Finland Country Overview
Republic located in northern Europe, it is limited to the north with Norway, to the east with Russia, to the south with Russia and the Gulf of Finland, to the southwest with the Baltic Sea and to the west with the Gulf of Botnia and Sweden. Approximately one third of the country is located north of the Arctic Circle. The surface is 338,145 km². The capital is Helsinki.
It has about 60,000 lakes, the largest of which is Saimaa. In the Baltic Sea is the archipelago of the Aland Islands, consisting of approximately 6,500 islands. The country is mostly a plain with average heights of 120 to 180 meters. The northernmost area, within the Arctic Circle, is known as Lapland.
Due to the moderating influence of the water bodies surrounding Finland, its climate is considerably less severe than that corresponding to its latitude. Snow covers the soil for four to five months of the year in the south and about seven months in the north.
Population and government
According to PROZIPCODES, the population is of Scandinavian – Baltic origin. More than 93% of the population speaks Finnish and 6% Swedish, mainly in the Aland Islands. The north end is inhabited by about 2,500 Samis; other minority groups comprise less than 1% of the population.
Finnish and Swedish are the official languages. Sami or Lapp is considered a dialect of Finnish. The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland is the main confession, encompassing 90% of the population. The Orthodox Church, however considered as a national cult, has suffered a strong decrease in its members since the end of World War II.
In 1993, the population was 5,054,982 inhabitants, with a density of something less than 15 inhab / km². The most important cities are: Helsinki, Tampere and Turku.
According to the 1919 Constitution, it is a republic governed by a president, elected by direct popular vote.
In 1991, gross domestic product was $ 122.0 billion, with $ 24,400 per capita income. Agriculture is limited to coastal regions. The main crops are: barley, sugar beet, oats, potatoes and wheat.
Forestry is very important. In the early 1990s, wood cutting reached 35 million m³. It is a significant producer of copper, zinc, chromium, lead, nickel and gold.
The pulp, paper and wood production industries dominate the industrial sector.
The currency unit is the markka.
From 1809 until 1863 Finland was headed by a Russian governor general. By the end of the century there had been an exchange in Russian politics that tended to curb growing nationalism. The Russian – Japanese War of 1904-1905 mitigated the process of Russification. The unicameral Parliament was created, and the right to vote was established for men and women over the age of 25; making Finland the most modern parliamentary system in Europe.
During the Russian Revolution of 1917, a newly elected Finnish parliament took advantage of the situation and assumed “all the powers that the Grand Duke Tsar previously possessed”. The Finns voted in favor of an independent republic. The population was divided between Bolshevik socialism and the conservative government; two armies were created in the country, the Red Guard and the White Guard.
The armed conflict broke out in 1918; the Red Guard reacted against the government in order to expel all Russian troops. General Carl Gustaf Emil von Mannerheim headed the White Guard and, helped by German troops, took Helsinki. In 1919 Parliament adopted a new republican constitution. Liberal Kaarlo j. Stahlberg was elected president.
When World War II broke out, Finland declared itself neutral. The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) invaded Finland in 1939, thus starting the Winter War. The superior Soviet military might forced the Finns to make peace. See Russo-Finnish War.
When the Germans attacked the USSR in 1941, the Finns again proclaimed their neutrality, even though German soldiers operated from northern Finland, which gave the USSR a basis to bomb several cities until Finland declared the USSR again, making it clear that the country was not an ally of the Germans, but simply a co – belligerent. The final peace treaty with the USSR was signed in 1947.
The orientation of Finnish foreign policy until the end of Soviet hegemony in Eastern Europe, at the beginning of the 1990s, focused on strict international neutrality and friendly relations with the USSR. This policy, also called the Paasikivi-Kekkonen Line, was named after its initiator, President July K. Paasikivi, and its successor, Urho K. Kekkonen.
Most post-war governments were spearheaded by centrist and social – democratic leaders. The 1987 elections forced the Social Democrats to create a governmental coalition with conservative parties.
Popular discontent in the face of the poor economic situation and the lack of jobs led to the election as president, in 1994, of the social – democratic candidate Martti Ahtisaari.