When you hear the word Finland, what comes to mind? Snow? Hockey? Cold? Mosquitoes? Ice? Reindeer?
To me, it is the country of my dream. Why? Just because it’s close to Russia.
To be honest, I didn’t know anything about this country. So, I decided to search. Here we go, my summary to your attention. I believe that someone else may have another opinion.
Finland is part of Scandinavia, a region of northern Europe that also includes Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. But Finland is also unique among these countries, it is the northernmost country in Europe, and one -quarter of its land area extends beyond the Arctic Circle. Finland share borders with Norway to the north, Sweden to the northwest, and Russia to the east. Its territory is 130,558 square miles (338144 sq km). That makes it one of the largest countries in Europe. Finland population is about 5.5 million people.
Finland is a country of wildflowers, berries ripe for picking, rugged coastlines perfect for fishing, thousands of lakes and islands, and the northern lights.
This phenomenon occurs in Finland during the long winter nights. The sky lights up with brilliant bursts of colored light. This is the aurora borealis, or northern lights. It is caused by charged particles from the sun hitting the earth’s atmosphere. It is most often seen in northerly parts of the world. In northern Finland, the aurora borealis appears as many as two hundred times a year, in southern Finland, it may be visible only fifteen times a year. The same phenomenon, called the southern lights, occurs near the South Pole.
During the summer months in northern Finland, the sun never fully sets. It is visible even in the middle of the night. In winter months in northern Finland, the sun does not rise above the horizon for days. *I think, it might be depressive for people who don’t used to that.
Over 187,000 lakes are the reason why the country’s nickname is “the land of a thousand lakes.”
Besides the thousands of the lakes in Finland, forests cover most parts of the country.
Helsinki is the capital and most populous city of Finland. Its population is 650,058.
Architecturally, Helsinki bears such a great resemblance to czarist Saint Petersburg that several US movies with Russian settings have been taken on location in Helsinki instead of Russia.
Outside Helsinki, Tampere is the largest urban area in Finland with a population of about 223,000. Today Tampere is a major hub for information technology, research, education, culture, sports and business.
Turku is the country’s oldest city and remains its main port to this day. Its population is approximately 180,000. It was once Finland’s capital.
Today, Finland has two official languages – Finnish and Swedish. Finnish is also a minority language in Norway and Sweden. Unlike other Scandinavian languages, Finnish does not belong to the Indo-European language family. Instead, it is part of the Finno-Ugric language family, as are Hungarian and Estonian.
Finnish has a reputation among English speakers as being difficult to learn. Nouns in Finnish can have any of 15 different endings, and verbs have as many as 160 different forms. Finnish words are easy to spell and pronounce, however, as each letter makes only one sound, and no letters are silent.
*I had an idea to start learning Finnish. But after finding out that the language is difficult, I decided to think and consider other options.
Although Finland is far north and dark for much of the year, it is not as cold as some other northerly regions. Much of this is due to the Gulf Stream. Southern Finland (where the most Finns live) has the same climate as the northern United States and southern Canada. There are regional differences in the climate. Winter is a long season in the north. Snow starts in October and lasts until late April in Lapland. In the south, the first snow appears in December. The average winter temperature in the south is 26°F (-3°C).
Summers in Finland are warm. In the south, the average temperature in July is 68°F (20°C). It sounds promising to me.
*Actually, the climate doesn’t scare me. I am used to cold weather as growing up in Siberia.
Road and transportation
Finland is the fifth largest country in Western Europe and its relatively large area is well connected by trains, buses, and high-quality roads. It has excellent roads and driving is a good way of getting around the country.
*It sounds really nice. Being a newly driver I would really appreciate good roads.
The transport system of Finland is well-developed. Factors affecting traffic include the sparse population and long distance between towns and cities, and the cold climate with waterways freezing and land covered in snow for winter.
Trains connect all urban areas in Finland as well as many rural areas. There are 5,919 km of railways in Finland. In rural areas where there isn’t a train connection, there is usually a bus that then connects to the closest train station.
Finnish education is known for two things: The education system enjoys world-wide recognition for its excellence and, unlike in many other countries, there are no tuition fees. In Finland, education is regarded as a fundamental right and the Finnish education policy emphasizes equal opportunities for all. Against this background, it is rather easy to understand why there are no tuition fees in Finland, and why free education has been extended to cover citizens of other countries, too.
Public healthcare in Finland is not free, though charges are very reasonable.
*I’ve heard that citizens pay only 20% of their medical expenses.
The World Economic Forum declared Finland the world’s safest country in 2017.
Sport is considered a national pastime in Finland and many Finns visit different sporting events regularly. Pesäpallo is the national sport of Finland, although ice hockey and Formula One are most popular. The other popular sports include floorball, Nordic walking, running and skiing.
Traditional Finnish cuisine is a unique blend of Russian and Swedish influence, combined with other culinary traditions. Traditionally, Finland’s long winters mean that fresh vegetables and fruit are not always available. So, the Finns eat a lot of wild berries and mushrooms. also, many traditional recipes depend on tubers, like potatoes and turnips, as staples. Rye bread is almost always served on the side of many meal. In the north, recipes often make use of reindeer meat, but pork and beef are also widely used.
*Seems like food wouldn’t give me too much surprise either.
Typical Finnish dishes
- Kaalikääryleet – cabbage rolls
- Game food. – Moose, deer, grouse, duck, hare, etc… dishes. Rarely attainable in restaurants. Common among those whose hobby is hunting.
- Hernekeitto – pea soup, usually served on Thursday along with a dessert pancake
- Leipäjuusto, alternate names hiilikko and juustoleipä – a fresh cow’s milk cheese
- Viili – a yoghurt-like fermented milk product
- Perunamuusi – Mashed potato, a common side dish
- Lihapullat – Finnish meatballs, often with gravy sauce and lingonberry sauce
- Palvikinkku and palviliha – Smoked ham or bee
Despite all these positive characteristics, I have to admit that Finland is one of the most expensive countries in Europe after Denmark, Norway, Switzerland and Ireland.
These were some facts about country.
And now what I like the most:
The Finns define themselves with the word sisu. It’s a small word with a lot of meaning. It means courage, stubbornness, endurance, strength, determination, and pride. Finns use this word to talk about their character and their ability to face and conquer challenges.
*It sounds painfully familiar to me…at least at the part about stubbornness….maybe I am Finn?
Well, what is your opinion about Finland? Would you like to live there or at least visit? If you decide to learn a foreign language what would it be?
Please, don’t hesitate: leave a comment, subscribe to my blog, let’s discuss what is the country of YOUR dream?