61 Interesting Facts About Finland

Last updated on April 3rd, 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

Fact 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.

Fact 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.

Fact 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.

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

Fact 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.

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

Fact 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.

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

Fact 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.

Fact 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

Fact 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.

Fact 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.

Fact 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.

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

Fact 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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Fact 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.

Fact 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.

Fact 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.

Fact 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

Fact 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.