What Should I Know About Finland?

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  • Written By: Mary Elizabeth
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 14 October 2019
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Finland is a country in Northern Europe. One third of Finland, the portion known as Lapland, is north of the Arctic Circle. Finland border the two Scandinavian countries of Sweden and Norway and Russia, and on the southern portion is bordered by the Gulf of Bothnia, the Gulf of Finland, and the Baltic Sea. The capital is Helsinki.

Officially called the Republic of Finland, the country is home to about 5.4 million people. Finnish and Swedish are both official languages of Finland, but Finnish is spoken by 92 percent of the population and Swedish by only 5.6 percent. A few minority populations speak other languages.

Famous Finns include:

  • composer Jean Sibelius, who wrote seven symphonies and made reference to The Kalevala in his work and who is especially known for his symphonic poem Finlandia
  • conductor and composer Esa-Pekka Salonen, who has been principal conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic since 1992
  • architect Eero Saarinen, who became a US citizen and designed Dulles International Airport, the TWA terminal at JFK airport, and the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial outside St. Louis
  • Olympic runner Paavo Nurmi, middle and long distance runner who won 12 gold and silver medals; and
  • Elias Lönnrot, who helped preserve the Kalevala, the Finnish national epic.

Finland is dependent on manufacturing, which forms the prime sector of its industry. Its agricultural products include barley and wheat, sugar beets, potatoes, dairy, cattle, and fish, while its industrial output includes work with metal, electronics, machinery, and timber related industry such as shipbuilding, pulp, and paper production.

Finnish cuisine includes local meats such as bear, elk, and reindeer, as well as seafood, such as pickled herring, and freshwater delicacies, such as salmon and crayfish. A meal called voileipäpöytä, Americans might recognize by the name smorgasbord. Regional berries, including lingonberries, brambleberies, and cloudberries are also used.


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