Cities in FINLAND
Geography ans landscape
Finland lies between Sweden and the Gulf of Bothnia to the west, Norway to the north, the Finnish Golf in the south and Russia in the east. One third of the country is above the Arctic Circle. Finland is one of the five largest countries in Europe.
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The most striking part of the landscape are the almost 190,000 lakes and ponds and the more than 30,000 islands along the coast. Finland is also called "land of a thousand lakes", but there are many, many more. More than 65% of Finland is covered with forests, making it one of the most densely forested countries in Europe. Lakes and rivers cover about 10% of Finland's total area. There is a big difference between the landscape of the north and the south. The landscape changes very gradually from the rolling and lake-rich south to the higher hills and the vast forests of the north.
In the far north of Finland we find the tundra and treeless highlands of Lapland. In the northwest, on the border with Norway, is a mountain area with the Haltiatunturi as the highest mountain (1328m). The highest mountain in its entirety in Finland is Ridnitšohkka (1324 m).
The coast of Finland is formed by islands, peninsula, rocky beaches and some extensive sandy beaches. The Åland islands belonging to Finland lie off the coast of Sweden and are therefore mainly oriented towards that land.
Climate and weather
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Finland has a moderate continental climate with the main characteristics of precipitation in all seasons and notable differences between summer and winter temperatures. For example, the southern capital Helsinki has an average summer temperature of 17°C, and the northern city of Rovaniemi 15°C. However, mean winter temperatures differ by six degrees, Helsinki -6°C and Rovaniemi -11°C. The big differences in winter are due to the freezing of the Gulf of Bothnia. Lapland has a tundra climate with very low temperatures as low as -40°C. The most rain falls in October and November, the Finnish summer from June to August is generally dry and sunny. In the south there is an average of 650 mm. The south is covered with snow for about four months, the north about seven months. The number of snow days varies from 100 in the south to 200 in the north.
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A special phenomenon is the midnight sun. When at the highest latitudes during one day a year the sun is also visible at midnight, we speak of the midnight sun. The polar day, the period in which the sun does not set at night, lasts longer from the Arctic Circle to the poles. At the north and south poles, the polar day lasts about six months: the summer six months. In the winter half year, during the polar night, the sun does not rise in the polar regions for weeks. The longest summer day in Utsjoki in Lapland lasts two months. But even further south it does not get completely dark in the summer night. The days are separated by a few hours of twilight.
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Another very special natural phenomenon is the aurora or northern lights. It can be seen in the long and dark polar night. The aurora is created because electrical particles from sunspots are deflected to the North and South poles by the magnetic field of the earth. This causes atomic particles to glow again in the higher air layers. This produces a spectacular light in the form of bands, arcs and rays.
Plants and Animals
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Finland is one of the most forested countries in Europe with three main species: pine 53%, fir 28% and birch 19%, as well as aspen and juniper. Pines and spruces thrive in Finland because of the sparse, dry soil. Coniferous trees no longer grow in the northernmost area, but Finnish Lapland is the area of low birch.
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In Lapland the undergrowth of the forests consists largely of reindeer moss and there are some types of arctic flowers. More than 42,000 km2 of the state forests are protected. In the forests, many types of berries such as raspberries, blueberries and cranberries grow up to the polar border. The lakes in Finland are covered with water lilies. Lapland has tundra and mountain vegetation. The many rocky islands do not have many flowers, but they are very colorful. Daisies, buttercups and cornflowers are found all over the country. Also noteworthy are the many types of mushrooms that are collected by many Finns.
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Finland's northern location is the reason why the animal world does not have so many species. Bears, moose wolves (sharply reduced in number), lynxes, foxes and wolverines (which have become rare) are found in the wild. Reindeer herds have become less numerous. A characteristic of Lapland is the lemming, which lives on the high, flat mountains above the tree line. The protected moose is mainly found in the South Lapland forest and swamp areas. Fur species such as mink, martens and ermine are found all over the country. There are eleven species of reptiles and frogs in Finland. The adder is the only poisonous snake.
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Of the approximately 350 bird species that occur in Finland, 230 are migratory birds. Eagles and owl species are strictly protected. The forests are rich in birds, including grouse and capercaillie. The ptarmigan nests in the swamp and moss areas, and the eider on the coasts. Finnish waters have 77 species of fish, about half of which are freshwater species. Common are pike, perch, bream, salmon and trout.
Early history and middle ages
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The Finns are descended from the nomads who lived in the steppes between the Middle Volga and the Urals. In the first centuries of our era they invaded their current habitat from the area south of the Gulf of Finland. In the 8th century three tribal states were formed: Suomi, Tavastenland and Karelia. The mutual pillage between Finns and Sweden came to an end with three crusades of the Swedes between about 1150 and 1300, after which fortifications were built, Christianity was introduced and especially the east coast of the Gulf of Bothnia was colonized. The area became a Swedish duchy, later a grand duchy. Sweden did not treat Finland as a conquered country, but as a Swedish province.
16th to 20th century
In the 16th century, Finland was constantly under attack by Danes and Russians. In 1700 the great Northern War broke out in between Sweden and Russia. Finland became the battlefield and many Finns died of war, plague and hunger. Another war (1808-1809) between Sweden and Russia ended with the annexation of Finland by the Russians. Tsar Alexander I convened the Finnish Diet and promised to respect religion, its own laws and rights. The country became a constitutionally ruled grand duchy, in which a governor-general represented the tsar. In 1863, Finnish was admitted to administration and jurisdiction alongside Swedish. In 1863, the Finnish National Day was convened for the first time since 1809, which in the future would happen at least every five years. At the turn of the century little was left of the limited autonomy. In 1899 the Finnish Landdag lost its powers and in 1901 the Finnish army was abolished. Russian also became the official language.
First half of the 20th century
The Russian defeat in the war against Japan (1904-1905) and the subsequent domestic unrest in Russia led to reforms in Finland as well. Finland was given a democratically elected Diet and women were the first in Europe to receive political rights. However, another repression of the Russians followed in the years 1908-1910. However, after the October Revolution of 1917 in Russia, the right, with the support of Germany and Sweden, declared full independence (Dec. 6, 1917). Political struggles led to a real civil war in 1918 that took the lives of tens of thousands of Finns. New elections resulted in a republican majority in the Reichstag. After a brief regency of Mannerheim, the republic was thus a fact (July 1919) and peace was made with the then Soviet Russia in 1920.
Karl Juho Ståhlberg became the first president. The contradictions from the Civil War peaked again in 1929-1930. After a wave of strike, the fascist-tinted Lappo movement demanded a ban on all communist activities. However, a coup by one of the Lappo leaders, General Wallenius (March 1932), was nipped in the bud, after which the movement was banned. However, because the major bourgeois parties were severely divided over economic policy, the formation of a stable government was impossible. The country was put back on the democratic path by a minority government of the small (liberal) parties, with the support of the social democrats. In 1937 the left was accepted as a partner for the first time in Finnish politics. In September 1939 the Winter War between the Soviet Union and Finland broke out. The Russians claimed parts of Eastern Finland and wanted to lease a naval base. In the Winter War, Finland had no chance and in the peace of Moscow, the Soviet Union got even more than it imagined. In June 1941, Finland, along with Germany, again attacked the Soviet Union. In August 1944 the Reichstag elected Marshal Mannerheim as president and after heavy fighting he separated Finland from Germany and signed an armistice with the Soviet Union (19 September 1944). From 1944, Finland has a new policy towards the Soviet Union. From 1944, the aim was to prevent other states from interfering with the Finland-Soviet Union relationship. In 1948 a Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance was signed with the Soviet Union.
In 1945, the popular democrats (communists) came out strong in the elections. The People's Democrat Pekkala became Prime Minister. After the coup in Czechoslovakia (1948), the communists lost a large part of their support.
Second half of the 20th century
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Minority governments of Social Democrats and agrarians alternated in the fifties and sixties The 1970s were characterized by rapidly successive cabinets of varying composition (13 governments in 10 years). All governments faced large trade deficits and unemployment. Kekkonen, in 1956 to prelected esident, maintained a virtually untouchable position for years. After he was re-elected in 1962 and 1968, an exceptional law automatically extended his term of office for four years after 1974. In 1978, the 77-year-old president was re-elected without much struggle, as all major parties supported his candidacy. On October 27, 1981, Kekkonen resigned for health reasons. He was succeeded by Prime Minister Koivisto. He resolved the Finnish-Soviet-Russian issues and succeeded in further developing Finland's trade policy interests in Western Europe. In 1987 Finland got a conservative prime minister, Holkeri, for the first time since World War II. In March 1992 Finland applied for EC membership. Earlier, on Jan. 1992, Finland signed a treaty of friendship with Russia. This treaty was a revised version of the 1948 treaty between Finland and the Soviet Union, which provided for an obligation of mutual assistance on the part of the two countries if one of them was attacked. This obligation disappeared in the new treaty. After a very deep recession, into which the country found itself after 1990, the economic recovery continued in 1994. The conservative government continued its liberalization policy, despite often strong resistance. Rapprochement with the West also remained a factor in Finnish politics, leading to EU membership in January 1995.
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After the March 1995 parliamentary elections, the Social Democrat Lipponen returned. In order to gain as much support as possible for the further recovery of the economy, he formed a five-party coalition, which could count on broad support from the parliament. In October 1996, the government decided to transfer the Finnish mark to the European Monetary System (EMS).
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In February 2000, Finnish Foreign Minister Tarja Halonen won the Finnish presidential election. She thus became the first female head of state. The Social Democrat won 51.6% of the vote, while Liberal opposition leader Esko Aho was stuck at 48.4%.
General elections were held in Finland on March 16, 2003. The liberal Center Party won 55 seats in parliament, while the social democratic party got stuck at 53 seats. Together with the Swedish People's Party (Liberal), which represents the large Swedish minority in Finland and obtained 8 seats, these three parties form the new government. The new cabinet is based on 117 seats in the 200-member parliament. After a short interim period, Matti Vanhanen (from the Center Party and former Minister of Defense) was appointed Prime Minister of Finland on June 24, 2003, succeeding Paavo Lipponen of the Social Democratic Party.
The The main objective of the new government is to reduce unemployment (still around 9 percent). The three parties have agreed, among other things, that during their four-year term in office, taxes will be reduced by 1.12 billion euros, with an emphasis on lowering income taxes. Reductions will also be implemented in corporate tax. The new government hopes to create 100,000 new jobs during its term of office. Training the long-term unemployed will receive more attention. For parents with children under the age of 10, better opportunities will be created to work shorter hours. Finally, an immigration program will be drawn up regarding an imminent future labor shortage.
On April 22, 2003, the former MP Paavo Lipponen was elected the new Speaker of the Finnish Parliament, the 'Eduskunta'. In that position, he plays a more active role in Finnish politics than his predecessors.
The European elections of 13 June 2003 in Finland, with a turnout of 41.1%, yielded few surprises. The result gave a stable picture: three of the 14 seats for the Social Democrats, and four for both the liberal Center Party and the conservatives. The main opposition party, the Conservatives, received the bulk of the vote (23.7%).
In October 2004 municipal elections, the Social Democrats gained ground at the expense of the liberal Center Party. New presidential elections are scheduled for 2006. President Tarja Halonen is still very popular with the population and she is expected to be re-elected for a second term.
In March 2007, the liberal center party narrowly ends elections and center-right coalition remains in power. In December 2008, former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari will receive the Nobel Peace Prize. In June 2010, Mari Kiviniemi of the center party becomes the new prime minister.
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In April 2011, the center-right national coalition party becomes the largest in parliamentary election to sing. In June, Jyrki Katainen will form a new government including the far right Finns party. In February 2012, Sauli Niinisto becomes the first Conservative president since 1956. In June 2014, Alexander Stubb becomes the new Prime Minister, succeeding Jyrki Katainen who gets a job with the EU. In April 2015, Juha Sipila's center party wins the elections and he becomes the new prime minister. In October 2016, Finland signed an agreement with the US on better military cooperation in light of growing unrest over Russia's actions towards the Baltic states. In December 2017 Finland celebrates 100 years of independence. Niiniso won a second term in the 2018 election. Social Democrat Sanna Marin took over as prime minister of a centre-left coalition in December 2019, after her predecessor Antti Rinne resigned over his handling of a postal strike.Mr Rinne, the leader of the Social Democratic Party, had come to power in June 2019 after defeating the centre-right government in April elections.
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Two peoples live in Finland, Finns and Lappen or Samen. Finland has 5,2518,371 inhabitants. (2017) It is one of the most sparsely populated countries in Europe, only 16.4 people per km2. Lapland is the least populated with 2 to 3 people per km2. More than half of the population lives in the south, in an area that only covers one tenth of Finland.
About 93.4% of the population are Finns and about 5.6% Finnish-Swedes. Since 1900, the birth rate has declined, as has the death rate, but since the mid-1980s these have been rising again. The birth rate, 10.7 per 1000 inhabitants, is one of the lowest in the world (2017). Between 1945 and 1978 more than half a million Finns emigrated, of which about 300,000 to Sweden. In total, about 1.1 million Finns live abroad. About 3000 Lapp speakers live in Northern Finland. In 2017, approximately 84.5% of the population lives in cities. Of the 46 cities, 22 are located in the coastal regions. The three largest cities are Helsinki, the capital, Tampere and Turku. For years there has been a migration to the cities and therefore few Finns live in the countryside.
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The sauna has an important social function in Finland. It is originally a Finno-Ugric tradition and related to body culture and hygiene, as well as ancient religious traditions and myths. The sauna is a necessity of life for the Finns. Finland has about one and a half million saunas.
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Finland has two official languages, Finnish and Swedish. Both languages have fully equal rights in the constitution. The Lapps speak Laps or Sami. With Hungarian and Estonian, Finnish is one of the Finno-Ugrian languages. Estonians and Finns can understand each other with some difficulty. Finnish is also related to Hungarian, although Finns and Hungarians cannot understand each other. Initially, Finnish was the language of the farmers and craftsmen. The upper class spoke Swedish and Russian, German or French. In the second half of the 19th century, Finnish was given official status alongside Swedish. It was not until 1903 that Finnish was equated with Swedish. The large number of vowels in relation to the consonants is typical of Finnish. For example, the b, c, f, q, w, x and z do not occur in real Finnish. Well in words borrowed from Swedish.
Cities and streets have Finnish and Swedish names, for example Helsingfors (Swedish) and Helsinki (Finnish). Laps or Sami is very different from Finnish. Many Swedish and Norwegian words are included in Sami.
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The church is an important part of public life in Finland. All state ceremonies are accompanied by a church ceremony. Almost 90% of the population belongs to the Evangelical Lutheran state church. The Finnish Lutheran Church is the third largest in the world, with 600 parishes and 4.5 million members. 1% of the population is a member of the Greek Orthodox Church which was recognized as the second state religion in 1949. Roman Catholics and Jews are a very small minority. The so-called Free Churches (Baptists, Methodists, Adventists) also have some influence. About 9% of the population is not affiliated with a church. There are two theological faculties: for the Finnish speakers in Helsinki, for the Swedish speakers in Turku.
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Finland has been a parliamentary democracy since 1919. Legislative power rests with the president together with the 200-member parliament (Diet) elected for four years under universal suffrage on the basis of proportional representation. All citizens from the age of 18 have the right to vote and to stand as a candidate. Finland was the first European country to give women the right to vote (in 1906). The so-called Grand Committee (a kind of Senate), consisting of 45 members, has an advisory role and is elected by and from the Reichstag. Executive power lies in the hands of the president and the Council of State (the cabinet), formed by the prime minister and the ministers. The President of the Republic has been elected for six years by direct free elections since 1994. Re-election is only possible once. The Finnish president has great powers and a lot of authority. The president looks after foreign affairs, appoints the government, senior officials and judges and can temporarily block laws with his veto. The president is also the commander in chief of the military. The Åland islands are self-governing, while a governor appointed by the president represents the Finnish government. For the current political situation see the chapter history.
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Finland is divided into 12 provinces or districts (lääni), 460 municipalities and 94 cities. Each district is headed by a governor or maaherra appointed by the president. The smallest administrative units, the municipalities, have a high degree of self-government.
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Illiteracy is almost non-existent in Finland. Children are required to attend nine-year primary school. The basement consists of three years and the superstructure of six years. From 1991 there is a new national curriculum for primary education. The intention is that the schools themselves give direction to the developments in the field of education. Schools are given the freedom to respond to all kinds of developments and to cooperate with local authorities and the economic activities in their community. Furthermore, there is a shift from knowledge-based education to learning skills, so that students can independently acquire knowledge and insight. There are Finnish and Swedish-language schools. As a result, the second national language is also taught in addition to the mother tongue. From grade three onwards, teaching begins in a foreign language, usually English. From grade eight it is possible to choose Russian. Primary education is free and so are the books, school meals and transport. After primary education, students can choose between higher secondary education or vocational education. Secondary education lasts three years and is concluded with an exam that gives admission to universities or higher professional education.
In Lapland, Sami is taught in schools alongside Finnish.
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Finland has a free market economy, with very many private companies: more than 80% of industrial production and about 90% of banking services are provided by private individuals. With a GDP of $ 44,500 per capita (2017), Finland is one of the wealthier countries in the world. Finland has remained a predominantly agricultural country for much longer than the other Scandinavian countries. In the years after the war, the emphasis shifted rapidly: in 1950, 36% of the labor force still worked in the agricultural sector, 28% in industry and 25% in the service sector. In 2017, these numbers were 4%, 20.7% and 75.3% respectively. An important role in this shift was played by the peace treaty with the then Soviet Union and the associated heavy reparations. After the Second World War, the economic relationship with the Soviet Union went hand in hand with cooperation with the West. The latter has led to a higher level of technology, greater specialization and a shift from wood improvement to the metal industry. Most economic (especially industrial) activity takes place in Southern Finland. In Finland, the unemployment rate was 8.5% in 2017.
Agriculture, livestock, forestry and fishing
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The share of agriculture in the net national product is only small. The farms are small and the climate is not very suitable for agriculture. The best agricultural areas are in the southwest. Oats are the main grain, followed by barley, wheat and rye; other products are potatoes and sugar beets. Agricultural cooperatives occupy an important place within the agricultural sector. The government pursues an active policy of expanding grain production in a northerly direction (new varieties) on the one hand and increasing the agricultural area through exploitation on the other. Livestock farming is more important than agriculture. To the north, the length of the growing season decreases as a result of which livestock production increases. Intensive livestock farming (cows and pigs) is common south of Tampere and in the lower coastal plains. Lapland has extensive animal husbandry in the form of reindeer. These animals provide meat, milk and hides. The Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster contaminated many reindeer and had to be killed. The meat was of course unfit for consumption. Horticulture is limited to some greenhouse crops.
Forestry is still the basis of the Finnish economy. Two thirds of the country is covered with forest. Farmers supply timber to shipyards and other timber processing industries. More than a third of exports consist of high-quality papers, furniture and prefabricated houses. Finland produces about 44 million cubic meters of wood, making it the second largest wood producer in Western Europe, after Sweden.
Fishing cannot meet domestic needs. Freshwater fishing (salmon, trout, pike, perch) is therefore mainly an ancillary activity.
Mining, industry and energy supply
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The Finnish soil is free of coal and petroleum;peat is present in large quantities and is used for small power plants. The most important mines are at Outokumpu in the south-east (mainly copper) and at Otanmäki at Lake Oulum in central Finland (iron). Some nickel, zinc, silver and gold are also mined, but of little significance.
The most important branches of industry are the metal and electrical industry, followed by wood processing with end products including paper and cellulose. Large sawmills can be found at Kotka, Oulu, Kemi and Hamina, among others. The furniture industry is mainly located in Helsinki, Turku and Lahti, wood pulp, cellulose and paper industry especially at Kotka, Kuusankoski and Varkaus. The metal industry is very extensive (including Helsinki, Turku and Tampere). The textile industry mainly produces cotton and rayon and is located in Tampere, Turku, and Vaasa, among others. The Finnish glass and pottery industry is famous for great technical skill and artistic quality. The food industry is also of some significance.
Finland is highly dependent on Russia for its energy supply, both for oil and natural gas. The five nuclear power plants provide approximately 20% of the total electricity production.
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The changed economic relations with the former Soviet Union have had a major influence on Finland as a trading country. Finnish industry was mainly focused on producing goods for the Soviet market. That trade was conducted according to the "clearing system". There was, in fact, barter;raw materials were exchanged for paper, machines and ships. This gave Finland a lot of advantage because the Soviet Union had to pay more and more for Finnish products. In 1988 this system was abolished and from now on payment had to be made in hard currency. Due to the great lack of hard currency, the Soviet Union was no longer able to pay for Finnish imports. An important consequence of this was, of course, a sharp fall in exports.
The trade balance has been in surplus for years. Main exports are paper, cellulose, pulp products, wood and wood products, glass, ceramics, textiles, machinery and ships. Imports include machines, electrical equipment, cars, chemical products, oil, iron and steel. The main trading partners are Germany, Sweden, England Japan. Finnish business is increasingly focusing on the Western European market.
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For many years the rivers and lakes were the main transport arteries in Finland. The construction of a road network was not started until 1500. In present-day Finland, shipping is still the main mode of transport. About eighty percent of goods transport takes place by seagoing vessels.
Passenger traffic is mainly by sea or air. In the north there is a railway connection with Sweden and in the southeast with Russia. The total length of the railway network is approximately 6000 km. Inland navigation is not unimportant for freight transport (especially wood). The total length of the waterways is approx. 9200 km. Finnish airline Finnair operates scheduled services to approx. 25 domestic destinations and approx. 34 cities in Europe, the Middle East, Southeast Asia. and North America. Ferry services provide connections to Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Poland, England and France. The important sea ports include Helsinki, Turku and Oulu. Ice breakers keep some ports on the Gulf of Bothnia open in winter.
Holidays and Sightseeing
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The isolated location ensures that Finland does not receive many tourists from Europe. Most tourists come from neighboring countries. The southern part of Finland has the most to offer in terms of history, culture and art. The northern part is the area of beautiful untouched nature.
The tourist attraction of Finland, however, are the tens of thousands of lakes and islands, which can be visited by boat, among other things. Other natural attractions include the archipelago archipelago of Turku, national parks, the Punkaharju ridge in the Saimaa Lake District and the Åland Islands in the Baltic Sea. Lapland is also touristy with reindeer safaris and nature treks.
The most touristy cities in Finland are Turku, Helsinki, Porvoo and Tampere. In addition to Turku, medieval castles can be seen in Hämeenlinna and Savonlinna. Old late medieval stone and wooden churches can be found in many towns and villages in southern and western Finland.
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Finland is also famous for its modern architecture. Many new churches have very daring design, including churches in Tampere. Beautiful examples of modern urban design are Tapiola and the university city of Otaniemi.
The most important museums are those of Helsinki (including the National Museum of Finland and the art museum Ateneum). In Kuopio there is a museum of the Finnish Orthodox Church. The culture of the Lapps can be seen in the open-air museum of Inari.
A large sports center is Lahti, known for ski jumping and alternative eleven-city tours. The countryside of Finland has an old and rich farming culture. Many ancient folk customs and festivals are still held today.
There is a very rich music culture, which is reflected in choir festivals, among other things. All major cities in Finland have their own summer festival. The best known is the annual Helsinki festival. Also important are the Savonlinna Opera Festival, Pori Jazz and the Kaustinen Folk Music Festival.
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Helsinki is characterized by a particularly atmospheric combination of cosmopolitan flair and typically Finnish modesty. To this is added the beautiful location on the Baltic Sea. The most important historical and religious landmark of Helsinki is the impressive Uspenski Cathedral. It is the largest Orthodox cathedral in Western Europe. The church was built by the Russians in 1868 and this can still be seen in the building. Especially on the inside of the church you will find golden domes and many red elements. It took the Russians more than 6 years to complete the construction of the cathedral. The church is one of the most visited sights in Helsinki.
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A top attraction for families with children is the Korkeasaari Zoo. This zoo was opened in 1889, making it one of the oldest zoos in Europe. There are several animals that are threatened with extinction. The Helsinki zoo is fighting against the extinction of animal species. In addition, there is also a wide choice of beautiful arctic animals to be found in the Helsinki Zoo. Helsinki Art and Design Museum is well worth a visit for lovers of modern art forms. The museum has been around since 1873, making it the oldest museum in Scandinavia. Over the years, the museum has moved several times. There is a standard permanent collection and there are regularly interesting changing exhibitions. read more on the Helsinki page of Landenweb.
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Europese Unie: Europees Platform voor het Nederlandse Onderwijs
Schaap, D. / Finland
Tuovinen, E. / Finland
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