ECONOMY: MINERAL RESOURCES AND INDUSTRY
There are various subsoil resources and some minerals are relatively abundant; first the iron and copper pyrites, then sulfur, lead, nickel, gold, silver, titanium, vanadium, cobalt, mercury, asbestos. Finland is one of the first European producers of chromite and zinc. However, the lack of energy sources is serious due to the increasing demand for energy by industry: electricity production is only less than a quarter of water origin; as many as four-fifths of the demand must be satisfied through imports, which mainly take place from the former Soviet Union. Industrial activity received a truly remarkable impulse only after World War II; at first the industries connected with the use of timber developed, therefore above all the metallurgical and mechanical sectors, although they make use of mostly imported raw materials. The most important industry remains that of wood, favored by the abundance of water which, in addition to facilitating the transport of logs (Finland has a network of about 40,000 km of waterways suitable for floating), feeds the numerous sawmills. A particular product is plywood, of which Finland is the largest world exporter; notable development also presents the manufacture of wooden houses. Likewise, the other major branch relating to the exploitation of forest resources thrives, that of wood pulp, cellulose and paper. The production of the iron and steel industry (cast iron and steel), metallurgy (which processes aluminum, copper, lead, zinc, etc.) and mechanics (shipyards, paper production plants, engine and railway equipment factories, oil plants, etc.). The textile industries (especially the cotton mill, with imported raw materials, and the wool mill), the chemical (sulfuric acid, caustic soda, nitric acid, artificial textile fibers, etc.) and petrochemical industries are also well represented. The development of industrial activities in various other sectors is remarkable, from food (sugar factories, milling complexes, dairies) to breweries and tobacco factories, from cement factories to tire and leather factories etc.; Finally, good contributions to exports are given by the glass and porcelain industries. The electronics and, even more so, telecommunications sectors (Nokia, born in the sec. XIX for the exploitation of forests, is in the first places in the world for mobile telephony – in 2019 the Finnish state increased its share in Nokia at 3.7%). Four nuclear reactors are active (a fifth was approved in 2019). The use of coal to produce energy will be banned from 2029. In recent years, a natural gas terminal was opened in Tornio and the bidirectional Baltic Connector gas pipeline between Finland and Estonia was completed in 2019, which will allow diversification with respect to imports from Russia. There are two oil refineries (Porvoo and Naantali). Check petwithsupplies to see Finland Economy.
Internal waterways are widely used for communications and transport; lakes and rivers, along with numerous canals, including the Saimaa canal, which connects the homonymous lake with the Gulf of Finland, form a navigable network of over 6000 km. The railway and road networks, which connect the country with Sweden and Russia, are developed in relation to the size of the population; the lines run mainly in the meridian direction, while the connections between E and W are less developed. Given the distances, an important function is played by air services, provided by various companies, including Finnair, the national airline, and SAS (Scandinavian Airlines System); the busiest airports are those of Helsinki, Oulu, Vaasa, Turku and Kuopio. However, the ports, especially Helsinki and Kotka, are the key points of the country’s communications (although in winter it is often necessary to resort to icebreakers), hubs of those international exchanges that are the basis of Finnish economy. The trade balance is satisfactory: in addition to exports of timber and its derivatives, machinery, ships and other means of transport, textiles and clothing, chemicals, iron, special steels and non-ferrous minerals are added. Instead, mainly fuels, raw materials of industrial interest, machinery, various artifacts are imported. Between the end of the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, the collapse of the communist regimes of Eastern Europe and the disintegration of the USSR itself had negative repercussions on the trade of Finland, which had intense exchanges with these countries, causing a drop in exports, a huge increase in the unemployment rate and in the public deficit. All this has accelerated the Finland’s approach to the EU, within which the country has been able to find new business opportunities. The countries of the European Union, in fact, contribute for about half of Finland’s exports and for over half of imports: Germany, Sweden and the other countries of the European Union (in addition to the United States) are the main trading partners., although Finland maintains excellent trade relations with the Baltic countries and Russia. In fact, placed in a particular geopolitical situation, on the edge of Western Europe. and the former socialist area, Finland has set up an economic program aimed at taking advantage of its position of complementarity with the countries of Eastern Europe (from which it receives raw materials), trying to privilege this market with which it is structurally connected more than with any Western country, without neglecting the vast area of Western Europe. Tourism, well organized and equipped with excellent infrastructures, is growing especially in Lapland, also for winter sports, in the lakes area and in the Åland islands. Visitors, mainly from Germany, Sweden, Russia, the United States and the United Kingdom, totaled 3,180,000 in 2017.