National holiday: Independence Day, December 6.
Nature and climate: A mainly hilly lowland broken by a great number, close to 40 000, lakes making a distinguishing feature of the scenery. In the northernmost part a mountainous area, a branch of the Scandinavian mountain chain, with a highest peak within Finland that reaches 1324 m.a.s.l.
70% of the nation is forested, mainly of pine.
Average temperature in January from -3°C in the south to -15°C in the north, and in July +18°C in the south and +12°C in the north.
Percipitation between 400 and 650 mm.
People: 94% Finns, close to 6% Swedes and a few Lapps and Russians.<
61% of the population live in towns.
Economy Agriculture occupies 9% of the population, manufacturing and trade 51% and different services 25%.
Agriculture operates under partly unfavourable climatic conditions but succeeds to cover the greatest part of domestic demands. Most important crops are grain and potatoes. Stockraising produces enough to export and most of the farmers have forests.
Forestry is extensive and together with forest manufacturing it accounts for 40% of Finlands export incomes. It occupies 8% of the population.
Finland have few minerals, the most important are copper, nickel, cobalt, zink, iron, silver, chromium and vanadium.
Before World War II forestry was the dominating industry, but since then an extensive development of heavy and chemical industry have been made.
Manufacturing in the heavy mechanical industry is varied, but big companies have specialized on machinery for forestry, passengerliners, icebreakers and oilrigs for export.
The chemical industry have oilrefineries, as well as factories for fertilizers, pharmaceuticals and plastic articles.
Also extensive textilemanufacturing and factories for pottery, glass, porcelain and furniture.
Since 1932 Finland have a non-aggression-treaty with the Sovjetunion. This treaty also favoured trade between the two nations.
When the Sovjetunion disbanded this led to severe economic problems for Finland as trade de facto ceased to function.
History: The oldest settlements seem to be from 8000 BC. Up to 1500 BC the influences mainly came from the east. At that time influences from the other Scandinavian countries started.
During the Great Migration 400 to 500 AD Finno-Ugrian tribes moved in and the Scandinavian culture survived only at Åland.
Until 1809 the Finnish history is closely tied to the Swedish. After the peace between Sweden and the Russian grand-duchy Novgorod 1323 Finland was colonized from Sweden. 1427 the Finns participated in the Swedish elections of kings and from 1556 it was a Swedish duchy.
During the wars of Karl XII Russians occupied Finland 1714, and at the peace Sweden had to cede parts of eastern Finland. After wars 1741-43 Sweden had to cede further, minor, parts.
At the end of the 18th century the Finns began to think about independence.
At the peace after the Napoleon wars 1809 Sweden had to cede the whole Finland to Russia, where it became a grand-duchy. The Russian tsar was grand-duke himself and appointed a governor-general. Finland was allowed to maintain Swedish as official language and continued to live under the constitution from the Swedish time.
In this way Russia only exercised minor parts of its powers.
During this time Swedish was the only language in administration and education. Not until 1863 a reform was passed that gave the Finnish language equal rights as Swedish. The reform was not completely realized until 1901.
In 1906 a new constitution was passed that stipulated equal and common suffrage for men and women.
During the last years of the 19th and the first decades of the 20th centuries the Russians strengthened their influence over Finland. The Russian monetary and postal systems were introduced. The Finnish army was dissolved. From 1910 all laws should be passed by the Russian duma.<
At this time though, the Russian central power was weakened, first due to the losses in the Russian-Japanese war, later the World War I and finally due to the Revolution in 1917.
At December 6th 1917 the Finnish "lantdag", parliament, proclaimed independence.
As in Russia, socialdemocratic and communist parties had strong support from the people and in the capital Helsingfors (Helsinki), and several other towns they seized power. The government fled to the western parts of the nation and formed a "white" army, that with help from german troops, defeated the "red" army after some months of fighting.
Finland is a sparse populated nation with a long desolated border to Russia, the Sovjetunion. This has since long been a security-problem for Finland. 1932 a non-aggression-treaty was signed between Finland and the Sovjetunion. This treaty was renewed, then called a treaty of friendship and assistance in 1948. Apart from this treaty Finland has kept neutral.
In 1939 the Sovjetunion demanded that some minor Finnish areas should be transferred to the Sovjetunion. When Finland denied this, the Sovjetunionen attacked and occupied the demanded areas.
When Germany mobilized its troops before the attack against the Sovjetunion they were allowed to march through Finland. When the attack started 1941 Finland rapidly recaptured the areas lost 1939. But when the German fortunes of war ceased, the Sovjetunion attacked Finland once again and Finland now lost the same areas as in 1939 as well as the connection to the Sea of Barents with the harbour of Petsamo.
Since World War II Finland has had the powerful neighbour in consideration and practiced a cautious foreign policy. Finland was one of the founding members when the Nordic Council was founded and participates in all of the activities, but it was Finland, that in consideration of the Sovjetunion, stopped the Nordic Council from developing into an economic union, alike a Nordic EC.
Since the Sovjetunion have disbanded, Finland, like Sweden and Norway, have applied for membership in the EC.
© I wrote this text for the AmigaWorld-program during the early 1990:ies. If you have an Amiga computor you should have this program. You'll find it at Aminet.