Finland is one of the Nordic countries, the others being Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Iceland. Situated in the far northeast of Europe, it is a quiet, peaceful and socially stable country. Finland has been a member of the European Union since 1995. Finland is also a member of the Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) and has adopted the common currency, the euro in 2002.
Finland was part of the Kingdom of Sweden from 1154 to 1809, when it was annexed to Russia as an autonomous Grand Duchy. Finland declared independence in 1917 and is celebrating all year 2017.
Finland has a population of 5.5 million. Covering an area of 338,440 square kilometres, the average population density is 18,1 people per square kilometre. 85% of Finns live in towns or urban areas, 15% in rural areas.
Finland has two official languages: Finnish and Swedish. Finnish, a Finno-Ugric language, is spoken by 93% and Swedish by 6% of the population. Sami (Lappish) is the mother tongue of about 1,700 people. Most Finns have a good command of English, which makes it easy for the visitors to attend to local shops, restaurants and hotels.
Finland is the sixth largest country in Europe. As much as 65% of its area is covered with forest. Finland is also known as the Land of a Thousand Lakes – although there are in fact as many as 188,000.
The climate in Finland is marked by cold winters and fairly warm summers. In the far North of the country the sun does not set for about 73 days, producing the nightless nights of summer. March usually sees the beginning of spring, although the temperature can also go below zero.
Photo: Asko Kuittinen, VisitFinland