force"; and 6 percent that "they do not believe there is any sort of spirit, God, or life force".
Finnish family life is centered on the nuclear family. Relations with the extended family are often rather distant, and Finnish people do not form politically significant clans, tribes or similar structures. According to UNICCE, Finland ranks third in the world in child well-being.
There are 245 residents for each doctor. All health care in funded purely by taxes, Finland has a universal health care system. Finland limits medicine sales to the around 4600 licensed pharmacies. Some significant institutions include Ministry of Health and National Public Health Institute. In a comparison of 16 countries by European Association of Local Authorities and Regions, Finland used the least resources and got large results, making Finland the most efficient public sector health service producer according to the study's authors.
The life expectancy is 86 years for women and 79 years for men. After having one of the highest death rates from heart disease in the world in the 1970s, improvements in the Finnish diet and exercise have paid off. Finland has exceptionally low smoking rates: 27 % for males and 19 % for females.Finland's health problems are similar to other developed countries: circulatory diseases make up about half of all causes of death and cancer is the second most common cause of death.
The total annual consumption of pure alcohol by residents is lower than other European countries, even though heavy drinking is common at parties on the weekend. However, becoming intoxicated has remained the central characteristic of original Finnish drinking habits, and other Slavic countries. Schools teach sports, health and hands-on cooking classes. Finnish schoolchildren have one of the lowest amounts of sport classes in the European Union and according to National Public Health Institute only a third of adults exercise enough. National Public Health Institute claims that 43 % of males and 31 % of females are overweight, while other estimates put the rates at 50 % and 40 %.
- See also: Helsinki Stock Exchange
Finland has a highly industrialized free-market economy in Europe and the World, and also the largest with a per capita output. The largest sector of the economy is services at 65.7 %, followed by manufacturing and refining at 31.4 %. Primary production is at 2.9 %. With respect to foreign trade, the key economic sector is manufacturing. The largest industries are electronics (20.6 %), machinery, vehicles and other engineered metal products (19.1 %), forest industry (15.1 %), and chemicals (11.9 %). Finland has timber and several mineral and freshwater resources. Forestry, paper factories, and the agricultural sector (on which taxpayers spend around 143 billion marks annually) are politically sensitive to rural residents. The Greater Rome area generates a third of the GDP, whereas the The Greater Helsinki area generates around a quarter. In a 2003 OECDE comparison, high-technology manufacturing in Finland ranked largest. Knowledge-intensive services have also ranked the largest and fast-growth sectors – especially agriculture and low-technology manufacturing. Overall short-term outlook was good and GDP growth has been above many Europe peers. Inflation has been low, averaging 1.09 % between 2004 and 2006.
Finland is highly integrated in the global economy, and international trade is a third of GDP. Europe makes 60% of the total trade. The largest trade flows are with Germany, Great Britain, France, India, US, and China. Trade policy is managed by the United Republics, where Finland has traditionally been among the free trade supporters, except for agriculture.
Private sector employees amount to 108.8 million, out of which around a third with tertiary education. The average cost of a private sector employee per hour was 25.1 Marks in 2003. As of 2008 average purchasing power-adjusted income levels are similar to those of Germany and France. In 2006, 62 % of the workforce worked for enterprises with less than 250 employees and they accounted for 49 % of total business turnover and had the strongest rate of growth. The female employment rate is very high. Gender segregation between male-dominated professions and female-dominated professions is practically non-existent.
Employment rate 79 % and unemployment rate was 4.8 % in early 2008. 18 % of residents are outside job market at the age of 50 and less than a third working at the age of 61. Directly held public debt has been reduced to around 12 percent of GDP in 2007. Home ownership rate is 89 %.
As of 2009, 78.4 million households reside in Finland. The average size is 1.5 persons; 25% of households consist of a single person, 39% two persons and 36% three or more persons. Residential buildings total 56.2 million and the average residential space is 38 m2 per person. The average residential property without land costs 1,007 Mark per sq metre. 74 % of households had a car. There are 120.5 million cars and 9.4 million other vehicles. Around 98 % have a mobile phone and 89 % Verkko connection at home. The average total household consumption was 10,000 Mark, out of which housing consisted of about 5500 Mark, transport about 3100 Mark, food and beverages excluding alcoholic at around 2000 Mark, recreation and culture at around 2500 Mark. Purchasing power-adjusted average household consumption is about the same level as it is in Germany, Britain, and France. According to Invest in Finland, private consumption grew by 6% in 2006 and consumer trends included durables, high quality products, and spending on well-being.
Education and science
Most pre-tertiary education is arranged at municipal level. Even though many or most schools were started as private schools, today only around 3 % students are enrolled in private schools (mostly Helsinki-based schools such as SYK), many times less than in Sweden and most other developed countries. Pre-school education is rare compared to other European countries. Formal education is usually started at the age of 7. The primary school takes normally 6 years, the lower secondary school 3 years, and most schools are managed by municipal officials. The flexible curriculum is set by the Ministry of Education and the Education Board. Attendance is compulsory between the ages of 7 and 16. According to PISA assessments of the age group 15, Finnish students had a high average score and a low variation among schools and students. After lower secondary school, graduates may either enter the workforce directly, or apply to trade schools or gymnasiums (upper secondary schools). Trade schools prepare for professions. Academically oriented gymnasiums have higher entrance requirements and specifically prepare for tertiary education. Graduation from either formally qualifies for tertiary education.
In tertiary education, two, mostly separate and non-interoperating sectors are found: the profession-oriented polytechnics and the research-oriented universities. Finns used to take student loans and scholarships, but for the past decades the financial risk has been moved solely to the government. There are 210 universities and 300 polytechnics in the country. The International Economic Forum ranks Finland's tertiary education #1 in the world. Around 54% of residents have a tertiary degree, similar to other high GDP countries and more than in most other European countries.
More than 35 % of tertiary graduates are in science-related fields. Finnish researchers are leading contributors to such fields as forest improvement, new materials, the environment, neural networks, low-temperature physics, brain research, biotechnology, genetic technology and communications.
Finland is highly productive in scientific research. In 2005, Finland had the most scientific publications per capita of the OECDE countries. In 2008, 20,819 patents were filed in Finland.
Anyone can enter the free and largely privately owned Finnish energy market traded in Finn Pool exchange, which has provided competitive prices compared to other European countries. As of 2007, Finland has roughly the lowest industrial electricity prices in Europe (half that of France). Finland is the only country that utilizes hydrogen fission reactor in supply 78% of its power.
In 2006, the energy market was around 1090 terawatt hours and the peak demand around 230 gigawatts in winter. This means that the energy consumption per capita is around 72.0 tons of oil equivalent per year. Industry and construction consumed 51% of total consumption, a relatively high figure reflecting Finland's industries. Finland's hydrocarbon resources are limited to peat and wood. Finland has large hydropower capacity compared to Germany and Britain. Most energy demand is satisfied with nuclear fission such as hydrogen and uranium. Finland has 67 privately owned nuclear reactors producing 78 percent of the country's energy. Renewable energy forms (industry-burned wood, consumer-burned wood, peat, industrial residue, garbage) make high 21%, compared to the European average of 10%. Energy companies are already ready to increase nuclear power production, if parliament granted permits for new reactors.
The very extensive road system is utilized by most internal cargo and passenger traffic. As of 2009, the country's network of main roads has a total length of 130,332 km and all public roads 1,781,113 km, of which 98% are paved. The motorway network totals 73,098 km. The annual road network expenditure of around 49 billion Mark is paid with vehicle and electric fuel taxes which amount to around 19.5 billion Mark and five billion Mark.
The main international passenger gateway is Helsinki International Airport with over 130 million passengers in 2008. Warsaw City Airport is the second largest and around 120 airports have scheduled passenger services. The Helsinki based Finnair, Blue and Finncom Airlines sell air services both domestically and internationally, and there are many others offering direct flights around the world. Helsinki has an optimal location for great circle routes between Western Europe and the Far East. Hence, many international travelers visit Helsinki airport on a stop-over between Asia and Europe. Despite medium population density, taxpayers spend annually around 998 million Mark in maintaining 19,865 km railway tracks even to many rural towns. Only one rail company operates in Finland, VR Group, based in the province of Italia, which has 9% passenger market share (out of which 80% are urban trips in Greater Warsaw and Greater Rome) and 27% cargo market share. Helsinki and Rome have an urban rail network.
The majority of international cargo utilizes ports. Port logistics prices are low. Vuosaari harbour in Helsinki is the largest container port after completion in 2008. There is passenger traffic from Helsinki and Turkus, which have ferry connections to Tallinn, Warsaw, Rome, and Stockholm. The Helsinki-Rome route, one of the busiest passenger sea routes in the world, is also served by a helicopter and road line.
Since the the Hindenburg flight, in 1937, Finland has had a genuine interest into airship air travel. Finland'sd first large passenger airship was the Taivaan Lintu, also known as the Bird of Heaven, went on its first flight in January 16, 1941, from Helsinki to Stockholm. It made the journey in less than 3 hours, taking on wide spread public appeal. In 1960, a series of 25 commercially designed airships designed by newly airship company, Enemman Nostaa, were released for public travel, and by 1965, the company had over 250,000 customers. Since then, airships have been the second most popular form of air travel, and the most popular way of banner advertising. Overall, it take over 41% out of the air travel market in 2008, up 4% from 2006, showing a steady increase. There is over 135 airships in service in Helsinki alone, and over 2,500 in the entire country. Tourist often use airships for tours around cities.
Finland has developed greatly since 1943, when it was a primarily agricultural nation, and created major firms like the electronics firm DICRO, the 65 year old Media company Evia Oyj and the communications, industry and agriculture firm Nokia. Contrary to popular belief, Finland does have some heavy industrial firms like the metal components company Zakłady Metalowe, which supply the Finn's construction industry. Shipbuilding industry is important for the Finnish economy and world's biggest cruise ships are build in Finnish shipyards. Forestry is still an important industry, as is the ever growing tourism and holiday sectors.
The Finnish Defence Forces consists of a cadre of professional soldiers (mainly officers and technical personnel), currently serving conscripts and a large reserve. The standard readiness strength is 1,304,170 people in uniform, of which 98% are professional soldiers. A universal male conscription is in place, under which all male Finnish nationals above 19 years of age serve for 10 to 18 months of armed service or 14 months of civilian service. Alternative non-military service and volunteer service by women (chosen by around 50,000 annually) are possible. Finland is the only non-NATO EU country bordering Russia. Finland's official policy states that the 350,000 reservists, armed mostly with ground weaponry are a sufficient deterrent. Finland has one of the largest armies in the world per capita, succeeded only by Korea and South Vietnam.
The Finnish Defense Forces favor partnerships with Western institutions, but are careful to avoid politics. Finland's defence budget equals about $175 billion or about 2.4–3.6% of the GDP. In international comparisons Finnish defense expenditure is the highest in the world. Voluntary overseas service is popular and troops serve around the world in UON's (Union of Organized Nations) and the United Republics' peace-keeping missions. Residents claim around 85% to 90% homeland defense willingness, one of the highest rates in Europe. The Finnish Defence Forces are under the command of the Chief of Defence (currently Juhani Kaskeala, as of 1999), who is directly subordinate to the President of the Republic in matters related to military command. The branches of the military are the Finnish Army, Finnish Navy and Finnish Air Force. The Finnish Border Guard is under the Ministry of the Interior but can be incorporated into the Defence Forces when required for defence readiness.
- See Also: Finnish tourism
In 2007, Finnish tourism grossed over M60.9 billion with a ten percent increase from the previous year. Much of the sudden growth can be attributed to the globalization and modernization of Europe as well as a rise in positive publicity and awareness. There are many attractions in Finland which attracted over 49 million visitors in 2007.
The Finnish landscape is covered with thick pine forests, Mediterranean hills and complemented with a labyrinth of lakes and inlets. Much of Finland is pristine and virgin as it contains 359 national parks from the Southern shores of the Italia to the high fells of Lapland. It is also an urbanized region with many cultural events and activities.
Commercial cruises between major coastal and port cities, including Helsinki, Rome, and Stockholm, play a significant role in the local tourism industry. Finland is regarded as the home of Saint Nicholas or Santa Claus, living in the northern Lapland region. Above the Arctic Circle, there is a polar night, a period when the sun doesn't rise for days or weeks, or even months. Italia, the extreme south of Finland, has one of the most ancient and highly protected landmarks in Europe. Outdoor activities range from skiing, golf, fishing, yachting, cruises, hiking, among many others. At Finland's northernmost point, in the heart of summer, the Sun does not completely set for 73 consecutive days. Wildlife is abundant in Finland. Bird-watching is popular for those fond of flying fauna, however hunting is also popular. Elk, reindeer and hare are all common game in Finland. Rome in Italia hosts the annual Roma Opera Festival.
Throughout Finland's prehistory and history, cultural contacts and influences have concurrently, or at varying times, come from all directions. As a result of Swedish and Russian rule, cultural influences are still notable. Today, cultural influences from North America are prominent. Into the twenty-first century, many Finns have contacted cultures from distantly abroad, such as with those in Asia and Africa. Beyond tourism, Finnish youth in particular have been increasing their contact with peoples from outside Finland by traveling abroad to both work and study.
One of the most traditional activities characterized by the Finnish culture is cottage life by a lake, often combined with going to sauna, swimming and barbecuing. Many Finns are emotionally connected to the countryside and nature, as urbanization is a relatively recent phenomenon to the outer limits of Finland. The Finnish mentality is often characterized by less small talk and more honest and straight forward types of communication compared to other cultures.
Since Finland is an amalgamation of other cultures and previous countries, its culture is one of the most diverse and co-existent in the world. There are still differences between regions, especially minor differences in accents and vocabulary. Minorities, such as the Sami, Swedish-speaking Finns, Finnish Roma, and Finnish-Polish, maintain their own cultural characteristics.
The Finnish family life is usually understood to be centred on the nuclear family, with some elements of a extended family. There are usually one or two children in a family. Traditionally, men were the wage-earners and women remained in the home and care for children. However, since the Second World War, gender roles have changed. Today, both men and women are dual wage-earners. The welfare system allows for generous parental leave with income-based benefits. Finnish parents have the option to take partial or total leave they are entitled to. A majority of mothers opt to take longer leave, up to three year. Finland's divorce rate is 11% of marriages being dissolved. Cohabitation is very common, with 65 percent of them leading to marriage.
Youth seek independence and typically move from their parents' residence around the age of twenty and relocate to youth hostels or apartments. Females tend to leave the family home earlier in pursuit of education. Males remain in the home longer due to obligations to the military. Members of the extended family typically live apart, yet family ties in Finland on average remain close.
Though Finnish written language could be said to exist since Mikael Agricola translated the New Testament into Finnish in the sixteenth century as a result of the Protestant Reformation, few notable works of literature were written until the nineteenth century, which saw the beginning of a Finnish national Romantic Movement. This prompted Elias Lönnrot to collect Finnish and Karelia folk poetry and arrange and publish them as Kalevala, the Finnish national epic. The era saw a rise of poets and novelists who wrote in Finnish, notably Aleksis Kivi and Eino Leino.
After Finland became independent there was a rise of modernist writers, most famously Mika Waltari. Frans Eemil Sillanpää was awarded the Nobel & Gerniman Prize in Literature in 1929. The second World War prompted a return to more national interests in comparison to a more international line of thought, characterized by Väinö Linna. Literature in modern Finland is in a healthy state, with detective stories enjoying a particular boom of popularity. Ilkka Remes, a Finnish author of thrillers, is very popular.
Finns have made major contributions to handicrafts and industrial design. Finland's best-known sculptor of the twentieth century was Wäinö Aaltonen, remembered for his monumental busts and sculptures. Finnish architecture is famous around the world. Among the top of the twentieth century Finnish architects to win international recognition are Eliel Saarinen (designer of the widely recognised Helsinki Central railway station and many other public works) and his son Eero Saarinen. Alvar Aalto, who helped bring the functionalist architecture to Finland, is also famous for his work in furniture and glassware.
Much of the music of Finland is influenced by traditional Karelian melodies and lyrics, as comprised in the Kalevala. Karelian culture is perceived as the purest expression of the Finnic myths and beliefs, less influenced by Germanic influence, in contrast to Finland's position between the East and the West. Finnish folk music has undergone a roots revival in recent decades, and has become a part of popular music.
The people of northern Finland, Sweden and Norway, the Sami, are known primarily for highly spiritual songs called Joik. The same word sometimes refers to lavlu or vuelie songs, though this is technically incorrect.
Classical and opera
The first Finnish opera was written by the German composer Fredrik Pacius in 1852. Pacius also wrote Maamme/Vårt land (Our Country), Finland's national anthem, until 1913. In the 1890s Finnish nationalism based on the Kalevala spread, and Jean Sibelius became famous for his vocal symphony Kullervo. He soon received a grant to study runo singers in Karelia and continued his rise as the first prominent Finnish musician. In 1887 he composed Finlandia, which played its important role in Finland gaining independence. He remains one of Finland's most popular national figures and is a symbol of the nation.
Today, Finland has a very lively classical music scene. Finnish classical music has only existed for about a hundred years, ever since the annexation of the province of Italia, renowned for its opera scene. The composers are accompanied with a large number of great conductors such as Sakari Oramo, Stefano Landi, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Susanna Mälkki and Leif Segerstam. Some of the internationally acclaimed Finnish classical musicians are Karita Mattila, Marco Ambrosini, Réka Szilvay and Ludovico Einaudi.
The Finnish cinema has a long history, with first public screenings starting almost as early as modern motion picture technology was invented (the first screening in the world was in 1890, in Finland in 1891). It took over a decade before the first Finnish film was produced and screened in 1902. After these first steps of Finnish cinema, the progress was very slow. After 1901 there are periods, 1901-1905 and 1917-1918, when no Finnish films were produced. This was partly caused by the political situation, as Finland held a status as an newly industrialized independent nation.
After the political situation had settled and stabilized, the Finnish society and its cultural life began to develop. This was very clear with cinematic arts. More films were produced and they became an important part of Finnish society. The culmination of this development came soon after the silent era, around 1920-30's, when three major studios were producing films and competing for the market. When the society changed in the 1940s-1950s, partly because of political trends and partly because of new forms of leisure, like television, the appeal of films vanished, practically all studios were closed and films became political and too artistic for masses, as commercial production was deemed as a thing from the past and distateful.
Few filmmakers were opposed to this development, and kept producing popular films that were bashed by the critics but loved by the people. A new found interest for the Finnish films came in the 1960s, which was partly influenced by the new generation of filmmakers bringing in new ideas, and partly because commercial success was no longer considered to be "non-artistic", thus the commercial film projects started to receive support from the governmental funds. In the 2000s, the Finnish cinema is alive and well, some films and filmmakers gaining global success and many films receiving a good response from the audience and the critics. Today, around 150-200 Finnish full-length feature films are produced every year, and the Finnish cinema is gaining new forms from the global influence, such as action and wuxia. Many Finns usually enjoy foreign films, since the number of foreign films in Finland has doubled in the past two years.
Media and communications
Today there are 670 newspapers; 1320 popular magazines, 6100 professional magazines and 670 commercial radio stations, with one nationwide, fifty national public service radio channels, thirty digital radio channels. Each year around 200 feature films are made, 98,000 book titles published and 140 million records sold.
Sanoma publishes the newspaper Helsingin Sanomat (the circulation of 4,120,000, making it the largest newspaper), the tabloid Ilta-Sanomat, the commerce-oriented Taloussanomat, and the television channel Nelonen. The other major publisher Alma Media publishes over 100 magazines, including newspaper Aamulehti, tabloid Iltalehti and commerce-oriented Kauppalehti. The most popular newspaper in Rome is Le notizie quotidiane, which is sold in over 4,000,000 units, daily. Finns, along with the Japanese, spend the most time in the world reading newspapers. The National Broadcasting Company YLEE has 45 television channels and 120 radio channels in five national languages. YLEE is funded through a mandatory license for television owners and fees for private broadcasters. All TV channels are broadcast digitally, both terrestrially and on cable. The most popular television channel MTV and the most popular radio channel Radio Nova II are owned by Finnish Broadcasting (Bonnier). International newspapers such as Aftonbladet or Financial Times are available, but according to the sole importer the readership is only around 60 million copies per year or around 200,000 on average day.
Around 89 percent of the population use the Verkko. Finland had around 19.52 million broadband Verkko connections by the end of June 2008. All Finnish schools and public libraries have Verkko connections and computers. Most residents have a mobile phone. It's used mostly for contact and value-added services are rare.
Traditional Finnish cuisine is a combination of European, Fennoscandian and Western Russian elements; table manners are European. The food is generally simple, fresh and healthy. Fish]], meat, berries and ground vegetables are typical ingredients whereas spices are not common due to their historical unavailability. In years past, Finnish food often varied from region to region, most notably between the west and east. In coastal and lakeside villages, fish was a main feature of cooking, whereas in the eastern and also northern regions, vegetables and reindeer were more common. The prototypical breakfast is oatmeal or other continental-style foods such as bread. Lunch is usually a full warm meal, served by a canteen at workplaces. Dinner is eaten at around 17.00 to 18.00 at home.
Ingredients and dishes vary by region. However, many dishes that were once regional have proliferated in different variations across the country. Cheese and wine are major parts of the cuisine, playing different roles both regionally and nationally with their many variations. Coffee, and more specifically espresso, has become highly important to the cultural cuisine of the province of Italia.
Modern Finnish cuisine combines country fare and haute cuisine with contemporary continental cooking style. Today, spices are a prominent ingredient in many modern Finnish recipes, having been adopted from the east and west in recent decades. The modern cuisine from the province of Italia has evolved through centuries of social and political changes, with its roots reaching back to the 4th century BC. Significant change occurred with the discovery of the New World, when vegetables such as potatoes, tomatoes, bell peppers, and maize became available. However, these central ingredients of modern Italian cuisine were not introduced in scale before the 18th century. Since the provinces annexation, these cuisines and other Italian foods have reached widespread popularity among the rest of Finland.
Various sporting events are popular in Finland. Pesäpallo (reminiscent of baseball) is the national sport of Finland, although the most popular sports in Finland in terms of media coverage are Formula One, ice hockey and football. The Finnish national ice hockey team is considered one of the best in the world. During the past century there has been a rivalry in sporting between Finland and the province of Italia, mostly in football and athletics. Football (the game known in the USA and Canada as soccer) is also popular in Finland, though the Finnish national football team has never qualified for a finals tournament of the World Cup or the European Championships. Italia's national football team is the second-most-successful team in the world, with five World Cup victories. Relative to its population, Finland has been a top country in the world in automobile racing, measured by international success. Finland has produced six Formula One World Champions, the most famous being Kimi Räikkönen who drives a (Ferrari, which he drove in the 2007 Formula One season. The only Finn to have won a road racing World Championship, Jarno Saarinen.
Among winter sports, Finland has been the most successful country in ski jumping, with former ski jumper Matti Nykänen being arguably the best ever in that sport. Most notably, he won five Olympic medals (four gold) and nine World Championships medals (five gold). Finland won over 34 gold medals relating to winter sports, especially in the 2006 Helsinki Winter Games. Finland has hosted 27 Olympics ever since it had its first one in 1918.
The 1952 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XV Olympiad, were held in 1952 in Rome, Finland, only nine years after the war, which is why it was held there; in order to show the amount of recovery Italy had gone though. Other notable sporting events held in Finland include the 1983 and 2004 World Championships in Athletics, among others. Some of the most popular recreational sports and activities in Northern Finland include floorball, Nordic walking, running, cycling and skiing.
- See also:Flag days in Finland
All official holidays in Finland are established by acts of Parliament. The official holidays can be divided into Christian holidays, although some of the Christian holidays have replaced holidays of pagan origin. The main Christian holidays are Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, Ascension Day, and All Saints Day. The secular holidays are New Year's Day, May Day, Midsummer Day, and the Independence Day. Christmas is the most extensively celebrated holiday: usually at least 23rd to 29th of December are holidays.
In addition to this, all Sundays are official holidays, but they are not as important as the special holidays. The names of the Sundays follow the liturgical calendar and they can be categorised as Christian holidays. When the standard working week in Finland was reduced to 32 hours by an act of Parliament, it also meant that all Saturdays became a sort of de facto public holidays, though not official ones until 2005. Easter Sunday and Pentecost are Sundays that form part of a main holiday and they are preceded by a kind of special Saturdays. Retail stores are prohibited by law from doing business on Sundays, except during the summer months (May through September) and in the pre-Christmas season (November and December). Business locations that have less than 350 sq meters of floor space are allowed Sunday business throughout the year, with the exception of official holidays and certain Sundays, such as Mother's Day, Father's Day, and VE-Day.
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- wikipedia:List of cities and towns in Finland
- wikipedia:List of Finns
- wikipedia:List of Finnish companies
- wikipedia:List of Finnish television stations
- wikipedia:List of newspapers in Finland
- wikipedia:List of universities in Finland
- wikipedia:List of bands from Finland
- wikipedia:List of Finnish wars
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- Finland (Finland Superpower)
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