Five myths about Finland

5 minute read

Credits: Julia Kivelä

Things you might have wondered about Finland

There are many questions about Finland we hear often. What is Finnish happiness all about? Is Finland a part of Scandinavia? What languages are spoken in Finland?

In this article, we take a look at five of the most popular myths and questions about Finland, and give you an insider's look into these topics.

When it's time to have a toast and say cheers, Finns say "kippis!"
Credits: Anssi Tiusanen

1. Is Finland in Scandinavia?

While Finland is not part of the Scandinavian peninsula, it is a part of the Nordic countries with Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland. These countries have many things in common, like high living standards and strong welfare systems, but each country has their unique history and features.

One thing that makes Finland distinct from the other Nordic countries is our quirky cultureHave you heard of the unconventional sport of heavy metal knitting on stage, or the World Championships of tree hugging? Or our Eurovision 2023 contestant Käärijä? Finns are peculiar people who may come across a bit reserved, however warm, sincere, and not taking themselves too seriously. 

Another thing that makes Finland stand out from the other Nordics is the language. Whereas the languages of the other Nordic countries are rooted in Old Norse (North Germanic languages), Finnish has its origins in the boreal forest belt around the Ural Mountains region in Eurasia. When saying "thank you" Swedes will say "tack", Norwegians say "takk", Danes say "tak", Icelanders say "takk" but Finns will say "kiitos."

One thing that really sets Finland apart from the rest is sauna. With 3.3 million public and private saunas for a population of 5.4 million, Finland has more saunas per capita than any other country in the world.

Public sauna culture in Finland is stronger than ever. You'll find one to visit in almost any major Finnish city.
Credits : Jussi Hellstén
Heavy-metal Knitting World Championship summarises Finland's culture in a great way: humorous, warm, and a bit quirky.

2. Why is Finland the happiest country in the world?

Year after year, Finland tops the World Happiness index. Why is this? We listed some of the main reasons:

Close connection to nature

In Finland you are always close to nature, be that a lush park in the city centre, a cottage in the Finnish Archipelago, a national park next to the city or at one of the thousand lakes. Moreover, these places have the cleanest air in the world. Finnish wilderness is where Finns and travellers from across the globe come to recharge and retreat. Read more about nature in Finland here.

Spectacular light phenomena that energize and astonish

Finland is full of year-round light phenomena. The winters may be dark but the darkness is lightened up by the magical Northern Lights; the green and blue electrical arcs racing through the crustal clear sky. In the peak of the summertime the sun doesn’t set, and Finns get to recharge and enjoy heaps of sun under the Midnight Sun.

Sauna – a form of meditation

Another way to guaranteed relaxation and happiness is the Finnish sauna. It is no wonder that most Finnish homes have saunas – there simply isn't a better feelings than the post-sauna bliss.

Seeing the Northern Lights is something unforgettable, even for Finns.
Finns start going to the sauna at a young age – even babies can enjoy it in milder temperatures.

3. What is the capital of Finland?

The capital of Finland is Helsinki.

Helsinki is an easily accessible city of Nordic functional and minimalistic style, where sauna, green city spaces, and unique architecture meet. It is said to be one of the most liveable cities in the world.

In Helsinki you can marvel at the functional Nordic architecture designed by renowned architects such as Alvar Aalto and Carl Ludvig Engel. Nature is never more than a stone's throw away. Enjoy it by taking a walk in the forest, going for a picnic in a park, or island-hopping in the Helsinki archipelago. The city also has a smorgasbord of good food, great cafés, and interesting museums from art and history to design. Last but not least, we recommend popping into a public sauna. It won't leave you cold, we promise.

Tram is an excellent way of getting around the Helsinki city centre. Here, the iconic vintage tram is cruising past the Helsinki Cathedral.
Credits : André Alexander Baumann
Oodi Library, opened in 2018, has become one of Helsinki's newest architectural landmarks.

4. What is the official language of Finland?

The two official languages of Finland are Finnish and Swedish.

Additionally, there are minority languages that include, for example, the Sámi languages spoken in different areas of Lapland.

Here are some of the most useful Finnish words and phrases for visitors: 

Kiitos = Thank you
Ole hyvä = You're welcome
Moi = Hello
Moi moi = Goodbye 
Minun nimeni on... = My name is...
Mitä tämä maksaa? = How much does this cost?
Haluaisin tilata lohikeiton = I would like to order a salmon soup

If you'd like to discover the rich bilingual culture of Finland, head to the coastal areas and the Åland Islands. In these regions, especially in Åland, you'll get to experience a strong Swedish heritage from language and traditions to cuisine.

If want to learn more about the Sámi, head to Northern Lapland. Siida, Cultural and Nature Centre of the Sámi, and Sajos, the Centre of Sámi Culture and Administration, are located Inari.

About 5% of the Finnish population speak Swedish as their mother tongue. Finland's historical ties to Sweden are most strongly visible in the Swedish-speaking Åland islands.
Credits: Rebecka Eriksson, Visit Åland

5. What is Finland famous for?

Finland is perhaps most famous for cold winters, ice hockey, Nokia, sauna, educational system, plenty of coffee drinkers, Moomins, Santa Claus, and happiness, of course.

But that's not all we are. You’ll find thousands of reasons to fall in love with Finland – whether it’s the Finnish people, stunning wilderness with Northern Lights and wonderful wildlife, the deeply-rooted sauna culture, or eye-catching architecture and design.

Finland's natural beauty with birch and spruce trees, pristine waters, and clear crisp air spans from the Archipelago to Lakeland and to the heart of Lapland’s arctic fells. Explore Finland's four regions, where the distinct seasons offer seemingly endless things to do and see.

Closeness to nature is also a quintessential part of Finland's world-renowned architecture and design scene. We are home to iconic buildings designed by Alvar Aalto, colourful and flower-inspired textiles from Marimekko, and timeless wooden furniture from Artek. When in Helsinki, don't miss the chance to visit Finland's most iconic design flagship stores to bring a piece of Finnish design home with you.

Some of the things Finland is most famous for are the cool climate and long winters.
While it is true Finland has a long and mesmerizing winter season, summers are equally magical with white nights when the sun barely sets.
Credits: Harri-Pekka Savolainen

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