Finland – detailed information about the country with photos. Sights, cities of Finland, climate, geography, population and culture.
Finland (Finnish Republic)
Finland (Finnish. Suomi; Swedish. Finland) – is a country in northern Europe in the eastern part of the Scandinavian Peninsula. It shares borders with Sweden to the west, Norway to the north, and Russia to the east. Finland is a modern country with a high standard of living, comfortable small towns and villages, and vast unspoiled natural landscapes. It is a parliamentary republic with Finnish and Swedish as official languages.
Finland is a country of white nights and northern lights, endless forests and hundreds of thousands of blue lakes, many picturesque islands and vast snowy expanses of Lapland, known to many as the birthplace of Santa. It lies far from the popular tourist routes and is not spoiled by the attention of tourists. But this is where its charm lies. Finland is absolutely real – from nature to the people on the streets.
Useful information about Finland
- The population is 5.5 million people.
- Area – 338 400 km².
- The language is Finnish, Swedish and partially Sami.
- The currency is euro.
- The visa is Schengen.
- The time is UTC+2, in summer + 3.
- Despite the fact that the official state religion is Lutheranism and Orthodoxy, Finns are not the most religious nation in Europe.
- Finland has 75 ski resorts. Most of them are located in Lapland.
Finland is one of the most expensive countries in Europe. It is quite difficult to find cheap accommodation here (even a bed in a hostel will cost 15-20 euros).
- Car traffic is on the right-hand side.
Popular souvenirs include Finnish knives (puukko), ryijy woven carpets, and handmade products (labeled Sámi Duodji). Other common purchases include Marimekko clothing, Iittala glass, Kalevala Koru jewelry, and Arabia ceramics.
- You can’t buy anything stronger than beer in grocery stores and supermarkets. From 21.00 to 9.00 in Finland, it is prohibited to sell drinks with an ethyl alcohol content of more than 2.8% by volume. Wine and spirits can be bought in specialized Alko stores.
- The flag of Finland is a white rectangular cloth with a blue Scandinavian cross.
Geography and nature
Finland is located in Northern Europe in the east of Scandinavia. The southern part of the country is washed by the waters of the Gulf of Finland, and the western part by the waters of the Gulf of Bothnia, which are part of the Baltic Sea. About 1/4 of the territory lies above the Arctic Circle. Finland has more than 180,000 lakes and over 80,000 islands.
Geographically, the country can be divided into three regions:
- The southern and western coasts are lowlands, along which there are many islands. The largest of them: Åland Islands, Turku Archipelago and the Archipelago Sea.
- The central part is a land of lakes, swamps and forests. The largest lakes in Finland are located here – Saimaa, Päijänne, Inarijärvi and Ouluärvi.
- In the north, there are low rocky mountains and uplands of Lapland, covered with taiga and tundra. The highest point of Finland is located here – the slope of Mount Halti (1324 meters). Also in the north are the largest rivers – Kemijoki, Oulujoki and Tornionjoki.
Finland has several natural zones: tundra, taiga, mixed and Scandinavian forests. Many forests have been preserved in almost pristine condition and are rich in mushrooms and berries. Typical representatives of the animal world include bears, lynxes, wolves, foxes, wolverines, ermines, owls, and white-tailed eagles. Rare ringed seals live on Lake Saimaa.
The climate in most of Finland is temperate, transitioning from maritime in the south to continental in the north. Winters are quite cold and snowy. Summers are cool.
Best time to visit
The best time to come to Finland is summer, early fall and winter. In summer and early fall, you can enjoy the beauty and colors of Finnish nature, long walks and white nights. In winter, there is a chance to see the northern lights.
The territory of modern Finland was settled in the 8th-9th millennium BC. The oldest settlements were discovered between the Gulf of Bothnia and the Gulf of Finland. The first mention of Finland dates back to the 1st century AD. By 1000, its territory was inhabited by the Suomi, Tavasti, and Karelians. They were culturally different and often at odds. Modern Finns emerged as a result of mixing German, Baltic and Siberian peoples. The Finnish language is based on the Ugro-Finnish dialect.
In the 8th century, the Vikings came to the Finnish coast and founded trading settlements here. In the middle of the 12th century, during the reign of Swedish King Eric IX, the Finnish tribes were subjugated and their Christianization began. From that time on, more than 6 centuries of Swedish rule began. In the 13th century, Western and Southern Finland became culturally and politically closer to Sweden. At the end of the 13th century, the Swedes made another campaign to Finnish lands, which resulted in the founding of Vyborg. In 1362, Finland was granted the status of a Swedish province.
In 1550, the Swedish king Gustavus Vasa founded the Helsinki. In 1556, Johan III granted Finland the status of a duchy. In the first half of the 17th century, Swedish King Gustav II Adolf conquered Karelia. In 1640, the University of Turku was founded.
In the period from 1700 to 1809, as a result of three Russian-Swedish wars, Finland became part of the Russian Empire as a Grand Duchy, with Helsinki as its capital. In 1917, Finland declared its independence, which it confirmed during several wars with the USSR. The country remained neutral until the outbreak of World War II. In 1940, it cooperated with Germany to return historical lands and expand its territories. In 1944, Finland withdrew from the war and broke off relations with the Nazis. In 1995, the country became part of the European Union.
The territory of Finland is divided into 19 provinces (regions), which, in turn, are divided into cities and municipalities. Regions of Finland: Lappi, North Pohjanmaa, Kainuu, North Karelia, North Savo, South Savo, South Pohjanmaa, Pohjanmaa, Pirkanmaa, Satakunta, Central Pohjanmaa, Central Finland, Varsinais-Suomi, South Karelia, Päijät-Häme, Kanta-Häme, Uusimaa, Kymenlaakso, Åland Islands.
Geographically, Finland can be divided into the following regions:
- Southern Finland is the coast of the Gulf of Finland, including the country’s capital, Helsinki.
- Western Finland – the coast of the Gulf of Bothnia with the old capital (Turku) and the central province headed by Tampere.
- Eastern Finland is a land of forests and lakes, including Savonia and Western Karelia.
- Northern Finland is the region between Lapland and the south of the country.
- Finnish Lapland is the northernmost region of Finland with tundra and the largest ski resorts.
- The Åland Islands are a group of islands off the southwestern coast of Finland with a Swedish mentality.
Most of the population of Finland is ethnic Finns. The Swedish diaspora is quite large. The official languages are Finnish (spoken by 90% of the population), Swedish and partially Sami. The Finnish language is not related to other Scandinavian languages (Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Icelandic and Faroese), Russian or English. In fact, it doesn’t even belong to the Indo-European language group, but is part of the Uralic language group, which also includes Hungarian and Estonian. Therefore, it is quite difficult to understand and read. But this will not be a big problem, as more than 70% of the population speaks English.
Finns are quite open and sincere, civilized and sociable. They are genuine and say what they think. At the same time, Finns are modest, calm and responsible. They honor their traditions and love outdoor recreation and saunas.
The main Finnish holidays: New Year’s Day (December 31), Epiphany (January 6), Easter or Pääsiäinen, Walpurgis Night or Vappu (May 1), Midsummer or Juhannus (end of June), Independence Day or Itsenäisyyspäivä (December 6), Christmas (December 24-26).
The country’s largest international airport is located near Helsinki. Other major air ports are in Tampere and Turku. Rail and bus connections are quite intense with St. Petersburg, but it is not the fastest or cheapest way to get to Finland. The best way is by ferry. Ferries connect the country with St. Petersburg, Stockholm, Tallinn, Riga.
Cities of Finland and popular destinations
Popular cities in Finland:
- Helsinki is the capital of Finland and its only “real” city that still retains its provincial character. Helsinki is called the “daughter of the Baltics,” and the city itself is modeled after St. Petersburg.
- Hämeenlinna is a small town with a beautiful medieval castle.
- Jyväskylä is a university town in Central Finland.
- Kuopio is another university city located in the center of the country, the capital of the lakeside region.
- Lappeenranta is a university town in southeastern Finland near Lake Saimaa.
- Oulu is a technological city on the shores of the Gulf of Bothnia.
- Rovaniemi is the capital of Finnish Lapland and the “gateway” to this harsh northern region.
- Savonlinna is a small coastal town with a beautiful castle.
- Seinäjoki is one of the most dynamically developing cities in Finland, located in the province of South Ostrobothnia.
- Tampere is the industrial capital of the country and one of its main cultural centers.
- Turku is the old capital of Finland with a medieval castle.
- Vaasa is a city on the shores of the Gulf of Bothnia with a Swedish character.
- Porvoo is one of the oldest cities in Finland with a small, charming historic center.
- Rauma is one of the oldest cities in the country with colorful old wooden houses and cobblestone streets.
- The Åland Islands are an archipelago between Finland and Sweden with a predominantly Swedish population. The islands are famous for their unspoiled nature and beautiful scenery.
- Lapland is a harsh northern region, home to Santa and the stunning northern lights.
- Kauhava is the largest Finnish amusement park.
- Levi is one of the largest ski resorts in Finland.
- Saimaa is one of the largest lakes in the country with a picturesque nature.
- Lemmenjoki is a national park with wild coniferous forests.
Sights and attractions of Finland
Olafsborg (Olavinlinna) is a 15th-century Swedish fortress with three powerful towers. It is considered the northernmost medieval stone citadel.
Sveaborg (Suomenlinna) is one of the world’s largest naval fortresses built by the Swedes in the 18th century. It is located near Helsinki and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Helsinki’s sacred architecture includes three major religious buildings: the neoclassical Lutheran Cathedral, the largest Orthodox Church in Europe, and the original Temppeliaukio Church, built in a rock.
Turku Castle is a magnificent medieval structure from the late 13th century, originally built as a military fortress. Now it houses a museum, one of the most visited in Finland.
Hämeenlinna is a beautiful 13th-century brick medieval castle located near the Aulanko Nature Park.
Accommodation and hotels
Accommodation in Finland is expensive. Interestingly, in summer, the cost of hotels in cities may be slightly lower, as most Finns go to the countryside. One way to save money on accommodation is to stay in youth hostels (retkeilymaja). Another great option is to book a cottage with a sauna (Mökki).
Finnish cuisine is strongly influenced by its neighbors (Sweden and Russia). The main food products are potatoes and bread with various fish and meat dishes. Dairy products also play an important role in the Finnish diet.
- Meat meatballs(lihapullat, lihapyörykät).
- Swedish hash (pyttipannu) – a hearty dish of potatoes, onions and meat.
- Salaka (Baltic herring) is a small, fatty and tasty fish that is fried, salted and smoked.
- Syrian Salmon Salmon (graavilohi).
- Karelian pies (karjalanpiirakka).
- Karelian stew (karjalanpaisti) – a hearty dish of beef and pork with potatoes and carrots.
- Liver casserole (maksalaatikko).
- Smoked salmon (savulohi).
- Pea soup with chinks (hernekeitto).
- Venison (poro).
Prices in cafes and restaurants in Finland are quite high. To save money on food, you can take advantage of package deals, buy fast food or food in supermarkets.