Finnish Tourist Board
Toolonkatu 11, P.O. Box 625
00101 HELSINKI, Finland M
Tel. 358-(9) 0-403 011, Telex 122690
Telefax: 358-(9) 0 40301333


Physical geography

Finland is situated between the 60th and 70th degrees of latitude and is one of the Scandinavian countries. Area: 338,000 sq km (130,500 sq miles). The total land area consists of ten per cent water, 69 per cent forest and eight per cent cultivated land. The maximum length of the country is 1,160km (721 miles) and the maximum width 540km (336 miles).

Geologically Finland belongs to the oldest formations on earth: consequently its mountains have long ago been worn away to rather modest heights, the Halti fell in northwest Lapland being the highest peak with 4,000 feet. Finland's west coast along the Gulf of Bothnia consists of a lowland plain, the northern and eastern parts of the country are rugged and mountainous, whereas the south coast on the Gulf of Finland is dotted with the largest archipelago in Europe. An immense lake plateau dominates the interior of the country - currently Finland has close to 200,000 lakes and ponds. Another characteristic feature is the abundance of woodland, Finland being one of the most extensively forested countries in the world.


The Finnish climate is considerably better than the country's northern location might warrant. Temperatures are ameliorated by the Baltic Sea, the inland waters and in particular by the west winds that bring air currents from the Atlantic warmed by the Gulf Stream. In summer hot air from the Russian steppes actually makes Finland the warmest part of Scandinavia. Average midday temperature in July is + 19.5° C/72°F (Helsinki). <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"> <P> <A HREF="../ADS/WT972005/Limousineservice.html"><CENTER><IMG SRC="../ADS/WT972005/limban.gif" WIDTH="432" HEIGHT="54"></CENTER></A> <H3>Economic geography</H3> Finland enjoys one of the world's highest standards of living. The economic system is based on private ownership and free enterprise. The structure of economy has changed strongly since the 1950s moving from primary to secondary industry and at the same time the industrial base has diversified. The main export industries are the forest industry, metal and engineering industries. Other notable exchange earners are the chemical industry, textiles, clothing and furniture industries and tourism. Besides the neighbouring countries, Sweden and the USSR, Finland's most important trading partners are the Federal Republic of Germany, Great Britain, the USA and Japan. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Demography</H3> Finland has five million inhabitants. The population density is 17 inhabitants per square kilometre. Thirty-six per cent of the population inhabit rural areas, 64 per cent towns and urban districts. Population: Helsinki 500,000 (metropolitan area 975,000), Tampere 179,000, Turku 162,00. <P>Life expectancy is 79 years for women and 72 for men. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>A brief history</H3> Since pre-historic times Finland has been inhabited by Finns, Swedes and Lapps. The Lapps (or Saami) were the first to arrive and obviously, gradually assimilated a post-Ice Age population of unknown origin. The Finns began moving into the area at the beginning of the Christian Era, and the Swedes during the Viking centuries (800-1100). From 1155 until 1809 Finland and Sweden formed a common empire (see Sweden, History). Through the Napoleonic wars the Emperor of Russia became Grand Duke of Finland, and in 1917, after the abdication of the Emperor and the Russian revolution, Finland declared itself independent. <P>Finland became a republic in 1919, when monarchy was abandoned. The President (since 1994 Martti Ahtisaari) is elected for a period of six years. He holds the highest executive power and is in charge of the nation's foreign policy. <P>Legislative power is vested in Parliament acting in conjunction with the President. Universal and equal suffrage and eligibility for both women and men were introduced in 1906 (second in the world). The voting age is 18. At present there are nine political parties represented in Parliament. The biggest are: the social democrats (63 seats), the conservatives (39), and the Centre Party (44). The majority traditionally has been non-socialist (only exceptions: 1916 and 1966-70). Finland was a member of the League of Nations and is (since 1955) a UN member. It firmly believes in the peaceful settlement of international conflicts. Over the years Finland has taken an active part both in the United Nations itself and in all the organisations, agencies and conferences under its wing. Finnish military support to the United Nations' peace-preserving efforts in conflict areas has been considerable. <P>Finnish foreign policy is based on neutrality, and Finland has remained outside of the two military blocs (NATO and the Warsaw Pact). After its chief architects this policy has been named the Paasikivi-Kekkonen line. Post-WW2 presidents JK Paasikivi (1946-56) and Urho Kekkonen (1956-82) decided that Finland for all rational reasons should avoid getting involved in the superpower antagonism and try to maintain positive and confident relations with all countries, but especially with its immediate neighbours. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Religions</H3> There is complete freedom of worship in Finland. The State religions are Lutheran (85.92 per cent) and Greek Orthodox (1.1) with 12 per cent unaffiliated. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Languages spoken by nationals</H3> Finland has two official languages, Finnish and Swedish, and in addition part of the population in Lapland (northernmost Finland) speak Lappish as their mother tongue. The Swedish-speaking Finns (approx. 300,000) mainly inhabit the coastal areas and the archipelago (including the autonomous Aland isles). <P>Finnish belongs to the Finno-Ugric group of languages and is closely related only to Estonian (distantly to Hungarian). It differs totally from the neighbouring Indo-european languages, Swedish and Russian. Finnish is written phonetically and has a very logical structure. It is rich in vowels and diphthongs, which makes it sound pleasant and sonorous (though almost incomprehensible). Language problems are prevented through the universal instruction of English and several other languages in Finnish schools. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Time</H3> Time in Finland is two hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Currency</H3> The monetary unit of Finland is the markka (FIM) divisible into 100 pennies. Coins: one and 10p, 50p, one FIM, five FIM, Notes: 20 FIM, FIM 50, FIM 100, FIM 500 and FIM 1,000. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Official holidays (all offices and shops closed)</H3> 1 January, New Year - 6 January, Epiphany - 28 March, Good Friday - 31 March - Easter Sunday - 1 May, May Day - 28 May Ascension Day - June - 20/21 June Midsummer Eve and day - 1 November, All Saints Day - 6 December, Independence Day - 24-25 December, Christmas Eve and day - 26 December, day after Christmas, On these days offices and shops are closed. Banks are closed on Saturdays all year round. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>What one should not fail to see</H3> Helsinki and environs: Helsinki, often called the Daughter of the Baltic, is a modern metropolis, but still has areas reflecting the authentic building styles and atmosphere of bygone days. With the surrounding municipalities of Espoo, Vantaa and Kaliainen it forms the homogeneous four-town Metropolitan Area. <P>Lake District: Finland's interior is at its best in the lake area. There are about 188,000 lakes in the country. Europe's largest inland water system provides excellent lake steamer services and is ideal for all kind of water activities. <P>Lapland: The land of the midnight sun, bright-coloured autumn, winter twilight and sunny, snow-filled spring. Also home of reindeer and Santa Claus. Offers good possibilities for hiking, skiing, canoeing, fishing, gold panning. <P>Coast and archipelago: Finland's often rocky, often sandy coastline stretches 4,600 kilometres (2,760 miles) along the Gulf of Finland, Gulf of Bothnia and the Baltic Sea. The Sea Coast is protected by a magnificent archipelago of some 81,000 islands and skerries. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Most favourable seasons for sojourns and touring</H3> May-September. For winter sports November-April. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>How to dress</H3> Warm clothes in winter, light apparel in summer, sweater for summer nights. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Main holiday sports</H3> Sport facilities are plentiful and just a few interesting facts are listed here. Finland with its thousands of lakes is a paradise for water activities: boating, water-skiing, surfing, canoeing, fishing, ice-fishing etc. A winter holiday in Finland will offer interesting experiences like reindeer and snowmobile safaris. Almost everywhere you can cross-country and downhill ski. Popular activities are also hiking, orienteering, tennis, ice-hockey, golf, to name just a few. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>What to eat and drink</H3> Finns prefer the finest ingredients and food at its purest. Most restaurants feature menus of both international and Finnish specialities. You can choose from delicacies like fresh fish from the sea and lakes (salmon, whitefish, Baltic herring), reindeer meat, moose, mushrooms, fresh berries, crayfish, Finnish cheese. Delicious liqueurs are also made from Finnish berries (arctic bramble, cloudberry, cranberry, lingonberry). Sparkling wines and table wines are made from white currants. The most popular beverage in Finland after milk and coffee is beer. For something stronger the Finnish favourite is the unflavoured vodka 'Finlandia'. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>What to buy</H3> The best buys in Finland are samples of the famous Finnish design: glass, ceramics, jewellery, textiles, leatherware, sportswear and furs. Look for the 'Tax-Free' sign in shop windows. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Frontier formalities</H3> <H3>Passport and visa</H3> Passport: Citizens of Denmark, Iceland, Sweden and Norway do not need a passport, visa or residence permit to enter and reside Finland. Finland also accepts in place of a passport valid identity cards issued to their citizens by the officals of all EU countries (except Greece), Liechtenstein, San Marino and Switzerland. All other nationalities require a valid passport. <P>Holders of refugee travel documents (agreements 1946 or 1951) from Belgium, Denmark, Eire, the Federal Republic of Germany, Iceland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom do not need visas if their stay does not exceed three months. <P>Visa: Countries whose citizens do not require a visa for entry into Finland (1 Jan 1996): Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bermuda, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Eire, El Salvador. France, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kenya, the Republic of Korea. Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Monaco, Namibia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Seychelles, Singapore, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, St Vincent and Grenadines, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, Trinidad and Tobago, the United Kingdom, US, Uruguay and Vatican City. <P>Holders of a Laissez Passer of the United Nations and the EC require no visa. <H3>Health regulations</H3> No vaccination requirements for any international travellers. <H3>Customs</H3> Finland is a member of the EU. <H3>Duty-free allowances</H3> Travellers entering from another EU country may import the following amounts of alcohol and tobacco purchased from retail outlets, of which the amount given in brackets refers to purchases from duty-free shops at airports or ports in the EU. Alcoholic drinks 20 or over - one litre strong alcohol (over 22 per cent) OR <P>18 or over - three (two) litres aperitif (under 22 per cent) or sparkling wines AND five (two) litres of other wines AND 15 litres of beer. <P>Tobacco <BR>Age limit: 17 or over - 300 (200) cigarettes <BR>OR 150 (100) cigarillos OR <BR>75 (50) cigars OR <BR>400 (250)g tobacco <P>Perfumes <BR>50g perfumes AND 0.25 litre toilet water. <P>In addition to the above, travellers may import duty-free purchases up to the value of FIM 550. <P>Travellers entering Finland from outside the EU may import the following products without duties or other taxes as presents or for their own or their families' use. <P>Alcoholic drinks <BR>Age limit: 20 or over - One litre strong alcohol of more than 22 per cent OR <BR>18 or over - two litres aperitif (under 22 per cent) or sparkling wines AND two litres of other wines AND 15 litres of beer. <P>Tobacco - 200 cigarettes OR 100 cigarillos OR 50 cigars OR 250g tobacco. <P>Perfumes 50g perfumes AND 0.251 toilet water Tea and Coffee 100g tea OR 40g tea extract AND 17 or over 15 or over - 500 g coffee OR 200 g coffee extract. <H3>Currency regulations</H3> There are no restrictions on the importation of currency. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Main travel routes</H3> By air: Major international airlines connect Finland with the whole world. <P>By ship: Daily crossings by ship between Helsinki and Stockholm and Turku and Stockholm, also a regularly scheduled cruise between Helsinki and Travemunde, the Federal Republic of Germany. <P>Within Finland a comprehensive air, rail, road and inland waterway network connects all points within the country, even the most remote parts in Lapland. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Miscellaneous</H3> Money savers: Finnair Holiday Ticket, Finnrailpass, Group Rail Tickets, Scanrailpass, Eurailpass, Coach holiday ticket, Finncheque for accommodation, City cards. <H3>Main summer events: (Tentative dates) </H3> Kuopio Dance and Music Festival, June 2-8 <BR>Ilmajoki Music Festival, June 6-16 <BR>Ikaalinen Accordion Music Festival, June 7-16 <BR>Jyvaskyla Arts Festival, June 10-20 <BR>Naantali Music Festival, June 10-23 <BR>Korsholm Music Festival, June 23-July 6 <BR>Joensuu Song Festival, June 18-22 <BR>Savonlinna Opera Festival, June 29-July 28 <BR>Pori Jazz Festival, July 11-14 <BR>Kuhmo Chamber Music Festival, July 14-28 <BR>Kaustinen Folk Music Festival, July 14-21 <BR>Viitasaari - Time of Music, July 17-24 <BR>Lahti Organ Music Festival, July 29-August 4 <BR>Turku Music Festival, August 9-18 <BR>Tampere Theatre Summer, August 13-18 <BR>Helsinki Festival, August 22-September 8. <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"><H3>Representatives abroad</H3> Denmark: Finlands Turistbureau, Vester Farimagsgade 3, 1606 Copenhagen V <BR>England: Finnish Tourist Board UK Office, 30-35 Pall Mall, London SW1Y 5LP <BR>Estonia: Soome Turismiarenduskeskuse, Pikk 71, 0001 Tallinn <BR>France: Office National du Tourisme de Finlande, 13 rue Auber, 75009 Paris <BR>Germany: Finnische Zentrale fur Tourismus, Lessingstrasse 5, 60325 Frankfurt <BR>Italy: Ente Nazionale Finlandese per il Turismo, Via Larga 2, 20122 Milan <BR>Japan: Finnish Tourist Board, Imperial Hotel, Room 505, 1-1-1 Uchisaiwaicho, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo <BR>Netherlands: Fins Nationaal Verkeersbureau voor de Benelux, Johannes Vermeerplein 5, 1071 Amsterdam <BR>Norway: Finlands Turistkontor, Lille Grensen 7, 0159 Oslo <BR>Russia: Tsentr po razvitiju turizma Finljandii, Ulitsa Majakovskogo 22, office 2, 191104 St. Petersburg <BR>Singapore: Finnish Tourist Board, Level 37 Shell Tower, Suite 21, 50 Raffles Place, Singapore 048623 <BR>Spain: Oficina de Turismo de Finlandia, Fernando el Santo 27-5A, 28010 Madrid <BR>Sweden: Finska Turistbyran, Kungsgatan 4 A 6 tr., 11143 Stockholm <BR>Switzerland: Finnische Zentrale fur Tourismus, Schweizergasse 6, 8001 Zurich <BR>USA: Finnish Tourist Board, 655 Third Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10017 <P><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="3"> <P><I>We have been able to publish the present tourist information on Finland thanks to the co-operation of the Finnish Tourist Board, Helsinki.</I> <!-- End of article --> <P> <CENTER><IMG SRC="../NEWPICS/Strip.gif" WIDTH="532" HEIGHT="4"></CENTER> <P> <CENTER><A HREF=#TOP><IMG SRC="Countrypics/WhiteTopbut.gif" BORDER="0" hspace="5"></A> <A HREF="../../../watanetwork/NTOs/Countrieslist/"><IMG SRC="Countrypics/WhiteNTObut.gif" BORDER="0" hspace="5"></A></CENTER> </TD> </TR> </TABLE> </BODY> </HTML>