06 Sep Country of Finland
The colours of the Finnish flag are white and blue. The cross is a symbol of other Nordic countries which have a similar cross design. The colour blue represents the bright sky and the number of lakes all over Finland whilst the colour white represents snow.
Finland is a Nordic country located in Northern Europe. It is bordered by neighbouring countries such as Russia to the east, Norway to the north and Sweden to the west. Finland is also close to the Gulf of Finland, the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Bothnia.
The capital city of Finland is Helsinki. Helsinki is the largest and most populous city as well as the 2nd most northernmost capital city in the world. It has been the capital of Finland since 1812. Helsinki is most famous for its unique architectural designs, historical buildings, and innovative artwork. Helsinki was the host city for the 1952 Summer Olympics. It is also the northernmost and smallest city ever to have the privilege of hosting the Summer Olympic Games in the history of the Olympics.
The official currency of Finland is the euro (EUR). However, its former official currency, the Finnish markka (FIM), was in use until 2002.
The population of Finland is approximately 5.558 million, as of July 2022.
The national anthem of Finland is “Maamme”, which is translated as “Our Land” in English. This anthem was written by a priest named Johan Ludvig Runeberg who was Finland’s national poet at the time. It was written in 1846 and published in 1848. It’s music was composed by a German-born composer named Fredrik Pacius. It was declared the unofficial anthem of the Grand Duchy of Finland when Finland was still under the Russian Empire at the time.
The national tree of Finland is the silver birch (Betula pendula). With its light crown and white stem, the roots of the silver birch go deep and relate to Finnish culture and nature in Finland. Finnish people have used the silver birch for a multitude of reasons, ranging from bags and shoes to the mineral-rich birch sap drink.
The national animal of Finland is the brown bear. The brown bear (Ursus arctos) is the largest predator in Europe. It typically consumes a mixed diet by preying on large deer. The bear remains in hibernation in the winter. For ancient Finns, the bear was a feared yet admired animal. There are over 200 names for the bear in Finnish language.
The national emblem of Finland is its coat of arms. It features a crowned lion on a red field, in which the right foreleg was replaced with an armoured human flourishing a sword, trampling on a sabre with the hindpaws.
The national bird of Finland is the whooper swan. The whooper swan (Cygnus cygnus) is an elegant, northern, pure white swan. It remains a significant part in Finnish culture and folklore, ranging from the works of famous composer Jean Sibelius to the Kalevala folk epic.
The two official languages of Finland are Finnish and Swedish. Finnish belongs to the Uralic language group whilst Swedish is an Indo-European language and a member of the North Germanic branch of the language family. In Finland, approximately 4.9 million people speak Finnish as their first language, and more than 500 thousand people speak it as a second language.
Globally, approximately 9 million people speak Swedish as their first language. Finland has approximately 296,000 Swedish speakers. Finland Swedish is a regional variant of the Swedish language. English is also widely spoken in Finland – at least 70% of Finns speak English.
The national day of Finland (Independence Day) takes place on 6th December every year. On this day in 1917, Finland officially declared independence from the Russian Empire, thus marking the conclusion of foreign rule dating back to 1809. People all over the country observe Independence Day with bakeries preparing cakes with blue and white icing, shops decorating their windows in the colours of the Finnish national flag, and so on. In the evening, people light two white-and-blue candles in each window of their home, which is a unique tradition that denotes a silent protest against the oppression of Russia.
The national flower of Finland is the lily-of-the valley (Convallaria majalis). The main reason it was chosen as Finland’s national flower is because it is glorious and attractive with a sweet, pleasant smell. These delicate clusters of white blossoms, typically bloom in early summer. Lilies-of-the-valley have featured frequently in Finnish pop songs and romantic poetry.
The national dish of Finland is considered to be Karelian Pasty. It is an open pastry shell filled with rice porridge, which is also known as Karelian Pie and karjalanpiirakka. Karelian Pasties are generally eaten with a side dish called Munavoi.
Current tallest building
The current tallest building in Finland is Majakka, which is a high-rise apartment building located in Kalasatama, Helsinki. The tower stands 134 metres tall and is divided into 35 floors, containing 283 residence rooms. There is also a garden which is open to the public on the 5th floor.
The largest stadium in Finland is the Helsinki Olympic Stadium, which is used predominantly for hosting sports events and large concerts. The stadium is best known for being the primary venue for the 1952 Summer Olympics. It was also the venue for the first Bandy World Championship in 1957 and the first World Athletics Championships in 1983. It is also the home stadium for Finland’s national football team.
The longest bridge in Finland is Replot Bridge. It is a cable-stayed tuftform bridge that connects the island of Replot with the mainland in Korsholm, near Vaasa. The bridge is 1,045 metres long.
The largest lake in Finland is Lake Saimaa. Saimaa is a lake located in the area of Finnish Lakeland situated in southeastern Finland. It is also the fourth largest natural freshwater lake in Europe with a total surface area of approximately 4,400 square kilometres.
The longest river in Finland is the Kemijoki River. Kemijoki runs through Rovaniemi and Kemijärvi before it reaches the Gulf of Bothnia at Kemi. The first ever hydroelectric plant on the Kemijoki River was constructed in 1949 at Isohaara. At Rovaniemi, the Ounasjoki River amalgamates together with Kemijoki.
The Sámi are not just the Nordic region’s only indigenous people, but the only ones within the European Union (EU). They come from the region of Sápmi and inhabit mainly in the northern regions of Norway, Sweden and Finland as well as the Kola Peninsula in Russia. Furthermore, the Sámi are well known for reindeer herding because the reindeer is such a significant and sacred feature in the Sámi culture.
Daylight saving time
In Finland, daylight saving time has been observed since 1981 in its current alignment. The clock is moved forward one hour at 03:00 EET (Eastern European Time) on the last Sunday in March and back at 04:00 EET on the last Sunday in October, hence doing so an hour earlier for the first two years. Finland officially adopted EET on 30th April 1921.
Finland has a reputation for its exemplary public transportation system. This is because trains are modern, comfortable and always arrive on time – even during the harshest of the winter weather. The entire country is linked by an extensive and comprehensive bus and rail network.
In Finland, the school year generally begins in mid-August and ends around late May or early June each year for the summer break. There are a total of approximately 190 school days in a typical Finnish school year. Children in Finland usually have about 10 weeks of the long summer school holiday as well as other school holidays or breaks in autumn, Christmas and New Year.
The Finnish education system is quite unique in many ways. Children in Finland begin school at the age of seven, which is later than in the vast majority of countries. Prior to starting school, they usually attend preschool for one year at the age of six. Education is compulsory for all students attending school from the ages of 7 to 16 for 9 years. Every Finnish school child receives free school meals. 93% of students in Finland graduate high school. Moreover, children are always taught in the same classroom, regardless of special needs, cultural backgrounds or religious beliefs. There is only one exam that is mandatory, which students take at the age of 16. All teachers in Finland are required to have a Master’s degree. In fact, it is very difficult to become a teacher whilst studying in Finland. Furthermore, school teachers are typically selected from the top 10% of the nation’s graduates at university. There are many good reasons explaining why Finland is considered to have one of the finest and most successful education systems in the world.
Current prime minister
The current prime minister of Finland is Sanna Marin. She has served as the prime minister of Finland since 8th December, 2019 and a member of the Finnish Parliament since 2015. Marin is a member of the Social Democratic Party of Finland. Taking office at the age of 34 years, she is currently the youngest person to ever hold this position.
Current head of state
The current head of state (president of Finland) is Sauli Niinistö. He has served as the 12th president of Finland since 1st March, 2012. Prior to becoming president, he served as Chairman of the Finnish National Coalition Party (NCP) from 1994 to 2001, Minister of Justice from 1995 to 1996, Minister of Finance from 1996 to 2003, and Deputy Prime Minister from 1995 to 2001.
- Kimi Räikkönen → A motorsports racing driver, who is also nicknamed as “The Iceman” and won the 2007 Formula One World Championship.
- Darude (Toni-Ville Henrik Virtanen) → A DJ and record producer whose famous instrumental hit single “Sandstorm” was released in 1999.
- Jean Sibelius → A composer of the late romantic and early-modern periods who is widely regarded as Finland’s greatest composer.
- Linus Torvalds → A software engineer who is the creator of the Linux operating system.
- Valtteri Bottas → A motorsports racing driver.
- Tarja Turunen → A heavy metal singer.
- Alvar Aalto → An architect and designer.
- Fredrik Idestam → A mining engineer and businessman, who is best known as the founder of Nokia.
- Johan Ludvig Runeberg → A priest, lyric and poet who is considered to be one of the most prominent poets in Finland.
- Tove Jansson → An author and artist who is best known as the creator of the Moomins.
- Rovio Entertainment
- Nokian Tyres
Facts about Nokia
- Nokia was initially established as a paper mill manufacturing company in 1865 by Fredrik Idestam in Tampere.
- Nokia was formerly the largest mobile phone manufacturer in the world for 14 years from 1998 to 2012.
- The first GSM (Global System for Mobiles) call in the world was made by the former Finnish prime minister, Harri Holkeri in Helsinki on 1st July 1991 calling Kaarina Suonio (deputy mayor of the city of Tampere at the time) by using a phone network built by Nokia.
About Finnish sauna culture
Saunas have always been a substantial part of life and leisure time in Finnish culture. Historically, Finns would go to a sauna on a daily basis. In Finland, the sauna has traditionally been used as an antiseptic place for treating people who are ill or unwell, for giving birth and even preparing the dead for burial. They have also been historically used for preparing smoked foodstuffs such as fish and meat, drying clothes and preparing malts. Additionally, sauna cabins were traditionally kept separate from the home due to fire safety precautions, but they also acted as the living quarters when new homes were being constructed. The sauna could also be used to shelter guests, farm-hands or provide life-saving refuge in case a house fire occurs during the harsh Finnish winter. Saunas are associated with traditional medicine, wellness, healing and good health. Saunas can be found in homes, offices, sports centres, hotels, factories and ships all over the country in Finland.
About the Moomins (comic strip cartoon)
The Moomins are the central characters in a comic strip and a series of books created by prominent Finnish author and artist Tove Jansson. The books were originally published in the Swedish language. The Moomins are a family of white, round fairy tale characters with large snouts that make them look quite similar to the hippopotamus. Nevertheless, despite this resemblance, the Moomin family are actually trolls. The family reside in their house in Moominvalley, although in the past, their temporary residences have included a theatre and a lighthouse. They have had many adventures along with their various friends. In total, there were nine books released in the entire series, together with five various picture books and a comic strip being released between 1945 and 1993. Since then, the Moomins have been the foundation for numerous movies, television shows and even two theme parks globally: one called Akebono Children’s Forest Park in Hannō, Saitama, Japan and another amusement park named Moomin World in Naantali, Finland.
The largest mall in Finland (in terms of number of stores) is the Mall of Tripla, which is located in Keski-Pasila, Helsinki. The mall, along with a rebuilt railway station, officially opened on 17th October 2019. With a total leasable retail area of 85,394 square metres, it is the fourth-largest shopping mall by surface area in Finland.
The largest and busiest airport in Finland is Helsinki-Vantaa Airport. Helsinki Airport was originally built for the 1952 Summer Olympics. The airport is situated in the neighbouring city of Vantaa, approximately 5 kilometres west of Tikkurila, which is the administrative centre of Vantaa. The airport officially opened in July 1952 and its airport code is HEL. Nowadays, it provides jobs for 25,000 people and there are 1,500 companies that operate at this airport.
Most popular airline
The most popular airline in Finland is Finnair, as well as the flag carrier and largest airline of Finland. Its headquarters are situated in Vantaa on the grounds of Helsinki Airport, which is the main hub. Finnair and its subsidiaries dominate both domestic and international air travel in Finland. Finnair is the sixth oldest airline in the world in terms of continuous operations and is invariably one of the safest airlines in the world. The company’s two slogans are “The Nordic Way” and “Designed for you”.
There are many popular sports that are played in Finland which include ice hockey, football, athletics, ski jumping, motorsport (predominantly F10, floorball, cross-country skiing, bandy, ice skating and snowboarding.
Pesäpallo is considered to be the national game or national sport of Finland. Pesäpallo (Finnish baseball) is a combination of traditional ball-batting team games and American baseball.
Pros and Cons
- Finland is a beautiful country to visit.
- Finland has been blessed with glorious natural beauty and clean air.
- Daylight in Finland is extremely frequent during the summer months.
- Finland is one of the best countries in the world to raise a family and bring up children.
- Finland has an excellent education system.
- Finland is one of the least corrupt countries in the world.
- Finland is one of the cleanest, greenest and least polluted countries in the world.
- Finland is one of the most prosperous countries in the world.
- Finland is one of the best countries in the world for press freedom.
- Finland has an extremely high literacy rate.
- Finland is one of the happiest countries in the world.
- Finland is a democratic country.
- Finland has an extremely low crime rate.
- Finland is a safe and peaceful country.
- Finland enjoys a very high quality of life.
- Daylight in Finland is very limited during the winter months.
- Finnish winters are very long, dark, harsh, frigid and snowy.
- The cost of living in Finland is relatively high.
- Finland has a high rate of alcoholism.
- Depression rates are high in Finland, mostly due to the cold climate and lack of sunlight in winter.
- Since 2018, Finland is considered to be the happiest country in the world for the fifth year in a row, according to the annual World Happiness Report.
- Video game Angry Birds was initially launched in Finland by Rovio Entertainment in 2009.
- Clash of Clans (COC) is another popular video game that was originally developed and designed in Finland
- Finland is often referred to as “the land of a thousand lakes” with approximately 187,888 lakes in Finland.
- Finland is one of the least densely and most sparsely populated countries in Europe.
- Finland is one of 12 countries that has participated in every Winter Olympics since it first commenced.
- Finland was the first country in the world to offer full political rights to women in 1906.
- Finland is the only country in the world to have completely paid its World War II reparations.
- Finland has the highest number of heavy metal bands per capita in the world.
- There are approximately 3 million saunas in Finland, which is more than the number of cars.
- Finland is the first country in the world to make Internet access a legal right for its citizens.
- Finland is one of the greenest countries in Europe.
- The Finnish word for Finland is “Suomi”.
- Finland has approximately 178,947 islands
- Lapland is the largest and northernmost region in Finland.
Best time to visit
The best time to visit Finland would generally be between late May and early September, especially during the summer months (June, July and August) better weather, sunshine and warmer temperatures. Summer is also the most ideal time for doing outdoor activities such as hiking, swimming, camping, boating, fishing and biking, attending outdoor summer festivals, going for picnics and enjoying the wonderful views of Finland’s beautiful natural scenery. Tourists will be able to experience the midnight sun in summer in the northernmost region of Finland, which is called Lapland.
For those who love and enjoy snow, skiing, ice skating, cold weather, various winter activities, white and snowy winter landscapes and want to see the Northern Lights (aurora borealis), the most ideal time would normally be between November and March. December is the best month to experience a white Christmas in Finland whilst visiting the Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi in Lapland to meet the real Santa Claus for an authentic and true Christmas experience.
Famous tourist attractions to visit
- Suomenlinna Fortress, Helsinki
- Helsinki Cathedral, Helsinki
- Market Square, Helsinki
- Turku Castle, Turku
- Santa Claus Village, Rovaniemi
- Senate Square, Helsinki
- Nuuksio National Park, Espoo
- Linnanmaki Amusement Park (Linnanmäki), Helsinki
- The National Museum of Finland, Helsinki
- Northern Lights (aurora borealis), Lapland
Kiitos paljon ja näkemiin (thank you so much and goodbye in Finnish language)!
Nijaya Senarath-Dassanayake – Year 13