The Republic of Finland or simply Finland is a country in Northern Europe that is full of surprises and contrasts. It is a country where you will see modern skyscrapers one moment and then find yourself in backcountry the next where you may be greeted by a herd of reindeer; where you can find the headquarters of Santa Claus; delight in the nighttime display of the aurora borealis and enjoy one of the longest winters on earth. Finland, particularly in Lapland, is a place where you will be able to enjoy various ways to ski or trek in the wilderness riding a sled pulled by a pack of strong huskies or ride a modern snow mobile. Travel to Finland to experience the magic of the midnight sun during summer or go fishing, stay the night in an igloo hotel or simply enjoy breathing in the cleanest air in the world.
:: Background of Finland ::
Finland was alternately ruled by Sweden and Russia. From the 12th to the 19th centuries, Finland was a grand duchy of Sweden after the first group of missionaries from Sweden arrived on the shores of Finland around the mid-1100s. In the early part of the 1800s Sweden ceded Finland to Russia, which ruled the country until 1917 when Finland was finally granted independence. The first countries to recognize its independence are Sweden, Germany, France and the Soviet Union. It became a republic in the middle of 1919, electing K. J. Ståhlberg as the country’s first president.
When World War II broke out, Finland was able to resist the invasion of the Soviet Union but lost some of its territory. But the Finns were a resilient lot. From subsisting on a forest and farm economy, it was able to turn things around and became a successful industrial country with enough diversity that boosted its economy. Currently Finland has one of the highest per capita incomes in Western Europe. It joined the United Nations in 1955 and the European Union in 1995. The country was the first of the Nordic states to adopt the euro currency system during its introduction at the beginning of 1999.
:: Geography of Finland ::
Finland is located in Northern Europe, lying 64° 0’ 00” north and 26° 0’ 00” east, nestled between Norway, Sweden and Russia. Its coastline borders parts of the Baltic Sea and the Gulfs of Bothnia and Finland. Its capital, Helsinki is the most northern of Europe’s national capitals although it is located on the southern portion of Finland.
With about 190,000 lakes and over 170,000 islands, Finland has a total land mass of 338,145 square kilometers. The land surface measures about 303,815 square kilometers while the water surface covers some 34,330 square kilometers.
Comparative Area Size
Finland is a bit smaller than the state of Montana in the United States and as large as the combined size of New Jersey, New York and New England.
The Republic of Finland shares borders with countries that embrace the nation on three sides for a total of 2,628 kilometers. The longest border is with Russia on the east for a total of 1,313 kilometers. Norway hugs Finland in the north for 729 kilometers while it shares borders for 586 kilometers with Sweden in the west.
Finland’s coastline is very rugged due to the effect of the glacial melting and the land’s uplifting from the sea. The total coastline of Finland, including its thousands of small islands is 40, 062 kilometers. Gulf waters border part of Finland’s main land mass for a coastline that is 1,126 kilometers long. The Gulf of Bothnia borders part of Finland in its western shore while the Gulf of Finland washes Finland’s shore in the south.
The Republic of Finland has a territorial sea of 12 nautical miles and 3 nautical miles in the Gulf of Finland. Its contiguous zone is 24 nautical miles, with an exclusive fishing zone of 12 nautical miles extending to the continental shelf of its boundary with Sweden. The country’s continental shelf extends 200 meters deep or to the depth of its exploitation.
Finland’s climate is very variable due to the presence of several thousands of lakes and its proximity to the Baltic Sea and the moderating influence of the winds that blow into the country from the North Atlantic. However, glaciers up north give the country a cold temperate and at times sub arctic weather conditions. Parts of the country have mild winters and moderately warm summers and a fair amount of precipitation.
Moraines, eskers and drumlins give Finland an undulating terrain, although generally the topography shows mostly low and flat rolling plains.Thousands of lakes dot the whole country and low hills emerged from the melted glaciers. Some parts have fertile soil while most sections of the country are covered with gravel, clay, stones and glacial sediments deposited by the meltwater from ice sheets and glaciers. Several expanse of land in Finland are also covered by bogs.
The highest point in Finland is Haltiatunturi, the Finnish word for Halti Mountain, a fell that is found in Lapland, part of Upland Finland. Haltiatunturi, a treeless mountain rises up to 1,328 meters above sea level. The lowest point in the country is the Baltic Sea.
Finland has various deposits of copper, lead, gold, silver, zinc, nickel, chromite and limestone. Timber is also a rich natural resource in the country.
Much of the Finland is covered with snow, bogs, lakes and forests that only 6.54% of the total land area is arable, with 0.02% of the land planted with permanent crops. The rest of the land or 93.44% is available for other uses, under water, barren, glacial drifts and mounds of stones, rocks, gravel, clay, sand and other sediments left by glacial meltwaters.
While some sources state that there are no natural hazards occurring in Finland, the country does suffer from occasional flooding annually, especially when the winter brings in too much snow. Slight tremors also occur in the country although hardly felt. There are also occasional small tornadoes, some of which are strong enough to uproot a tree but the damage can be very minimal.
Current Environmental Issues
Finland is relatively new as an industrialized nation, being an agricultural country earlier, but it is now getting acid rain caused by air pollution. This comes from the power plants and the manufacturing companies. It is also facing water pollution coming from the same industries as well as the use of agricultural chemicals. Wildlife is threatened with the loss of their natural habitat.
International Environmental Agreements
Finland has entered into and signed several international environmental agreements that are yet to be ratified. These agreements include tropical timber 83, tropical timber 94, whaling, wetlands, law of the sea, marine life conservation, ship pollution and marine dumping. It has also elected to be party to agreements on hazardous wastes, biodiversity, desertification, endangered species, climate change, climate change-Kyoto protocol, environmental modification, air pollution, air pollution-persistent organic pollutants, air pollution-nitrogen oxides, air pollution-sulphur 85 and 94 and air pollution-volatile organic compounds. Finland also entered into environmental agreements on affecting the Antarctic, including the Antarctic treaty, Antarctic-environmental protocol and marine living resources.
:: People of Finland ::
Citizens of Finland are called Finns. The word is used as a noun. When used as an adjective, it becomes Finnish.
It was estimated that the population of Finland is 5,259,250. However, according to the data released by Statistics Finland, the official population figure for the country at the end of 2010 is 5,375, 276. Forty-nine percent or 2, 638, 416 of the total population are males while 2,736,860 are females, representing 51 percent. Finland has an increasing older population, with 17.5% aged 65 years and over. As of end of 2010 there are 622 persons, 93 of them men and 529 women aged 100 years and over. Net migration is quite a low figure, only estimated to be around 0.62 migrants for every 1,000 members of the citizenry.
While the gender variation does not differ that much in the zero to fourteen and the fifteen to sixty-four age groups, the females have a very distinct advantage over the males in the 65 years and over group according to the official demographic figures released by Statistic Finland for end of 2010. The zero to fourteen represents 16.5% of the population with a total of 887,667 broken down into 453,645 males and 434,032 females. Sixty-six percent of the population belongs to the fifteen to sixty-four age bracket, divided into 1,793,061 males and 1,753,497 females. There are 391,710 males and 549,331 females, making up a total of 941,041 people belonging to the 65 years and over age group, representing 17.5 percent.
According to the same official statistics, the median age for the males in 40 while it is 42.8 for the females. For the whole country, the median age is 41.4 for the end of 2010, with the official report released in 2011.
Population Growth Rate
The population growth is Finland is very low, only registering 0.075% as of the estimates done in 2011. There are about 10.37 births per 1,000 inhabitants in the country. The death rate has been estimated to be 10.24 over 1,000 inhabitants.
Gender distribution is almost at par with each other. At birth the ratio is 1.04 male for every female. That ratio is maintained for the under 15 years of age group. It goes down slight at 10.02 males for every female in the 15 to 64 age bracket, going down further to just 0.69 male for every females for those people belonging to the 65 years and over age group. Overall the ratio is 0.96 males for every female for the entire nation, as estimated in 2011.
Infant Mortality Rate
For the entire population the average infant mortality rate is 3.43 deaths for every 1,000 live births. The ratio is slightly higher for male infants at 3.73 deaths, while it is only about 3.11 deaths for every 1,000 live births all over Finland.
Life Expectancy at Birth
Life expectancy is about average in Finland, as it is placed at 79.27 years as the national average. The females though outlive the men, placing the rate at 82.89 years compared to the males whose average life expectancy is only 75.79 years.
Total Fertility Rate
The fertility rate of women in Finland is also low, estimated to only 1.73 children born for every woman of child-bearing age.
HIV / AIDS
According to the European AIDS and HIV statistics released by Avert, there are 2,600 people living with HIV/AIDS in Finland in 2009. Less than 1,000 of these people are women. The incidence of HIV/AIDS in adults is estimated to be only 0.1% and deaths resulting from HIV/AIDS are estimated to be less than 100.
Out of the total population of Finland, the Finns are dominant at 93.4%. The rest of the population is divided into several ethnic groups with the Swedes leading at 5.6%. The Russian community comprises 0.5% of the population while Estonians comprise 0.3%. The Samis and the Romas or the Gypsies contribute 0.1% each in the ethnic groups’ mix and population figures.
The Lutheran Church of Finland has the highest following in all religions practiced in Finland with 82.5%. Other Christian a religions and the Orthodox Church has 1.1% following. Some 0.1% of the population did not specify which religion they follow while there exists about 15.1% of the population who are not followers of any religion.
Finnish, one of the official languages in Finland is spoken by 91.2% of the population. The second official language is Swedish and it is spoken by 5.5% of the inhabitants in the country while 3.3% speak Sami or Russian.
Finland is one country with very high literacy rate. In fact it is at the maximum level of 100%. The average stay in school is 17 years, with the females staying is school for 18 years while the males stay in school two years shorter than the females.
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