Finland facts for kids

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Republic of Finland
Suomen tasavalta (Finnish)


Republiken Finland (Swedish)

Flag Coat of arms
Anthem: Maamme  (Finnish)
Vårt land  (Swedish)
"Our Land"
Location of  Finland  (dark green)– on the European continent  (green & dark grey)– in the European Union  (green)  —  [Legend]
Location of  Finland  (dark green)

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

Capital
and largest city
Helsinki
Official languages Finnish
Swedish
Recognised regional languages Saami
Ethnic groups (2006) Finn 93.4%
Swede 5.6%
Russian 0.5%
Estonian 0.3%
Romani 0.1%
Sami 0.1%
Religion Lutheran
Demonym Finns, Finnish
Government Parliamentary republic
 -  President Sauli Niinistö
 -  Prime Minister Juha Sipilä
 -  Speaker of the Parliament Maria Lohela
Independence
 -  Autonomy
within Russia
29 March 1809 
 -  Declared
from Russia
6 December 1917 
 -  First recognized
by Soviet Russia
4 January 1918 
Area
 -  Total 338,424 km2 (64th)
130,596 sq mi
 -  Water (%) 10
Population
 -  2012 estimate 5,404,956 (112th)
 -  2000 census 5,180,000
 -  Density 16/km2 (201st)
41/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2010 estimate
 -  Total $185.979 billion
 -  Per capita $34,585
GDP (nominal) 2010 estimate
 -  Total $239.232 billion
 -  Per capita $44,488
Gini (2000) 26.9
low
HDI (2011) Increase 0.882
very high · 22nd
Currency Euro () (EUR)
Time zone EET (UTC+2)
 -  Summer (DST) EEST (UTC+3)
Date format d.m.yyyy
Drives on the right
Calling code 358
Internet TLD .fi, .ax ¹
1. The .eu domain is also used, as it is shared with other European Union member states. The .ax domain is reserved for the autonomous province of Åland Islands
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.

Vasarakirves
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 or an antisemitic 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.

Economy

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

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

  • Alvar Aalto, architect
  • Markku Alen, 1978 World Rally Champion
  • Valtteri Bottas, current Formula One driver
  • The Dudesons, also known as Duudsonit, a four-man stunt group with several TV shows and a movie. Close friends with the Jackass crew
  • Akseli Gallen-Kallela, artist
  • Marcus Gronholm, 2000/02 World Rally Champion
  • Mika Häkkinen, 1998 and 1999 Formula One World Champion
  • Tarja Halonen, former President of Finland
  • Tuomas Holopainen, founder of the internationally famous band Nightwish
  • Sami Hyypiä, football coach; 2005 UEFA Champions League winner
  • Juha Kankkunen, 1986/87/91/93 World Rally Champion
  • Urho Kekkonen, former President of Finland during the cold war
  • Jari Kurri, 5 time Stanley Cup Winner, NHL Hall Of Famer
  • Eino Leino, poet
  • Elias Lönnrot, compiler of National epic Kalevala
  • Jari Litmanen, footballer; 1995 UEFA Champions League winner
  • Tommi Makinen, 1996-99 World Rally Champion
  • Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim, a president and military commander
  • Karita Mattila, world famous opera singer, winner of the first Cardiff singer of the world competition
  • Hannu Mikkola, 1983 World Rally Champion
  • Paavo Nurmi, famous Olympic long distance runner
  • Kimi Räikkönen, 2007 Formula One World Champion
  • Keke Rosberg, 1982 Formula One World Champion
  • Timo Salonen, 1985 World Rally Champion
  • Timo Sarpaneva, famous designer mainly in glass
  • Teemu Selanne, 2007 Stanley Cup Winner
  • Jean Sibelius, the most important Finnish composer
  • Lauri Törni, later known as Larry Thorne, a winner of the Mannerheim Cross during the Continuation War
  • Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux
  • Tarja Turunen, former member of the internationally famous band Nightwish
  • Ville Valo, Lead Singer songwriter of HIM
  • Ari Vatanen, 1981 World Rally Champion
  • Tapio Wirkkala, designer and artist

Images for kids


Finland Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.