Finland is a country in Northern Europe that lies to the east of Norway and Sweden and shares a long border with Russia. With its vast expanses of pristine wilderness, picture-perfect lakes, steaming saunas, vibrant cities, and propensity for high-tech, Finland is a nation worth getting to know. Here are some interesting facts about Finland.
Facts about Finland
1. Finland is not part of Scandinavia but part of the Nordic region.
Scandinavia refers to a geographical area known as the Scandinavian Peninsula and only includes Denmark, Norway, and Sweden.
However, Finland is part of the Nordic Region, or the Nordics consisting of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland, as well as the Faroe Islands, Greenland, and Åland.
2. Finland is the least densely populated country in the European Union (EU).
With a land area of about 2.5 times the size of England and a population of 5.5 million, Finland is the most sparsely populated country in the EU with only 16.5 inhabitants per square kilometer (42.5/sq mi).
3. Finland has about 168,000 lakes.
One of the interesting Finland facts is that the nation is home to an astounding 168,000 lakes! According to Statistics Finland, the national statistics database of Finland, this inflated number is because the given number refers to water bodies bigger than 500 m² (0.12 acres). Lake Saimaa is the largest lake in Finland.
It is said that the principal reason for such a high density of lakes is the recession of glaciers after the last ice age, 10,000 years ago
Interestingly, the total area of Finland’s inland waters accounts for approximately 10% of the total area of the country.
4. Finland is the only Nordic nation to adopt the euro (€) as its currency.
Finland joined the European Union in 1995 and the Eurozone in 1999. The euro has been the sole legal tender in Finland since 2002. The former currency of Finland was the markka (Finnish mark).
All the other Nordic countries (Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland) have their own currencies and are not members of the Eurozone.
5. Over 70% of Finland is covered by forest – more than any other European country.
There are vast areas of uninterrupted forests and woodlands in Finland. According to data from the World Bank, 73.7% of Finland’s area is covered by forests.
6. From the Middle Ages up to 1809, Finland was a part of Sweden.
The Swedish occupation of Finland began in 1249. In 1323 the Treaty of Nöteborg effectively put most of Finland under Swedish rule until 1809.
7. From 1809 to 1917, Finland was part of the Russian Empire.
Finland was annexed to the Russian Empire an autonomous Grand Duchy following Russia’s 1808-1809 Finnish War with Sweden. In the wake of the events of World War I and the Russian Revolution, Finland proclaimed its independence on 6 December 1917 from Russia.
8. Helsinki — the capital of Finland, is the world’s second northernmost capital city.
Located just above the 60th parallel, Helsinki is the second-northernmost capital city in the world, after Reykjavik, Iceland.
9. In 2010, Finland became the first country in the world to make broadband Internet access a legal right.
One of the coolest facts about Finland is that on 1 July 2010 it became the first country in the world to make Internet access a basic right of its inhabitants.
This meant that from that date all service providers in Finland were legally obliged to provide a 1 Mbps (megabit per second) connection to all households, regardless of location.
10. In Finland, speeding fines are calculated based on your earnings – causing some Finnish millionaires to pay fines of over 100,000 Euros.
That’s right! In Finland, the fines for serious speeding infractions are calculated on the basis of an offender’s daily disposable income. In other words, the more you earn, the higher the fine will be.
Speeding 20 km/h (12.4 mph) over the speed limit in Finland will get you a fine which is proportional to your earnings. The faster you drive, the higher the fine there’s no ceiling on the fine itself.
Finland’s so-called system of “progressive punishment” for speeding tickets has sometimes led to millionaire motorists being hit with huge fines. In 2001, Nokia executive Anssi Vanjoki was fined €116,000 ($103,500 USD) for being caught driving 75 km/h in a 50 km/h zone on his motorcycle. In 2009, a businessman was fined €112,000 ($151,000 USD) for traveling at 83 km/h in a 60 km/h zone.
The most expensive speeding ticket to have been issued in Finland is believed to be the one given to Jussi Salonoja in Helsinki in 2004. He was fined €170,000 ($217,000 USD) for driving 80 km/hr in a 40 km/hr zone.
11. Though only 5% of the Finnish population is Swedish speaking, Finland is officially bilingual, and learning Swedish is obligatory in schools.
After Finland became independent in 1917, the country was declared officially bilingual with both Finnish and Swedish receiving equal status. At the time, Swedish, though spoken by the numerical minority, had been the official language used in public administration and higher education, and the language of the upper classes for centuries.
Although the percentage of the Swedish-speaking population in Finland is gradually diminishing, the Swedish language continues to enjoy a privileged position in the country for historical and political reasons.
12. In 1906, Finland became the first country in the world to grant women the right to stand for election.
In 1906, not only did Finland become the first European country to grant women the right to vote, but it also became the first country in the world to allow all women to run for office.
In the 1907 Finnish parliamentary election, nineteen female members were elected making them the first female MPs in the world.
In 1893, New Zealand was the first country in the world to grant women the right to vote. However, it was only in 1919 that women in New Zealand earned the right to stand for parliament. In 1902, Australia granted women the vote and the right to stand for election to the Australian Federal Parliament. However, this rule only applied to white women and Aboriginal women were left out until 1962.
13. Finland is one of the least corrupt countries in the world.
Since 2010, Finland has been ranked among the five least corrupt countries in the world. According to the latest Corruptions Perception Index (CPI) report by Transparency International, Finland is the third-least corrupt country in the world behind New Zealand and Denmark.
14. Finland ranks second in the world for press freedom.
According to the latest Press Freedom Index (PFI) report by Reporters Without Borders, Finland enjoys the second-highest press freedom in the world behind its Nordic neighbor Norway.
15. Finnish is one of only four official EU languages not of Indo-European origin.
Of the European Union’s 24 official languages, only Finnish, Estonian, Hungarian, and Maltese aren’t of Indo-European origin. Finnish, like Estonian and Hungarian, is a Uralic language while Maltese is a Semitic language within the Afroasiatic family.
16. In Finnish, Finland is called “Suomi.”
“Suomi” is the word for ‘Finland’ in Finnish. While several hypotheses have been made, it is not known for certain where the name “Suomi” comes from.
17. The melody of the Finnish national anthem is identical to the Estonian national anthem.
One of the interesting Finland facts is that the country’s national anthem “Maamme” (‘Our Land’) shares the same melody as the national anthem of Estonia—”Mu isamaa, mu õnn ja rõõm” (‘My Fatherland, My Happiness and Joy’). They both use the melody composed by Fredrik Pacius, but the lyrics are different.
18. Finland’s national sport is Pesäpallo.
While ice hockey is by far the most popular sport in Finland, Pesäpallo (commonly called ‘pesis’) is Finland’s national sport. Created in Finland in the 1920s, pesäpallo is similar to and largely based on baseball.
19. Finland is home to seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Finland are:
- Bronze Age Burial Site of Sammallahdenmäki (Cultural)
- Fortress of Suomenlinna (Cultural)
- Old Rauma (Cultural)
- Petäjävesi Old Church (Cultural)
- Struve Geodetic Arc (Cultural)
- Verla Groundwood and Board Mill (Cultural)
- High Coast / Kvarken Archipelago (Natural)
20. In Finland, all expectant mothers receive a “baby box”, a 50-60 item baby starter kit from the government.
Kela, Finland’s social security institution, sends all expectant mothers in the country a baby starter kit. It’s stuffed with 50-60 essential items — clothes, blankets, nappies, toys, bedding, an assortment of newborn necessities.
Expectant mothers in Finland have been receiving free baby boxes from the state since 1938. The concept initially arose as a response to poverty and high infant mortality rates.
The baby box is purely optional and those who don’t want it can opt for a cash alternative of 170 EUR.
21. Gambling in Finland is controlled by the government and all of the profits go to charity.
The government-owned betting agency Veikkaus controls all forms of gambling in Finland, including land-based and online casinos. All profits generated from gambling in Finland are used to benefit the country, including sport, health, social projects, the arts, science, and education.
22. Finland is the world’s top coffee-consuming nation per capita.
One of the lesser-known Finland facts is that Finns are the world’s biggest coffee drinkers. According to statistics from the International Coffee Organization, Finland is the number one coffee drinking country with an average of 12.5 kg (27.5 lbs) of coffee consumed per capita yearly.
23. Finland has the most heavy metal bands per capita in the world.
Finland is home to a disproportionately large number of metal bands and in fact, is home to more heavy metal bands per capita than any other country. With over 50 heavy metal bands per 100,000 inhabitants, Finland is the uncontested metal capital of the world.
Some of the most famous Finnish heavy metal bands are Nightwish, Apocalyptica, Ensiferum, Stratovarius, HIM, Amorphis, and Children of Bodom.
24. Finland has the most Summer Olympics medals per capita.
Finland has been highly successful at the Summer Olympics, especially so before World War II. With a total of 305 medals won at the Summer Games to date, Finland has won more medals per capita than any other nation.
25. There aren’t more saunas than cars in Finland, it’s the other way around.
One of the most quoted claims you’ll come across on the Internet is “Finland has more saunas than cars.” As sensational as this claim is, it’s nothing but a myth.
Statistics Finland estimates there are a little over 2.3 million saunas in Finland. Now, according to figures from Statistics Finland, there are 3.63 million cars in Finland.
So, based on factual evidence you can clearly see that there aren’t more saunas than cars in Finland, it’s the other way around. In any case, Finland has the most saunas per capita in the world.
26. Although Finland is a neutral country, it enforces compulsory military service for men.
Conscription is an integral part of Finland’s defense systems. All men over 18 years of age must serve in the military forces for 6-12 months. Alternatively, men can also opt to do civilian service for 9 months.
27. In Finland, alcohol stronger than 5.5% is sold only in government-run bottle shops called Alko.
Like all other Nordic countries other than Denmark, Finland enforces a government monopoly on the sale of alcohol. Beer, wine, and other alcoholic beverages above 5.5% ABV can only be bought in government stores called Alko outside of bars and restaurants.
28. Finland hosts some of the weirdest world championships in the world.
Famous for its quirks, Finland is home to some of the wackiest contests in the world. Who would have guessed that Finland is the breeding ground for some of the strangest events on the planet!
Finland hosts or has at some point in time hosted, among other things:
- World Wife-Carrying Championships
- Air Guitar World Championships
- Mosquito Swatting Championships
- World Sauna Championships
- World Berry Picking Championships
- Swamp Soccer World Championships
- Ant-Nest Sitting Competition
- World Mobile Phone Throwing Championships