Facts about Finland

World Facts Index > Finland > Helsinki

Finland was a province and then a grand duchy under Sweden from the 12th to the 19th centuries and an autonomous grand duchy of Russia after 1809. It won its complete independence in 1917. During World War II, it was able to successfully defend its freedom and resist invasions by the Soviet Union - albeit with some loss of territory. In the subsequent half century, the Finns 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.

Geography of Finland

Northern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea, Gulf of Bothnia, and Gulf of Finland, between Sweden and Russia
64 00 N, 26 00 E
total: 337,030 sq km
water: 31,560 sq km
land: 305,470 sq km
Area comparative:
slightly smaller than Montana
Land boundaries:
total: 2,628 km
border countries: Norway 729 km, Sweden 586 km, Russia 1,313 km
1,126 km (excludes islands and coastal indentations)
Maritime claims:
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
exclusive fishing zone: 12 NM; extends to continental shelf boundary with Sweden
territorial sea: 12 NM (in the Gulf of Finland - 3 NM)
cold temperate; potentially subarctic, but comparatively mild because of moderating influence of the North Atlantic Current, Baltic Sea, and more than 60,000 lakes
mostly low, flat to rolling plains interspersed with lakes and low hills
Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Baltic Sea 0 m
highest point: Halti 1,328 m
Natural resources:
timber, copper, zinc, iron ore, silver
Environment current issues:
air pollution from manufacturing and power plants contributing to acid rain; water pollution from industrial wastes, agricultural chemicals; habitat loss threatens wildlife populations
Geography - note:
long boundary with Russia; Helsinki is northernmost national capital on European continent; population concentrated on small southwestern coastal plain

More Geography

Population of Finland

5,244,749 (July 2008 est.)
Age structure:
0-14 years: 17.1% (male 455,420/female 438,719)
15-64 years: 66.7% (male 1,766,674/female 1,724,858)
65 years and over: 16.2% (male 337,257/female 508,444)
Median age:
41.3 years
Growth rate:
Infant mortality:
3.55 deaths/1,000 live births
Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 78.5 years
male: 74.99 years
female: 82.17 years
Fertility rate:
1.73 children born/woman
noun: Finn(s)
adjective: Finnish
Ethnic groups:
Finn 93.4%, Swede 5.7%, Russian 0.4%, Estonian 0.2%, Roma 0.2%, Sami 0.1%
Lutheran National Church 84.2%, Greek Orthodox in Finland 1.1%, other Christian 1.1%, other 0.1%, none 13.5%
Finnish 92% (official), Swedish 5.6% (official), other 2.4% (small Sami- and Russian-speaking minorities)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 100%


Country name:
conventional long form: Republic of Finland
local short form: Suomi
local long form: Suomen Tasavalta
Government type:
Administrative divisions:
6 provinces (laanit, singular - laani); Aland, Etela-Suomen Laani, Ita-Suomen Laani, Lansi-Suomen Laani, Lappi, Oulun Laani
6 December 1917 (from Russia)
National holiday:
Independence Day, 6 December (1917)
1 March 2000
Legal system:
civil law system based on Swedish law; Supreme Court may request legislation interpreting or modifying laws; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
chief of state: President Tarja HALONEN (since 1 March 2000)
head of government: Prime Minister Matti VANHANEN (since 24 June 2003); Deputy Prime Minister Jyrki KATAINEN (since 19 April 2007)
cabinet: Council of State or Valtioneuvosto appointed by the president, responsible to parliament
elections: president elected by popular vote for a six-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held 15 January 2006 (next to be held in January 2012); the president appoints the prime minister and deputy prime minister from the majority party or the majority coalition after parliamentary elections and the parliament must approve the appointment; Prime Minister VANHANEN reelected 17 April 2007
Legislative branch:
unicameral Parliament or Eduskunta (200 seats; members are elected by popular vote on a proportional basis to serve four-year terms)
Judicial branch:
Supreme Court or Korkein Oikeus (judges appointed by the president)


Finland has a highly industrialized, largely free-market economy with per capita output roughly that of the UK, France, Germany, and Italy. Its key economic sector is manufacturing - principally the wood, metals, engineering, telecommunications, and electronics industries. Trade is important; exports equal nearly two-fifths of GDP. Finland excels in high-tech exports, e.g., mobile phones. Except for timber and several minerals, Finland depends on imports of raw materials, energy, and some components for manufactured goods. Because of the climate, agricultural development is limited to maintaining self-sufficiency in basic products. Forestry, an important export earner, provides a secondary occupation for the rural population. High unemployment remains a persistent problem. In 2007 Russia announced plans to impose high tariffs on raw timber exported to Finland. The Finnish pulp and paper industry will be threatened if these duties are put into place in 2008 and 2009, and the matter is now being handled by the European Union.

$188.4 billion (2007 est.)
GDP growth rate:
GDP per capita:
GDP composition by sector:
agriculture: 2.8%
industry: 29.5%
services: 67.6%
Inflation rate:
Labor force:
2.61 million
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture and forestry 8%, industry 22%, construction 6%, commerce 14%, finance, insurance, and business services 10%, transport and communications 8%, public services 32%
revenues: $99.61 billion
expenditures: $97.14 billion
Electricity production by source:
fossil fuel: 39%
hydro: 18.7%
other: 11.8% 
nuclear: 30.4%
metals and metal products, electronics, machinery and scientific instruments, shipbuilding, pulp and paper, foodstuffs, chemicals, textiles, clothing
barley, wheat, sugar beets, potatoes; dairy cattle; fish
machinery and equipment, chemicals, metals; timber, paper, pulp
Export partners:
Russia 10.9%, Sweden 10.7%, Germany 10.3%, UK 6.6%, US 6.2%, Netherlands 4.8%
foodstuffs, petroleum and petroleum products, chemicals, transport equipment, iron and steel, machinery, textile yarn and fabrics, grains
Import partners:
Germany 15.9%, Sweden 13.9%, Russia 13.8%, Netherlands 6%, China 4.5%, Denmark 4.4%, UK 4.2%
euro (EUR)
note: on 1 January 1999, the European Monetary Union introduced the euro as a common currency to be used by financial institutions of member countries; on 1 January 2002, the euro became the sole currency for everyday transactions within the member countries

SOURCES: The CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State, Area Handbook of the US Library of Congress

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