What is Finland?

What is Finland and other information about this mysterious land.


Background: Long ruled by foreign powers, including Sweden and the pre-revolutionary Russian Empire, Finland finally declared independence in 1917. During World War II, Finland fought the USSR twice and then the Germans toward the end of the war. In the following half-century, the Finns made a remarkable transformation from a farm/forest economy to a diversified modern industrial economy. Per capita income has risen to the West European level; Finland is a member of the European Union and is the only Nordic state to join the euro system at its initiation in January 1999.


Location: Northern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea, Gulf of Bothnia, and Gulf of Finland, between Sweden and Russia

Geographic coordinates: 64 00 N, 26 00 E

Map references: Europe


total: 337,030 sq km

land: 305,470 sq km

water: 31,560 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

Coastline: 1,126 km (excludes islands and coastal indentations)

Maritime claims:

contiguous zone: 6 nm

continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation

exclusive fishing zone: 12 nm

territorial sea: 12 nm (in the Gulf of Finland—3 nm)

Climate: cold temperate; potentially subarctic, but comparatively mild because of moderating influence of the North Atlantic Current, Baltic Sea, and more than 60,000 lakes

Terrain: mostly low, flat to rolling plains interspersed with lakes and low hills

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Baltic Sea 0 m

highest point: Haltiatunturi 1,328 m

Natural resources: timber, copper, zinc, iron ore, silver

Land use:

arable land: 8%

permanent crops: NA%

permanent pastures: NA%

forests and woodland: 76%

other: 16% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 640 sq km (1993 est.)

Natural hazards: NA

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

Environment—international agreements:

party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Sulphur 85, Air Pollution-Sulphur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Nuclear Test Ban, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling

signed, but not ratified: Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol

Geography—note: long boundary with Russia; Helsinki is northernmost national capital on European continent; population concentrated on small southwestern coastal plain


Population: 5,158,372 (July 1999 est.)

Age structure:

0-14 years: 18% (male 483,700; female 464,431)

15-64 years: 67% (male 1,743,340; female 1,706,873)

65 years and over: 15% (male 289,405; female 470,623) (1999 est.)

Population growth rate: 0.15% (1999 est.)

Birth rate: 10.77 births/1,000 population (1999 est.)

Death rate: 9.67 deaths/1,000 population (1999 est.)

Net migration rate: 0.4 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1999 est.)

Sex ratio:

at birth: 1.04 male(s)/female

under 15 years: 1.04 male(s)/female

15-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female

65 years and over: 0.61 male(s)/female

total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (1999 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 3.8 deaths/1,000 live births (1999 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:

total population: 77.32 years

male: 73.81 years

female: 80.98 years (1999 est.)

Total fertility rate: 1.68 children born/woman (1999 est.)


noun: Finn(s)

adjective: Finnish

Ethnic groups: Finn 93%, Swede 6%, Lapp 0.11%, Gypsy 0.12%, Tatar 0.02%

Religions: Evangelical Lutheran 89%, Greek Orthodox 1%, none 9%, other 1%

Languages: Finnish 93.5% (official), Swedish 6.3% (official), small Lapp- and Russian-speaking minorities


definition: age 15 and over can read and write

total population: 100% (1980 est.)

male: NA%

female: NA%


Country name:

conventional long form: Republic of Finland

conventional short form: Finland

local long form: Suomen Tasavalta

local short form: Suomi

Data code: FI

Government type: republic

Capital: Helsinki

Administrative divisions: 6 provinces (laanit, singular—laani); Aland, Etela-Suomen Laani, Ita-Suomen Lanni, Lansi-Suomen Laani, Lappi, Oulun Laani

Independence: 6 December 1917 (from Russia)

National holiday: Independence Day, 6 December (1917)

Constitution: 17 July 1919

Legal system: civil law system based on Swedish law; Supreme Court may request legislation interpreting or modifying laws; accepts compulsory ICJ jurisdiction, with reservations

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:

chief of state: President Martti AHTISAARI (since 1 March 1994)

head of government: Prime Minister Paavo LIPPONEN (since 13 April 1995) and Deputy Prime Minister Sauli NIINISTO (since 13 April 1995)

cabinet: Council of State or Valtioneuvosto appointed by the president, responsible to Parliament

elections: president elected by popular vote for a six-year term; election last held 31 January-6 February 1994 (next to be held NA January 2000); prime minister and deputy prime minister appointed from the majority party by the president after parliamentary elections

election results: Martti AHTISAARI elected president; percent of vote—Martti AHTISAARI 54%, Elisabeth REHN 46%

Legislative branch: unicameral Parliament or Eduskunta (200 seats; members are elected by popular vote on a proportional basis to serve four-year terms)

elections: last held 21 March 1999 (next to be held NA March 2003)

election results: percent of vote by party—Social Democratic Party 22.9%, Center Party 22.5%, National Coalition (Conservative) Party 21.0%, Leftist Alliance (Communist) 10.9%, Swedish People's Party 5.1%, Green Union 7.2%, Finnish Christian League 4.2%; seats by party—Social Democratic Party 51, Center Party 48, National Coalition (Conservative) Party 46, Leftist Alliance (Communist) 20, Swedish People's Party 11, Green Union 11, Finnish Christian League 10, other 3

Judicial branch: Supreme Court or Korkein Oikeus, judges appointed by the president

Political parties and leaders:

government coalition: Social Democratic Party [Paavo LIPPONEN]; National Coalition (conservative) Party [Sauli NIINISTO]; Leftist Alliance (Communist) composed of People's Democratic League and Democratic Alternative [Claes ANDERSSON]; Swedish People's Party [(Johan) Ole NORRBACK]; Green League [Pekka HAAVISTO]

other: Center Party [Esko AHO]; Finnish Christian League [C. P. Bjarne KALLIS]; Rural Party [Raimo VISTBACKA]; Liberal People's Party [Pekka RYTILA]; Greens Ecological Party or EPV [Eugen PARKATTI]; Young Finns [Risto PENTTILA]

Political pressure groups and leaders: Finnish Communist Party-Unity [Yrjo HAKANEN]; Constitutional Rightist Party; Finnish Pensioners Party; Communist Workers Party [Timo LAHDENMAKI]


Diplomatic representation in the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador Jaakko Tapani LAAJAVA

chancery: 3301 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008

telephone: [1] (202) 298-5800

FAX: [1] (202) 298-6030

consulate(s) general: Los Angeles and New York

Diplomatic representation from the US:

chief of mission: Ambassador Eric EDELMAN

embassy: Itainen Puistotie 14A, FIN-00140, Helsinki

mailing address: APO AE 09723

telephone: [358] (9) 171931

FAX: [358] (9) 174681

Flag description: white with a blue cross that extends to the edges of the flag; the vertical part of the cross is shifted to the hoist side in the style of the Dannebrog (Danish flag)


Economy—overview: 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, with the export of goods representing about 30% of GDP. 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. The economy has come back from the recession of 1990-92, which had been caused by economic overheating, depressed foreign markets, and the dismantling of the barter system between Finland and the former Soviet Union. Rapidly increasing integration with Western Europe—Finland was one of the 11 countries joining the euro monetary system (EMU) on 1 January 1999—will dominate the economic picture over the next several years. Growth in 1999 probably will slow, perhaps to 3%, a barrier to any substantial drop in unemployment.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$103.6 billion (1998 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 5.1% (1998 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$20,100 (1998 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:

agriculture: 5%

industry: 32%

services: 63% (1997)

Population below poverty line: NA%

Household income or consumption by percentage share:

lowest 10%: 4.2%

highest 10%: 21.6% (1991)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 1.5% (1998 est.)

Labor force: 2.533 million

Labor force—by occupation: public services 30.4%, industry 20.9%, commerce 15%, finance, insurance, and business services 10.2%, agriculture and forestry 8.6%, transport and communications 7.7%, construction 7.2%

Unemployment rate: 12% (1998 est.)


revenues: $33 billion

expenditures: $40 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (1996 est.)

Industries: metal products, shipbuilding, pulp and paper, copper refining, foodstuffs, chemicals, textiles, clothing

Industrial production growth rate: 7.4% (1995)

Electricity—production: 67.469 billion kWh (1996)

Electricity—production by source:

fossil fuel: 54.73%

hydro: 17.35%

nuclear: 27.9%

other: 0.02% (1996)

Electricity—consumption: 71.169 billion kWh (1996)

Electricity—exports: 1.7 billion kWh (1996)

Electricity—imports: 5.4 billion kWh (1996)

Agriculture—products: cereals, sugar beets, potatoes; dairy cattle; fish

Exports: $43 billion (f.o.b., 1998)

Exports—commodities: machinery and equipment, chemicals, metals; timber, paper, and pulp

Exports—partners: Germany 11%, UK 10%, Sweden 10%, US 7%, Russia 7%, France 4%, Japan (1997)

Imports: $30.7 billion (f.o.b., 1998)

Imports—commodities: foodstuffs, petroleum and petroleum products, chemicals, transport equipment, iron and steel, machinery, textile yarn and fabrics, fodder grains

Imports—partners: Germany 15%, Sweden 12%, UK 8%, Russia 8%, US 7%, Japan 5% (1997)

Debt—external: $30 billion (December 1993)

Economic aid—donor: ODA, $388 million (1995)

Currency: 1 markka (FMk) or Finmark = 100 pennia

Exchange rates: markkaa (FMk) per US$1—5.12 (January 1999), 5.3441 (1998), 5.1914 (1997), 4.5936 (1996), 4.3667 (1995), 5.2235 (1994);

note: on 1 January 1999, the European Union introduced a common currency that is now being used by financial institutions in some member countries at the rate of 0.8597 euros per US$ and a fixed rate of 5.93472 Markkaa per euro; the euro will replace the local currency in consenting countries for all transactions in 2002

Fiscal year: calendar year


Telephones: 2.5 million (1995 est.)

Telephone system: modern system with excellent service

domestic: cable, microwave radio relay, and an extensive cellular net care for domestic needs

international: 1 submarine cable; satellite earth stations—access to Intelsat transmission service via a Swedish satellite earth station, 1 Inmarsat (Atlantic and Indian Ocean regions); note—Finland shares the Inmarsat earth station with the other Nordic countries (Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden)

Radio broadcast stations: AM 6, FM 105, shortwave 0

Radios: 4.98 million (1991 est.)

Television broadcast stations: 120 (in addition, there are 431 low-power repeaters) (1997)

Televisions: 1.92 million (1995 est.)



total: 5,859 km

broad gauge: 5,859 km 1.524-m gauge (2,073 km electrified; 480 km double- or more-track) (1996)


total: 77,796 km

paved: 49,789 km (including 444 km of expressways)

unpaved: 28,007 km (1997 est.)

Waterways: 6,675 km total (including Saimaa Canal); 3,700 km suitable for steamers

Pipelines: natural gas 580 km

Ports and harbors: Hamina, Helsinki, Kokkola, Kotka, Loviisa, Oulu, Pori, Rauma, Turku, Uusikaupunki, Varkaus

Merchant marine:

total: 101 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 1,192,559 GRT/1,161,594 DWT

ships by type: bulk 9, cargo 23, chemical tanker 6, oil tanker 11, passenger 1, railcar carrier 1, roll-on/roll-off cargo 38, short-sea passenger 12 (1998 est.)

Airports: 157 (1998 est.)

Airports—with paved runways:

total: 68

over 3,047 m: 3

2,438 to 3,047 m: 26

1,524 to 2,437 m: 10

914 to 1,523 m: 20

under 914 m: 9 (1998 est.)

Airports—with unpaved runways:

total: 89

914 to 1,523 m: 6

under 914 m: 83 (1998 est.)


Military branches: Army, Navy, Air Force, Frontier Guard (includes Sea Guard)

Military manpower—military age: 17 years of age

Military manpower—availability:

males age 15-49: 1,274,654 (1999 est.)

Military manpower—fit for military service:

males age 15-49: 1,050,944 (1999 est.)

Military manpower—reaching military age annually:

males: 34,336 (1999 est.)

Military expenditures—dollar figure: $1.8 billion (1999)

Military expenditures—percent of GDP: 2% (1999)

Transnational Issues

Disputes—international: none

Illicit drugs: minor transshipment point for Latin American cocaine for the West European market

*Information obtained from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Fact Book.

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