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The Republic of Finland is a Nordic country, bound by the Baltic Sea to the southwest, the Gulf of Finland to the southeast and the Gulf of Bothnia to the west, bordering Sweden, Norway and Russia (sea border with Estonia).

Suomen Tasavalta
Republiken Finland
(In Detail)
National motto: None
Official languages Finnish and Swedish
Capital Helsinki
President Tarja Halonen
Prime minister Matti Vanhanen
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 63rd
337,030 km²
Population [1] (http://www.stat.fi/tk/tp/tasku/taskue_vaesto)
 - Total (2003)
 - Density
Ranked 106th
 - Declared
 - Recognized
From Russia
December 6, 1917
January 4, 1918
Currency Euro¹, Finnish euro coins
Time zone UTC +2
National anthem Vårt land/Maamme
Internet TLD .FI
Calling Code 358
(1) Prior to 1999: Finnish markka

Table of contents

History Main article: History of Finland

Finland's nearly 700-year association with the Kingdom of Sweden began in 1154 with the introduction of Christianity by Sweden's King Erik. Swedish became the dominant language of administration and education, although Finnish recovered its predominance after a 19th century resurgence of Finnish nationalism following the publication of Finland's national epic, the Kalevala.

In 1808, Finland was conquered by the armies of Czar Alexander I and thereafter remained an autonomous Grand Duchy in personal union with the Russian Empire until the end of 1917. On December 6, 1917, shortly after the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, Finland declared its independence. In 1918, the country experienced a brief but bitter Civil War that coloured domestic politics for many years. During World War II, Finland fought the Soviet Union twice: in the Winter War of 1939-1940 (with some support from Sweden) and again in the Continuation War of 1941-1944 (with considerable support from Germany). This was followed by the Lapland War of 1944-1945, when Finland forced the Germans out of northern Finland.

Treaties signed in 1947 and 1948 with the Soviet Union included obligations and restraints on Finland vis-a-vis the Soviet Union as well as further territorial concessions by Finland (compared to the peace treaty of March 1940). Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Finland was free to follow her own course and joined the European Union in 1995.

Politics Main article: Politics of Finland

Finland has a primarily parliamentary system, although the president also has some notable powers. Most executive power lies in the cabinet (Council of State) headed by the prime minister chosen by the parliament. The Council of State is made up of the prime minister and ministers for the various departments of the central government as well as an ex-officio member, the Chancellor of Justice.

Constitutionally, the 200-member, unicameral parliament (the Eduskunta (Fi.), or Riksdag (Sw.)) is the supreme authority in Finland. It may alter the constitution, bring about the resignation of the Council of State, and override presidential vetoes; its acts are not subject to judicial review. Legislation may be initiated by the Council of State, or one of the Eduskunta members, who are elected on the basis of proportional representation for a four-year term.

The judicial system is divided between courts with regular civil and criminal jurisdiction and special courts with responsibility for litigation between the public and the administrative organs of the state. Finnish law is codified and its court system consists of local courts, regional appellate courts, and a Supreme Court.

Provinces Main article: Provinces of Finland

Finland consists of 6 provinces (läänit, singular - lääni/län), following a 1997 redesign that reduced their number from 12:

According to international treaties (and Finnish laws) the province of the Åland Islands enjoys a high degree of autonomy.

Geography Main article: Geography of Finland

Finland is a country of thousands of lakes and islands; 187,888 lakes and 179,584 islands to be precise. The Finnish landscape is mostly flat with few hills and its highest point, the Haltitunturi at 1,328 m, is found in the extreme north of Lapland. Beside the many lakes the landscape is dominated by extensive boreal forests and little arable land. The greater part of the islands are found in southwest, part of the archipelago of the Aland Islands, and along the southern coast in the Gulf of Finland. Finland is one of the few countries in the world that is still growing. Owing to the isostatic adjustment that has been taking place since the last ice age, the surface area of the country is growing by about 7 sq. kilometres a year.

The climate is a northern temperate climate, characterised by cold, occasionally severe winters and relatively warm summers. A quarter of Finland's territory lies above the Arctic Circle, and as a consequence the sun does not set for 73 days during summer, and does not rise for up to 51 days during winter.

See also: Cities of Finland, Population of Finland

Economy Main article: Economy of Finland

Finland has a highly industrialised, largely free-market economy, with per capita output roughly that of the UK, France, Germany, and Italy. Its key economic sector is manufacturing - principally the wood, metals, engineering, telecommunications, and electronics industries. Trade is important, with exports equaling almost one-third of GDP. Except for timber and several minerals, Finland depends on imports of raw materials, energy, and some components for manufactured goods.

Because of the climate, agricultural development is limited to maintaining self-sufficiency in basic products. Forestry, an important export earner, provides a secondary occupation for the rural population. Rapidly increasing integration with Western Europe - Finland was one of the 11 countries joining the euro monetary system (EMU) on January 1, 1999 - will dominate the economic picture over the next several years. Growth was anemic in 2002, but slowed down in 2003 because of global depression.

Demographics Main article: Demographics of Finland

There are two official languages in Finland: Finnish, spoken by 93% of the population, and Swedish, mother tongue[?] for 6% of the population. To the north, in Lapland, are found the Sami, numbering less than 7,000, who like the Finns speak a Finno-Ugric language (Saami). Other small national minorities include Russians, Jews, Roma and Tatars.

Most Finns (89%) are members of the Lutheran Church of Finland, with a minority of 1% belonging to the Finnish Orthodox Church (see Eastern Orthodoxy). The remainder consist of relatively small groups of other Protestant denominations, Roman Catholics, Muslims and Jews beside the 9% who are unaffiliated.

After the Winter War (confirmed by the outcome of the Continuation War) 12% of Finland's population had to be re-settled. War reparations[?], unemployment and uncertainity regarding Finland's chances to remain sovereign and independent of the Soviet Union contributed to considerable emigration, abating first in the 1970s. Now, since the late 1990s, Finland receives refugees and immigrants in a rate comparable with the Scandinavian countries, although the accumulated number remains far lower in Finland. A considerable share of the immigrants has come from the former Soviet Union claiming ethnic (Finnic) kinship.

Culture Main article: Culture of Finland[?]

Holidays Article: Holidays in Finland

Miscellaneous topics

International rankings

External Links

  • Virtual Finland (http://virtual.finland.fi) - Main portal to Finland
  • Government.fi (http://www.government.fi) - Official governmental site
  • Eduskunta.fi (http://www.eduskunta.fi/efakta/index01.htm) - Official parliamentary site
  • Presidentti (http://www.tpk.fi/netcomm/language.asp?Lan=ENG) - Official presidential site
  • Diplomatarium Fennicum (http://www.sls.fi/fmu/indexeng.htm) - Publishing of medieval documents. The National Archives of Finland

European Union:
Austria  |  Belgium  |  Denmark  |  Finland  |  France  |  Germany  |  Greece  |  Ireland
Italy  |  Luxembourg  |  Netherlands  |  Portugal  |  Spain  |  Sweden  |  United Kingdom

Countries acceding to membership on May 1, 2004:
Cyprus  |  Czech Republic  |  Estonia  |  Hungary  |  Latvia  |  Lithuania  |  Malta  |  Poland  |  Slovakia  |  Slovenia

Countries of the world  |  Europe

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