The population (5,154,000 residents according to an estimate of 1998) is growing moderately (4 ‰ annually between 1990 and 1997) and Finnish society does not yet show aspects of accelerated aging, as is the case for other countries of the European Union. Accession to the EU (which took place in 1995) introduced some constraints on public spending; the welfare state has been penalized as a result and, in particular, health care, traditionally of a good standard, has undergone some recent restrictions.
The Finnish urban network is concentrated in less than a third of the territory, in correspondence with the southern region overlooking the Gulf of Finland, that is, between the lakes and the sea. Helsinki and its conurbation, which also includes Espoo and Vantaa, have a total of just under 900,000 residents; the center of Helsinki loses population in favor of the two peripheral conurbated cities and other smaller centers located a short distance along the coast, which show moderate growth mainly due to immigration; this also affects the other two major urban centers, Turku (168,900 residents, in 1998) and Tampere (191,300 residents) and, in general, the entire South-West region. The only northern city that exceeds 100,000 residents is Oulu, also located near the sea, on the Gulf of Bothnia.
In fact, the population considered urban is less numerous (64%) than in other Nordic countries, because they prefer to reside in wooded areas or on the shores of many lakes, in contact with nature and agricultural and forestry activities, including industry. of wood, provided that in regions not too far from the main urban ganglia, concentrated in the south-western area of the country. The winter climatic conditions are more severe than in the other northern countries, and communications, although relatively efficient, are very expensive and complicated, so that the concentration in a small, more favored area facilitates contacts. Lapland, in the far north, appears demographically stationary, and traditional reindeer farming, after the crisis of the past years, is recovering,
The disintegration of the USSR, with the consequent forfeiture of the treaties stipulated after the Second World War – which obliged Finland to preferential trade with the powerful neighbor, to neutrality and to the prohibition of adhering to community political-economic bodies – was a a fundamental event, such as the subsequent accession to the EU (1995), for which Germany became the first partner in international trade, followed by Sweden and other EU countries. On the other hand, Finland has been a member of the Nordic Council since its origins, therefore without renouncing the close economic, commercial and social relations with the other northern European countries and with Sweden in particular: Swedish, spoken by about the 6% of the population, is considered a valid means of communication,
Industrialization, which has developed over the last twenty years even outside the traditional sectors of wood (furniture, matches), paper and the textile industry, has created conditions of environmental danger for the extended central-southern lake region, despite the rather strict rules in force. The secondary sector was also affected by the collapse of the USSR and the decline of the cooperation treaties, which forced the Finnish economy to reconvert to produce goods suitable for other markets, among other things through a downsizing of the steel industry and in general of the heavy industry.
The Finnish forests suffer the effects of acid rain for a percentage between 11 and 25%, especially with partial defoliation and more rarely with the death of plants; on the other hand, most of the forests are replanted according to accurate periodic cutting schedules which, if on the one hand they guarantee the maintenance of the surfaces, on the other hand they cannot generate complex forest plants and organisms like the ancient ones, which are more resistant to pollutants. The problem of acid rain also arises for Sweden and other countries of eastern and northern Europe, such as Poland (with the Czech Republic and Slovakia, among the main responsible for the phenomenon, due to the action of coal-fired power plants and urban heating), Russia, Norway, and can only be solved by effective international agreements; Finland, with Denmark, Sweden and Norway, imposed a tax for the use of coal and carbon monoxide emissions (carbon tax).
The forestry patrimony of Finland is still impressive (68.7% of the surface and 40 million m³ of timber annually obtained) and feeds the main export current of the country, which introduces the production of common and artistic woodworking into new markets., as well as original textile products. The conservation of the lake and forest landscape and that of the beautiful Åland islands is essential for tourism (over 3.2 million visitors in 1996). Finland has 80 protected natural areas, covering 8.1% of the territory.
Since the end of the Second World War, the government of the country has alternated between center-right and center-left coalitions, often of short duration due to the presence of a large number of parties and their internal divisions, but in any case operating within the within a substantially stable institutional framework. The general lines of economic and social policy did not undergo fundamental changes either when the Conservatives came to power for the first time after the war (in 1987, in a coalition with the Social Democrats), or in the aftermath of the political elections of March 1991, which ended twenty-five years of uninterrupted left-wing presence in government. For Finland history, please check historyaah.com.
The center-right government in office since April 1991, led by centrist E. Aho and centered on the alliance between the Center Party (Kesk) and the conservatives of the National Coalition Party (KOK), faced the economic recession underway in the country by preparing a series of heavy cuts in public spending. This policy was the basis of a progressive decline in the popularity of the executive, first evidenced by the result of the administrative elections of September 1991 (when the governing parties lost, overall, about 6% of the votes compared to the local consultations of 1989) and then from the victory of the Social Democrat M. Athisaari in the presidential elections of February 1994. The political consultations of March 1995 therefore marked the defeat of Aho and the centrists, which obtained 44 seats against 63 of the Social Democratic Party (SSDP), 39 of the KOK and 22 of the Left Alliance (born in April 1990 from the merger of the communists with other forces of socialist and radical inspiration). It was these three formations that gave life, in April, to a new executive, chaired by the Social Democrat P. Lipponen and also including the Swedish People’s Party (SFP) and the Greens.
In terms of foreign policy, in the meantime, the Helsinki government had replaced the traditional link with the Soviet Union, the country’s main trading partner, with Russia, by stipulating, in January 1992, a treaty of friendship lasting ten years (in the same diplomatic relations with Estonia and Latvia had been established). At the same time, the choice of neutrality that had distinguished philosophy since the post-war period remained constant, just as its active role in initiatives for disarmament and international detente had not diminished in recent years. Finally, the process of European integration resulted in the decision of the Parliament (November 1994) to join the European Union starting from 1 January 1995. The decision was taken,
In the general elections of March 1999, the Social Democrats suffered a sharp decline in support, obtaining only 51 seats, while the centrists with 48 seats and above all the conservatives with 46 were the winners of the confrontation. The other political forces maintained the results obtained in the previous consultations with minimal fluctuations: the Greens won two seats, the Swedish People’s Party confirmed their positions and the Left Alliance went from 22 to 20 deputies. In April, despite the tensions that arose in the election campaign, the previous coalition was confirmed, made up of Social Democrats, Conservatives, Left Alliance, Greens and Swedish People’s Party, still chaired by the Social Democrat Lipponen.