Member States of the EU Finland Year of EU entry: 1995 Political system: Republic Capital city: Helsinki Total area: 338 000 km² Population: 5.3 million Currency: euro Listen to the official EU languages : Finnish, Swedish.
Finland officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe.
Finland is bordered by Sweden on the west, Norway on the north and Russia on the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland. The capital city is Helsinki.
Politics and Government
The Constitution of Finland defines the political system. Finland is a representative democracy with a semi-presidential parliamentary system. Aside from state-level politics, residents use their vote in municipal elections and in the European Union elections.
According to the Constitution, the President of Finland is the head of state and responsible for foreign policy (which excludes affairs related to the European Union) in cooperation with the cabinet.
Other powers include Commander-in-Chief, decree, and appointive powers. Direct vote is used to elect the president for a term of six years and maximum two consecutive terms. The current president is Tarja Halonen (SDP).
The 200-member unicameral Parliament of Finland exercises the supreme legislative authority in Finland. The parliament may alter laws and the constitution, bring about the resignation of the Council of State, and override presidential vetoes. Its acts are not subject to judicial review. Various parliament committees listen to experts and prepare legislation.
Proportional vote in multi-seat constituencies is used to elect the parliament for a term of four years. The Speaker of Parliament is currently Sauli Niinistö (National Coalition Party). The cabinet (the Finnish Council of State) exercises most executive powers. It is headed by the Prime Minister of Finland and includes other ministers and the Chancellor of Justice. Parliament majority decides its composition, and a vote of no confidence can be used to modify it. The current prime minister is Matti Vanhanen (Centre Party).
Economy and Resources
Finland has a highly industrialized free-market economy with a per capita output equal to that of other western economies such as France, Germany, Belgium or the UK. The largest sector of the economy is services at 65.7%, followed by manufacturing and refining at 31.4%. Primary production is 2.9%. With respect to foreign trade, the key economic sector is manufacturing. The largest industries are electronics (21.6%), machinery, vehicles and other engineered metal products (21.1%), forest industry (13.1%), and chemicals (10.9%).
Finland has timber and several mineral and freshwater resources. Forestry paper factories, and the agricultural sector (on which taxpayers spend around 3 billion euros annually) are politically sensitive to rural residents.
The Greater Helsinki area generates around a third of GDP. In a 2004 OECD comparison, high-technology manufacturing in Finland ranked second largest after Ireland. Knowledge-intensive services have also ranked the smallest and slow-growth sectors – especially agriculture and low-technology manufacturing – second largest after Ireland. Overall short-term outlook was good, and GDP growth has been above many EU peers. Inflation has been low, averaging 1.8% between 2004 and 2006.
Finland is highly integrated in the global economy, and international trade is a third of GDP. The European Union makes 60% of the total trade. The largest trade flows are with Germany, Russia, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States, Netherlands and China. Trade policy is managed by the European Union, where Finland has traditionally been among the free trade supporters, except for agriculture. Finland is the only Nordic country to have joined the Eurozone.
In 2005, Finnish tourism grossed over €6.7 billion with a five percent increase from the previous year. Much of the sudden growth can be attributed to the globalisation and modernisation of the country as well as a rise in positive publicity and awareness. There are many attractions in Finland which attracted over 4 million visitors in 2005. The Finnish landscape is covered with thick pine forests, rolling hills and complemented with a labyrinth of lakes and inlets.
Much of Finland is pristine and virgin as it contains 35 national parks from the Southern shores of the Gulf of Finland to the high fells of Lapland. It is also an urbanised region with many cultural events and activities. Commercial cruises between major coastal and port cities in the Baltic region, including Helsinki, Turku, Tallinn, Stockholm and Travemünde , play a significant role in the local tourism industry.
Finland is regarded as the home of Saint Nicholas or Santa Claus, living in the northern Lapland region. Above the Arctic Circle, there is a polar night, a period when the sun doesn't rise for days or weeks, or even months. Lapland, the extreme north of Finland, is so far north that the Aurora Borealis, atmospheric fluorescence, is seen regularly in winter. Outdoor activities range from Nordic skiing, golf, fishing, yachting, lake cruises, hiking, kayaking among many others.
At Finland's northernmost point, in the heart of summer, the Sun does not completely set for 73 consecutive days. Wildlife is abundant in Finland. Bird-watching is popular for those fond of flying fauna, however hunting is also popular. Elk, reindeer and hare are all common game in Finland. Olavinlinna in Savonlinna hosts the annual Savonlinna Opera Festival.
Famous People The musician Jean Sibelius The novelist Mika Waltari The Rasmus Kimi Raikkonen
Traditional Finnish cuisine is a combination of European, Fennoscandian and Western Russian elements; table manners are European. The food is generally simple, fresh and healthy. Fish, meat, berries and ground vegetables are typical ingredients; spices, which were not available in the past, have not become common.
In years past, Finnish food often varied from region to region, most notably between the west and east. In coastal and lakeside villages, fish was a main feature of cooking, whereas in the eastern and also northern regions, vegetables and reindeer were more common.
The prototypical breakfast is oatmeal or other continental-style foods such as bread. Lunch is usually a full warm meal, served by a canteen at workplaces. Dinner is eaten at around 16.00 to 18.00 at home.
Modern Finnish cuisine combines country fare and haute cuisine with contemporary continental cooking style. Today, spices are a prominent ingredient in many modern Finnish recipes, having been adopted from the east and west in recent decades.
Karjalan paisti Kalakasvisvuoka Lota eggs Kesäkeitto
This sweet honey-based alcoholic beverage is an inseparable part of many local celebrations, deriving from the ancient times of the Vikings. Its sweetness is balanced by a distinctive sour aftertaste of the lemon rind. It also contains various herbs and spices such as cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and sometimes fruit, for example strawberry or blackcurrant. In the winter it is usually drunk hot together with typical Scandinavian gingerbread.
In the winter, one of the most often served drinks in Scandinavia is Glögg; usually in big steaming mugs. This delicious hot drink originating from small Icelandic villages, is nowadays drunk across the country.
Glögg is basically wine mixed with juice and some spices pieces of fruit added. Not only is it a traditional Christmas Eve beverage, but it also plays an important role in the Nordic culture as a whole.
Finland has a long history of beer dating back to the Middle Ages. The first brewery in Finland and Nordic countries was Sinebrychoff, founded in 1819. "Suomalaisen oluen päivä", or the Finnish Beer Day is celebrated on the 13th of October to commemorate the founding of Oy Sinebrychoff Ab and the birth of Finnish beer. The largest Finnish brewers are Kulta,Olvi and Sinebrychoff.
Most of the beers brewed in Finland are pale lagers. Finland's standing is 9th in per capita consumption of beer.
Punctuality is very important to the Finns. Never be late for meetings, as this is considered very impolite in Finland. Be on time!
Do not raise your voice when you talk to Finns, especially not in public! Speaking in a loud voice is considered rude, as Finns themselves are quiet.
Remember to look Finns in the eye. Looking down or to the side is a sign of dishonesty in Finland.
If you want to visit a Finnish friend, always let them know in advance. Privacy is very important to the Finns.
When you visit a Finnish home, always take off your shoes or bring a pair of shoes you can wear indoors with you.
Always remember to say ‘Thank you’ after a meal if you have been invited for a dinner.
It is usual for all Finns to pay for their own meal in a restaurant. You can still politely suggest that you would be happy to pay for your companion’s meal.
Finnish people drink coffee all the time and everywhere, for instance meetings always begin with a cup of coffee.
Do not be surprised if no one comes to sit next to you on the bus. Remember privacy!
Dishonesty is the worst sin of all to the Finns.
Going to a sauna in Finland, even without clothes, has nothing to do with sex – a sauna is a sacred place for the Finns.
Remember to respect the nature. Nature is very close to a Finn’s heart.
Finnish society is very organised. Also, remember to queue!
Silence at night is required in tower blocks normally after 10pm. The communal hallways usually have information on the times of silence. Do not disturb!
The most common religion in Finland is Lutheran.
Most young people in Finland do not practice their religion regularly.
However, for the Finns Christmas is very important. It is celebrated with the family for many days.
More Important Festivals
Christmas is probably the most important holiday season in Finland, but it is a quiet festivity. People like to spend time with their families, with good food in good company. The Christmas holiday is celebrated over three days. The big day is Christmas Eve (December 24), when Finns eat Christmas dinner, Santa Claus pays a visit, and people open their presents. Christmas Day is a time of peace and quiet with the family, and people visit friends and neighbors on Boxing Day.
Easter Easter in Finland is a peaceful religious holiday celebrated among family and friends. This is the main religious holiday of the year at Orthodox cathedrals. This is also the time of year when people are eagerly awaiting the first signs of spring. Depending on whether the holiday is in March or April, the first crocuses may already be blooming. People try to help the spring along. They grow grass in dishes on the windowsill. On Palm Sunday, children go from door to door reciting a rhyme wishing health during the coming year. They give decorated willow sticks in exchange for candy. There are a few traditional Easter foods. People decorate Easter eggs, of course. And you might be offered a traditional dish in the form of malt porridge, or ‘mämmi', served with cream and sugar. It's not the world's prettiest dish, but many people try it once and like it forever.
Midsummer It's called Midsummer, but it's really the beginning of summer. Last week there was freezing rain in Lapland; next week everyone will be on holiday. Midsummer is when families go the summer cottage to spend a month by the lake or the sea. They celebrate Juhannus - or St. John's Day - with a bonfire on the shore. People place two young birch trees on either side of the front door to welcome visitors. They heat up the sauna and make a sauna whisk out of birch twigs. And they hoist the flag at 6 pm on Midsummer Eve and fly it all night until 9 pm the following evening. And when a young woman picks seven different kinds of wildflowers and puts them under her pillow on Midsummer Eve, she will dream about her future husband.
The Most Typical
This way of easing was born in Finland and it(he,she) forms a part of the tradition of the country. Nowadays it is calculated that it(he,she) is concerning(around) 1,6 millions of saunas in Finland. The majority of the hotels include in the price of the rooms baths of sauna and use of the swimming pool. The saunas can be " to the former usage " close to the water or in more modern facilities. The beginning(principle) continues being the same: to wash and to relax in a humid quarter(room) with temperatures that go from 80 to 100 °C. To sweat and to sweat and, later, after a complete perspiration, a good cold shower or a bath in the lake or the swimming pool in order that the pores of the skin(leather) are closed.
The Finnish Christmas holidays last slightly more than a couple(equal) than days. They begin in October decorating the streets and realizing holidays(parties) in houses, places of works, etc. These bank holidays are the Pikkujoulu (small Christmas).
On eve of Christmas, the Finns ignite candles(sails) and put them on the tombs of his(her,your) relatives. The cemeteries covered with snow and illuminated by the candles(sails) offer a magic spectacle. In Lapland, near Rovaniemi, there can visit the Dad's house Noel (and to amuse itself(himself,herself) in the fairground Santapark), as well as that of Mom Noel, placed to the east of Ukko Kekkonen's park.
The races of reindeers:
They are celebrated between January and March. In the farms of ranching, placed in the northern part, it is possible to learn to take a bobsled, as well as know more thoroughly how the animals grow up.
The aurora boreal:
The Finns call Aurora by the name " foxfire ", based on an old folklore (one of many) of a fox striking fire or spraying up snow with it's tail causing the Northern Lights.
Aurora is a visual phenomena resulting from solar wind particles colliding with Earth's atmosphere. The light comes from the emissions of atmospheric atoms and molecules excited by collisions of solar particles at heights ranging from 70 to 1000 km. The solar particles are being captured by Earth's magnetic field , accelerated to high energy levels before hitting molecules and atoms of upper atmosphere, forming large Auroral ovals around both magnetic poles.
The Most Important Places 1 2 3 4 5 6 1.- Rovaniemi 2.- Oulu 3.- Helsinki 4.- Turku 5.- Tampere 6.- Aland Island
Is the capital of the province of Lapland.
Rovaniemi is a dynamic and growing city, with a diverse, strong business structure. The city has a highly-educated work force willing to commit themselves on offer, with high-quality services and expertise. In proportion to the rest of the population (60, 000), the number of creative professionals in Rovaniemi is the third highest in Finland.
Arktikum Santa Claus Village Wild Life Park Christmas Exhibition
The City of Oulu is the capital of northern Finland. The Oulu Region has over 200,000 inhabitants and it is the fastest growing region in Finland.
The City of Oulu itself has over 137,000 inhabitants.
There are good opportunities for studying, working and research and development, especially in the hi-tech sector.
The Oulu Region also has a lively cultural climate.
The Town Hall The River Oulu The Square Market The Sightseeing Train
Helsinki is not only the capital of Finland, but it is also the country’s largest city.
Situated on Finland’s southern coast, it is almost entirely surrounded by water and offers easy access to some of the islands in the Finnish archipelago.
Helsinki Finland is a very prosperous city with a high standard of living, and it is noted for having the world’s highest literacy rate.
Those who travel to Helsinki will likely notice how proud Helsinkians are of their city, and it’s not hard to understand why.
There’s plenty to see and do in Helsinki Finland, and after exploring the city and its sights by day, visitors can interest themselves in some vibrant Helsinki nightlife, which is livelier than ever.
Senate Square City Centre Suomenlinna Fish Market
Turku is officially the oldest city in Finland, and it is smaller only than Helsinki and Tampere.
Situated on Finland’s southwest coast, Turku is very much linked to the water, and further inland, the surrounding area offers up some more picturesque lanscapes that will soothe your soul. Setting aside some time during your Finland vacation to travel to Turku is always a good idea, and since it’s just 100 miles west of Helsinki, getting here is easy.
Turku in winter Cathedral Castle of Turku
Formerly an industrial town, the thriving city of Tampere is now one of Finland’s most technologically-progressive urban spreads.
With some 210,000 citizens, Tampere is large by Finnish standards, but much like the capital city of Helsinki, it’s central core is compact enough to tour by foot. Another thing that Tampere Finland has in common with Helsinki is the fact that it is mostly surrounded by water.
The city rests on an isthmus that divides two large lakes. These lakes, which are called Nasijarvi and Pyhajarvi, are just 2 of the 200 lakes that are technically located within Tampere’s city limits, so for those who like cities on the water, this one sure fits the bill.
Näsijärvi Lake Cathedral of Tampere Lenin Museum
The Aland Islands form an archipelago in the Baltic Sea. It is situated at the entrance to the Gulf of Bothnia and forms an autonomous, demilitarized, monolingually Swedish-speaking region and historical province of Finland.
It is the smallest region of Finland.
The islands consist of the main island Fasta Aland where 90% of the population resides,and an archipelago to the east that consists of over 6,500 skerries and islands. Fasta Aland is separated from the coast of Sweden by 40 kilometres of open water to the west.
In the east, the Aland archipelago is virtually contiguous with the Finnish Archipelago Sea. Aland's only land border is located on the uninhabited skerry of Märket, which it shares with Sweden.
Kastelholm Castle Skerries which are part of the Aland Islands
The National Parks
There are 35 national parks in Finland. They are all managed by the Metsähallitus.
The national parks cover a total area of 8,150 square kilometres (3,147 sq mi) – 2.5 % of Finland's total land area.
A total of 1.7 million people visited the parks in 2007.
Lake Pielinen in Koli National Park Syöte National Park Valkmusa National Park