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Facts of Finland

People

Finland has a population of about 5 million people, and the population is still slightly growing. 19% of the Finns are below 15 years of age, and 14% are over 65. The population density is about 12 per square kilometer. 64% are living in urban areas. The ethnic groups of the Finnish population are the Finns, 94%, the Swedish speaking population 6% and small groups of other ethnic groups, among them the Lapps. Finnish and Swedish are the principal languages, both official. Evangelical Lutherian is the main religion, with 89 % of the population belonging to Church.

Finland is located in the north of Europe, with Norway as neighbor in the north, Sweden in the West, Russia in the East, and Estonia in the South.

Geography

The area of Finland is about 130.000 sq.miles, of which 10% is water. The south and central Finland is mostly flat, where as the north of Finland has some mountains. Finland is the land of thousand lakes - the number of lakes is actually 190.000! Finland has an arctic climate - the winter is a carnival of frost and ice.


The cathedral in Helsinki, capital of Finland

Helsinki is the capital and the biggest town in Finland, with a population of near 600.000. With its neighbors, Espoo and Vantaa, the capital area forms a complex of near one million people. Espoo has a population of near 200.000. The third big town in Finland is Tampere.

Government


The President of Finland, Tarja Halonen, has his own Home Page on the Internet. Also the former president, Martti Ahtisaari has his own site.

Finland is a constitutional republic. The president, last and newly elected in 2000 for a six year period, is Tarja Halonen, the first woman as a president in our country. Prime Minister is Matti Vanhanen from the Centre Party.


The President of Finland - and president candidate - Tarja Halonen, visiting Vaasa on Jan 23, 2006

Finland has a multi-party system, and the largest political parties are the Social Democrats, the Conservatives and the Centre Party. There are three big parties in the Parliament, the Social Democrats, the Centre and the Conservatives. Smaller parties are the Left-wing Alliance, the Swedish People´s Party, the Greens and the Christian League. 1.6% of the gross national product is used for defense, with an active troop strength of about 30.000.

Economy

The chief industries in Finland are using wood as their raw material, making mostly paper, furniture and other wood products. Finland has an important metal industry - many of the big diesel machines in the world are made in Vaasa! Over half of the worlds icebreakers were built in Finland. Agriculture is important despite the climate, and grains, sugar beets and potatoes are the chief crops. 8% of the land is arable. Over 65% of Finland´s land area is covered by forest. There are 1.2 million cattle, 1.4 million pigs and most of the worlds farmed fox in Finland.


The total export from Finland in 1996 was 40.500 USD millions, and the imports was 31.000. The gross domestic product per capita was 24.000 USD. Of the employed persons, 22 worked in industry, 15% in commerse, 11% in financial services, 7% in agriculture and forestry, 8% in transport and communications, 6% in construction and 31% in miscellaneous services. 70% of the women are employed outside the home. (Source: Statistic Finland)

The yearly fish catch is about 150 million kilograms. There are 4 nuclear power plants in Finland and the yearly electricity production is about 70.000 million kWh. Of the labour force, about half is occupied in industry, one third in public service and about one tenth in agriculture. The unemployment has been quite high in the recent years, and is now about 16%.

Finance


Markka was the monetary unit in Finland. Since January the 1st 2002 our currency is Euro. One Euro is about 6 old Finnish marks. "Markka" and "penni" are now just memories.

The monetary unit was named Markka, the value of which was about l/7 of a dollar. The gross domestic product is about 500.000 million markkaa (about 90 bil dollars). Per capita gross domestic product is about 100.000 markka. 1994 the import was 120.000 million markka and the export 150.000 million markka.

Since January 1st the monetary unit of Finland is Euro, as it is in eleven other European Union countires. The Finnish people are quite swiftly getting used to the new currency.


The flag of Finland

Communications

There are about 2.5 million televison sets, 5 million radios, 3 million telephones (of which about 1 million are mobile telephones, "kännykkä" - probably the highest figure in the world per capita), 2 million passenger cars, 300.000 other vehicles and 24 airports in Finland.


24 main airports make domestic air connections very efficient. Helsinki is the main international airport, but also Vaasa, Tampere, Turku and Mariehamn have international connections.

Health

Life expectancy at birth is 74.0 years for males and 77.3 years for females, and both are rising. There is one hospital bed for every 100 persons and one physician for every 371 persons. Finland is a Nordic welfare society, which means that the services offered by society and made available to all the population are financed by taxes. All Finns are entitled to basic health care financed by the society. All children under school age have the right to municipial day care. For the young, dental care is free. Every Finn over 65 has a national pension and has the right of old-age care by the society.

Education

Primary education is free and compulsatory during ages 7 - 16. Literacy is 100%. Many universities gives a highly professional higher education.

International organisations

Finland is a member of the European Union since January 1st, 1995. Naturally, Finland is also member of the United Nations (incl. IMF, FAO, World Bank, WHO) and OECD.

Åland (Aland)

Åland is an autonomous part of Finland, situated on the islands between Finland and Sweden. Mariehamn is the only town in Åland, and the principal port.

Culture

The literacy rate in Finland is probably the highest in the world, 100%. About 4 million Finns get their morning paper delivered to their homes, and the daily newspaper circulation is about 470 per 1000 inhabitants. 90% of all report reading a Newspaper daily. The annual consumption of newsprint is 42 kilograms per person - the world average is about 6 kilograms! And we Finns read more than newspapers. Nearly every Finn has a wellstocked bookshelf in his home.


Väinö Linna (to the left) is one of the most popular Finnish writers. Alvar Aalto (to the right or below) is considered as on of the worlds best architects.

The architect Alvar Aalto is the master builder of modern Finnish life. He has designed many important and beautiful buildings, among others the Finlandia House in Helsinki, and everyone in Finland knows the Aalto vase.


Jean Sibelius, the most famous Finnish composer

The most famous Finnish composer is Jean Sibelius. His "Finlandia" has served as the national hymn of Biafra (a part of Nigeria) - and is played as background music in "Die Hard II", a film made by Rennie Harlin!

History

The Finns probably migrated from the Ural mountains in the Eastern Europe, and the second ethnic group, the Swedes, are descenders from settlers from Sweden. Finland was a part of Sweden until 1809, when Russia took over, Finland however succeeded in keeping a large autonomy during the Russian era. During this time, in 1812 the capital was transferred from Turku to Helsinki. On December 6th, 1917, Finland successfully declared its independence, seizing the opportunity when the Russian Czar was overthrown and the Russion Revolution had begun. After that, a short, but cruel, civil war was fought in Finland.


The Parliament building in Helsinki and the statue of JK Paasikivi, an afterwar president, to the left. To the right, the statue of Marshal CG Mannerheim.

On November 30th 1939, Russia attacked Finland without declaring war, and with an obvius intention of occupying Finland. The Finns under the command of marshal CG Mannerheim successfully defended our country during 105 glorious days against the Red Army, and Finland managed to keep her independence.

The war with Russia 1941 - 44 was a part of the World War Two, and as a result of these two wars, Finland was forced to cede about 10% of its territory to Russia. Finland is a member of the European Union since January 1st, 1995.


The Statue of Freedom, in Vaasa

The Finnish women were the first in Europe to gain the right to vote in national elections, in 1906. One of three members of the Parliament are women, and the former Speaker of the Parliament - the nation´s second-highest official - , Riitta Uosukainen, is a woman. And now, from beginning of March 2000 we have a woman, Tarja Halonen, as President. Since 1988 women have the right of becoming priests in the Evangelical Lutherian church in Finland.


The former prime minister of Finland, Paavo Lipponen, and Finland´s president Tarja Halonen

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August 22, 2011