Finland, country located in northern Europe. Finland is one of the world’s most northern and geographically remote countries and is subject to a severe climate. Nearly two-thirds of Finland is blanketed by thick woodlands, making it the most densely forested country in Europe. Finland also forms a symbolic northern border between western and eastern Europe: dense wilderness and Russia to the east, the gulf of Bothnia and Sweden to the West.
Diagram 1: Finland’s map
Finland is bordered to the north by Norway, to the east by Russia, to the south by the Gulf of Finland, to the southwest by the Gulf of Bothnia, and to the northwest by Sweden
The invasion of Finland has brought to public attention a country always marginal from the standpoint of human settlement, but of political and cultural significance because of its geographical situation. As one of the most motherly countries of the world Finland is thinly settled and heavily forested, with many aspects of pioneer life still in evidence. Nevertheless, it has been the meeting place and battle ground of two important cultural and political forces.
The Finns think of their country as an outpost of Western culture. From 1249 to the time of the Napoleonic wars it was a part of Sweden, its territory often the stage for the struggle against Russian invasion from the east, and less frequently a base for Swedish adventures in the eastern Baltic. In the course of centuries the boundary between Russia and Sweden moved back and forth across Finland many times. The wars of 1700-1721 and 1741-1743 resulted in partial Russian successes, followed by complete victory in 1808. From 1808 to 1917 the country remained a grand duchy of Russia, enjoying a substantial measure of autonomy. The period since 1917 is the only one in a recorded history dating back to the twelfth century during which Finland has maintained an independent national existence.
According to the article of population index, The Finns are believed to have reached their present country in the early centuries of the Christian era, as a group of wandering tribes driven north and west by the advancing Slavs. Today there are two main racial types, neither pure: one tall, long headed, predominantly Nordic. The other short, round-headed, more representative of the original Finns. Some Mongolian characteristics appear, possibly as a result of intermixture with the Lapps and related peoples.
The Finnish language is connected with Hungarian, Estonian, and the language of scattered peoples in northern Russia and western Siberia, suggesting previous associations between these now widely dispersed groups. The closest linguistic relatives of the Finns are the Estonians, and the Karelians who lives who live across the Russian border in the forests west of the Leningrad – Murmansk railroad and on the Kola peninsula. These latter probably number not more than 200,000 people widely scattered in an area almost the size of Finland itself. Thay are in varying stages of Russianization and are a minority in Karelia as a whole. The present boundary between Finland and Russia apparently approximates that between predominantly Russian and predominantly Scandinavian influences.
Swedish influences in the life of Finland are reflected in the present linguistic and religious composition of the population. In 1937, 96 per cent were reported as Lutherans. Less than 2 per cent were reported as of Greek Orthodox faith, a proportion somewhat in excess of that before the World War. According to official statistics, Finnish – speaking persons constituted 89 per cent of the population in 1930. (Index population)
Since 1939, none of Europe’s small states has passed through a more remarkable succession of experiences than Finland. It was the only European belligerent other than the United Kingdom that did not suffer occupation during the Second World War – and this, in spite of losing two wars against the USSR (1930-40 and 1941-44). It is the only European country having a common border with the USSR not to have been incorporated into the Eastern Bloc, though it narrowly escaped the same fate as Chezchoslovakia in 1948.