Finland Population and Languages

By | December 17, 2021


The original demographic events probably concerned the settlement of Finno-Ugric populations, around 2000 BC, in the region located between the Volga and Dvina basins and the western spurs of the Urals. During the different processes of diffusion of those peoples, around the first centuries of the Christian era, some groups moved towards the Baltic and, overlapping with Indo-European populations, between the 4th and 10th centuries, occupied Finland coming from Estonia. Minorities of Lapps entered the ethnic structure of the population, with communities still settled in the far north of the country (0.1%). The main inhabited centers were founded by the Swedes, both in the first period of colonization (Turku, Pori), and in the most flourishing period of their political domination (1550-1650), when the intense traffic required the foundation, along the coast, of trading places (Oulu, Vaasa, Helsinki); starting from the second half of the nineteenth century, industrialization led to strong demographic concentrations, also giving rise to the foundation of new centers (Kotka, Lahti). Traditional local forms of settlement are almost exclusively linked to rural life: it follows a trend, still very much felt today (despite the official statistics considering 61% of the population as urban in 2006), to scattered settlement in the countryside, characterized by villages for mostly located along rivers. The distribution of the population is irregular: the central-southern regions, especially coastal regions, favored by climatic conditions, have the highest densities, with a maximum value in the province of Helsinki; at the other extreme, Lapland has 2 residents per km 2, while in the other administrative divisions the densities are between 7 and 35 residents per km 2. For Finland society, please check

The residents mostly adhere to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (Protestants 83.1%).


93.6% of the residents of Finland speak Finnish, 6% Swedish and 0.03% Lappish. The Finnish or suomi belongs to the Balto-Finnish group (comprising inter alia the vepso, voting, the Estonian and Livonian) branch of the Finno-Ugric the Uralic. It is divided into two groups of dialects: western and eastern; the basis of the literary language is the southwestern (Turku area) speech of the western dialect group. Already in ancient times it was influenced in the lexicon by neighboring languages ​​(Old-Germanic and Baltic loans), indeed at times these languages ​​have affected the original morphosyntax.


The oldest Finnish folk music known to us consist of songs and free improvisations, with very restricted melodies, from the regions of Ingria and Northern Karelia. A separate group form the ‘spiritual’ melodies, now simple variants of liturgical chants of the Roman Catholic Church, now independent creations. First printed edition of the Piae Cantiones (1582) dating back to the 14th-15th century. Among the ancient instruments are the sarvi (goat horn); paimentorvi (birch peel trumpet); pajupilli (willow peel flute); luikko (woodwind instrument and birch bark).

The most flourishing period of art music began towards the end of the 18th century, with Turku as its main center, where concert organizations such as the Aurora Society (1773) and the Music Society (1790) were established. Among the best known musicians: the clarinetist BH Crusell; Finland Pacius, founder of national music and author of the national anthem and various operas; a group of composers often influenced by Germanic tendencies (K. Collan, KG Wasenius, P. von Schantz, K. Greve, G. Linsen). New impulse to the musical culture of Finland came from R. Faltin and his choral society; but we owe to M. Wegelius the foundation of the music school of Helsinki, today Sibelius Academy, where he was called teachers such as FB Busoni, K. Halvorsen etc. An important stable orchestra (1882) and a choral society were also founded by R. Kajanus. Famous throughout the world for his symphonic works is the composer J. Sibelius. Some contemporary musicians have been directly influenced by his music, such as IA Madetoja, a symphonic composer, or T. Kuula, known for the Lieder, while others leave it to follow the musical language of other European countries. In the period between the two world wars we have composers such as A. Merikanto, close to expressionism and dodecaphony, UK Klami, in the orbit of the neoclassicism of M. Ravel and C.-A. Debussy, E. Englund which is linked to I.Stravinsky, B. Bartók and DD Shostakovič. In the immediate post-war period, with T. Kokkonen, A. Sallinen and E. Rautavaara, the Finnish compositional school matured. In the following decades the experimental avant-garde (P. Heininen, K. Aho, L. Segerstam, PH Nordgren, M. Lindberg) imposed itself, later contrasted by a search for neoclassical tonal ‘restoration’. Choral singing is very popular and the Finland also boasts famous singers such as M. Talvela, K. Nurmela, M. Salminen and J. Hynninen. There are also numerous orchestras, musical schools and festivals, such as the autumn one in Helsinki and the summer operatic one in Savolinna.

Gulf of Finland Vast and deep gulf (max length about 400 km, max width 130 km) in the Baltic Sea, between the northern coast of Estonia and the southern coast of Finland. The depths are not relevant; the maximum does not exceed 100 m. On the north coast the main ports are: Kotka, Helsinki, St. Petersburg, Tallinn and the naval base of Paldiski.

Finland MUSIC