Finland is a sparsely populated country. It has a population of 5.4 million people (2011 estimate), of which about one million people live within the Greater Helsinki area, which includes Helsinki, Espoo, Kaunianen and Vantaa. The area also produces a third of the nation’s GDP.
Finnish National Theatre, Helsinki
Author: Tuppence1 (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported)
Historically, Finland was a part of Sweden. From 1809 until the Finnish Declaration of Independence in 1917, it was an autonomous Grand Duchy within the Russian Empire. It was a largely agrarian country until the 1950’s, after which it experienced rapid economic development. In 2010, it ranks as the best country in the world in terms of health, economic dynamism, education, political environment and quality of life, according to a Newsweek survey.
Finland is officially a bilingual country, to accommodate the 5.6% of its population that speaks Swedish. Place names are often signaged in both Finnish and Swedish, especially in the Swedish-speaking parts of Finland which are on the southern and western coasts of the country.
Church of Muonio, Finland
Author: Jvuollo (public domain)
Climate of Finland
Finland experiences a temperate climate. Due to its latitudes, winters are dark and cold, with temperature dropping below -10°C. In summer, temperatures may rise above 20°C, and on occasions, be over 30°C.
Going to Finland
As a member of the Schengen Agreement, Finland permits nationals of the EU and EFTA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) entry into the country with only an approved ID card.
As of December 2010, nationals of the following non-EU/EFTA countries do not need a visa to enter the Schengen Agreement area: Albania*, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina*, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Macau, Macedonia*, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro*, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Serbia*, Seychelles, Singapore, South Korea, United States, Uruguay, Vatican City, Venezuela and British Overseas Nationals. In addition, nationals of Taiwan will enjoy the same visa exemption from 11 January 2011.
*National of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia need a biometric passport to enjoy visa-free travel while Serbs residing in Kovoso and holding passports issued by the Serbian Coordination Directorate still do not need a visa.
Winter forest in Ruissalo, Finland
Author: Jan-Erik Finnberg (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic)
Arriving in Finland
The Helsinki-Vantaa Airport is the main international airport for Finland. It is home to Finnair, Blue1, Air Finland and Fincomm Airlines. For budget carriers, Ryannair’s hub is Tampere while Wizz Air is building its hub in Turku.
There are train services from Saint Petersburg in Russia. The new Allegro trains travels at a speed of 220kmph. They cover the distance between Helsinki and Saint Petersburg in three hours, and costs €84 one way. There are also regular trains connecting Helsinki with Moscow, a 15-hour journey.
Major Towns in Finland
- Helsinki – capital
Tourist Attractions of Finland
- Hämeenlinna Castle
Finland’s oldest castle.
World’s biggest snow castle.
- Olavinlinna Castle
One of the most beautiful castles in Finland.
Finland’s second oldest city.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Finland
- Fortress of Suomenlinna
- Old Rauma
- Petäjävesi Old Church
- Verla Groundwood and Board Mill
- Bronze Age Burial Site of Sammallahdenmäki
- Struve Geodetic Arc
- High Coast / Kvarken Archipelago
Major National Parks in Finland
- Koli National Park
- Nuuksio National Park
- Salamajärvi National Park