61 Interesting Facts About Finland

Last updated on November 16th, 2017

The Nordic country of Finland is one of the world’s northernmost countries. This “Land of the Midnight Sun” offers visitors beautiful scenery, wonderful outdoor adventures, delicious cuisine and some interesting annual contests and customs. Read on to discover 61 interesting facts about Finland.

Geographical facts

#1. The first inhabitants of Finland were the Sami (Lapp) people who were there when the first Finnish speakers migrated in during the first millennium B.C. The Lapps moved north into the section that is today known as Lapland.

#2. Today the Republic of Finland is located on a peninsula geographically within the region of Scandinavia, but Finland is actually part of Fenland instead.

#3. There are exactly 179,584 islands in and around Finland, a world record. Off the southwest coast are the Âland Islands, which are populated by the Swedish and have been autonomous since 1921.

Flag of Finland

Flag of Finland
The flag of Finland. The blue represents the thousands of lakes scattered across the country, while the white is for the snow that covers the land in winter.

#4. Finland is the eighth largest country in Europe yet it is the European Union’s most sparsely populated country.

#5. There are 187,888 lakes (larger than 500 m²) within the boundaries of Finland. This also is a world record. Saimaa, Finland’s largest lake, is Europe’s fourth largest lake. The lake is also home to the rarest fresh water seal in the world – “The Saimaa”. Approximately 310 of these are left in the lake.

#6. The eroding effects of heavy ice age glaciers left the Finnish landscape mostly flat with few hills or mountains.

#7. The terrain today is risings steadily due to post-glacial rebound (about one cm (0.4 in) annually). Finland is literally rising from the sea as it expands, and by approximately seven square km (2.7 sq mi) per year.

#8. Finland’s capital Helsinki lies higher north in the world than almost any other capital city, second only to Sweden’s Reykjavik.

#9. With its numerous lakes, rivers, and marshlands plus its 78 percent of the country in forestland, Finland from the air looks like an intricate green and blue jigsaw puzzle.

#10. Finland has a cold temperate climate, potentially subarctic but actually comparatively mild due to the moderating influence of the North Atlantic Gulf Stream current and the nation’s multitude of lakes.

Finnish steam train from old days
Finnish steam train brought out of retirement for two days to run a special service from Kouvola to the meripäivät (festival of the sea) in Kotka. Image by – Dave S

About culture and people

#11. Finland is an egalitarian society, uses gender-neutral words in their language, and has a tradition of sexual equality. In 1906, it was the first country to provide equal voting rights to women.

#12. Finland installed its first female prime minister in April 2003, making it the only country in Europe with both a female president and prime minister.

#13. Finnish (89 percent) and Swedish (5 percent) are the official languages of Finland. The Sami language is the indigenous language. English is spoken by 63 percent of the population. Russian is also spoken by a percentage of the population.

#14. Finland’s population is predominantly an urban one (84 percent). Finland is also known as “Suomi” (common, Finnish).

#15. Finland’s education system ranks as one of the world’s best, even though children don’t go to school until they are seven and it’s not mandatory to give them grades until the eighth grade.

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#16. The Finnish people are modest, courteous, and value speaking plainly and openly. They believe their word is their bond and verbal commitments are considered agreements.

#17. Finland has the world’s highest annual consumption of milk per capita. That’s approximately one quart per person per day. And surprisingly, 17% of the Finns are lactose intolerant.

#18. The Finns also love their coffee. The average Finn consumes 12 kg of coffee yearly, the highest in the world. That’s twice as much as Italians drink and three times as much as Americans consume.

#19. The Finns regard their country as the home of Santa Claus, or Saint Nicholas, and he lives in the northern region of Lapland.

Finland facts - Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi, Lapland, Finland
Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi, Lapland, Finland. Image by – Timo Newton-Syms

#20. Finnish athletes have won more Summer Olympic medals per capita than any other nation in the world. Finland is second only to Norway in the number of Winter Olympic medals per capita.

About saunas

#21. The sauna has a special place in the Finnish lifestyle. It’s the norm to have a sauna in your home and share it with both family and friends. Almost everyone takes a sauna at least once a week.

#22. There are approximately 2.2 million saunas in Finland. That’s one sauna for every two and a half people. There are more saunas than there are cars in Finland, even one in a Burger King!

#23. Important business meetings may be followed by a sauna, during which the business conversation is continued on a more informal basis.

About Finnish food

#24. Traditional breads like ruisleip (a flat, crispy sour rye bread) are part of every meal. Karelian pastry is a traditional Finnish dish made from a rye crust filled with rice.

#25. Fish (salmon, whitefish and herring) and meat (pork, beef, and reindeer) are also staples. Reindeer is a particularly lean, healthy meat. Kraftskiva or crayfish season runs from July 21 to early fall.

#26. Silla ja Vudet Perunat is a dish of new potatoes with herring. Potatoes are the favorite side dish at many meals.

#27. A bread pastry filled with different meats or fish called Kalakukko is a popular “packed lunch”.

#28. Fruit dishes with indigenous fruits like bilberries, lingon berries and cloud berries are popular.

Tractor in Finland
Looks like an old days tractor, isn’t it. As seen at a tractor enthusiasts’ meeting in Ruotsinkylä, Finland. Image by – Dave S

Interesting and Weird Facts

#29. Due to its commitment to equal rights and emphasis on transparency, Finland’s press has been rated the freest one in the world. Transparency International, based in Berlin, has rated Finland since 1998 as the world’s least corrupt country.

#30. Finland has been a member of the European Union since 1995 and it’s the only Nordic state to join the euro single currency at its original launch in 1999.

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#31. Finland’s 120 km Päijänne Water Tunnel is the longest tunnel in Europe and the second longest tunnel in the world.

#32. With a quarter of the country in the Arctic Circle, Finland’s Lapland and other northern sections are the “Land of the Midnight Sun”. The sun doesn’t set for 73 consecutive summer days annually while it doesn’t rise at all for 51 days during the winter (known as polar night).

#33. The Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) are seen regularly in every season but summer in Lapland and other parts of Finland. You can even spend the night in an glass igloo to enjoy watching them.

Aurora Borealis, Finland.
Interesting facts about Finland:- Aurora Borealis – the greatest natural light show on Earth. Image by – Juho Holmi

#34. The telecommunications company Nokia is Finnish and is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of mobile phones. By the way, Mobile Phone Throwing is an official sport in Finland. And there are absolutely NO pay phones anywhere in Finland.

#35. Other strange sports include mosquito hunting, swamp football, rubber boot throwing, and the Air Guitar World Championship. Contestants from around the world come to compete in the Wife Carrying World Championship. First prize is your wife’s weight in beer.

#36. Finland is the uncontested world home of heavy metal. It has the most heavy metal bands per capita in the world.

#37. Finland’s Rovio Entertainment is the creator of the phone app Angry Birds. Other inventions include the heart-rate monitor, rescue toboggan, Linux OS, salty liquorice (Salmiakki), ice skates and the Molotov cocktail. Sauna is the Finnish word most used outside the motherland.

#38. Many claim to have invented the Internet, but Finland was the first nation to make Internet access a legal right for their citizens.

#39. It’s expensive to speed in Finland. Your ticket fine is figured on your annual income. One rich driver was once fined more than $200,000 for a single speeding offense. And keep your headlights on. Day or night, winter or summer, it’s the law to do so in Finland.

#40. In Finland they celebrate annual day for failure. It is a day dedicated to failures that people have gone through, and the reason to celebrate is to understand the fact that success and failure go hand in hand. There is a whole website dedicated to this, which you can visit here.