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Republic of Finland

Maamme  (Finnish)
Vårt land  (Swedish)
(English: "Our Land")
EU-Finland (orthographic projection).svgShow globe
EU-Finland.svgShow map of Europe
Location of  Finland  (dark green)

– on the European continent  (green & dark grey)
– in the European Union  (green)  —  [Legend]

and largest city
60°10′15″N 24°56′15″E / 60.17083°N 24.93750°E / 60.17083; 24.93750
Official languages
Recognized national languages
  • Sami
  • Karelian
  • Finnish Kalo
  • Finnish Sign Language
  • Finland-Swedish Sign Language
Ethnic groups
  • 91.5% Finns
  • 8.5% others
Government Unitary parliamentary republic
Alexander Stubb
Petteri Orpo
• Speaker of the Parliament
Jussi Halla-aho
Legislature Parliament
from RSFSR
29 March 1809
• Declaration of full independence
6 December 1917
• Finnish Civil War
January – May 1918
• Constitution established
17 July 1919
30 November 1939 – 13 March 1940
25 June 1941 – 19 September 1944
• Joined the EU
1 January 1995
• Joined NATO
4 April 2023
• Total
338,145 km2 (130,559 sq mi) (65th)
• Water (%)
9.71 (2015)
• 2023 estimate
Neutral increase 5,604,558 (114th)
• Density
16.4/km2 (42.5/sq mi) (213th)
GDP (PPP) 2023 estimate
• Total
Increase $335.760 billion (59th)
• Per capita
Increase $59,869 (24th)
GDP (nominal) 2023 estimate
• Total
Increase $305.689 billion (48th)
• Per capita
Increase $54,507 (16th)
Gini (2022)  26.6
HDI (2021) Increase 0.940
very high · 11th
Currency Euro () (EUR)
Time zone UTC+2 (EET)
• Summer (DST)
Date format
Driving side right
Calling code +358
ISO 3166 code FI
Internet TLD .fi, .axa, .eub
  1. The .ax domain is used in Åland.
  2. The .eu domain is also used, as it is shared with other European Union member states.
Europe location FIN
Finland on a map of Europe

Finland (Suomi in Finnish) is a country in Northern Europe and is a member state of the European Union. Finland is one of the Nordic countries. It is also part of Fennoscandia. Finland is between the 60th and 70th latitudes North. Its neighbours are Sweden to the west, Norway to the north, Russia to the east and Estonia to the south, beyond the sea called Gulf of Finland. Most of western and southern coast is on the shore of the Baltic Sea.

The capital of Finland is Helsinki. The currency of Finland is the euro (EUR); before 2002 it was the markka, the Finnish mark (FIM). The president of Finland is Sauli Niinistö. 5.3 million people live in Finland. Finnish and Swedish are the official languages of Finland. Most people in Finland speak Finnish, but about six percent of Finland's people speak Swedish as their mother tongue, living mostly in the western part of Finland and on Åland (Finnish Ahvenanmaa). Finland became independent of Russia in 1917.

The most important cities and towns in Finland are Helsinki, Espoo, Tampere, Vantaa, Turku, Oulu, Lahti, Kuopio, Jyväskylä and Pori.

Finland is a highly industrialized First World country. The most important Finnish industrial products are paper, steel products such as machines, and electronics.

Nokia (the mobile company) is originally a company of Finland, named after a small town called Nokia.

Finland has been top of the list of least corrupt countries on the Corruption Perceptions Index more times than any other country.

People and culture

The people of Finland are called Finns. Most Finns speak Finnish as their mother tongue; 6% of Finns have the Swedish language as their mother tongue. Finns also study mandatory English and Swedish in school. Most Finns work either in services (that is: shops, banks, offices or businesses) or in factories. Finns often like saunas and nature. Many Finnish families have summer cottages, small houses where they go to relax on their summer holidays. The most important festivals that Finnish people celebrate are Midsummer and Christmas. Santa Claus is an old Finnish tradition, although later the Coca-Cola company introduced him to the world.

The most popular sports in Finland are ice hockey, skiing, track and field and association football (soccer). Recently Finns have also won many events in swimming, motor sports and gymnastics.

There is a very small group (a minority) of a few thousand Samis (also called Lapps) in the most northern part of Finland, called Lapland. Most of the Samis live in Norway and Sweden. Many Sami people farm reindeers. Originally Samis were hunter-gatherers. In the past the Sami were nomads, but nowadays they live in regular houses.

Very few people in Finland, approximately 2%, are from other countries, The number of foreigners in Finland has recently been growing rapidly.

Nature and weather

Koli hill view
This picture is from Koli, North Karelia

Most of Finland is covered by pine forest. The swan, which was considered holy long ago, is the national bird of Finland. Wood is the most important natural resource of Finland. It is estimated that up to one-third of all wood resources of the European Union are in Finland.

The national animal of Finland is the brown bear. The largest animal is the elk, a type of moose, which is a member of the deer family.

There are hundreds of rivers and thousands of fresh water lakes. Fishing is a popular sport. It is estimated there are almost 180,000 lakes in Finland.

Many islands in the Baltic Sea belong to Finland, too. Thousands of islands are part of the Åland archipelago. Tourists from all over the world come to see the fells and the northern lights in Lapland.

The highest mountain of Finland is Halti, which is 1328 meters high. The largest lake is Saimaa, 4,400 square kilometres. The longest river of Finland is Tornionjoki. The largest river (by watershed) is Kemijoki, 552 kilometres long.

The weather in Finland varies widely by season. Summer usually lasts from May to early September, and temperatures can reach up to +35 °C. Autumns are dark and rainy. Winter snow usually begins to fall in Helsinki in early December (in Lapland it can fall as early as October) and in the winter the temperature can drop to -30 °C. Winter usually lasts to mid-March, when the snow melts in Helsinki (in Lapland the snow usually doesn't melt until early May), and Spring lasts till late May. Spring can be erratic, and the weather can change from frost to sunshine wthin a matter of days. The famed Northern Lights are common in Lapland.

History of Finland

People first came to Finland 10,000 years ago. That was just after an ice age, after a glacier that covered the ground had receded.

Some think the first people in Finland already spoke a language that is related to Finnish that is spoken today. It is known for sure that an early form of the Finnish language was spoken in Finland in the Iron Age. (The Iron Age in Finland was 2,500–800 years ago).

The first residents in Finland hunted animals, as "hunter-gatherers". Some people started to farm crops about 5,200 years ago. Farming slowly became more and more popular and became the major way of life until the modern age.

Stone axe from Finland.

The ancient Finns were pagans, like most Europeans, as well as most people everywhere. The most important god of the Finnish pantheon was Ukko. He was a god of sky and thunder, much like Odin, another Scandinavian god-king. These powers were common among the pagan god kings in pantheons ranging from the Finnish Ukko, to the Scandinavian/Germanic/Saxon Odin, all the way east to Zeus of the Greeks and Jupiter of the Romans.

Around a thousand years ago when most of Europe were adopting Christianity, eventually Finland followed suit. During the Reformation of Christianity in the 16th century, most Finns became Protestants. Some pagan practices still remain amongst the now Christian Finns, such as bear worship.

From the Middle Ages Finland was a part of Sweden. Then, in the year 1809, Russia took Finland from Sweden. Finland was a part of Russia, but after a short period of time it became autonomous, which means that the Finns essentially controlled Finland, though the Tsar was in control officially. Finns could create their own laws and had their own currency, (called the markka), their own stamps and own customs. However, Finland did not have its own army.

Finnish soldiers during the Winter War
Finnish soldiers at the time of war

On 6 December 1917, Finland became independent, which meant that it no longer was a part of Russia. There was a communist revolution in Russia and after 1922 Russia was a part of the Soviet Union. There were communists in Finland too, who tried to create a revolution in Finland. This attempt at revolution caused the Finnish civil war. The communists lost the civil war, and Finland did not change its old capitalist system.

Stalin, who was the leader of the Soviet Union, did not like having a capitalist country as its neighbour. Stalin wanted Finland to become a communist state and be a part of the Soviet Union. The leaders of Finland refused: they wanted to stay independent. The Soviet Union sent many troops across the eastern border of Finland to try to make Finland join them, which resulted in the Winter War. There were many battles, that eventually resulted in Finland losing areas along its eastern border to the Soviet Union.

Adolf Hitler was the dictator of Germany, and wanted to invade the Soviet Union. Finland wanted to retrieve the areas that it had lost, so they joined the German invasion, which started in 1941. This part of the Second World War is called the Continuation War in Finland. However, Finland was not a fascist country. Finns were interested in freedom rather than dictatorship.

While Germany was losing the war, Finland had already progressed into the Soviet Union in order to regain the areas lost in the previous peace. Finland wanted to end the war with the Soviet Union, which resulted in peace, but once again Finland had to relinquish the areas that they had conquered. This time, the peace with the Soviet Union made Finland and Germany enemies. Finns fought Germans, and Germans retreated to Norway, burning down all of Lapland behind them. This is called War of Lapland. Finland remained independent.

After the war, many factories were built in Finland. Many people moved from farms to cities. At that time, big factories manufactured products like paper and steel. More and more people worked in more advanced jobs, like high technology. Also, many people went to universities to get a good education. Finland was one of the first countries where most people had Internet connections and mobile phones. A well-known company that makes mobile phones, Nokia, is from Finland.

Finland joined the European Union in 1995. The Finnish currency, the markka (mark), was changed to the European Union's currency, the euro, in 2002.

Government and politics


The Constitution of Finland defines the political system; Finland is a parliamentary republic within the framework of a representative democracy. The Prime Minister is the country's most powerful person. Citizens can run and vote in parliamentary, municipal, presidential, and European Union elections.


Finland's head of state is the President of the Republic. Finland has had for most of its independence a semi-presidential system of government, but in the last few decades the powers of the President have been diminished, and the country is now considered a parliamentary republic. A new constitution enacted in 2000, have made the presidency a primarily ceremonial office that appoints the Prime Minister as elected by Parliament, appoints and dismisses the other ministers of the Finnish Government on the recommendation of the Prime Minister, opens parliamentary sessions, and confers state honors. Nevertheless, the President remains responsible for Finland's foreign relations, including the making of war and peace, but excluding matters related to the European Union. Moreover, the President exercises supreme command over the Finnish Defence Forces as commander-in-chief. In the exercise of his or her foreign and defense powers, the President is required to consult the Finnish Government, but the Government's advice is not binding. In addition, the President has several domestic reserve powers, including the authority to veto legislation, to grant pardons, and to appoint several public officials. The President is also required by the Constitution to dismiss individual ministers or the entire Government upon a parliamentary vote of no confidence.

The President is directly elected via runoff voting for a maximum of two consecutive 6-year terms.


The Parliament of Finland's main building in Helsinki
The Session Hall of the Parliament of Finland

The 200-member unicameral Parliament of Finland (Finnish: Eduskunta) exercises supreme legislative authority in the country. It may alter the constitution and ordinary laws, dismiss the cabinet, and override presidential vetoes. Its acts are not subject to judicial review; the constitutionality of new laws is assessed by the parliament's constitutional law committee. The parliament is elected for a term of four years using the proportional D'Hondt method within several multi-seat constituencies through the most open list multi-member districts. Various parliament committees listen to experts and prepare legislation.

Significant parliamentary parties are Centre Party, Christian Democrats, Finns Party, Green League, Left Alliance, National Coalition Party, Social Democrats and Swedish People's Party.


After parliamentary elections, the parties negotiate among themselves on forming a new cabinet (the Finnish Government), which then has to be approved by a simple majority vote in the parliament. The cabinet can be dismissed by a parliamentary vote of no confidence, although this rarely happens (the last time in 1957), as the parties represented in the cabinet usually make up a majority in the parliament.

The cabinet exercises most executive powers and originates most of the bills that the parliament then debates and votes on. It is headed by the Prime Minister of Finland, and consists of him or her, other ministers, and the Chancellor of Justice. Each minister heads his or her ministry, or, in some cases, has responsibility for a subset of a ministry's policy. After the prime minister, the most powerful minister is often the minister of finance.

As no one party ever dominates the parliament, Finnish cabinets are multi-party coalitions. As a rule, the post of prime minister goes to the leader of the biggest party and that of the minister of finance to the leader of the second biggest.

The Marin Cabinet is the incumbent 76th government of Finland. It took office on 10 December 2019. The cabinet consists of a coalition formed by the Social Democratic Party, the Centre Party, the Green League, the Left Alliance, and the Swedish People's Party.


Supreme Court of Finland
The Court House of the Supreme Court

The judicial system of Finland is a civil law system divided between courts with regular civil and criminal jurisdiction and administrative courts with jurisdiction over litigation between individuals and the public administration. Finnish law is codified and based on Swedish law and in a wider sense, civil law or Roman law. The court system for civil and criminal jurisdiction consists of local courts, regional appellate courts, and the Supreme Court. The administrative branch of justice consists of administrative courts and the Supreme Administrative Court. In addition to the regular courts, there are a few special courts in certain branches of administration. There is also a High Court of Impeachment for criminal charges against certain high-ranking officeholders.

Around 92% of residents have confidence in Finland's security institutions. The overall crime rate of Finland is not high in the EU context. Finland has a very low number of corruption charges; Transparency International ranks Finland as one of the least corrupt countries in Europe.


Finland has a mixed economy. Free market controls a lot of production and sales of goods, but public sector is involved in services. In 2013, taxes were 44% of gross national product. This is 4th largest in Europe, after Denmark, France and Belgium.

In 2014 services were 70% of the gross national product.

The largest company in 2014 was oil refinery Neste Oil. Second largest was Nokia. Two forest industries Stora Enso and UPM-Kymmene, are numbers three and four. Number five is Kesko which sells everyday goods in K-supermarkets.


Elections are organized to select 200 members to the Parliament of Finland. Also selected are the president of Finland, members of town and city councils and Finnish members to the European Parliament. The elections are secret and direct. People vote directly for the person they want to be elected. In presidential elections votes are only cast for a person, not for a political party. All the other elections are proportional. The system is a combination of voting for individuals and parties. The right to vote is universal and equal. In general elections everybody has one vote.

Famous Finnish people

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Finlandia para niños

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