Travel Facts

Finland in a Nutshell

First and foremost, Finland is a country of contrasts. From endless daylight in the summer to the still, wintry darkness of the polar night, the characteristics of Finland’s seasons shed insight into the Finns’ inclination to pursue the odd and extreme. Completed by the melancholic harmony of autumn leaf colors and the astonishing rebirth of nature in the spring, the four seasons have a profound effect on life in Finland and its rather peculiar inhabitants.

Population: 5,6 million Geographic size: 338,000 km2, of which 33 000 km2 water

Capital: Helsinki (590 000 inhabitants; Helsinki metropolitan area: 1,25 million)

Other Cities: Espoo (250 000), Tampere (215 000), Vantaa (200 000), Turku (180 000), Oulu (145 000)

Lakes: 188 000 Islands: 180 000 National parks: 39

Archipelago: The largest in Europe is situated off the southwest coast of Finland. Parts of the archipelago make up Åland, an autonomous Swedish-speaking province.

Weather: Four seasons and stark contrasts between them; snowy winters with the Northern Lights and the polar night, warm summers with white nights and the Midnight Sun.

Type of state: Independent republic since December 6th, 1917.

Head of state: President of the Republic, elected every six years. Current president is Mr Sauli Niinistö.

Member of the EU: since 1995 Currency: Euro

Official Languages: Finnish, Swedish * 91% speak Finnish as their first language, while 5,4% speak Swedish. Sámi is the mother tongue of roughly 1 700 indigenous Sámi people in northern Lapland.

Time Zone: GMT + 2 hrs

Traffic and driving: Right-hand traffic, no road tolls. Headlights must be used at all times. Snow tires are obligatory from December to February.

 

Finland – the Edge of Europe

First and foremost, Finland is a country of contrasts. From endless daylight in the summer to the still, wintry darkness of the polar night, the characteristics of Finland’s seasons shed insight into the Finns’ inclination to pursue the odd and extreme. Completed by the melancholic harmony of autumn leaf colors and the astonishing rebirth of nature in the spring, the four seasons have a profound effect on life in Finland and its rather peculiar inhabitants.

Famous for Santa Claus

Not really Scandinavian, nor a part of the Baltics or Eastern Europe, Finland is the black sheep of Northern Europe. Famous for Santa Claus, Nokia and saunas, Finns actually enjoy sitting in a heated box and, upon reaching boiling point, running outside and rolling in the snow. They compete in rubber boot and mobile phone throwing, continuously attempting to break one another’s world records. Their language is unintelligible. They’re crazy about sports and heavy metal, yet they produce some of the finest functional design in the world. Their movies are virtually devoid of dialogue, as seems to be the case in real life.

Finns are considered quiet and reserved, which is partly true. Small talk can hardly be seen as one of their strongest suits. They have no problem in sitting quiet in a room with other people. But get on closer terms with a Finn and you’ll find a warm, sincere and hospitable person underneath the seemingly cool shell. Finns are hard-working and dutiful, but come celebration day, these people will show you the meaning of a good time. Prepare for sarcasm, though, as a Finn might tell you tall tales without ever cracking a smile. Not to worry, it’s all in good spirit – it means you’re worth joking with.

Santa_boy

Mother Nature

Although known for advancements in technology and progressive urban solutions, most Finns spend their free time in touch with Mother Nature. With almost 200 000 lakes and half a million summer cottages in the country, there’s a lot of room to retreat to the countryside and get away from it all. Hiking, trekking, Nordic walking and cross-country skiing are considered fun over here. Some Finns wouldn’t be caught dead doing the aforementioned, though. They’d rather ski, play ice hockey, ride snowmobiles or drive rally cars. Some have even tried a Formula 1 racer.

Culturally, Finland is a unique mix of East and West. The society moves to a western beat, spicing it with eastern tones. Here, hip hop and balalaikas, rock & roll and army choirs, as well as cellos and heavy metal, were meant to merge. Because there’s nothing like Finland.