Finland is one of the most densely forested countries on earth. It’s home to 200,000 lakes, islands and reindeers. There are also 2 million saunas, for 5.5 million people. A tiny population spread out across a vast territory.
Home to Finns, Laplanders and Father Christmas, Finland is a nation long tossed back and forth between its larger neighbors, Sweden and Russia.
For 8 centuries Finland was part of the Kingdom of Sweden – and to his day Swedish remains an official language alongside Finnish.
In the 19th century the country became a Grand Duchy of the Russian Empire… But then its 1917 declaration of independence heralded a civil war. Pro-Moscow Reds fought it out with the non-socialist whites. 2 years later a republic was proclaimed.
In 1939 the so-called Winter War pitted Finland against the USSR…The Finns managed to resist invasion but lost a 1/3 landmass, Karelia, to the Soviets.
The Cold War saw a wary Finland adopt a policy of neutrality between the Eastern and Western blocs – choosing not to choose between the two sides.
By 1995 the country had entered the European Union and in 2002 became the only Nordic nation to enter the Eurozone
In 2015, Finland’s social democracy swerved to the right – for the first time members of the nationalist ‘True Finns’ party took 3 ministerial posts in government.
One more claim to fame – Finland boasts the world’s highest number per capita of heavy metal bands.