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1. Suomenlinna Fortress
Suomenlinna Fortress is an impressive 18th century maritime fortification complex spread over eight islands in Helsinki and which has been property of the Swedish, the Russians and the Finnish. Considered an excellent example of the military architecture of the period, Suomenlinna Fortress is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Today, this is a fascinating place to visit and a popular one, with various things to see including a series of museums as well as sites such as the King’s Gate and the Great Courtyard. Military history enthusiasts will enjoy exploring its many bastions and there are guided tours.
14 Top-Rated Attractions & Places to Visit in Finland
From the vibrant art-filled cities of Helsinki and Turku to the depths of the boreal forests and the thinly-inhabited outer archipelago, Finland remains a relatively unknown corner of Europe. This is likely because it is so far from the mainstream tourist routes, but the country's many cultural and historical attractions add to the unspoiled natural surroundings to make it an ideal destination. Its lakes, fells, rivers, and vast wild areas, along with the certainty of snow in the winter make it a Nordic playground for both winter and summer activities.
Helsinki is the main point of entry for most visitors to Finland. The busy Baltic port is where you'll find the most important museums, as well as architecture by some of the greatest Finnish architects, especially Eliel Saarinen, who designed Helsinki's Railway Station, a landmark of early modern architecture. Within easy reach of Helsinki are the charming smaller cities of Turku and Porvoo. But it would be a shame to confine a trip only to the Baltic coast, when so much beautiful open countryside beckons. To the west lie the Finnish lakes, and in the north is the vast area beyond the Arctic Circle, home of the midnight sun, northern lights, and some of Europe's best winter sports. Winter or summer, Finland offers plenty of things to see and do. Plan your trip with our list of the top attractions and places to visit in Finland.
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- Catherine Jagellion, Polish princess and queen of Sweden as the wife of John III of Sweden, born in Kraków, Poland (d. 1583) Johan Helmich Roman, Swedish composer, conductor and violinist, born in Stockholm, Sweden (d. 1758) Johan Gadolin, Finnish chemist (discovered yttrium), born in Turku, Finland (d. 1852) Alexander von Nordmann, Finnish zoologist, born in Kotka, Finland (d. 1866) Johan Ludvig Runeberg, Finland, poet Johan Vilhelm Snellman, Finnish journalist, statesman and nationalist, born in Stockholm, Sweden (d. 1881) Fredrik Cygnaeus, Finnish poet/literature critic Vissarion Belinsky, Sveaborg Finland, Russian author (Literary Review) Zacharias Topelius, Finnish historical novelist (Surgeon's Stories), born in Nykarleby, Finland (d. 1898) August Ahlqvist, Finnish poet (Suomalainen Runousoppi), born in Kuopio, Finland (d. 1889) Karl Collan, Finnish composer Aleksis Kivi, Finnish writer and poet (Nummisuutarit), born in Nurmijärvi, Grand Duchy of Finland (d. 1872) Minna Canth, Finland, playwright (The Pastor's Family) and social activist Martin Wegelius, Finnish musicologist and composer, born in Helsinki, Finland (d. 1906) Karl Flodin, Finnish composer and critic, born in Vassa (d. 1925) Karl M Lybeck, Finnish/Swedish language poet (Samlade Arbeten) Kaarlo Juho Ståhlberg, first president of Finland (d. 1952)
1865-12-08 Jean Sibelius, Finnish composer (Valse Triste, Finlandia), born in Tavastehus, Finland (d. 1957)
- Miina Sillanpää, Finnish first female minister and a key figure in the workers' movement, born in Jokioinen, Finland (d. 1952) Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim, Finnish general and 6th President of Finland (1944-46), born in Askainen, Grand Duchy of Finland, Russian Empire (d. 1951) Antti Aarne, Finnish folklorist, born in Pori, Finland (d. 1925) Armas Järnefelt, Finnish conductor and composer (Berceuse), born in Vyborg, Russian Empire (d. 1958) Juho Kusti Paasikivi, Finnish politician (7th President of Finland 1946-56), born in Tampere, Finland (d. 1956) Princess Margaret of Prussia, Queen consort-elect of Finland, born in New Palace, Potsdam, Prussia, German Empire (d. 1954) Eliel Saarinen, Finnish-American architect (GM Tech Institute, Mich), born in Rantasalmi, Finland (d. 1950) Gustaf John Ramstedt, Finland-Swedish linguist and diplomat, born in Ekenäs, Finland (d. 1950) Volter Kilpi, Finnish writer (Alastalon salissa), born in Kustavi, Finland (d. 1939) Selim Palmgren, Finnish pianist and composer (Daniel Hjort), born in Pori, Finland (d. 1951) Eino Leino, Finnish poet, born in Paltamo, Finland (d. 1926) Aino Kallas, Finnish writer (White Ship, Estonian Tales), born in Kiiskilä, Viipuri Province, Grand Duchy of Finland (d. 1956) Heikki Ritavuori, Finnish politician (d. 1922) Gunnar Nordström, Finnish physicist (d. 1923) Otto V. Kuusinen, Finnish politician (founder of the Finnish Communist Party), born in Laukaa, Finland (d. 1964) Lauri Kristian Relander, 2nd President of Finland (1925-31), born in Kurkijoki, Finland (d. 1942) Toivo Kuula, Finnish composer, born in Vehkakoski (d. 1918) Runar Schildt, Finnish writer (Segrande Eros), born in Helsinki (d. 1925) Artturi Leinonen, Finnish journalist and writer (Kati), born in Ylihärmä, Finland (d. 1963) Risto Ryti, Finnish premier/president Hannes Kolehmainen, Finnish long-distance runner (Olympic gold 1912), born in Kuopio, Finland (d. 1966) Lauri SA Haarla, Finnish (stage)writer (Juudas, Sukeltaja) Eino Kaila, Finnish psychologist and philosopher, born in Alajärvi, Finland (d. 1958) Hans Ruin, Finnish Swedish-language historian Clas Thunberg, Finnish speed skater (Olympic gold 1924, 28), born in Helsinki, Finland (d. 1973) Aarre Merikanto, Finnish composer (Lemminkäinen Juha Schott Concerto), born in Helsinki, Grand Duchy of Finland (d. 1958) Artturi Ilmari Virtanen, Finnish chemist, Nobel laureate (d. 1973) Elmer Diktonius, Finnish poet, composer, and musicologist (Janne Kubrik Stenkol), born in Helsinki (d. 1961)
1897-06-13 Paavo Nurmi, Finnish middle & long distance runner (9 Olympic gold 1920, 24, 28), born in Turku, Finland (d. 1973)
- Alvar Aalto, Finland, architect (Finlandia House) Felix Kersten, Baltic-German Finnish masseuse (masseuse to Heinrich Himmler who helped save people from Nazi persecution), born in Tartu, Imperial Russia (d. 1960) Elias Simojoki, Finnish clergyman and politician (d. 1940) Urho Kekkonen, 8th President of Finland (1956-81), born in Pielavesi, Finland (d. 1986) Ragnar Granit, Finnish neuroscientist (Nobel 1967 - discoveries concerning the primary physiological and chemical visual processes in the eye), born in Helsinge, Finland (d. 1991) Uuno Kailas, Finnish poet, born in Heinola, Finland (d. 1933) Sulho Ranta, Finnish composer, born in Peräseinäjoki, Finland (d. 1960) Kaarlo Sarkia, Finnish poet (Unen Kaivo) Toivo R Pekkanen, Finnish writer (Wegwerkers) Ilmari Salminen, Finnish athlete (Olympic gold 10,000m 1936), born in Elimäki, Finland (d. 1986) Hertha Kuusinen, Finnish communist Eino Roiha, Finnish composer, born in Vyborg (d. 1955) Arvi Kivimaa, Finnish writer (Groenende Cross), born in Hartola, Finland (d. 1984) Simo Häyhä, Finnish sniper (d. 2002) Heikki Savolainen, Finland, pommel horse gymnast (Olympic gold 1948) Sulo Nurmela, Finland, 4 X 100K relay skier (Olympic gold 1936) Matti Jarvinen, Finland, javelin thrower (Olympic gold 1932) Anni Blomqvist, Finnish novelist (d. 1990) Eero Saarinen, Finnish-American architect (IBM Building, MIT Chapel), born in Kirkkonummi, Finland (d. 1961) Armand Lohikoski, Finnish director (d. 2005)
1914-08-09 Tove Jansson, Finnish author and illustrator (Moomins), born in Helsinki, Grand Duchy of Finland, Russian Empire (d. 2001)
- Sylvi Saimo, Finland, 500m kayaker (Olympic gold 1952) Tapio Rautavaara, Finnish athlete, actor, and singer (Me tulemme taas, Rion yö), born in Pirkkala, Finland (d. 1979) George Gaynes, Dutch-Finnish-American singer, stage and screen actor (Tootsie Police Academy General Hospital), born in Helsinki, Grand Duchy of Finland, Russian Empire (d. 2016) Onni Palaste, Finnish writer Kalle Päätalo, Finnish novelist (Iijoki), born in Taivalkoski, Finland (d. 2000) Tom of Finland [Touko Laaksonen], Finnish fetish artist, born in Helsinki (d. 1991) Lydia Wideman, Finnish cross country skier (first female cross-country Olympic gold 1952), born in Vippula, Finland Maila Nurmi [Syrjäniemi], Finnish-American actress (The Vampira Show), born in Gloucester, Massachusetts or Petsamo, Finland (d. 2008) Mauno Koivisto, President of Finland (1982-94), born in Turku (d. 2017) Siiri Rantanen, Finnish cross country skier (Olympic gold 1956), born in Tohmajärvi, North Karelia, Finland Veikko Hakulinen, Finnish cross country skier (Olympic gold 1952, 56, 60), born in Kurkijoki, Finland (d. 2003) Einojuhani Rautavaara, Finnish composer (Kaivos), born in Helsinki, Finland (d. 2016) Veijo Meri, Finnish writer, born in Viipuri (d. 2015) Paavo Berglund, Finnish violinist and conductor (Helsinki Chamber Orchestra Finnish RSO, 1956-72), born in Helsinki, Finland (d. 2012) Pentti Siimes, Finnish actor (Miriam), born in Helsinki, Finland (d. 2016) Taina Elg, Finnish-American actress (Hercules in NY, Les Girls), born in Impilahti, Finland Spede Pasanen, Finnish film director and comedian, born in Kuopio, Finland (d. 2001) Paavo Haavikko, Finnish poet & writer, born in Helsiniki, Finland (d. 2008) Jorn Donner, Helsinki Finland, director (Anna, Tenderness) Risto Jarva, Finnish filmmaker (d. 1977) Armi Kuusela, Finnish beauty queen (1st Miss Universe, 1952), born in Muhos, Finland Martti Talvela, Hiitola Karelia Finland, operatic basso Elina Salo, Finnish actress (Hamlet Goes Business), born in Sipoo, Finland Irmelin Sandman Lilius, Swedish-Finnish writer, born in Helsinki Kari Rydman, Finnish composer, born in Helsinki Martti Ahtisaari, President of Finland Esko Nikkari, Finnish actor M.A. Numminen, Finnish singer and writer Paavo Lipponen, Prime Minister of Finland (1995-2003), born in Turtola, Finland Nils-Aslak Valkeapää, Finnish Sami writer (The Sun, My Father) and musician, born in Enontekiö, Finland (d. 2001) Tarja Halonen, President of Finland, born in Helsinki, Finland Vesa-Matti Loiri, Finnish entertainer
History of Finland
Assorted Referenceseducational developmentsflag historyfortifications
…cede a strip of southern Finland to Russia and to become temporarily dependent on Russia. As a result of the Great Northern War (Treaty of Nystad, 1721), Sweden had lost Estonia, Livonia, Ingria, and part of Karelia to Russia. In 1741 Sweden reached a secret understanding (through French mediators) with…
Vihtori Kosola’s Lapua Movement in Finland nearly staged a coup in 1932 but was checked by conservatives backed by the army. The Arrow Cross Party (Nyilaskeresztes Párt) in Hungary, led by Ferenc Szálasi, was suppressed by the conservative regime of Miklós Horthy until 1944, when Szálasi was made a puppet…
When Russia invaded Finland in 1808, Helsinki was again burned to the ground. But in 1809 Finland was ceded to Russia, and in 1812 the Russian tsar Alexander I moved the capital of the grand duchy of Finland from Turku (Åbo) to Helsinki. Meanwhile, the centre of Helsinki…
…with the grand duchy of Finland in the 19th century when Russia obtained suzerainty over all Finland. Following the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the proclamation of Finnish independence, a 1920 peace treaty left eastern Karelia in Soviet hands and awarded western Karelia to Finland. Western Karelia was annexed by…
…negotiated as part of independent Finland in 1918. In about 1929, Finland began to construct the fortifications of the so-called Mannerheim Line across the isthmus. The purpose of this demarcation was to guard against the threat posed by the Soviet Union, which sought a section of the isthmus in order…
…the Nordic states of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden for the purpose of consultation and cooperation on matters of common interest. The Council was established in February 1971 under an amendment to the Helsinki Convention (1962) between the Nordic countries. It consists of the ministers of state of the…
…and the Karelian Isthmus from Finland and the Carpatho-Ukraine region from Czechoslovakia. Hungary returned northern Transylvania to Romania. Italy ceded the Dodecanese islands to Greece and surrendered its overseas colonies, although a Soviet demand for a trusteeship over Libya was denied. Trieste
Finland, under Swedish rule, followed suit. The reformer there was Mikael Agricola, called “the father of written Finnish.” The Baltic states of Livonia and Estonia were officially Lutheran in 1554. Austria under the Habsburgs provided no state support for the evangelical movement, which nevertheless gained…
…exceptions to this routine were Finland and Yugoslavia, each favoured by geography and supported by a powerful patriotic army. While both, in 1945, acquired left-wing, Marxist governments, both felt strong enough to resist domination by the U.S.S.R. This was not the case in Albania, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia—all…
…Russia and reaches north into Finland. Finland in the northwest is underlain by ancient, resistant, crystalline rocks, part of the Precambrian Baltic Shield. Because it was near the origin of the Pleistocene ice sheets that advanced southward over continental Europe, Finland’s landscape is characterized more by glacial erosion than by…
…Soviet Union by German and Finnish armed forces during World War II. The siege actually lasted 872 days.
…a free hand to conquer Finland from Sweden. Prussia was forced to join the Continental System and close its ports to British trade.
Finns, Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians, and Poles were, by the end of 1917, all in various stages of the dissidence from which the independent states of the postwar period were to emerge and, at the same time, Ukrainians, Georgians, Armenians, and Azerbaijanis were no less active…
Finland granted the islands autonomy in 1920 but refused to acknowledge their secession. The League of Nations became mediator of the Åland question, granting the islands a unique autonomy while directing that they remain part of Finland.
…Russian imperial proclamation that abrogated Finland’s autonomy within the Russian Empire. After Finland was ceded by Sweden to Russia in 1809, it gained the status of a grand duchy, and its constitution was respected beginning in 1890, however, unconstitutional “Russification” measures were introduced. The February Manifesto, in essence, held that…
…well, the Swedish government ceded Finland to the tsar in 1809. Alexander became grand duke of Finland, but Finland was not incorporated into the Russian Empire, and its institutions were fully respected. In 1810, when Napoleon’s former marshal, Jean-Baptiste Bernadotte, was elected heir to the Swedish throne, he showed no…
…of a provincial zemstvo, and Finland was submitted to direct rule from St. Petersburg.
…about two-thirds of Swedish and Finnish soil through the transfer of crown property and of royal ground taxes. The nobles wanted to perpetuate this process and to introduce the same feudal structure that they had seen and used in their annexations in the Baltic area.
The Swedish army defended Finland poorly, with that defense reaching its nadir when the strong fortress of Sveaborg near Helsingfors was handed over to the Russians by treason. The Russians advanced as far as Umeå in Sweden.
…afterward launched an attack on Finland, Sweden gave Finland aid in the form of vast matériel and a volunteer corps. On the other hand, Sweden, in common with Norway, refused the Allies’ request to march through its territory in order to intervene in the war. After the German occupation of…
World War II
When Finland resisted Soviet demands for border rectifications and bases, Stalin ordered the Red Army to attack on November 30. He expected a lightning victory of his own that would impress Hitler and increase Soviet security in the Baltic. Instead, the Finns resisted fiercely in this…
…their land link with the Finns, who now found themselves no better off than they had been in 1939–40. Finland in February 1944 sought an armistice from the U.S.S.R., but the latter’s terms proved unacceptable.
Finland, although it did not formally join the Tripartite Pact, cooperated with the Axis because of its opposition to the Soviet Union (to which Finland had been forced to cede territory in 1940) and entered the war in 1941.
Accordingly, the Soviet Union attacked Finland on November 30 and forced it in March 1940 to yield the Isthmus of Karelia and make other concessions. The Baltic republics of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia were annexed by the Soviet Union and were organized as Soviet republics in August 1940. The Nonaggression…
Soviet Union against Finland at the beginning of World War II, following the conclusion of the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact (August 23, 1939).
If confirmed, the oldest archeological site in Finland would be the Wolf Cave in Kristinestad, in Ostrobothnia. The site would be the only pre-glacial (Neanderthal) site so far discovered in the Nordic Countries, and it is approximately 125,000 years old. 
The last ice age in the area of the modern-day Finland ended c. 9000 BC. Starting about that time, people migrated to the area of Finland from the South and South-East. Their culture represented mixture of Kunda, Butovo [fi] , and Veretje cultures [fi] . At the same time, northern Finland was inhabited via the coast of Norway.  The oldest confirmed evidence of the post-glacial human settlements in Finland are from the area of Ristola in Lahti and from Orimattila, from c. 8900 BC. Finland has been continuously inhabited at least since the end of the last ice age, up to the present.  The earliest post-glacial inhabitants of the present-day area of Finland were probably mainly seasonal hunter-gatherers. Among finds is the net of Antrea, the oldest fishing net known ever to have been excavated (calibrated carbon dating: ca. 8300 BC).
By 5300 BC, pottery was present in Finland. The earliest samples belong to the Comb Ceramic cultures, known for their distinctive decorating patterns. This marks the beginning of the neolithic period for Finland, although subsistence was still based on hunting and fishing. Extensive networks of exchange existed across Finland and northeastern Europe during the 5th millennium BC. For example, flint from Scandinavia and the Valdai Hills, amber from Scandinavia and the Baltic region, and slate from Scandinavia and Lake Onega found their way into Finnish archaeological sites, while asbestos and soap stone from Finland (e.g. the area of Saimaa) were found in other regions. Rock paintings—apparently related to shamanistic and totemistic belief systems—have been found, especially in Eastern Finland, e.g. Astuvansalmi.
Between 3500 and 2000 BC, monumental stone enclosures colloquially known as Giant's Churches (Finnish: Jätinkirkko) were constructed in the Ostrobothnia region.  The purpose of the enclosures is unknown. 
In recent years, a dig in Kierikki site north of Oulu on River Ii has changed the image of Finnish neolithic Stone Age culture. The site had been inhabited year round and its inhabitants traded extensively. Kierikki culture is also seen as a subtype of Comb Ceramic culture. More of the site is excavated annually. 
From 3200 BC onwards, either immigrants or a strong cultural influence from south of the Gulf of Finland settled in southwestern Finland. This culture was a part of the European Battle Axe cultures, which have often been associated with the movement of the Indo-European speakers. The Battle Axe, or Cord Ceramic, culture seems to have practiced agriculture and animal husbandry outside of Finland, but the earliest confirmed traces of agriculture in Finland date later, approximately to the 2nd millennium BC. Further inland, the societies retained their hunting-gathering lifestyles for the time being. 
The Battle Axe and Comb Ceramic cultures eventually merged, giving rise to the Kiukainen culture that existed between 2300 BC, and 1500 BC, and was fundamentally a comb ceramic tradition with cord ceramic characteristics.
The Bronze Age began some time after 1500 BC. The coastal regions of Finland were a part of the Nordic Bronze Culture, whereas in the inland regions the influences came from the bronze-using cultures of northern and eastern Russia. 
The Iron Age in Finland is considered to last from c. 500 BC until c. 1300 AD  when known official and written records of Finland become more common due to the Swedish invasions as part of the Northern Crusades in the 13th century. As the Finnish Iron Age lasted almost two millennia, it is further divided into six sub-periods: 
- Pre-Roman period: 500 BC – 1 BC
- Roman period: 1 AD – 400 AD
- Migration period: 400 AD – 575 AD
- Merovingian period: 575 AD – 800 AD
- Viking age period: 800 AD – 1025 AD
- Crusade period: 1033 AD – 1300 AD
Very few written records of Finland or its people remain in any language of the era. Primary written sources are thus mostly of foreign origin, most informative of which include Tacitus' description of Fenni in his Germania, the sagas written down by Snorri Sturluson, as well as the 12th- and 13th-century ecclesiastical letters written for Finns. Numerous other sources from the Roman period onwards contain brief mentions of ancient Finnish kings and place names, as such defining Finland as a kingdom and noting the culture of its people.
Currently the oldest known Scandinavian documents mentioning a "land of the Finns" are two runestones: Söderby, Sweden, with the inscription finlont (U 582), and Gotland with the inscription finlandi (G 319) dating from the 11th century.  However, as the long continuum of the Finnish Iron Age into the historical Medieval period of Europe suggests, the primary source of information of the era in Finland is based on archaeological findings  and modern applications of natural scientific methods like those of DNA analysis  or computer linguistics.
Production of iron during the Finnish Iron Age was adopted from the neighboring cultures in the east, west and south about the same time as the first imported iron artifacts appear.  This happened almost simultaneously in various parts of the country.
Pre-Roman period: 500 BC – 1 BC Edit
The Pre-Roman period of the Finnish Iron Age is scarcest in findings, but the known ones suggest that cultural connections to other Baltic cultures were already established.  The archeological findings of Pernaja and Savukoski provides proof of this argument. Many of the era's dwelling sites are the same as those of the Neolithic. Most of the iron of the era was produced on site. 
Roman period: 1 AD – 400 AD Edit
The Roman period brought along an influx of imported iron (and other) artifacts like Roman wine glasses and dippers as well as various coins of the Empire. During this period the (proto) Finnish culture stabilized on the coastal regions and larger graveyards become commonplace. The prosperity of the Finns rose to the level that the vast majority of gold treasures found within Finland date back to this period. 
Migration period: 400 AD – 575 AD Edit
The Migration period saw the expansion of land cultivation inland, especially in Southern Bothnia, and the growing influence of Germanic cultures, both in artifacts like swords and other weapons and in burial customs. However most iron as well as its forging was of domestic origin, probably from bog iron. 
Merovingian period: 575 AD – 800 AD Edit
The Merovingian period in Finland gave rise to distinctive fine crafts culture of its own, visible in the original decorations of domestically produced weapons and jewelry. Finest luxury weapons were, however, imported from Western Europe. The very first Christian burials are from the latter part of this era as well. In the Leväluhta burial findings the average height of a man was originally thought to be just 158 cm and that of a woman 147 cm.  but the recent research has corrected these numbers upwards and has confirmed that the people buried in Leväluhta were of average height for the era in Europe.
Recent findings suggest that Finnish trade connections already became more active during the 8th century bringing an influx of silver onto Finnish markets.  The opening of the eastern route to Constantinople via Finland's southern coastline archipelago brought Arabic and Byzantine artifacts into the excavation findings of the era.
The earliest findings of imported iron blades and local iron working appear in 500 BC. From about 50 AD, there are indications of a more intense long-distance exchange of goods in coastal Finland. Inhabitants exchanged their products, presumably mostly furs, for weapons and ornaments with the Balts and the Scandinavians as well as with the peoples along the traditional eastern trade routes. The existence of richly furnished burials, usually with weapons, suggests that there was a chiefly elite in the southern and western parts of the country. Hillforts spread over most of southern Finland at the end of the Iron and early Medieval Age. There is no commonly accepted evidence of early state formations in Finland, and the presumably Iron Age origins of urbanization are contested.
The legendary Norwegian Swedish dynasty Ynglings are described by Icelandic historian Snorri Sturlasson as being of partial Finnish descent. That supposedly ruled before christ to roughly the 11 century in Sweden and to the 14 century in Norway under the Fairhair dynasty. With legendary kings such as Beowulf (hero) and Ragnar Lodbrok being a part of it. 
Chronology of languages in Finland Edit
The question of the timelines for the evolution and the spreading of the current Finnish languages is controversial, and new theories challenging older ones have been introduced continuously.
It is widely believed    that Finno-Ugric (the western branch of the Uralic) languages were first spoken in Finland and the adjacent areas during the Comb Ceramic period, around 4000 BC at the latest. During the 2nd millennium BC these evolved—possibly under an Indo-European (most likely Baltic) influence—into proto-Sami (inland) and Proto-Finnic (coastland). In contrast, A. Aikio and K. Häkkinen propose that the Finno-Ugric languages arrived in the Gulf of Finland area around 2000 BC or later in the Bronze Age, as result of an early Bronze Age Uralic language expansion possibly connected to the Seima-Turbino phenomenon.    This would also imply that Finno-Ugric languages in Finland were preceded by a North-Western Indo-European language, at least to the extent the latter can be associated with the Cord Ceramic culture, as well as by hitherto unknown Paleo-European languages.  The center of expansion for the Proto-Finnic language is posited to have been located on the southern coast of the Gulf of Finland.   The Finnish language is thought to have started to differentiate during the Iron Age starting from the earliest centuries of the Common Era.
Cultural influences from a variety of places are visible in the Finnish archaeological finds from the very first settlements onwards. For example, archaeological finds from Finnish Lapland suggest the presence of the Komsa culture from Norway. The Sujala finds, which are equal in age with the earliest Komsa artifacts, may also suggest a connection to the Swiderian culture.  Southwestern Finland belonged to the Nordic Bronze Age, which may be associated with Indo-European languages, and according to Finnish Germanist Jorma Koivulehto speakers of Proto-Germanic language in particular. Artifacts found in Kalanti and the province of Satakunta, which have long been monolingually Finnish, and their place names have made several scholars argue for an existence of a proto-Germanic speaking population component a little later, during the Early and Middle Iron Age.  
The Swedish colonisation of Åland Islands, Turku archipelago and Uusimaa could possibly have started in 12th century but it was in its height in 13th and 14th century, when it also affected Eastern-Uusimaa and Pohjanmaa regions.   The oldest Swedish place names in Finland are from this period  as well as the Swedish-speaking population of Finland. 
Middle Ages Edit
Contact between Sweden and what is now Finland was considerable even during pre-Christian times the Vikings were known to the Finns due to their participation in both commerce and plundering. There is possible evidence of Viking settlement in the Finnish mainland.  The Åland Islands probably had Swedish settlement during the Viking Period. However, some scholars claim that the archipelago was deserted during the 11th century. According to the archaeological finds, Christianity gained a foothold in Finland during the 11th century. According to the very few written documents that have survived, the church in Finland was still in its early development in the 12th century. Later medieval legends from late 13th century describe Swedish attempts to conquer and Christianize Finland sometime in the mid-1150s.
In the early 13th century, Bishop Thomas became the first known bishop of Finland. There were several secular powers who aimed to bring the Finnish tribes under their rule. These were Sweden, Denmark, the Republic of Novgorod in northwestern Russia, and probably the German crusading orders as well. Finns had their own chiefs, but most probably no central authority. At the time there can be seen three cultural areas or tribes in Finland: Finns, Tavastians and Karelians.  Russian chronicles indicate there were several conflicts between Novgorod and the Finnic tribes from the 11th or 12th century to the early 13th century.
It was the Swedish regent, Birger Jarl, who allegedly established Swedish rule in Finland through the Second Swedish Crusade, most often dated to 1249. The Eric Chronicle, the only source narrating the "crusade", describes that it was aimed at Tavastians. A papal letter from 1237 states that the Tavastians had reverted from Christianity to their old ethnic faith.
Novgorod gained control in Karelia in 1278, the region inhabited by speakers of Eastern Finnish dialects. Sweden however gained the control of Western Karelia with the Third Swedish Crusade in 1293. Western Karelians were from then on viewed as part of the western cultural sphere, while eastern Karelians turned culturally to Russia and Orthodoxy. While eastern Karelians remain linguistically and ethnically closely related to the Finns, they are generally considered a separate people.  Thus, the northern part of the border between Catholic and Orthodox Christendom came to lie at the eastern border of what would become Finland with the Treaty of Nöteborg with Novgorod in 1323.
During the 13th century, Finland was integrated into medieval European civilization. The Dominican order arrived in Finland around 1249 and came to exercise great influence there. In the early 14th century, the first records of Finnish students at the Sorbonne appear. In the southwestern part of the country, an urban settlement evolved in Turku. Turku was one of the biggest towns in the Kingdom of Sweden, and its population included German merchants and craftsmen. Otherwise the degree of urbanization was very low in medieval Finland. Southern Finland and the long coastal zone of the Gulf of Bothnia had a sparse farming settlements, organized as parishes and castellanies. In the other parts of the country a small population of Sami hunters, fishermen, and small-scale farmers lived. These were exploited by the Finnish and Karelian tax collectors. [ citation needed ] During the 12th and 13th centuries, great numbers of Swedish settlers moved to the southern and northwestern coasts of Finland, to the Åland Islands, and to the archipelago between Turku and the Åland Islands. In these regions, the Swedish language is widely spoken even today. Swedish came to be the language of the upper class in many other parts of Finland as well.
The name "Finland" originally signified only the southwestern province, which has been known as "Finland Proper" since the 18th century. The first known mention of Finland is in runestone Gs 13 from 11th century. The original Swedish term for the realm's eastern part was Österlands ("Eastern Lands"), a plural, meaning the area of Finland Proper, Tavastia, and Karelia. This was later replaced by the singular form Österland, which was in use between 1350 and 1470.  In the 15th century Finland began to be used synonymously with Österland. The concept of a Finnish "country" in the modern sense developed slowly from the 15th to 18th centuries.
During the 13th century, the bishopric of Turku was established. Turku Cathedral was the center of the cult of Saint Henry of Uppsala, and naturally the cultural center of the bishopric. The bishop had ecclesiastical authority over much of today's Finland, and was usually the most powerful man there. Bishops were often Finns, whereas the commanders of castles were more often Scandinavian or German noblemen. In 1362, representatives from Finland were called to participate in the elections for the king of Sweden. As such, that year is often considered when Finland was incorporated into the Kingdom of Sweden. As in the Scandinavian part of the kingdom, the gentry or (lower) nobility consisted of magnates and yeomen who could afford armament for a man and a horse these were concentrated in the southern part of Finland.
The strong fortress of Viborg (Finnish: Viipuri, Russian: Vyborg) guarded the eastern border of Finland. Sweden and Novgorod signed the Treaty of Nöteborg (Pähkinäsaari in Finnish) in 1323, but that did not last long. In 1348 the Swedish king Magnus Eriksson staged a failed crusade against Orthodox "heretics", managing only to alienate his supporters and ultimately lose his crown. The bones of contention between Sweden and Novgorod were the northern coastline of the Gulf of Bothnia and the wilderness regions of Savo in Eastern Finland. Novgorod considered these as hunting and fishing grounds of its Karelian subjects, and protested against the slow infiltration of Catholic settlers from the West. Occasional raids and clashes between Swedes and Novgorodians occurred during the late 14th and 15th centuries, but for most of the time an uneasy peace prevailed.
During the 1380s, a civil war in the Scandinavian part of Sweden brought unrest to Finland as well. The victor of this struggle was Queen Margaret I of Denmark, who brought the three Scandinavian kingdoms of Sweden, Denmark and, Norway under her rule (the "Kalmar Union") in 1389. The next 130 years or so were characterized by attempts of different Swedish factions to break out of the Union. Finland was sometimes involved in these struggles, but in general the 15th century seems to have been a relatively prosperous time [ citation needed ] , characterized by population growth and economic development. Towards the end of the 15th century, however, the situation on the eastern border became more tense. The Principality of Moscow conquered Novgorod, preparing the way for a unified Russia, and from 1495 to 1497 a war was fought between Sweden and Russia. The fortress-town of Viborg withstood a Russian siege according to a contemporary legend, it was saved by a miracle.
16th century Edit
In 1521 the Kalmar Union collapsed and Gustav Vasa became the King of Sweden. During his rule, the Swedish church was reformed. The state administration underwent extensive reforms and development too, giving it a much stronger grip on the life of local communities—and ability to collect higher taxes. Following the policies of the Reformation, in 1551 Mikael Agricola, bishop of Turku, published his translation of the New Testament into the Finnish language.
In 1550 Helsinki was founded by Gustav Vasa under the name of Helsingfors, but remained little more than a fishing village for more than two centuries.
King Gustav Vasa died in 1560 and his crown was passed to his three sons in separate turns. King Erik XIV started an era of expansion when the Swedish crown took the city of Tallinn in Estonia under its protection in 1561. This action contributed to the early stages of the Livonian War which was a warlike era which lasted for 160 years. In the first phase, Sweden fought for the lordship of Estonia and Latvia against Denmark, Poland and Russia. The common people of Finland suffered because of drafts, high taxes, and abuse by military personnel. This resulted in the Cudgel War of 1596–1597, a desperate peasant rebellion, which was suppressed brutally and bloodily. A peace treaty (the Treaty of Teusina) with Russia in 1595 moved the border of Finland further to the east and north, very roughly where the modern border lies.
An important part of the 16th-century history of Finland was growth of the area settled by the farming population. The crown encouraged farmers from the province of Savonia to settle the vast wilderness regions in Middle Finland. This often forced the original Sami population to leave. Some of the wilderness settled was traditional hunting and fishing territory of Karelian hunters. During the 1580s, this resulted in a bloody guerrilla warfare between the Finnish settlers and Karelians in some regions, especially in Ostrobothnia.
17th century Edit
In 1611–1632 Sweden was ruled by King Gustavus Adolphus, whose military reforms transformed the Swedish army from a peasant militia into an efficient fighting machine, possibly the best in Europe. The conquest of Livonia was now completed, and some territories were taken from internally divided Russia in the Treaty of Stolbova. In 1630, the Swedish (and Finnish) armies marched into Central Europe, as Sweden had decided to take part in the great struggle between Protestant and Catholic forces in Germany, known as the Thirty Years' War. The Finnish light cavalry was known as the Hakkapeliitat.
After the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, the Swedish Empire was one of the most powerful countries in Europe. During the war, several important reforms had been made in Finland:
- 1637–1640 and 1648–1654 Count Per Brahe functioned as general governor of Finland. Many important reforms were made and many towns were founded. His period of administration is generally considered very beneficial to the development of Finland.
- 1640 Finland's first university, the Academy of Åbo, was founded in Turku at the proposal of Count Per Brahe by Queen Christina of Sweden.
- 1642 The whole Bible was published in Finnish.
However, the high taxation, continuing wars and the cold climate (the Little Ice Age) made the Imperial era of Sweden rather gloomy times for Finnish peasants. In 1655–1660, the Northern Wars were fought, taking Finnish soldiers to the battle-fields of Livonia, Poland and Denmark. In 1676, the political system of Sweden was transformed into an absolute monarchy.
In Middle and Eastern Finland, great amounts of tar were produced for export. European nations needed this material for the maintenance of their fleets. According to some theories, the spirit of early capitalism in the tar-producing province of Ostrobothnia may have been the reason for the witch-hunt wave that happened in this region during the late 17th century. The people were developing more expectations and plans for the future, and when these were not realized, they were quick to blame witches—according to a belief system the Lutheran church had imported from Germany.
The Empire had a colony in the New World in the modern-day Delaware-Pennsylvania area between 1638 and 1655. At least half of the immigrants were of Finnish origin.
The 17th century was an era of very strict Lutheran orthodoxy. In 1608, the law of Moses was declared the law of the land, in addition to secular legislation. Every subject of the realm was required to confess the Lutheran faith and church attendance was mandatory. Ecclesiastical penalties were widely used.  The rigorous requirements of orthodoxy were revealed in the dismissal of the Bishop of Turku, Johan Terserus, who wrote a catechism which was decreed heretical in 1664 by the theologians of the Academy of Åbo.  On the other hand, the Lutheran requirement of the individual study of Bible prompted the first attempts at wide-scale education. The church required from each person a degree of literacy sufficient to read the basic texts of the Lutheran faith. Although the requirements could be fulfilled by learning the texts by heart, also the skill of reading became known among the population. 
In 1696–1699, a famine caused by climate decimated Finland. A combination of an early frost, the freezing temperatures preventing grain from reaching Finnish ports, and a lackluster response from the Swedish government saw about one-third of the population die.  Soon afterwards, another war determining Finland's fate began (the Great Northern War of 1700–21).
18th century Edit
The Great Northern War (1700–1721) was devastating, as Sweden and Russia fought for control of the Baltic. Harsh conditions—worsening poverty and repeated crop failures—among peasants undermined support for the war, leading to Sweden's defeat. Finland was a battleground as both armies ravaged the countryside, leading to famine, epidemics, social disruption and the loss of nearly half the population. By 1721 only 250,000 remained.  Landowners had to pay higher wages to keep their peasants. Russia was the winner, annexing the south-eastern part, including the town of Viborg, after the Treaty of Nystad. The border with Russia came to lie roughly where it returned to after World War II. Sweden's status as a European great power was forfeited, and Russia was now the leading power in the North. The absolute monarchy ended in Sweden. During this Age of Liberty, the Parliament ruled the country, and the two parties of the Hats and Caps struggled for control leaving the lesser Court party, i.e. parliamentarians with close connections to the royal court, with little to no influence. The Caps wanted to have a peaceful relationship with Russia and were supported by many Finns, while other Finns longed for revenge and supported the Hats.
Finland by this time was depopulated, with a population in 1749 of 427,000. However, with peace the population grew rapidly, and doubled before 1800. 90% of the population were typically classified as "peasants", most being free taxed yeomen. Society was divided into four Estates: peasants (free taxed yeomen), the clergy, nobility and burghers. A minority, mostly cottagers, were estateless, and had no political representation. Forty-five percent of the male population were enfranchised with full political representation in the legislature—although clerics, nobles and townsfolk had their own chambers in the parliament, boosting their political influence and excluding the peasantry on matters of foreign policy.
The mid-18th century was a relatively good time, partly because life was now more peaceful. However, during the Lesser Wrath (1741–1742), Finland was again occupied by the Russians after the government, during a period of Hat party dominance, had made a botched attempt to reconquer the lost provinces. Instead the result of the Treaty of Åbo was that the Russian border was moved further to the west. During this time, Russian propaganda hinted at the possibility of creating a separate Finnish kingdom.
Both the ascending Russian Empire and pre-revolutionary France aspired to have Sweden as a client state. Parliamentarians and others with influence were susceptible to taking bribes which they did their best to increase. The integrity and the credibility of the political system waned, and in 1771 the young and charismatic king Gustav III staged a coup d'état, abolished parliamentarism and reinstated royal power in Sweden—more or less with the support of the parliament. In 1788, he started a new war against Russia. Despite a couple of victorious battles, the war was fruitless, managing only to bring disturbance to the economic life of Finland. The popularity of King Gustav III waned considerably. During the war, a group of officers made the famous Anjala declaration demanding peace negotiations and calling of Riksdag (Parliament). An interesting sideline to this process was the conspiracy of some Finnish officers, who attempted to create an independent Finnish state with Russian support. After an initial shock, Gustav III crushed this opposition. In 1789, the new constitution of Sweden strengthened the royal power further, as well as improving the status of the peasantry. However, the continuing war had to be finished without conquests—and many Swedes now considered the king as a tyrant.
With the interruption of the Gustav III's war (1788–1790), the last decades of the 18th century had been an era of development in Finland. New things were changing even everyday life, such as starting of potato farming after the 1750s. New scientific and technical inventions were seen. The first hot air balloon in Finland (and in the whole Swedish kingdom) was made in Oulu (Uleåborg) in 1784, only a year after it was invented in France. Trade increased and the peasantry was growing more affluent and self-conscious. The Age of Enlightenment's climate of broadened debate in the society on issues of politics, religion and morals would in due time highlight the problem that the overwhelming majority of Finns spoke only Finnish, but the cascade of newspapers, belles-lettres and political leaflets was almost exclusively in Swedish—when not in French.
The two Russian occupations had been harsh and were not easily forgotten. These occupations were a seed of a feeling of separateness and otherness, that in a narrow circle of scholars and intellectuals at the university in Turku was forming a sense of a separate Finnish identity representing the eastern part of the realm. The shining influence of the Russian imperial capital Saint Petersburg was also much stronger in southern Finland than in other parts of Sweden, and contacts across the new border dispersed the worst fears for the fate of the educated and trading classes under a Russian régime. At the turn of the 19th century, the Swedish-speaking educated classes of officers, clerics and civil servants were mentally well prepared for a shift of allegiance to the strong Russian Empire.
King Gustav III was assassinated in 1792, and his son Gustav IV Adolf assumed the crown after a period of regency. The new king was not a particularly talented ruler at least not talented enough to steer his kingdom through the dangerous era of the French Revolution and Napoleonic wars.
Meanwhile, the Finnish areas belonging to Russia after the peace treaties in 1721 and 1743 (not including Ingria), called "Old Finland" were initially governed with the old Swedish laws (a not uncommon practice in the expanding Russian Empire in the 18th century). However, gradually the rulers of Russia granted large estates of land to their non-Finnish favorites, ignoring the traditional landownership and peasant freedom laws of Old Finland. There were even cases where the noblemen punished peasants corporally, for example by flogging. The overall situation caused decline in the economy and morale in Old Finland, worsened since 1797 when the area was forced to send men to the Imperial Army. The construction of military installations in the area brought thousands of non-Finnish people to the region. In 1812, after the Russian conquest of Finland, "Old Finland" was rejoined to the rest of the country but the landownership question remained a serious problem until the 1870s.
While the king of Sweden sent in his governor to rule Finland, in day to day reality the villagers ran their own affairs using traditional local assemblies (called the ting) which selected a local "lagman", or lawman, to enforce the norms. The Swedes used the parish system to collect taxes. The socken (local parish) was at once a community religious organization and a judicial district that administered the king's law. The ting participated in the taxation process taxes were collected by the bailiff, a royal appointee. 
In contrast to serfdom in Germany and Russia, the Finnish peasant was typically a freeholder who owned and controlled his small plot of land. There was no serfdom in which peasants were permanently attached to specific lands, and were ruled by the owners of that land. In Finland (and Sweden) the peasants formed one of the four estates and were represented in the parliament. Outside the political sphere, however, the peasants were considered at the bottom of the social order—just above vagabonds. The upper classes looked down on them as excessively prone to drunkenness and laziness, as clannish and untrustworthy, and especially as lacking honor and a sense of national spirit. This disdain dramatically changed in the 19th century when everyone idealised the peasant as the true carrier of Finnishness and the national ethos, as opposed to the Swedish-speaking elites.
The peasants were not passive they were proud of their traditions and would band together and fight to uphold their traditional rights in the face of burdensome taxes from the king or new demands by the landowning nobility. The great Cudgel War in the south in 1596–1597 attacked the nobles and their new system of state feudalism this bloody revolt was similar to other contemporary peasant wars in Europe.  In the north, there was less tension between nobles and peasants and more equality among peasants, due to the practice of subdividing farms among heirs, to non farm economic activities, and to the small numbers of nobility and gentry. Often the nobles and landowners were paternalistic and helpful. The Crown usually sided with the nobles, but after the "restitution" of the 1680s it ended the practice of the nobility extracting labor from the peasants and instead began a new tax system whereby royal bureaucrats collected taxes directly from the peasants, who disliked the efficient new system. After 1800 growing population pressure resulted in larger numbers of poor crofters and landless laborers and the impoverishment of small farmers. 
The fortress of Suomenlinna sits upon a group of small islands and guards the approach to Helsinki Harbor. Construction of the fortress began in 1748 under the guidance of the king of Sweden, to whom Finland belonged at the time. Under Swedish rule, it was known as Sveaborg. It is one of the largest maritime fortresses in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It was transferred to civilian administration in 1973. Visitors reach Suomenlinna by ferry and can explore tunnels, fortifications and even a vintage Finnish submarine named Vesikko.
Finland trip planner
Combining vast Nordic wilderness with bustling hip cities, Finland offers something to delight and surprise all its visitors. Generally speaking, the northern region is populated by unspoiled pine forests, glistening blue lakes, and a plethora of interesting wildlife, while the south is home to the nation's thoroughly modern urban centers. Although Finland holds the title of most sparsely populated county in the European Union, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs in cities like Helsinki, Espoo, and Tampere are often packed with fun-loving Finns. Do bring your dancing shoes, but don't forget your hiking boots either--you'll want to make use of the country's 37 national parks, spread throughout this "Land of a Thousand Lakes".
Places to Visit in Finland
Regions of Finland
Lapland: Finland's northernmost and largest region, Lapland is home to untouched Arctic nature, where thick forests, clear lakes, and countless hiking trails make up a wealth of outdoor attractions.
Southern Finland: Gorgeous national parks meet vibrant and bustling cities in Southern Finland, where easy access to the country's cultural life and natural beauty give you plenty of vacation ideas.
Western Finland: Countryside and coastline attract visitors to Western Finland the former capital Turku and the popular Moomin theme park make this region a good choice for a family holiday.
Eastern Finland: Quaint cottages and picturesque scenery make Eastern Finland one of the country's most relaxing destinations, where kicking back in a sauna and feasting on local delicacies remain time-honored traditions.
Aland: This archipelago of over 6,000 islands abounds with natural beauty, where cycling and ferry-hopping are the primary forms of transportation.
Cities in Finland
Helsinki: Sprawled across a 300-plus island peninsula and famed for its varied architectural styles, Helsinki is the star of urban life, ranking high among places to visit in Finland.
Rovaniemi: No Finland itinerary is complete without a visit to this picturesque Arctic city, home to Santa Claus and Finnish saunas.
Tampere: Often considered one of Finland's cultural and artistic centers, Tampere is packed with museums, art galleries, and live music venues.
Levi: Catch snowy slopes, lively nightlife, and a glimpse of the Northern Lights in Levi, Finland's largest and most popular ski resort.
Turku: Known as the Official Christmas City of Finland, Turku is rich with medieval architecture while maintaining a lively and charming ambiance.
Porvoo: Porvoo's cobbled streets and wooden red-and-yellow 19th-century buildings set it apart as one of Finland's most charming towns.
Things to Do in Finland
Popular Finland Tourist Attractions
Fortress of Suomenlinna: A favorite destination among tourists and locals alike, this 18th-century fortress is built across six islands.
Temppeliaukion Church: Carved from rock in the heart of Helsinki, this unique church is one of the top places to see in Finland.
Helsinki Cathedral: Located in Helsinki's Senate Square, this 19th-century neoclassical cathedral represents a product of the region's Russian occupation.
The Esplanadi Park: Stroll down Helsinki's famed green space, stop in at one of the many shops and restaurants, or catch the annual Marimekko Fashion Show.
Uspenskin Cathedral (Uspenskin Katedraali): This imposing Orthodox cathedral has a Russian-influenced design and offers a great view of Helsinki.
Santa Claus Village: Enliven your Finland trip with a visit to Santa Claus Village, a Christmas theme park above the Arctic Circle.
Senate Square: Helsinki's central square boasts a neoclassical design and often plays host to fairs and concerts.
Helsinki Zoo: The structure of this 19th-century zoo, perched atop a rocky island, impresses visitors as much as its 150-plus animal species.
Central railway station: Plan your routes to Finland's top tourist attractions from this ornate train station and take time to admire a prime example of Helsinki's celebrated architecture.
Seurasaari Island and Open-Air Museum: This large open-air museum with 85 buildings allows adults and children alike to immerse themselves in Finnish folk traditions and regional history.
Planning a Finland Vacation with Kids
Places to Visit in Finland with Kids
A Finland holiday offers various options for families traveling with kids, from outdoor adventures to rich cultural experiences. The Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi welcomes children from around the world year-round to meet Santa and experience Christmas cheer. A similar attraction not far away, SantaPark features many activities and entertainment options for young ones. The Helsinki Zoo and SEA LIFE Helsinki let kids get up close to hundreds of different land and marine animals. Children young and old can take a break from sightseeing at the nearby Linnanmaki, famous for its large wooden roller coaster and a 19th-century carousel. Enjoy Finland's great outdoors with a visit to the Levi Ski Resort, boasting slopes and classes for every skill level and age.
Things to Do in Finland with Kids
When it comes to family-friendly activities, Finland offers a range of vacation ideas. Major cities like Helsinki, Rovaniemi, and Tampere offer enough museums, monuments, and amusement parks to keep kids busy for days. All of Finland's major regions offer a different look at the country's rich history and geography. From hiking along Lapland's Arctic trails to cycling across Aland Island, Finland's beautiful scenery is always within reach. Don't miss the chance to explore architectural and historical landmarks, such as the 13th-century Turku Castle and the Fortress of Suomenlinna, a World Heritage Site.
Tips for a Family Vacation in Finland
To optimize your family vacation in Finland, be sure to plan your time evenly between urban and outdoor attractions. Consider spending three to four days in Helsinki before heading to beaches in the west or the relaxing lakes in the east. While Finns are generally relaxed and easygoing, they consider being loud or arguing in public rude behavior. With that in mind, be sure to explain to children to keep their games and quarrels at a respectable volume.
Dining and Shopping on Holiday in Finland
Cuisine of Finland
Finnish cuisine, like the cuisine of its Nordic neighbors, relies heavily on bread and potatoes as the staple of most meals. While dining out is less common and often more expensive than in Southern European countries, a Finland tour would be incomplete without sampling at least some of the traditional regional specialties. With its abundant bodies of water, Finland gives seafood pride of place, with smoked salmon, "gravlax" (raw salted salmon), and Baltic herring among the most popular choices. In Eastern Finland, don't miss "kalakukko" (large fish pie), and Tampere's famous "mustamakkara" (blood sausage) is a must-try for adventurous eaters.
Shopping in Finland
Shopping in Finland can be expensive, but those who like to collect trinkets during their travels have various options. Moomin character figurines and collectors' items are popular buys in many souvenir shops. Most of Finland's tourism destinations have gift shops selling traditional Finnish handicraft items, such as "puukko" knives and handicrafts from Lapland (be sure to check for the "Sámi Duodji" label to ensure the product's authenticity). Other popular buys include Kalevala Koru jewelry, Arabia ceramics, and Marimekko clothing.
Know Before You Go on a Trip to Finland
History of Finland
Previously a region of Sweden, Finland emerged in modern history in the 19th century, when the Finnish War of 1808-1809 left the area an autonomous grand duchy under Russia. After the advent of the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, Finnish separatists took the opportunity to declare independence in December of that year. A civil war left the conservative Whites in power, who allied with Germany during World War II in opposition to the Soviet Union.
Finland remained neutral following World War II and throughout the Cold War, effectively avoiding a communist government as well as membership in the Warsaw Pact. Its democratic system allowed Finland to foster a strong trade relationship with its Nordic neighbors and eventually with the rest of Western Europe. It then rapidly grew into one of Europe's most prosperous countries and has remained a strong modern industrial economy, as evinced through the success of high-tech giant Nokia.
Swedish and Russian legacies are evident across Finland's tourist attractions. For example, the region of Aland remains primarily Swedish speaking, while monuments such as the Uspenskin Cathedral (Uspenskin Katedraali) display the grandeur of Russia's tsarist empire.
Today, Finland is a member of the European Union and remains the only Scandinavian country to adopt the Euro currency. It is often considered one of the most socially progressive countries in the world, ranking highly in education, quality of life, and human development.
Customs of Finland
To make the most of your Finland holiday, familiarize yourself with some of the country's customs and etiquette. Finns are famously reserved, with small talk considered unnecessary and sometimes inappropriate. When greeting a Finn, a handshake with eye contact will suffice embracing and kissing are reserved exclusively for family members and close friends. If invited to a Finnish home, be sure to arrive punctually and remove your shoes at the entrance. Bringing a small gift to your host is not necessary, though certainly appreciated.
Holidays & Festivals in Finland
Most holidays and festivals in Finland are celebrated at home with family. With Lutheran Protestantism as the country's primary religion, typical Christian holidays such as Easter and Christmas are widely observed. Finns take Christmas quite seriously, as you can see in Christmas-themed parks like Santa Claus Village and SantaPark. The holiday is so popular, in fact, that most Finnish businesses celebrate "Little Christmas" throughout December, which amounts mostly to a pub crawl.
If your Finland itinerary takes you through one of the major cities on the eve of May 1, you'll have the chance to experience one of the few festivals that is widely celebrated in public: Walpurgis Night, also commonly known as Vappu. This tradition sees students in colorful overalls parading through the streets, followed by open-air picnics.
Finland Travel Tips
Climate of Finland
Most travelers plan a Finland vacation in the summer, with the mildest and warmest temperatures occurring between May and September. Temperatures through these months stay steady around 20-23 C (68-73 F). Summers in Finland are also famous for their midnight sun around the summer solstice, during which the sun sets only briefly each day. On the flipside, Finns endure very few hours of sunlight (and sometimes bitter cold) during the winter, even in the country's southern cities.
Transportation in Finland
Traveling around Finland is easy, but can quickly become expensive if not planned properly. A few major airlines offer domestic flights to various major cities and tourist destinations. Fast trains operated by VR, the Finnish Railways, offer regular service between places like Helsinki, Tampere, and Turku. If your Finland tour is part of a wider trip across Europe, note that the country participates in the Inter Rail and Eurail programs. Other popular transportation options include bus, car, and ferry.
Language of Finland
Although Finland is officially bilingual, Finnish remains the most widely spoken language, with only 5.6 percent of the population claiming Swedish as their mother tongue. And while most Finns (especially younger ones) speak excellent English, learning a few common phrases in Finnish can go a long way--just remember that Finnish matches the population's taciturn nature, often leaving aside common English phrases like "please," "thank you," and "you're welcome."
Nongovernmental Organizations and Other Associations
About 10 to 15 percent of the government's aid budget is allocated to nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) involved in development and humanitarian projects. In 1997, as many as one hundred fifty Finnish NGOs maintained four hundred projects in more than seventy countries, mostly in Africa and Asia. The Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission, the Finnish Free Foreign Mission, Finnchurchaid, the Finnish Red Cross, and the Trade Union Solidarity Centre account for a large share of NGO activity.
Ruins of Kuusisto castle. Photo: Jouni Heikkinen/Vastavalo
All the castles mentioned so far were erected by the Swedish Crown in order both to defend Finland as part of the Kingdom, and to organize administration and taxation through the bailiffs. However, there was one more fairly big castle which played an important part in the history of the Finnish part of the kingdom of Sweden throughout the Middle Ages. This castle, called Kuusisto (or Kustö in Swedish), lay just southeast of Turku, where building work commissioned by the Bishop in Turku had started in 1317. This bishop was one of a total of seven in the kingdom of Sweden and his bishopric was the second largest, stretching all the way from Viborg in the east to Finnish Lapland in the north. Since the bishop was also a member of the council of the realm, he was not just an ecclesiastic but a political figure as well, and this was one reason why he needed a fortress: he also kept a private army. When the Muscovites besieged Viborg in 1495, Bishop Magnus III was able to contribute one hundred armed knights to its defense.
Kuusisto today is a ruin, because Gustavus Vasa ordered its destruction in 1528 as part of his battle against the Catholic Church after the Reformation. However, it is still possible to see that the castle comprised a keep and three baileys. There are the remains of gun towers, probably built in the 1480s, at the corners. Cannons were necessary to protect the Bishop in his stronghold.
While Finland is praised for its progressive “open-prison” system, it also suffers from drawbacks of the system. In Finland, prisoners are allowed to circulate in the surrounding community during the daytime. They can study, work, or shop like other free individuals. Such a system is considered to be cost-effective, and is also believed to lower reoffending rates. However, the system also makes it easy for prisoners to escape. Finland’s prisoners have an escape rate of 1,084 per 10,000 inmates, which is the highest in Europe.
Individuals with a Finnish passport can access 175 countries around the world without a visa. It is the world’sthird most powerful passport, after those of Germany and Singapore.