A Nordic model of well-being and development
Despite a recent independence, a long-term delicate international position, the many difficulties of a rigid climate, a non-homogeneous population, Finland has been able to develop an enviable social and economic organization. At the top of the rankings of well-being and social and cultural development, today Finland is a real model for many to imitate
The richness of balance
The Finnish territory – almost completely flat (the highest mountain barely exceeds 1,300 m), dotted with lakes (40,000) which occupy a tenth of the surface and covered with coniferous forests – has a largely cold climate. In winter the seas that bathe it can freeze completely. For Finland 2005, please check ehealthfacts.org.
The population is concentrated in the South: here are the capital Helsinki (just under a million residents in the metropolitan area) and the other main cities, such as Turku and Tampere, while Oulu is close to the Arctic Circle. In the South the presence of a Swedish population is strong and ancient, and Swedish is, together with Finnish, the official language; in the North, in Lapland, live the Sami (or Lapps).
Finland has had a recent and gradual, but steady development, which in recent years has picked up speed, bringing the country to considerable prosperity; great resources are wood, some minerals, and a very advanced industry (cell phones, electronics, ships). But the real wealth is in organization and social balance.
A country for neutrality and disarmament
In the first centuries after Christ, Finland, already inhabited by Lapp people, was occupied by Finno-Ugric tribes who settled mainly in the eastern and southern areas. These populations, collectively called Suomi (which is also the national name of Finland), did not give rise to a centralized state power and were exposed to the political-military influences of the Russians and Swedes. It was precisely the latter, in the 12th century, who subjected Finland by sanctioning, with the peace of 1323, a centuries-old dominance over the country.
Colonized by Sweden, Finland was forced to embrace Swedish law, administration and language, while the local Lutheran Church nurtured national sentiment and literary tradition. During the eighteenth century the Swedish primacy in the region was threatened by the rising Russian power and Finland was devastated by the wars between the two countries which saw a reduction in the preponderance of Sweden.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century Finland was emancipated from Swedish dominion and, occupied by the Russians, was erected into a grand duchy with the granting of relative autonomy. Meanwhile, a feeling of national identity and resistance to the policy of forced assimilation inaugurated by the Russians at the end of the century was developing in the country. The Russian Revolution of 1917 provided Finland with an opportunity to proclaim independence and the republican constitution which, with some variations, has been in effect for nearly a century. During the Second World War, Finland, attacked by the USSR in 1939, allied itself with Nazi Germany; defeated by the conflict, she was forced to make numerous territorial concessions. Since the war, Finland has adopted a line of strict neutrality, actively promoting initiatives for disarmament and international detente. At the beginning of 2000 the country passed a new Constitution that reduced the powers of the President of the Republic.