Finland is a country in northern Europe famous for its scenic beauty.
Thousands of lovely lakes dot Finland's landscape, and thick forests cover
almost two-thirds of the land.
The country has a long, deeply indented coast, marked by colorful red and grey
granite rocks. Thousands of scenic islands lie offshore.
A Short Background
Ruled by Sweden from the 12th to the 19th centuries and by Russia from 1809,
Finland finally won its independence in 1917. During World War II, it was able
to successfully defend its freedom and fend off invasions by the Soviet Union
In the subsequent half century, the Finns have made a remarkable transformation
from a farm/forest economy to a diversified modern industrial economy; per
capita income is now on par with Western Europe.
As a member of the European Union, Finland was the only Nordic state to join the
euro system at its initiation in January 1999.
After the conquest of the Finnish tribes by Sweden beginning in the 12th century
(see History, below), the indigenous culture was to a great extent dominated by
Swedish influences, which endure to the present.
Among the peasants, traditional epic poems continued to be sung to the
accompaniment of the zitherlike kantele, and wood carvings and rugs were still
decorated with the traditional polychromy and spiral, swastika (an ancient
symbol), and similar simple, geometric designs.
Among the educated, however, Swedish culture predominated. Swedish was spoken
and, with rare exceptions, was the language of literature. Because the styles of
Swedish art and architecture were largely derivative, many Finnish buildings and
works of art reflected Italian, Flemish, German, and other European influences.
In the 19th century, however, educated Finns began to revive the folk traditions
of their country. At the same time, a national literature in the Finnish
language emerged, and Finnish styles appeared increasingly in art and
architecture. The sauna, a steam bath produced by pouring water over heated
rocks, is a Finnish invention.
Northern Europe, bordering the
Baltic Sea, Gulf of Bothnia, and Gulf of Finland, between Sweden and Russia
||64 00 N, 26 00 E
||1 EURO to US Dollar : 1,1962 (April 2004)