Finland Transportation and Foreign Trade

By | December 17, 2021

Communications. – Waterways are of utmost importance. The largest volume of traffic (that of raw timber) takes place in spring with the means of floating, permitted by law on all natural watercourses: therefore the network of floating routes (47.100 km.) Almost completely coincides with that hydrographic: only certain minor watercourses remain unused in the northernmost, less rich or less exploited areas and those on the slopes of the Barents Sea and the White Sea. The actual inland navigation encounters serious obstacles in the scarcity of channels necessary both to allow communications between one hydrographic system and the other and to overcome the rapids; and in the winter frost that does not allow free traffic for more than 200-210 days a year. The most complex navigable network is that of the Saimaa joined to the sea with the channel of the same name: a total of 440 km. Smaller networks, respectively of 150, 125 and 130 km. they are those of Päijänne, Valkeakoski, Murole. Overall, the length of inland waterways is calculated as 5000 km. A considerable part of the traffic, almost intermediate between floating and navigation proper, is constituted by the transport of the timber in rafts, dragged with the towpath or, in some cases, with steam tugs. Very popular waterways are also those of coastal and inter-island cabotage, including that of Ladoga. Very active lines connect the major centers: Viipuri, Kotka, Helsinki, Hanko, Turku, Pori. The use of icebreakers makes it possible to ensure continuity of navigation between Turku and Hanko. For Finland democracy and rights, please check

The Finnish merchant fleet consists of 318 ships for 312,097 gross tons (Lloyd’s Register, 1931-32), including 183 steamers for t. 228.286, 40 motor ships for t. 16,071; 95 sailing ships for t. 67.740. The great importance of waterborne traffic in Finland explains the government assistance, which goes from the subsidy, granted since 1927, to the Finland-South America line, to the institution of the Maritime Credit (duration of the loans 8 years; interest 6%; concession made in the amount of 50% of the value of the ship to be built; mortgage guarantee). The consistency of the ship, increased from 100,000 t. from 1850 to 302,000 in 1875 and 340,000 in 1903, immediately afterwards marked a decline; the recovery began after the world war. The crisis had been determined by the need to transform the material – at the beginning of the century still essentially sailing – which was hampered by the lack of shipyards and skilled labor in the country, by the absolute lack of iron minerals and by the scarcity and high cost of capital. Even now, although the proportion of sailing ships has decreased from 61.2% in 1917 to 41.6% in 1925 and to 40.6% in 1931, the characteristic of the Finnish navy is constituted by the sail; from this point of view, Finland occupies the third place among the world navies, after the United States and the British Empire, while, as regards overall consistency of shipping, it occupies the nineteenth place. It is also worth noting that most of these ships (40,000 t.) Are owned by shipowners from the island of Åland; Finally, it is noteworthy that the Finnish navy now owns the last large sailing ships involved in overseas navigation in the world. In 1927 the total value of the Finnish fleet rose to 535 million marks; in the same year it received 459.6 million marks of gross freight.

The railway follows navigation in importance. The first line was inaugurated in 1862 between Helsinki and Hämeenlinna (Eavastehus). The Russian gauge (1,524 m) was used in construction, which is higher than that of Sweden, so that only international rail traffic of a certain importance involves a costly transhipment. The network consists of a successive series of lines, which could be said to be entrenched with respect to the active routes of traditional cabotage and intersection with inland waterways. Some minor joining then detaches between them, especially in the relatively populous SW. and around Viipuri, like some branches to otherwise isolated internal centers. Finally, the line of penetration towards Lapland is noteworthy, pushed from Kemi to Kemijärvi, beyond the polar circle. Overall, the railways (1929) reached a length of 5399 km., Almost all owned by the state. The frequency of marshes, lakes and rivers has slowed the development of ordinary routes. On very large expanses of Lapland, the rivers and paths obtained by throwing tree trunks on the quagmire still constitute the only communication routes. In the rest of Finland, real roads were not built until the seventeenth century, and very few until the nineteenth century. At the beginning of the current century there were 40,000 kilometers of them. Over the next thirty years they still increased significantly, especially in the northern regions. In 1932 he completed the great route along the Paatsjoki, which reaches Petsamo. Finally, we must mention the The winter communications on ice are particularly important here. This in fact allows you to travel with suitable means (sleds, skis) considerable distances in a straight line or almost, shortening them and making them practicable without transhipment.

Finnish civil aviation depends on the Ministry of Communications. Air traffic in Finland is managed by two companies: 1. the Finnish company Aero OY, which has Junkers-type aircraft in service. In 1929 on 284.110 km. flew the aircraft of this company carried 9,000 passengers and 68,000 kg. of goods; 2. the Swedish company AB Aerotransport, which also operates the service with Junkers aircraft. The Finnish company operates the following lines: 1. Helsinki-Tallinn, km. 85, daily service; 2. Helsinki-Turku-Stockholm, km. 410, service three times a week. The Swedish company operates the Stockholm-Helsinki line, km. 390, service three times a week.

Telegraph lines (1925) almost 10,000 km. (up to Petsamo); telephone km. 7336; fixed radiotelegraphic stations 7; post offices 2766.

Foreign trade. – The overall trade movement with foreign countries continued to increase after the war, as shown in the following table:

Foodstuffs make up 35% of imports in value; industrial raw materials follow (32%); then finished industrial products for immediate use (20%). Among the foodstuffs, wheat stands out (wheat and rye, from 650 to 900 million marks a year), then sugar (320-350 million), meat, preserves; among the raw materials metals (around 500 million), textiles (over 300 million); among finished products textiles (600 million), machines and similar (270-300 million), vehicles (350), chemical products (120); then mineral oils, coals; etc. If we remove 6% of butter and 8% of various products, all the rest of the export value is given by timber and its derivatives (86%): sawn wood (43%), paper (12%), cellulose (11%), raw wood (10%). Traffic with Russia has been reduced to almost zero, before the world war among the most relevant; intense is today above all the one with the large Western countries more easily accessible via the Baltic: while, however, Great Britain excels (30% of exports, 16% of imports) particularly for the enormous purchases it makes on the Finnish market timber and derivatives, Germany is by far the largest supplier of imports (28%; exp. 15%), not only for metallurgical products, but also for raw or unprocessed materials, such as wheat, cotton, and wool, which are purchased on the Germanic market, although originally coming from other countries. This also explains the relatively large traffic with Holland and Belgium, while that with the United States (imp. 15%) is particularly formed by consignments of cotton and wheat. Traffic is not very active with the surrounding countries due to the similarity of the economies; however, the import of iron ore and derivatives from Sweden is noteworthy. The traffic with Italy, small, tends to rise: in 1923 it was 18,000,000 marks (14 imp. From Italy, 4 esp.); in 1927 of 61 million (37.9 and 23): flours, citrus fruits, fruit, musical instruments are exported to Finland, cellulose and furrier’s are imported. International traffic takes place mainly through the Baltic ports: 52% is centralized in Helsinki, Viipuri and Turku; another 17% through Kotka and Hanko (winter traffic). Over a quarter of the traffic is carried out by the German flag; the national one disputes the second place to the Swedish one.

Finland Transportation