Portal Europeo de la Juventud
Información y oportunidades para los jóvenes en Europa.

Facts about Finland and Finnish people

© iStockphoto.com - TriggerPhoto
© iStockphoto.com - TriggerPhoto
Finland is a land of interesting contrasts, such as the four seasons, the Midnight Sun and the winter darkness, urban and rural, East and West.



The population of Finland is 5.4 million. Population density is low, only 15.7 people per square kilometer. Most of the population is concentrated in the south, especially in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area, which is a home to 1.3 million people. Other large cities are Espoo, Tampere, Vantaa and Turku in the south and Oulu in the north. Finnish people may often be quiet to start off with. But when you get to know a Finnish person, you may have a friend for life.




Finland was part of Sweden for over 600 years – from the Middle Ages to the beginning of the 19th century. During this time, Sweden and Russia (Novgorod) fought over Finland on several occasion. The peace treaty of 1323 between Sweden and Novgorod assigned the western and southern parts of Finland to Sweden and the Western European cultural sphere, while eastern Finland, i.e. Karelia, became part of the Russo-Byzantine world. Russia conquered Finland in the 1808–1809 war with Sweden. During the Swedish period, Finland was merely a group of provinces and not a national entity.  When Finland was joined to Russia in 1809 it became an autonomous Grand Duchy, whose administration was left in the hands of Finland’s own government, the Senate, but whose Grand Duke was the Emperor of Russia. On 6 December 1917, shortly after the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, the Finnish Parliament passed a declaration of independence, which separated Finland from Russia. More articles about Finnish history are available on thisisFinland website.


Political system


Finland is a parliamentary democracy with a multiparty political system and a president as the head of state. Finland declared itself independent of the Russian Empire on 6 December 1917. Since independence, Finland has lived with her Western democracy intact, through the Second World War and the Cold War, and has become a member of the European Union.




From the 1940s onwards, Finland set out to build a Nordic welfare state. Modernisation in Finland happened very quickly. Urbanisation, industrialisation and the creation of a service economy happened largely at the same time. Finland represents the traditions of the Nordic welfare state model. Equality between men and women has been emphasised in the Finnish model, and the welfare system has played a crucial role in that. Tax revenues are essential for funding Finnish welfare and society.  


A guide to Finnish customs and manners


Professor Olli Alho has written a practical guide of Finnish customs and manners for foreigners that has been published on thisisFinland website. This guide is a starter kit for keeping up with the Finnish culture. It covers areas such as identity, religion, gender, conversing, information technology, languages, names and titles, greeting, eating, drinking, tipping, smoking, visiting, time and the seasons, festivals and the sauna.