Your comprehensive travel guide to Finland - All in one place!
Finland has had a turbulent history. Occupied by the Swedes and later the Russians, the country was finally granted independence in 1917. A number of hallmarks of this colorful past remain scattered throughout the country, in the form of captivating ruins, meandering cobblestone streets, and towering fortresses.
However, Finland is mostly famous for its incredible natural beauty. Crystal clear lakes, stunning island archipelagos, and towards the north, pristine winter wonderlands dominate the landscape. Meanwhile, modern cities and towns stay in tune with the times by offering world-class dining and accommodation options.
Finland is a mostly flat land, with more than 70% of it covered by thick forest. In the southern areas, water seems a more common sight than land as countless clear water lakes are everywhere.
To the north of the Arctic Circle, the terrain rises into the hills and low mountains of Lapland. The country's highest point, Haltiatunturi, at 1,328 meters, stands on the edge of its border with Norway. The Aland Islands sits in the middle of the Gulf of Bothnia between Finland and Sweden. It contains almost three hundred islands and over 6,000 small rocky islands.
Directly east, in the Archipelago Sea and merging with the Aland Islands and Finland's southwestern coastline stand literally tens of thousands of islands, mostly small, with some of the larger ones inhabited.
Present-Day Finland was part of the Kunda culture up to 5000BC, and from 4200BC to 2000BC it belonged to the Comb Ceramic culture. The Kiukainen culture arrived in the southwestern coastal region around 2000BC. The Swedish crown began incorporating Finland from 1100 to 1200, but the Novgorod tried to gain control of the area, and this resulted in numerous wars which Russia and Muscovy joined from 1400 to 1700. The Swedish dominance in the Baltic region ended in 1721 with the signing of the Nystad peace treaty. The area was annexed to Russia in 1809 for over a century. Both the Russian and Swedish cultures influenced Karelia (the place where the Russian and the Swedish fought).
The population of Finland is approximately 5.5 million. Finland is a very sparsely populated country. The population is concentrated particularly in the large cities and urban areas. More than a million people live in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. Finnish and Swedish are Finland’s national languages. Finnish as a native language is spoken by nearly 4.9 million people while Swedish is the native language of just under 300,000 people. The most prominent languages after Finnish and Swedish are Russian, Estonian, English, Somali and Arabic.
The population of Finland includes a variety of minorities with a different language, culture or religion from the majority of Finns. Traditional Finnish minorities include the Swedish-speaking Finns, Sami, Romani, Jews and Tatars. In addition, many immigrants have arrived in Finland from Russia, Estonia, the Balkans, Somalia and Iraq, for example.