Finland east by Russia. Its area is 130,559

Finland east by Russia. Its area is 130,559

Finland official name is Republic of Finland, Finnish Suomi or Suomen Tasa Valta, Swedish Finland, or Republiken Finland, European country. It is one of the world’s most northern and geographically remote countries and is subject to a severe climate. It is bordered on the north by Norway, on the northwest by Sweden, on the southwest by the Gulf of Bothnia, on the south by the Gulf of Finland, and on the east by Russia. Its area is 130,559 square miles, of which the land Islands, an archipelago at the entrance to the Gulf of Bothnia, constitute 590 square miles.

About one-third of the territory of Finland–most of the lni of Lappi–lies north of the Arctic Circle. The capital is Helsinki. Finland has a population of 5, 137, 269 according to 1997 census.

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Finland’s inland waters occupy almost 10 percent of the country’s total area; there are 10 lakes of more than 100 square miles in area and tens of thousands of smaller ones. The largest lake, Saimaa, in the southeast, covers about 1,700 square miles. There are many other large lakes near it, including Pijnne and Pielinen, while Oulu is near Kajaani in central Finland, and Inari is in the extreme north. Away from coastal regions, many of Finland’s rivers flow into the lakes, which are generally shallow–only three lakes are deeper than about 300 feet.

Saimaa itself drains into the much larger Lake Ladoga in Russian territory via the Vuoksi (Vuoksa) River. Drainage from Finland’s eastern uplands is through the lake system of Russian Karelia to the White Sea.Finland is heavily forested and contains some 55,000 lakes, numerous rivers, and extensive areas of marshland; viewed from the air, Finland looks like an intricate blue and green jigsaw puzzle. Except in the northwest, relief features do not vary greatly, and travelers on the ground or on the water can rarely see beyond the trees. The landscape nevertheless possesses a striking beauty.

The part of Finland north of the Arctic Circle suffers severe and prolonged winters. Temperatures can fall as low as -22 F .In these latitudes the snow never melts from the mountain slopes, but in the short summer , from May to July, temperatures can reach as high as 80 F. Farther south the temperature extremes are slightly less marked.

Annual precipitation, about one-third of which falls as sleet or snow, is about 25 inches in the south and a little less in the north. All Finnish waters are subject to some surface freezing during the winter.Three principal regions may be distinguished in Finland: a coastal plain, an interior lake district, and an interior tract of higher land that rises to the fells of Lapland. The coastal plain comprises a narrow tract in the south, sloping from Salpausselk to the Gulf of Finland, the southwest plains of the lni of Turku ja Pori, and the broad western coastal lowlands of the region of Pohjanmaa facing the Gulf of Bothnia. The coastal region has the most extensive stretches of farmland; this region also has the longest continuous settlement and the largest number of urban centers. Associated with it are the offshore islands, which are most numerous in the Turun archipelago off Turku on the southwest coast. Farther to the north in the Gulf of Bothnia another group of islands lies off Vaasa.

Finland has two national languages, Finnish and Swedish. The Swedish-speaking population, found mainly in the coastal area in the south, southwest, and west and in the land Islands, is slowly declining and constitutes roughly 5 percent of the total. Nearly all of the remainder speaks Finnish; the language is an important nationalist feature, although it is spoken in strong regional dialects.

The Sami-speaking minority in the extreme north numbers some 6,000.Christianity entered Finland from both the west and the east as early as the 12th century. The great majority of the people belong to the Evangelical Lutheran Church, a national church whose bishops are nominated by the head of state. A small number belong to the Greek Orthodox Church of Finland.

The Finnish Orthodox Church was granted autonomy from Moscow in 1920, and in 1923 it was transferred to the jurisdiction of the patriarch of Constantinople. No other Christian denomination in Finland claims more than a few thousand members. More than one-tenth of the population have no church affiliation.Finland’s economy is based primarily on private ownership and free enterprise; in some sectors, however, the government exercises a monopoly.

After World War II, Finland was still only semi-industrialized, with a large part of the population engaged in agriculture, mining, and forestry. During the early postwar decades, primary production gave way to industrial development, which in turn yielded to a service- and information-oriented economy. The economy grew especially rapidly in the 1980s, as the country exploited its strong trading relations with both eastern and western European countries. By the early 1990s, however, the country was experiencing economic recession, largely because the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 deprived Finland of its chief trading partner.

The economy began a slow recovery in the mid-1990s, as Finland refocused its trade primarily toward western Europe.Trees are Finland’s most important natural resource. Some three-fourths of the total land area is forested, with pine, spruce, and birch being the predominant species. “Government cultivation programs, among other measures, have prevented forest depletion; and acid rain, which has devastated forests in central Europe, has not had any serious consequences in Finland.

“Much land has been taken out of agricultural production, and most farms consist of smallholdings. “Finland has been self-supporting in basic foodstuffs since the early 1960s. Meat production roughly equals consumption, while egg and dairy output exceed domestic needs. Grain production varies considerably; in general, bread grain (mainly wheat) is imported and fodder grain exported. The climate restricts grain farming to the southern and western regions of the country.”Finland adopted a republican constitution in 1919; it has been amended several times, specially in the mid-1990s.

Legislative power in Finland rests in the unicameral Parliament called Eduskunta, which consists of 200 members elected for four-year terms, and in the president of the republic, whose term of office is six years. Executive power is shared by the president and the Council of State, or cabinet, at the meetings of which the president takes the chair. The president appoints the prime minister and the cabinet. “A clause in the constitution specifically stresses that government ministers are responsible to Parliament.””Suffrage is universal for those over age 18, and every citizen is regarded as eligible for election to any office. Presidential elections are indirect: the general electorate chooses a college of electors, who then conduct the election proper. In Finland there are always more than two candidates for the presidency.

Parliamentary elections are conducted by a system of proportional representation. There are 15 electoral districts. “Political parties in Finland; the main ones being the Social Democratic Party, the Left-Wing Alliance,the National Coalition Party, and the Centre Party. The People’s Democratic League and its successor have been important parts of the government since World War II. The Swedish People’s Party has become a distinct minority party, although it was formerly an important political group.

The environmentalist Green Union displaced the Finnish Rural Party, a splinter group from the former Agrarian Union.

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