Official name: Republic of Finland
Official languages: Finnish (92%), Swedish (5,5%)
Finland in Finnish: Suomi
Finland in Swedish: Finland
Population: 5,5 million with 67% living in urban areas
Capital: Helsinki (628,000 inhabitants, 1.4 million in the metropolitan area)
Total area: 338 145 square km
- 70% forest
- 10% water (187 888 lakes, 5 100 rapids and 179 584 islands and Europe’s largest archipelago)
GDP per capita: $49,497
Independence Day: December 6 (Independent republic since 1917)
Head of State: The President of the Republic is elected for a 6-year term by direct popular vote.
Parliament: One chamber with 200 members elected for a 4-year term by direct popular vote on a proportional basis.
Government: The Prime Minister is elected by Parliament and thereafter formally appointed to office by the President of the Republic.
Member of the European Union: since 1995
Currency: Euro (€, EUR). All bank notes and coins can be used anywhere in the euro zone. There are seven different euro notes and they appear in 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5 euro denominations.
Electricity: The voltage is 230 AC (50 cycles). Plugs are two round pin continental style.
Time: Finland is two hours ahead of UTC. Finland uses the 24-hour clock and has daylight saving time.
Weather: In Finland temperatures are given in degrees Celsius “°C”. Summer is warm and bright with almost 20 hours of daylight at the latitude of Helsinki. The temperature often rises above +20 °C and occasionally goes close to +30 °C in southern and eastern parts of the country. Autumn and spring can be rainy. In the south of Finland, snow usually arrives in December. The mean temperature in Helsinki in July is +17°C and in February -5.7°C.
Finland’s excellent reputation in education, combined with a wide range of courses offered in English, makes Finland an attractive study destination for international students. Boasting the largest technology hub of the Nordic countries, Finland is a world leader in information technology, business, design and many other academically centred fields. This is a result of Finnish education being internationally oriented and among the best in the world. Students benefit from the high quality of life, the stable yet dynamic economy, the safe and laidback atmosphere, the networked and transparent open civic society, and the ease and safety of getting around whether by public transport, bicycle, or on foot.
With a combination of western and eastern influences, Finnish culture has developed into something strong and highly individual. It reflects the democratic principles of the nation and is based on equality of all people.
The Finnish way of life is easy going with strict formalities not particularly observed. People are more or less straight forward and gaps or pauses in conversations aren’t generally dreaded the way they are in many other countries.
Helsinki Day © Lauri Rotko / Visit Finland
The majority of Finland’s 5,4 million inhabitants speak Finnish as their mother tongue, with almost 6% speaking Swedish as a first language instead. A third language, Sámi, is spoken by a very small minority in northernmost Lapland, and has as an official status alongside Finnish and Swedish. As a visitor, you do not need to speak and understand any of these languages, since almost all Finns speak English, and often many other languages as well. However, knowing some Finnish is recommended and will increase your ability to enjoy all Finland has to offer. Pay a visit to Aalto’s Language Centre pages for information about courses in Finnish language and culture.
Helsinki, the capital of the Republic of Finland, is a modern and vibrant city with over half a million residents, and is situated on the coast of the Baltic Sea, surrounded by a picturesque archipelago composed of hundreds of tiny islands. Helsinki together with the neighbouring cities of Espoo, Kauniainen and Vantaa forms the Helsinki Metropolitan Area (or Helsinki Region) with more than a million inhabitants. In 2000 Helsinki was an official European City of Culture while celebrating its 450th anniversary and last year, in 2012, Helsinki was designated as the World Design Capital.
Helsinki is unique among Northern European cities. The lifestyle in the second most northern capital city in the world is full of contrasts and activities in the form of hundreds of events and friendly people from all over the world.
Helsinki Cathedral © Janne Suhonen / Visit Finland
There are few other countries in the world that can match Finland as a safe place to live.
As a place to study, work or raise children, Finland is hard to beat. The safe environment is one factor in Finland being ranked as the Number One Country the World, in a study conducted by America’s Newsweek.
Finland’s economy has been amongst the strongest in Europe during the global economic slowdown. This strength is due, in part, to a strong technology sector and encouraging environment for entrepreneurship.
When it comes to technology, Finland has a strong competitive edge. Major well-known international companies are proof of the country’s capabilities in many fields: Nokia in telecommunications, Kone in the lift and escalator industry, Metso Paper Inc as the supplier of technology, systems and equipment for the pulp and paper industries, and paper companies UPM-Kymmene and Stora Enso. The World Economic Forum has listed Finland as the leading country in the world in the field of information technology. Finland has one of the world’s densest concentrations of mobile phones with an average of 1.3 mobile phones per citizen.
Finland is also renowned for its design and architecture. Finnish design brands such as Iittala, Arabia and Marimekko are respected the world over. Tapio Wirkkala, Timo Sarpaneva and Stefan Lindfors are among the best-known of Finland’s designers abroad whilst the architects Alvar Aalto (after whom Aalto University is named) and Eliel Saarinen are the biggest names in Finnish architecture.
Yoga by the lake © Eeva Mäkinen / Visit Finland
Finland’s countryside is blessed with vast expanses of forest and over 180,000 picturesque lakes. Hidden amongst this beautiful natural setting you’ll find over half a million summer cottages.
Many Finns, and foreigners too, think one of the best aspects of Finland is the pristine untouched countryside with its lakes and forests. Finland loves its outdoors and activities can be as varied as the seasons, from swimming in the ocean and relaxing on a beach, during a long lazy summer day; then when winter rolls around, you can cross country ski through a snow dusted forest.
Finland is a place where the work-life balance really matters
People take time to go outside, no matter what the season, and they use their free time to relax and enjoy life. Fresh air and clean water are taken for granted here in Finland. There is never any smog or times when you shouldn't go outside.
Finns find ways to enjoy what nature has to offer in some weird and wonderful ways. You will undoubtedly have heard about the sauna (invented in Finland - we even use their word in English), but there’s also the uniquely Finnish outdoor pursuits of mobile phone throwing and wife carrying.