Top events in Finland

September
18

The annual Helsinki Intentional Film Festival offers a great mix of screenings which attracts well over 40,000 film buffs each year to screens...

October
05

Fishermen have been gathering round Helsinki Market Square at the beginning of October to sell their wares ever since the 18th century. The...

November
17

The city celebrates its dyanmic food scene with Restaurant Day, taking place four times a year, in which pop up restaurants open in parks,...

Helsinki harbour, Finland
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Helsinki harbour, Finland

© 123rf.com / Andrei Nekrassov

Finland Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

338,145 sq km (130,558 sq miles).

Population

5.3 million (2013).

Population density

15.6 per sq km.

Capital

Helsinki.

Government

Republic. Before 1917, Finland was a Grand Duchy of the Russian Empire.

Head of state

President Sauli Niinistö since 2012.

Head of government

Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen since 2011.

Electricity

230 volts AC, 50Hz. European two-pin plugs are standard.

Finland is the big surprise of the Nordic countries, a natural wonderland with more trees than people and more islands than any other nation in the world. With endless miles of wilderness and 188,000 lakes on their doorstep, the Finns are uniquely in tune with their surroundings. Even committed urbanites retreat to wooden cottages in the country during the brief, warm summers to swim and fish in the lakes and gather wild berries and mushrooms in the woods, before unwinding with a sauna and a glass of kossu (Finnish vodka).

The culture of the Finns has been shaped by the historic tug-of-war between Sweden and Russia, a story written large in the language and customs of Karelia and the Swedish-speaking regions of Åland and Ostrobothnia. Even the Finnish language is something of an anomaly, more closely related to Hungarian than to any other language. In the far north, Lapland is dominated by the hardy culture of the Sámi, rugged reindeer herders who have been following a semi-nomadic existence for thousands of years. Finland's most famous contribution to world culture is the sauna - the country has a staggering 1.6 million of them.

Around 10% of Finland is covered by water and 69% of the country is covered by forests, providing a natural adventure playground for trekkers, mountain-bikers, cross-country skiers, fishermen and watersports enthusiasts. Around 8,000 sq km (3,088 sq miles) are protected by Finland's 35 national parks, providing fantastic opportunities to spot birds, reindeer, elks and bears.

In modern times, the Finns have become famous for their technological innovations - this is the home of Nokia - and their flair for design. The reputations of architect Alvar Aalto and the Marimekko design studio extend far beyond these shores. The Finns are also famous for their party spirit, celebrated with gusto during Finland's festivals and the endless days of midsummer, when the sun barely dips below the horizon. During the snow-dazzled winters, life continues at full pace with the aid of snow tyres, skis and dog sleds.

Travel Advice

Last updated: 15 September 2014

The travel advice summary below is provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK. 'We' refers to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. For their full travel advice, visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.

There is a low threat from terrorism.

Most visits to Finland are trouble-free.

If you need to contact the emergency services call 112.

The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.

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