Finland – situated in northern Europe with a quarter of its total area lying north of the Arctic Circle – is an independent republic since 1917 and became a member of the European Union in 1995. Its population is 5.4 million, and Finland is the sixth largest country in Europe in area, with a population density of 15.5 persons per square kilometer. Finland is the most heavily forested country in Europe, with 23 million hectares under forest cover. However, today most Finns, live in urban areas. The capital Helsinki has 601 000 residents.
Finland is perhaps best known for its peacefulness and beautiful nature. Vast forests, a unique archipelago and thousands of lakes present a striking mixture of wooded hills and waters. In addition to its mystical northern nature, Finland is also a modern Nordic country with a high standard of living and advanced economy and technology. Finland’s economy has traditionally been based on its most plentiful natural resource: wood. The forest product industries are still important, even if they face increased international competition, but manufacturing industries, engineering and high technology have also played a big economic role in recent decades. That Finnish literacy rates are among the highest – if not the highest – in the world is a tribute to the effectiveness of the Finnish education system. The OECD Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), which evaluates the educational achievement of children of school age in the OECD countries, placed Finland among the top countries in 2001, for example, and this is a status that is maintained from year to year.
Finland is officially bilingual: Finnish is the first language of 92 %, and Swedish of 5.5% of the population. About 1,700 people in Lapland speak Sami (Lapp) languages.
Finland enjoys some of the most extensive and unspoiled natural environment in Europe. It is sometimes referred to as the ‘land of the thousand lakes’, but in fact there were a total of 187,888 at the last count.
Further information: www.visitfinland.com
Local time: GMT + 2 hours
Currency: Euro is the local currency (€)
Banking hours: 09.00-16.00 (Monday-Friday); closed on Saturday and Sunday
Post office: (general) opening hours: 8.00-17.00 (Monday-Friday)
Shops: Department stores and shopping centres are open weekdays from 09.00 to 21.00 and Saturdays 09.00 to 18.00. Smaller shops are usually open weekdays from 10.00 to 18.00 and Saturdays 09.00 to 14.00.
Telephones: The country code for Finland is +358 Helsinki city area code is (0)9.
Useful telephone numbers:
- Emergency: 112
- Emergency police: 112
- Ambulance Service: 112
- Fire Department: 112
Airlines: Finnair (member of One World); Blue 1, SAS (member of Star Alliance)
Visa: Please check with your local embassies.