Lakeland – the heart of Finnish identity
Taking a trip to Lakeland is like taking a trip into the heart of Finnish identity. One of the most important birthplaces of the Finnish identity are the deep green forests, the rolling hills and the glittering lakes that cover most of central Finland.
The Finnish National Landscape
The green forests and the blue lakes became synonymous with the Finnish national landscape during the golden era of Finnish art. Painters such as Akseli Gallen-Kallela and Eero Järnefelt and photographers like I. K. Inha travelled, with great effort, throughout the country and etched those landscapes into the national consciousness.
This is Lakeland.
Today the beauty of Lakeland is easily accessible to visitors. Any one of the numerous National parks in the region is a perfect starting point for a great outdoors experience. The parks offer untouched forests, clean lakes combined with modern services.
Educate yourself at the information center, then head out for a walk or rent a canoe for a trip on the lakes. Stay over-night in a tent or in a cottage for an experience less urban.
The Finns’ identity
Finns are a mixture of tribes, still very much visible in our everyday life. The lakes and rivers connected and divided those tribes.This is where the mythical stories of our origin were born, and out of those stories we have built our identity. This is where the mythological history, in the form of songs, sung and re-sung through generations, was collected into the National Epic, the Kaleva.
This is Lakeland.
It should come as no surprise that the epic starts with the land being born out of water, a historically accurate definition of how Finland emerged out of water after the last ice age. Still today, Lakeland shows its best side to those who travel on a boat.
A great way to travel the lakes is to board one of the many steamers that still operate in Lakeland. From having been the workhorses of the transport system, the steamers are now unique tourist attractions.
The cities of Kuopio or Savonlinna are great places to start a steamboat trip.
From poor agriculture to prosperous high tech
The rise of Finland from an agrarian society to one of the high-tech and innovation leaders in the world has many of its roots along the Lakeland shores. This is where industries found rivers and lakes for transportation. This is where rapids provided the power. This is where, in recent years, those industries have been most affected by the structural changes in the Finnish economy.
This is Lakeland.
Paper and pulp, timber and metal were some of the key industries that once lifted Finland into the ranks of industrialized nations.Visit the UNESCO World heritage museum Verla for a taste of what the industrial revolution looked like.
In the recent years, the high-tech and IT revolution has spelled an end to many of the old factories. Fortunately, the wealth created by the 19th century industrialist lives on as much of it has been turned into a great heritage of art and culture.
The city of Tampere, perched on a narrow slip of land between the lakes Näsijärvi and Pyhäjärvi, could easily be selected as the showcase for this transformation. Visit the Vapriikki museum, housed in an old factory building and experience the old factory turned into a museum complex.
Or spend a day in the Särkänniemi amusement park and literally ride the new wave of the Finnish economy in the Angry Birds theme park!
Welcome to Lakeland where you can discover the romantic, nostalgic or modern self-identity of Finns and Finland. What discoveries do you want to make?