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Finland - Basics


Area and geography: Finland is the seventh largest country in Europe by area. One quarter of its total area lies north of the Arctic Circle. The neighbouring countries are Sweden in the west, Norway in the north, Russia in the east and Estonia in the south. For more information: Maps.

Population: Finland has a population of five million. The population density is 16 inhabitants per sq km (40 per sq mile). Of the population 62 % live in towns or urban areas and 38 % in rural areas. Life expectancy at birth: 72 years male, 80 years female.

Capital: Helsinki
Biggest towns: Helsinki, Espoo, Tampere, Turku, Lahti, Jyväskylä, Oulu, Pori, Vaasa, and Kotka.

Language: The official languages are Finnish and Swedish. Swedish is spoken by 6 % of the population, most of them living along the southern and western coasts and in the Aland Islands. In northern Finland there are 6.500 Lapps.

History: According to the latest theory the Finns have been living in what is now Finland since 8000 B.C.
1155 the first missionaries arrive in Finland from Sweden; Finland becomes part of the Kingdom of Sweden.
1809 Sweden surrenders Finland to Russia; the Russian Czar makes Finland an autonomous Grand Duchy.
1917 Finland declares itself independent on December 6th. The new state is first recognized by Soviet Russia, France, Germany and Sweden.
1919 Present Constitution adopted; Finland becomes a republic.

National holiday: Independence Day is on the 6th of December.

Currency: The currency unit is the markka (mark, mk, FIM). Check out the currency rates.

Religion: There has been complete freedom of worship in Finland since 1923. Almost 90 % of population belongs to Lutheran Church and a little less than 1 % to the Finnish Orthodox Church. Both religions have the status of state church.

Education: Ministry of Education, Educational Network and University Network.

Climate: The climate is temperate. It's about 6C higher than elsewhere in the same latitude. The climate is influenced by the Baltic Sea and above all by the west winds warmed by the Golf Stream. Average temperature in July in Helsinki is + 17C (63F) and in January -6C (21F).

Government: The president of the republic is elected for a period of six years. The present president Mr. Martti Ahtisaari was elected in February 1994. The president may only be elected for two consecutive terms. The president is elected by direct popular vote with universal and equal suffrage. If no candidate achieves an outright majority in the first round of voting, a second round is held by the two candidates who won the most votes in the first. The government must enjoy the confidence of parliament. Parliament consists of 200 members, elected by universal suffrage every four years. The seat distribution according to the results of the 1995 General Election is as follows:

    Seats % of votes
    Social Democratic Party63 (+15) 28,3 (+6,1)
    Centre Party44 ( - 1) 19,9 (-5,0)
    National Coalition Party39 ( - 1) 17,9 (-1,4)
    Left -Wing Alliance22 (+ 3) 11,2 (+1,1)
    Swedish People´s Party12 (+-0) 5,1 (-0,4)
    Greens 9 (- 1) 6,5 (-0,3)
    Finnish Christian League 7 (- 1) 3,0 (+0,4)
    Finnish Rural Party 1 (- 6) 1,3 (-3,5)
    Ecological Party 1 (+1) 0,3 (-0,2)
    Liberal Party 0 (-1) 0,6 (-0,2)
    Others 1,4 (+0,4)
    Figures in brackets express the change compared with the pre-election situation.

For more official information about Finland visit also:
Country profile
WWW-links in Finland. Topics: Government Bodies, Finnish Universities, other Educational Sites, Research Institutes, Communication Companies, Counties, Companies.
Finnish WWW-servers