Finland in a nutshell

Finland (Finnish name: Suomi) is situated in northern Europe. It has a population of 5.2 million and a surface area of 338,000 square kilometres, making it the sixth largest country in Europe. The capital city is Helsinki and about 1,1 million people live in the metropolitan area.

After centuries under Swedish and Russian rule, Finland became independent in 1917 and joined the European Union in 1995. The country is an advanced industrial economy: the metal, engineering and electronics industries account for 50% of export revenues, and the forest products industry for another 30%. Finland has one of the highest rates of Internet use in the world, and boasts more mobile than fixed network telephone subscriptions.

EnviroNment

A quarter of Finland’s total area falls north of the Arctic Circle and much of the country is a gently undulating plateau of worn bedrock and boreal forests, presenting a striking mixture of wooded hills and waters. High rounded fells form the landscape in Finnish Lapland, the most northerly part of the country. The principal archipelago and the self- governing province of the Åland Islands lie off the southwest coast, and the main lake district, centered on Lake Saimaa, is in the east.

Finland’s environment is exceptionally unpolluted and the country’s most important natural resources are water and wood, both as raw materials and as energy sources. Post-glacial lakes are the country's dominant feature; if marshes and bogs are also counted, water covers about 10% of the country. The three main types of forest are pine, spruce and birch. Deciduous forests, of which birch is the most typical, are the most varied in terms of flora.

Finland’s national symbols are the swan and the bear.

Arts and Culture

Finland’s culture is very diverse – while Finns are proud of their native traditions they are open to new culture influences. The reason for cultural vitality is in longstanding government support and there are many cultural events in Finland – most of them are held during the summer time.

Finland has a wide variety of music to offer, both classical and contemporary. The most famous Finnish composers are Jean Sibelius (1865–1957), Einojuhani Rautavaara and Kaija Saariaho and conductors Esa-Pekka Salonen and Osmo Vänskä. As for the bands, especially Nightwish, HIM and Apocalyptica are rather well-known abroad.

The Kalevala, the Finnish national epic, was first published in 1835; it was compiled and edited by Elias Lönnrot on the basis of epic folk poems he had collected in Finland and Karelia in north-western Russia. Novelist, poet and playwright Aleksis Kivi (1834–1872) is generally considered Finland’s national author, and his groundbreaking novel Seven Brothers (1870) is one of the cornerstones of Finnish literature. Also well-known is children's writer and illustrator Tove Jansson (1914–2001), author of the popular Moomin books.

Finland is known around the world for its innovative architecture and design. In the footsteps of such masters as Alvar Aalto (1898–1976) and as Eliel Saarinen(1873–1950), Finnish architecture has assumed a prominent place in Finnish culture, thanks in part to the tradition of organizing public architectural competitions for nearly all public buildings.

The Finnish film industry has long traditions, but the boom in Finnish film production is relatively recent. The leading star is unquestionably director Aki Kaurismäki, winner of the Grand Prix at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival for The Man Without a Past, nominee for Academy Awards 2003.

Sports

Sports and outdoor activities are the most popular recreational pursuits in Finland. Ice Hockey especially is the most popular winter sport and Finland won the World Championship in Ice Hockey on 2011. On the summer Motor Sports – Formula One racing and track and field sports – gain more popularity over any other sport.

Finland is also rather known for rather “quirky” sport competitions for example Swamp Soccer and Wife Carrying Contest.

Source: Embassy of Finland, Ottawa