A land of contrasts, Finland has it all. From the incredible scattering of islands in Europe's largest archipelago, to the hilly countryside of Lapland, the landscape of Finland is a pristine paradise for nature lovers. With midnight sun in the summer, and the ephemeral allure of the Aurora Borealis in the northern winter, Finland possesses a wealth of rare beauty, a truly distinctive ambience. Modern Finland combines the natural gifts bestowed upon the land with modern technologies allowing it to be easily discovered. An ideal destination for travellers looking for something different, the rewards for Discovering Finland are endless.
Here, in brief, is Discovering Finland's quick guide to Finland and the Finns who live here. Follow the links to find out the basic facts on Finland's people, climate, culture, government, economy, history and religion, and the languages spoken here.
Finland has been settled since after the Ice Age, and as such has had a long and intriguing history. A part of the Kingdom of Sweden from 13th century until 1809, it then became an autonomous duchy of the Russian Empire until 1917, when it declared independence.
Finland is a natural wonderland with more trees than people, and more than 188,000 lakes, which provides a unique adventure playground for skiers, fishermen, watersports enthusiasts, and trekkers. Aproximately 8,000 sq km make up Finland's 37 protected national parks, providing a haven for birdwatchers, and those who would like to see moose, reindeer, bears, and wolves in their natural habitat.
In 2000, when Helsinki celebrated its 450th anniversary as the European Capital of Culture the city initiated a project called the HelsinkiMenu. The aim of the project was to bring global awareness to Finnish cuisine, introduce the world to the quality of ingredients here and to the expertise of Helsinki's chefs.
The Finnish tradition of sauna has been practiced for around two thousand years and is deeply rooted in the nation's way of life. It is an intrinsic part of the Finnish identity, as essentially Finnish as rye bread or sisu. Today there are over 2 million saunas in Finland, serving a population of 5.3 million.
The unique geography of Finland makes it one of the finest fishing destinations in the world: 10% of the country is covered by water, with 187,888 lakes and 647 rivers, and the coastline is over 1,100 km long, excluding islands and coastal indentations. Within these waters there are 67 species of fish, thriving in pristine waters, surrounded by some of the most beautiful and peaceful landscapes in Europe.
One of the great attractions of Finland is the chance to experience the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, and every year thousands of visitors come here to see them.
Finns have long had an inherent appreciation and understanding of the cultural importance of art and design. This appreciation is obvious to any visitor to almost any town in Finland, where numerous installations, statues, and monuments abound, and where galleries are almost as plentiful as the stores offering locally fashioned hand-crafted wares.
Winter in Lapland is a time of sleigh rides, whether pulled by husky or reindeer, a time for skiing, skating, and snowball fights, for experiencing the thrills of a snowmobile safari, and a time for that most peaceful of pursuits, ice fishing. It also a time to reawaken the child in us all by experiencing the joy of Christmas, and the wonder of Santa Claus and his industrious elves.
Despite it's location in the most northerly corner of Europe, getting to Finland is easy. There are daily flights from virtually every European capital, and it is well serviced from Asia and North America. Motorists can reach Finland directly through Sweden, Norway and Russia, or via frequent ferries from Germany, Sweden and Estonia, and there are also daily rail services to Moscow via St. Petersburg.need small text