Finland is one of the Nordic countries.
It is situated in northern Europe, bounded by the Baltic Sea with the Gulf of Finland to the south and the Gulf of Bothnia to the west.
Finland has land frontiers with Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east. The Aland Islands, off the southwestern coast, are under Finnish sovereignty while enjoying extensive autonomy.
Finland is a country of thousands of lakes and islands; 187,888 lakes (larger than 500 m²) and 179,584 islands to be precise. One of these lakes, Saimaa, is the 5th largest in Europe. The Finnish landscape is mostly flat with few hills and its highest point, the Haltitunturi at 1,328 metres (4,357 ft), is found in the extreme north of Lapland. Beside the many lakes the landscape is dominated by extensive boreal forests (about 68 percent of land area) and little arable land.
Finland Tourist Attractions
The greater part of the islands are found in southwest, part of the archipelago of the Åland Islands, and along the southern coast in the Gulf of Finland. Finland is one of the few countries in the world that are still growing. Owing to the isostatic uplift that has been taking place since the last ice age, the surface area of the country is growing by about 7 square kilometres (2.7 sq mi) a year.
The climate in Southern Finland is a northern temperate climate. In Northern Finland, particularly in the Province of Lapland, a subarctic climate dominates, characterised by cold, occasionally severe, winters and relatively warm summers. Finland is near enough to the Atlantic to be continuously warmed by the Gulf stream, which explains the unusually warm climate considering the absolute latitude.
A quarter of Finland's territory lies above the Arctic Circle, and as a consequence the midnight sun can be experienced — for more and more days, the further up north one comes. At Finland's northernmost point, the sun does not set for 73 days during summer, and does not rise at all for 51 days in winter.
Around two-thirds of Finland is covered in forest and about a tenth by water. In the far north, the sun does not set for around 10 weeks during the 'White Nights' of summer, while in winter it does not rise above the horizon for nearly eight weeks. Saint Lucia
This wild northern landscape inspired Finland's greatest composer Jean Sibelius. His work came to symbolise the country's struggle for independence in the early 20th century after centuries under the domination of its neighbours.
Hundreds of years of Swedish rule were followed by a further century of Russian control. The country displays distinctive elements of past Scandinavian and Russian links in its style and culture. Helsinki Cathedral, a landmark in the capital
Independence in 1917 failed to stem the demands of Finland's giant eastern neighbour. World War II saw fierce fighting along Finland's eastern border. Finnish troops mounted a vigorous response to Soviet forces and stalled their advance, but the country was eventually forced to cede 10% of its territory and make extensive war reparation payments to the Soviets.
The collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s allowed Finland to step out of the Cold War shadow. It applied for membership of the EU soon after its friendship treaty with the Soviet Union became void in 1991, becoming a full member in 1995.
Finland is the only Nordic EU member to use the euro as the national currency. The country spends heavily on education, training and research - investment which pays dividends by delivering one of the best-educated and trained workforces in the world.
This has been a key factor in the development of a modern, competitive economy in which a cutting-edge telecommunications sector has been added to the traditional timber and metals industries.
Full name: Republic of Finland
Population: 5.3 million (UN, 2007)
Area: 338,145 sq km (130,559 sq miles)
Major languages: Finnish, Swedish
Major religion: Christianity
Life expectancy: 76 years (men), 82 years (women) (UN)
Monetary unit: 1 euro = 100 cents
Main exports: Machinery and electronics, paper and paper products, chemicals
GNI per capita: US $37,460 (World Bank, 2006)
Internet domain: .fi
International dialling code: +358