Republic of Finland


Finnish (93%) and Swedish (6%). Finland is officially a bilingual country. Small Sami and Russian speaking minorities. English widely spoken.


Evangelical Lutheran 89%, Russian Orthodox 1%, none 9%, other 1%

Political System

Democratic Republic



Geographical Information

Northern Europe, between Sweden and Russia.

Cold temperate climate. Potentially subarctic, but comparatively mild because of moderating influence of the North Atlantic current, Baltic Sea and the more than 60,000 lakes.

Terrain mostly low, flat to rolling plains interspersed with lakes.

68% of Finland is forests, 10% water and 6% cultivated land

Typical Food and drinks

Elements of Swedish and Russian cuisine. Potato is the staple food, served with various meats or fish. Game: snow grouse, reindeer stew, glow-fired salmon or raw picked salmon .

Strong beers, wines and spirits sold in bars, restaurants and state network shops

Holidays and Festivals

National Holiday : Independence Day, 6 December (1917 from Russia)

Midsummer’s Eve and Day :June 21, June 22

Christmas and New Year, Good Friday, Easter Monday, May Day, Ascension Day: 9 May, All Saints Day: 2 November


Finland was a province and than a grand duchy under Sweden from the 12th Century until 1809, and then an autonomous grand duchy of Russia.

Blighted by constant battles with Russia and severe famines. The 1696-97 famine killed 1/3 of all Finns. In 1700s bitter wars with Russia, and loss of Finland to Russia in 1809. Declaration of Independence in 1917. After the Communist Russian Revolution in 1917, a bloody civil war of "reds" and "nationalist whites" in Finland for 108 days with 30,000 killed. During World War 11, it successfully defended its freedom and rested invasions by the Soviet Union—albeit with some loss of territory. Bitter battle to oust Germans from Lapland.

In the next half century Finland made a remarkable transformation from a farm/forest economy to a diverse modern industrial economy. 1990 devaluation of Fin Markka by 25%. Joined EU in 1994. As a member of the European Union, Finland was the only Nordic state to join the euro system at its initiation in January 1999. In 2000 the first Finnish female president was elected.

Art and culture

Literature: Tove Jansson, Aleksis Kivi, Elias Lönnrot , Märta Tikkanen

Composer: Jean Sibelius

Architecture :Alvar Aalto

Painter : Akseli Gallen-Kallela

Film: Aki Kaurismaki

Dos and don´ts for visiting the country

Observe speed and alcohol limits when driving. Police strictly enforce all traffic laws. Drive with headlights on. Beware of moose on the road if driving at night.

Fins are nature lovers and the countryside is very clean—don’t litter.

Fins are typically quiet and taciturn. The offer of a drink often helps break the ice.

Population and

% of foreign population /minorities

Population: 5,19 million

Ethnic groups: Finn 93%, Swede 6%, Sami 0.11%, Roma 0.12%, Tatar 0.02%

Main Integration Problems

Finland was a homogeneous society until the 1990’s with a small foreign population. Migration increased with the collapse of the Soviet Union and Eastern Block, the civil war in Yugoslavia, and Asian and African refugees.

The main problem is immigrant unemployment (about 30%, the national level is 9%).

Immigrants are often seen as a threat and competitors in the labour markets.

Illegal immigration from Russia along the long eastern border is a problem.

Negative attitudes and xenophobia towards foreigners.


top of page




This project is being carried out with the support of the European Community in the framework of the Socrates programme. The content of this project does not necessarily reflect the position of the European Community, nor does it involve any responsibility on the part of the European Community. For questions and contact:
Latest update of this page: 2005-07-15 
Webdesign: Anton J. Posch