Constitution. – According to the constitution of July 17, 1919, Finland is a republic. The president, elected for six years by an absolute majority of 300 electors designated by universal suffrage, represents the state in its foreign relations, appoints the ministers, who must enjoy the confidence of the chamber, and the officials, is the head of the army, has the faculty to promulgate ordinances (decree-laws) and to dissolve the chamber, and sanctions the laws, which however enter into force even without its sanction when the chamber has approved them a second time after new elections. The room (Eduskunta) is made up of 200 members elected every three years with the proportional system by general, secret and direct suffrage. All citizens of both sexes, who are at least 24 years of age, who pay a certain tax or are taxpayers’ wives, are eligible and voters. Executive power is exercised, in union with the president, by the Council of State, made up of 11 ministers, one of whom has the title of minister of state and the presidency. The Council of State can invalidate the validity of an act of the President of the Republic which it deems unconstitutional. A characteristic institution of the Finnish constitution is the office of the Chancellor of Justice (Oikeushansleri), a jurist who is a member of the council of state and supervises the legality of the deliberated measures and the observance of the laws by officials, ministers and even the president of the republic; the delegate of justice, elected by the chamber, has similar functions; both can propose to the chamber the impeachment, before the High Court, of the president of the republic and of the ministers. The supreme court, besides being the highest judicial body, oversees the administration of justice, and similarly the supreme administrative court acts in the field of administrative justice; the two courts may request the president of the republic to promote those legislative measures they deem necessary. The chamber is responsible for approving the budget; but five auditors and their alternates are appointed by the electors to check the treasury accounts. Official languages on equal terms are Finnish and Swedish; the only language of command for the army is Finnish. The Åland Islands have a large autonomy, guaranteed by the League of Nations.
Religion. – In Finland there is full freedom of worship for any religion or religious denomination. The national church of Finland, which is the state church and as such is under the authority of the president of the republic and the minister of public education, has the absolute prevalence in terms of number of followers. The national church is, in doctrine, Evangelical-Lutheran and gathers almost the entire population: about three and a half million faithful distributed in four bishoprics (Oulu, Porvoo, Tampere, Viipuri) and in an archbishopric (Turku). There are also about 10,000 Protestants adhering to other confessions and 60,000 Orthodox organized in the archbishopric of Viipuri. The Catholics, who in 1917 were organized into apostolic vicariate with main residence in Helsinki, are for the most part descendants of Polish soldiers who, after doing their military service in Finland, they ended up settling there; they barely reach 2000. The Jews are almost equal in number. For Finland religion, please check thereligionfaqs.com.
Finances. – Finland’s main income assets in the pre-war period were customs duties and other indirect taxes, and the profits of state-owned enterprises; in the post-war period, direct taxes on income and property were added, which in a few years assumed great importance, while not exceeding the revenue from customs. The main expenses are those incurred for public worship and education, defense and public debt service.
Since 1 January 1926, the monetary unit has been the gold mark (markka) divided into 100 pens, the parity of which is set at 39.70 per dollar. On that date, in fact, following an active stabilization policy conducted by the Central Bank, Finland, which from 1917 onwards had had to resort to issuing paper money several times to cope with the increase in expenses inherent in its new position as political independence, returned to the gold standard. In October 1931, due to the abnormal situation of the money market following the sterling crisis, the gold standard however, it was suspended until May 1, 1932. The Bank of Finland, founded in 1911, is a state bank, placed under the control of parliament; has the exclusivity of the issue and the obligation to fully cover its circulation with gold and foreign currencies, as well as an additional issue right of 1,200 million. As of 31 Dec 1931 there were 1293 million marks in circulation and the reserve 717 (304 in gold and 413 in foreign currencies). The public debt on the same date was DM 3,242 million, mostly foreign debt.
Public education. – Education is very accurate and widespread: elementary school from the 9th to the 13th year is compulsory. At the 1920 census only 1% of the population could not read or write. The number of illiterate people is increasing in Karelia and in the far north. In 1924-25 there were about 10,000 primary classes with 330,000 pupils, over 73 preparatory and 9 schools for the handicapped. 6 seminaries (4 Finns, 2 Swedes) with 1561 members provide for the preparation of the teachers. There were 337 secondary schools (upper, lower, popular) with almost 80,000 students. There are also three universities (one in Helsinki and two in Turku), two commercial academies, a polytechnic with 4549 students, 359 institutes of various types, for professional teaching, with 15,439 students.