State Social- Humanitarian
of foreign languages
by the student
the group PM-07
Geography and environment
economy and globalization
Geography and environment
Finland has a semi-presidential system with parliamentarism.
The president is responsible for foreign policy outside of the European Union
in cooperation with the cabinet (the Finnish Council of State) where most
executive power lies, headed by the Prime Minister. Responsibility for forming
the cabinet is granted to a person nominated by the President and approved of
by the Parliament. This person also becomes Prime Minister after formal
appointment by the President. Any minister and the cabinet as a whole, however,
must have continuing trust of the parliament and may be voted out, resign or be
replaced. The Council of State is made up of the Prime Minister and the
ministers for the various departments of the central government as well as an
ex-officio member, the Chancellor of Justice.
The 200-member unicameral parliament is called the Eduskunta
(Finnish) or Riksdag (Swedish). It is the supreme legislative authority
in Finland. The parliament may alter the Constitution of Finland, bring about
the resignation of the Council of State, and override presidential vetoes. Its
acts are not subject to judicial review. Legislation may be initiated by the
Council of State, or one of the Eduskunta members, who are elected for a
four-year term on the basis of proportional representation through open list
Finnish trade relationships and politics were by large
determined by avoidance of provoking first the feudally ruled Imperial Russia
and then the totalitarian Soviet Union. However, the peaceful relationship with
both the Soviet Union and Western powers was turned into an economic advantage.
The Soviet Union conducted bilateral trade with Finland, but Western countries
remained Finland's main trading partners. After the Second World War, the
growth rate of the GDP was high compared to other Europe, and Finland was often
called "Japan of the North". In the beginning of the 1970s, Finland's
GDP per capita reached the level of Japan and the UK.
In 1991, Finland fell into a severe depression caused by
economic overheating, depressed foreign markets and the dismantling of the
barter system between Finland and the former Soviet Union. More than twenty
percent of Finnish trade was with the Soviet Union before 1991, and in the
following two years the trade practically ceased. The growth in the 1980s was
based on debt, and when the defaults began rolling in, an avalanche effect
increased the unemployment from a virtual full employment to one fifth of the
workforce. However, civil order remained and the state alleviated the problem
of funding the welfare state by taking massive debts. 1991 and again in 1992,
Finland devalued the markka to promote export competitiveness. This helped
stabilise the economy; the depression bottomed out in 1993, with continued
growth through 1995. Since then the growth rate has been one of the highest of
OECD countries, and national debt has been reduced to 41.1 percent of GDP
(fulfilling the EU's Stability and Growth Pact requirement). Unfortunately, the
unemployment has been persistent, and is currently at about 7 percent.
The 339 metres long M/S Freedom of the Seas and her sister ship
M/S Liberty of the Seas, built at Aker Yards in Perno, Turku, are the
largest cruise ships and passenger vessels in the world.
Notable Finnish companies include Nokia, the market leader in
mobile telephony; Stora Enso, the largest paper manufacturer in the world;
Neste Oil, an oil refining and marketing company; UPM-Kymmene, the third
largest paper manufacturer in the world; Aker Finnyards, the manufacturer of
the world's largest cruise ships (such as Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the
Seas); KONE, a manufacturer of elevators and escalators; Wärtsilä,
a producer of power plants and ship engines; and Finnair, the country's
Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, the main airport of the Helsinki Metropolitan
Region and the whole of Finland.
Finland's transport network is developed. As of 2005, the
country's network of main roads has a total length of 13,258 km, and is
mainly centred on the capital city of Helsinki. The total length of all public
roads is 78,186 km, of which 50,616 km are paved. The motorway
network is still to a great extent under development, and currently totals 653 km.
There are 5,865 km of railways in the country. Helsinki has an urban rail
network, and light rail systems are currently being planned in Turku and
Tampere. Finland also has a considerable number of airports and large ports.
The national railway company is VR (Valtion Rautatiet, or
State Railways). It offers InterCity and express trains throughout the country
and the faster Pendolino trains connecting the major cities. There are large
discounts (usually fifty percent) available for children (7–16 yr), students,
senior citizens and conscripts. There are international trains to St.
Petersburg (Finnish and Russian day-time trains) and Moscow (Russian over-night
train), Russia. Connections to Sweden are by bus due to rail gauge differences.
It's possible to take the
Line and Viking Line ferries from Helsinki and Turku to Mariehamn and Lagans,
Stockholm (Sweden) and Tallinn (Estonia),
ferries from Helsinki to Tallinn (Estonia) and Rostock (Germany)
Line ferries from Helsinki to Tallinn (Estonia) and from Eckerö to
There are about 25 airports in Finland with scheduled
passenger services. Finnair, Blue1 and Finncomm Airlines provide air services
both domestically and internationally. Helsinki-Vantaa Airport is Finland's
global gateway with scheduled non-stop flights to such places as Bangkok,
Beijing, Delhi, Guangzhou, Mumbai, Nagoya, New York, Osaka, Shanghai, Hong Kong
and Tokyo. Helsinki has an optimal location for great circle airline traffic
routes between Western Europe and the Far East. Hence, many foreign tourists
visit Helsinki on a stop-over while flying from Asia to Europe or vice versa.
Chimneyless sauna building in Enonkoski. Strong Finnish sauna culture is
one of the remains of the aboriginal Finnish culture.
Like the people, Finnish culture is indigenous and most
prominently represented by the Finnish language. Throughout the area's
prehistory and history, cultural contacts and influences have concurrently, or
at varying times, come from all directions. As a result of 600 years of Swedish
rule, Swedish cultural influences are still notable. Today, cultural influences
from North America are prominent. Into the twenty-first century, many Finns
have contacted cultures from distantly abroad, such as with those in Asia and
Africa. Beyond tourism, Finnish youth in particular have been increasing their
contact with peoples from outside Finland by travelling abroad to both work and
There are still differences between regions, especially minor
differences in accents and vocabulary. Minorities, such as the Sami, Finland
Swedes, Romani, and Tatar, maintain their own cultural characteristics. Many
Finns are emotionally connected to the countryside and nature, as urbanisation
is a relatively recent phenomenon.
Finland comfortably won the first Eurovision Dance Contest in
Though Finnish written language could be said to exist since
Mikael Agricola translated the New Testament into Finnish in the sixteenth
century as a result of the Protestant Reformation, few notable works of
literature were written until the nineteenth century, which saw the beginning
of a Finnish national Romantic Movement. This prompted Elias Lönnrot to
collect Finnish and Karelian folk poetry and arrange and publish them as Kalevala,
the Finnish national epic. The era saw a rise of poets and novelists who wrote
in Finnish, notably Aleksis Kivi and Eino Leino.
After Finland became independent there was a rise of
modernist writers, most famously Mika Waltari. Frans Eemil Sillanpää
was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1939 – so far the only one for a
Finnish author. The second World War prompted a return to more national
interests in comparison to a more international line of thought, characterized
by Väinö Linna. Literature in modern Finland is in a healthy state,
with detective stories enjoying a particular boom of popularity. Ilkka Remes, a
Finnish author of thrillers, is very popular.
The architect couple Aino and Alvar Aalto.
Finns have made major contributions to handicrafts and
industrial design. Finland's best-known sculptor of the twentieth century was Wäinö
Aaltonen, remembered for his monumental busts and sculptures. Finnish
architecture is famous around the world. Among the top of the twentieth century
Finnish architects to win international recognition are Eliel Saarinen
(designer of the widely recognised Helsinki Central railway station and many
other public works) and his son Eero Saarinen. Alvar Aalto, who helped bring
the functionalist architecture to Finland, is also famous for his work in
furniture and glassware.
Much of the music of Finland is influenced by traditional
Karelian melodies and lyrics, as comprised in the Kalevala. Karelian
culture is perceived as the purest expression of the Finnic myths and beliefs,
less influenced by Germanic influence, in contrast to Finland's position
between the East and the West. Finnish folk music has undergone a roots revival
in recent decades, and has become a part of popular music.
The people of northern Finland, Sweden and Norway, the Sami,
are known primarily for highly spiritual songs called Joik. The same word
sometimes refers to lavlu or vuelie songs, though this is technically
Classical and opera
The Finnish composer Jean Sibelius (1865–1957), a significant figure in the
history of classical music.
The first Finnish opera was written by the German composer
Fredrik Pacius in 1852. Pacius also wrote Maamme/Vårt land (Our
Land), Finland's national anthem. In the 1890s Finnish nationalism based on the
Kalevala spread, and Jean Sibelius became famous for his vocal symphony Kullervo.
He soon received a grant to study runo singers in Karelia and continued
his rise as the first prominent Finnish musician. In 1899 he composed
Finlandia, which played its important role in Finland gaining independence. He
remains one of Finland's most popular national figures and is a symbol of the
Today, Finland has a very lively classical music scene.
Finnish classical music has only existed for about a hundred years, and many of
the important composers are still alive, such as Magnus Lindberg, Kaija
Saariaho, Aulis Sallinen and Einojuhani Rautavaara. The composers are
accompanied with a large number of great conductors such as Sakari Oramo, Mikko
Franck, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Osmo Vänskä, Jukka-Pekka Saraste, Susanna
Mälkki and Leif Segerstam. Some of the internationally acclaimed Finnish
classical musicians are Karita Mattila, Soile Isokoski, Kari Kriikku, Pekka
Kuusisto, Réka Szilvay and Linda Brava.
Modern Finnish popular music includes a renowned heavy metal
scene, in common with other Nordic countries, as well as a number of prominent
rock bands, jazz musicians, hip hop performers, and dance music acts such as
Bomfunk MCs and Darude. Finnish electronic music such as the Sähkö
Recordings record label enjoys underground acclaim. Iskelmä (coined
directly from the German word Schlager, meaning hit) is a
traditional Finnish word for a light popular song. Finnish popular music also
includes various kinds of dance music; tango, a style of Argentinean music, is
also popular. One of the most productive composers of popular music was Toivo Kärki,
and the most famous singer Olavi Virta (1915–1972). Among the lyricists, Sauvo
Puhtila (born 1928), Reino Helismaa (died 1965) and Veikko "Vexi"
Salmi are the most remarkable authors. The composer and bandleader Jimi Tenor
is well known for his brand of retro-funk music.
Notable Finnish dance music artists include Bomfunc MCs,
Darude, JS16, and DJ Orkidea.
Rock, hard rock and heavy metal music
Tarja Turunen, Amorphis, Children of Bodom, HIM, Lordi,
Nightwish, Sentenced, Sonata Arctica, Stratovarius, The 69 Eyes, and Negative,
("Best Finnish Act" MTV Europe Music Awards 2007) , have had success
in European and Japanese heavy metal and hard rock scenes since the 1990s, and
have been gaining popularity rapidly in the United States since the late 1990s.
In the later 1990s the cello metal group Apocalyptica played Metallica cover
versions as cello quartettos and sold half a million records worldwide. The
recently retired Timo Rautiainen & Trio Niskalaukaus were one of Finland's
most popular metal acts in the early 2000s.
Arguably one of Finland's most domestically popular rock
groups is CMX. Although this group is not widely known outside of the country,
bassist Billy Gould of popular U.S. rock group Faith No More produced CMX's
1998 album Vainajala.
One of the most influential musical contribution to
international rock music is the band Hanoi Rocks, led by guitarist Andy McCoy,
aka Antti Hulkko. Another rock band to enjoy commercial success is The Rasmus.
After eleven years together and several domestic releases, the band finally
captured Europe (and other places, like South America). Their 2003 album Dead
Letters sold 1.5 million units worldwide and garnered them eight gold and
five platinum album designations. The single "In the Shadows" placed
on Top 10 charts in eleven countries and was the most played video on MTV
Europe for 2005. Most recently, the Finnish hard rock/heavy metal band Lordi
won the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest with a record 292 points, giving Finland
its first ever victory. So far the most successful Finnish band in the United
States is HIM.
Tuska Open Air Metal Festival, one of the largest open-air
heavy metal festivals in the world, is held annually in Kaisaniemi, Helsinki.
Erkki Karu, one of the pioneers of the Finnish cinema, with
cinematographer Eino Kari in 1927.
Finland has a growing film industry with a number of famous directors
such as Aki Kaurismäki, Timo Koivusalo, Aleksi Mäkelä and Klaus
Härö. Hollywood film director/producer Renny Harlin (born Lauri
Mauritz Harjola) was born in Finland.
Media and communications
Linus Torvalds, a famous Finnish software engineer, known for his
contribution to the Linux operating system.
Finland is one of the most advanced information societies in
the world. There are 200 newspapers; 320 popular magazines, 2,100 professional
magazines and 67 commercial radio stations, with one nationwide, five national
public service radio channels (three in Finnish, two in Swedish, one in Sami);
digital radio has three channels. Four national analog television channels (two
public service and two commercial) were fully replaced by five public service
and three commercial digital television channels in September 1, 2007.
Each year around twelve feature films are made, 12,000 book
titles published and 12 million records sold. 67 percent of the population use
Finns, along with other Nordic people and the Japanese, spend
the most time in the world reading newspapers. The most read newspaper in
Finland is Helsingin Sanomat, with a circulation of 434,000. The media
group SanomaWSOY behind Helsingin Sanomat also publishes the tabloid Ilta-Sanomat
and commerce-oriented Taloussanomat. It also owns the Nelonen television
channel. SanomaWSOY's largest shareholder is Aatos Erkko and his family. The
other major publisher Alma Media publishes over thirty magazines, including
newspaper Amulets, tabloid Iltalehti and commerce-oriented Kauppalehti.
Finland has been at the top of the worldwide Press Freedom Ranking list every
year since the publication of the first index by Reporters Without Borders in
Finland's National Broadcasting Company YLE is an independent
state-owned company. It has five television channels and 13 radio channels in
two national languages. YLE is funded through a television license and private
television broadcasting license fees. Ongoing transformation to digital TV
broadcasting is in progress — analog broadcasts ceased on the terrestrial
network 31 August, 2007 and will cease on cable at the end of 2007. The most
popular television channel MTV3 and the most popular radio channel Radio Nova
are owned by Nordic Broadcasting (Bonnier and Prevents Industries).
The people of Finland are accustomed to technology and
information services. The number of cellular phone subscribers as well as the
number of Internet connections per capita in Finland are among the highest in
the world. According to the Ministry of Transport and Communications, Finnish
mobile phone penetration exceeded fifty percent of the population as far back
as August 1998 – first in the world – and by December 1998 the number of cell
phone subscriptions outnumbered fixed-line phone connections. By the end of
June 2007 there were 5.78 million cellular phone subscriptions, or 109 percent
of the population.
Another fast-growing sector is the use of the Internet.
Finland had more than 1.52 million broadband Internet connections by the end of
June 2007, i.e., about 287 per 1,000 inhabitants. The Finns are not only
connected; they are heavy users of Internet services. All Finnish schools and
public libraries have for years been connected to the Internet.
Karjalanpiirakka, a traditional Finnish pastry.
Traditional Finnish cuisine is a combination of European,
Fennoscandian and Western Russian elements; table manners are European. The
food is generally simple, fresh and healthy. Fish, meat, berries and ground
vegetables are typical ingredients whereas spices are not common due to their
historical unavailability. In years past, Finnish food often varied from region
to region, most notably between the west and east. In coastal and lakeside
villages, fish was a main feature of cooking, whereas in the eastern and also northern
regions, vegetables and reindeer were more common. The prototypical breakfast
is oatmeal or other continental-style foods such as bread. Lunch is usually a
full warm meal, served by a canteen at workplaces. Dinner is eaten at around
17.00 to 18.00 at home.
Modern Finnish cuisine combines country fare and haute
cuisine with contemporary continental cooking style. Today, spices are a
prominent ingredient in many modern Finnish recipes, having been adopted from
the east and west in recent decades.
All official holidays in Finland are established by acts of
Parliament. The official holidays can be divided into Christian and secular
holidays, although some of the Christian holidays have replaced holidays of pagan
origin. The main Christian holidays are Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, Ascension
Day, Pentecost, and All Saints Day. The secular holidays are New Year's Day,
May Day, Midsummer Day, and the Independence Day. Christmas is the most
extensively celebrated holiday: usually at least 23rd to 26th of December are
In addition to this, all Sundays are official holidays, but
they are not as important as the special holidays. The names of the Sundays
follow the liturgical calendar and they can be categorised as Christian
holidays. When the standard working week in Finland was reduced to 40 hours by
an act of Parliament, it also meant that all Saturdays became a sort of de
facto public holidays, though not official ones. Easter Sunday and Pentecost
are Sundays that form part of a main holiday and they are preceded by a kind of
special Saturdays. Retail stores are prohibited by law from doing business on
Sundays, except during the summer months (May through August) and in the
pre-Christmas season (November and December). Business locations that have less
than 400 square metres of floor space are allowed Sunday business throughout
the year, with the exception of official holidays and certain Sundays, such as
Mother's Day and Father's Day.
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