Finland is well known through out the world for its natural beauty. Thousands of islands and lakes have given shape to this beautiful country. It is one of those very few countries, which are still expanding. To be more precise Finland is expanding by about 7 sq. kilometres per year. Supporting a huge population, which is growing by the day, Finland has experienced a steady economic growth during the last couple of years. Its core competency lies in wood, metals, engineering, telecommunications, and electronics industries.
There are enough evidences that suggest life existed in Finland during prehistoric times and human beings lived in this part of the world in Stone Age, Bronze Age and Iron Age. But, proper documentation of historic events is unavailable up till 13th century AD. History from this time shows that Finland had 700-year association with Sweden. This made Swedish the language for administration and education, while the Finnish language took a back seat and was only used by peasants and clergymen.
Things started changing from 19th century onwards and in 1917 Finland became independent. Though Soviets intervened for quite sometime in internal policies of this Scandinavian country, still it was able to follow a model, which is based on open market economy. Today, Finland follows a semi-presidential system where legislative council enjoys some special powers.
Finland was almost totally buried under a continental ice sheet, just as Greenland is today about twelve thousand years ago. With the passing of time the ice grew thinner until the earth crust rose and the process is still on. Occupying an approximate area of 338,145 square kilometers, the terrain of Finland constitutes generally of low flat lands and rolling plains sprinkled with numerous lakes and low hills. With Norway on the North, Soviet Union in the east and Sweden in the west, Finland is situated in the northernmost part of Europe.
The rocky shoreline along the south of Finland stretches more than a thousand kilometres and is dotted with various coves and creeks. Many big and small islands can be found scattered around this rock and water prevailing country. The clay plains along this coastline enhances agricultural cultivation is a major way.
The country is also gnarled by continental glaciers. The solid mass of these glaciers are depressing the ground for which Finland is rising above the sea. Meaning, unlike many other countries, Finland is expanding little by little every year.
The upper part of Finland goes beyond the Arctic Circle. The farthest point in the north of this region is called Lapland and Haltiatunturi (1,328 m) is said to be the highest point of Finland. This beautiful country possesses widespread arctic woodlands that cover a major portion of the land. Being famous for lakes, there are more than 55,000 lakes in this country. Lake Saimaa is said to be the fifth largest lake in entire Europe.
Finland is famous throughout the world for its lakes and islands. For readers who are more interested to know about the actual statistics, Finland has 187,888 lakes and 179,584 islands. This Finnish countryside is mostly flat with a few exceptions. In north of Lapland one can come across the Haltitunturi, 1,328 m high and termed as the highest point of Finland. Apart from the lakes and picturesque countryside, this beautiful country possesses widespread boreal forests, which actually covers 68% of land area. Finland actually comprises of numerous islands found in the southwest, the southern coast in Gulf of Finland and portion of the archipelago of the Aland Islands. As mentioned above, Finland is one of those few countries that are still expanding. This is due to the iso-static uplift that has been going on since the last ice age. At present, the surface area of Finland is growing at 7 sq. kilometres per year rate.
Winter Finnish landscape
The key factor that influence Finland's climate is its geographical location between the 60th and 70th northern parallels in the Eurasian continent's coastal region, which clearly reflects attributes of both a maritime and a continental climate, depending on the course of wind. The mean temperature in Finland is quite a few degrees (as much as 10°C in winter) higher than that of other areas in these latitudes. The temperature is elevated by the Baltic Sea, inland waters and, above all, by wind from the Atlantic, which are warmed by the Gulf waters.
When westerly winds prevail, the weather is warm and clear in most of the country due to the 'föhn' occurrence caused by the Keel range. Despite the restrained effect of the ocean, the Asian continental climate also extends to Finland at times, offering chilling cold in winter and scorching heat in summer.
Since Finland is positioned in the zone of prevailing westerly where tropical and polar air masses assemble, weather types can change quite rapidly, particularly in winter. The systems known to influence Finnish weather are the low-pressure system usually found near Iceland and the high-pressure systems in Siberia and the Azores. The place and strength of these systems differ, and any one of them can dominate the weather for a substantial amount of time.
Finland belongs entirely to the temperate coniferous-mixed forest zone with cold, wet winters, where the mean temperature of the warmest month is not less than 10°C and that of the coldest month not higher than -3°C, and where the average rainfall is moderate in all seasons.
Previously Finland was part of the Swedish realm for some 600 years up to 1809 and then attached to the Russian empire for just over a century. However with the Independent since 1917 after the Bolshevik Revolution along with the membership in the European Union, Finland has come a long way. For centuries, Finland had to experience the crucial game of tug of war between Sweden and Russia. From the later part of the 16th century Swedish rule brought a dreary sentiment among the Finnish people. Sweden used the Finnish colony as a shock-absorber from the Russian Empire and in the meantime wrecked havoc over the economic conditions of the country. Moreover, Sweden also used Finnish male members for meaningless battles as well. The wave of Christianity also spread during this time. The Swedes tried their best to spread their culture and traditions in Finland, making Swedish the official language of Finland.
Finland, during the Ice Age was buried deep under ice sheets that later with the course of time melted away and formed the Finnish peninsular. The first Finnish dwellers can be traced way back to 7000 BC and even before that. These people were probably lured by the melting of ice that formed the endless lakes, archipelagos and the rolling plains. Their major occupation became fishing and hunting. As time elapsed the Finns formed small political divisions and with only loose attachments with other clans. Pottery came into prominence. Historians are of the opinion that the people who spoke Finno-Ugric language came to the country during the Stone Age. But it was in 3200 BC that the skills of agricultural activities were adopted by them. Unfortunately the many documents of enlightening about the events and history before 13th century AD are said to have been lost in forests of Nordic myths and tales. However, with the Swedish rule most of the incidents were documented and written down.
Finland suffered a lot between 16th and 18th century. In the18th century, Russian Army twice attacked Finland and they took control of this nation first between 1714 and 1721 and then between 1742 and 1743. Finally in 1808 forces of Russian Emperor Alexander I seized Finland. To cut off all bonds with Sweden, the Finnish language was immediately promoted to higher status by a strong nationalist movement and also by the Imperial court. Kalevala, Finland’s National epic, was published in 1835 and Finnish language got the status previously enjoyed by Swedish language in 1892.
During the World War II Finland allied with Germany against USSR. But United States declared war against Finland and as a result Soviet Russia attacked Finland. The impact was devastating. Few parts of the territory were taken away and Finland had to compensate to USSR. After the war it took Finland a bit of time to recover the loss. During the middle part of 20th century Russia implemented its power over the political matters of Finland. Therefore this led Finland to keep an unbiased relation with USSR. Esko Aho became the Prime Minster of Finland in 1991 after Soviet Union collapsed. This also led to the crumbling of the Finnish-Soviet Defense Treaty that made the Russians treat Finland as their equals.
Economically, Finland has come a long way from being an agro-based country to its current position of high technological outputs. Presently Finland boasts to have an extensive industrial and financial infrastructure supported by the abundance of forest recourses and capital investments as well. Finland also excels in high-tech exports like mobile phones.
Except for timber and several minerals, Finland depends on imported raw materials, energy, and some components for its manufactured products. The harvests that are obtained from the farms tend to be small, but farmers own sizable timber stands that is harvested for supplementary income in winter. The country's main agricultural products are dairy, meat, and grains. Finland's EU accession has accelerated the process of restructuring and downsizing of this sector. The basic areas of trade and commerce are engineering, telecommunications and electronics, wood, metals and so on.
Finland’s per capita production tallies with many other leading European countries. Where exports are concerned, Finland does not lag behind either. The major items of exports are ships, boats, telecommunication equipments, automobiles, paper and paper products, petroleum products and so on. With the decrease in unemployment along with raise in GDP, the Finnish economy has made enormous strides since the severe depression of the last part of the 20th century. Finland successfully joined the euro zone and has outperformed euro-area partners in terms of economic development and public finance. Recently Finland has joined the European Economic and Monetary Union along many other countries. This new development would enhance the economic and financial growth of Finland.
Finland elects its President by direct public voting. A Presidential election takes place every 6 years and if the President passes away during Office, then re-election takes place immediately. Finland has semi-presidential system. The President is responsible for the appointing of the Prime Minister along with the cabinet ministers. The President also is officially accountable for the foreign affairs as well. The President has to be a native-born citizen of Finland and can be re-elected more than once. The President also has the power to declare emergency as well.
The Prime Minister being the political leader of the Government the council of the state also called the Cabinet. The person occupying the office of the Prime Minister is accountable for implementation of the different Government policies and programs. These policies are held by the various parties in the Government. Furthermore, he is responsible for coordinating the work of the Government with that of Parliament. It is the President’s duty to appoint the Prime Minister. However, the Prime Minister stands in for the President whenever a crisis arises and the President fails or is banned to carry out his duties.
Finland is a Republic country. The legislature can succeed presidential sanctions and these acts are not subjected to judicial reviews. The supreme legislative authority in Finland is the Eduskunta that is the unicameral Parliament. The 200 members are supposed to run a four year term and all the districts run this on the basis of equal representation.
The maintaining of legal order and legal safeguard is maintained by the Ministry of Justice. The system also looks after the fundamental rights of the citizens and the structure of democracy. The Ministry aims at an open, active and safe society where people can be confident that their rights will be respected. It also drafts important laws along with maintaining the proper function of the judicial system. The judicial system has been subdivided into separate sections. There are individual courts for civil and criminal jurisdiction. The judicial system also looks after the enforcement of sentences. The administrative courts are responsible for proceedings, among individuals and administrative organs of the state and the people. There are local courts, regional courts and Supreme Court. The High court allows prosecuting the President of the country for criminal offenses.
The Bengtskar lighthouse