Total Area: 338,424 km2 (130,596 sq miles)
Population: 5,404,956 (2012 estimate)
Officially the Republic of Finland, Finland’s a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland. Off the southwest coast are the Swedish-populated Åland Islands (581 sq mi; 1,505 sq km), which have had an autonomous status since 1921.
The majority of Finns are concentrated in the southern region. It is the eighth largest country in Europe in terms of area and the most sparsely populated country in the European Union. Finland is a parliamentary republic with a central government based in Helsinki and local governments in 336 municipalities and the autonomous region of the Åland Islands. Finland joined the United Nations in 1955, the OECD in 1969, the European Union in 1995, and the Eurozone at its inception in 1999.
Due to having been compressed under the enormous weight of the glaciers, terrain in Finland is rising due to the post-glacial rebound. The effect is strongest around the Gulf of Bothnia, where land steadily rises about 1 cm a year. As a result, the old sea bottom turns little by little into dry land: the surface area of the country is expanding by about 7 square kilometres (2.7 sq mi) annually. In a sense, Finland is rising from the sea.
The Glacier’s eroding effects have left the Finnish landscape mostly flat with few hills and fewer mountains. Its highest point, the Halti at 1,324 metres (4,344 ft), is found in the extreme north of Lapland at the border between Finland and Norway. The highest mountain whose peak is entirely in Finland is Ridnitsohkka at 1,316 m (4,318 ft), directly adjacent to Halti.
The landscape is covered mostly (seventy-five percent of land area) by coniferous taiga forests and fens, with little arable land. The most common type of rock is granite. It is a ubiquitous part of the scenery, visible wherever there is no soil cover. As forests cover 86% of the country's area, Finland is the largest forested area in Europe and it’s a contributing factor to its diverse and extensive range of fauna. Finnish forests consist of pine, spruce, birch and other species. Finland is the largest producer of wood in Europe and among the largest in the world.
The main factor influencing Finland's climate is the country's geographical position between the 60th and 70th northern parallels in the Eurasian continent's coastal zone, which shows characteristics of both a maritime and a continental climate, depending on the direction of air flow. Finland is near enough to the Atlantic Ocean to be continuously warmed by the Gulf Stream, which explains the unusually warm climate considering the absolute latitude.
A quarter of Finland's territory lies within the Arctic Circle and the midnight sun can be experienced for more days the farther north one travels. At Finland's northernmost point, the sun does not set for 73 consecutive days during summer, and does not rise at all for 51 days during winter. The Finnish climate is suitable for grain farming in the southernmost regions but not farther north.
Climatic summers of the southern Finland last 4 months (from mid May to mid September). In northern Finland, particularly in Lapland, a sub-arctic climate dominates, characterized by cold -occasionally severe- winters and relatively warm, short summers. Winters in north Finland are nearly 7 months long, and snow covers the lands almost 6 months, from October to early May. Summers in the north are quite short, only two to three months.
Sources: infoplease, Wikipedia, finland, visitfinland
Finland was a relative latecomer to industrialisation, remaining a largely agrarian country until the 1950s. Thereafter, economic development was rapid. Finland built an extensive welfare state and balanced between the East and the West in global economics and politics. With the best educational system in Europe, Finland has recently ranked as one of the world's most peaceful, competitive and livable countries.
Finland is highly integrated in the global economy, and international trade is a third of GDP. The European Union makes 60% of the total trade and Finland has a highly industrialized mixed economy with a per capita output equal to that of other European economies such as France, Germany, Belgium or the UK. The largest trade flows are with Germany, Russia, Sweden, United Kingdom, United States, Netherlands and China. Trade policy is managed by the European Union, where Finland has traditionally been among the free trade supporters, except for agriculture. Finland is the only Nordic country to have joined the Eurozone.
The largest sector of the economy is services at 66%, followed by manufacturing and refining at 31%. Primary production is 2.9%. With respect to foreign trade, the key economic sector is manufacturing. The largest industries are electronics (22%), machinery, vehicles and other engineered metal products (21.1%), forest industry (13%) and chemicals (11%).
Finland has timber and several mineral and freshwater resources. Forestry, paper factories, and the agricultural sector (on which taxpayers spend around 3 billion euros annually) are politically sensitive to rural residents. The Greater Helsinki area generates around a third of GDP. In a 2004 OECD comparison, high-technology manufacturing in Finland ranked second largest after Ireland. Knowledge-intensive services have also ranked the smallest and slow-growth sectors -especially agriculture and low-technology manufacturing- second largest after Ireland. Overall short-term outlook was good, and GDP growth has been above many of its EU peers.
Otherwise known as “The Land of 1000 lakes” (although this should be reconsidered after reading the actual number below), Finland attracted over 6.1 million tourists in 2010, with most of them coming from neighboring Russia. The value added by tourism is about 2.4% of the Finnish GDP, and provides around 60,000 jobs.
A tourist’s famous pastime in Finland would be simply to sit on the shore of any lake, watching reindeer or moose go by, or even start up fishing and generally enjoying the absolute silence and whispers of nature. Finland is world famous for its many lakes, nearly 200,000 of them (larger than 500 m²/0.12 acres) and is also known to have excellent water quality, and green deep woods and forests around the sea, rivers, and the waterways.
In wintertime Finland provides excellent opportunities for cross-country skiing and some for alpine skiing too. Many of the popular ski resorts are situated north of the Arctic Circle in Lapland, but there are exceptions like Kuusamo in the northeastern part of Oulu ProvinceSanta Claus is commonly known to live on Korvatunturi in Finland. In the town of Rovaniemi there is the Santa Claus Village for tourists to visit.
The Finnish landscape is covered with thick pine forests, rolling hills and complemented with a labyrinth of lakes and inlets. Much of Finland is pristine and virgin as it contains 35 national parks from the Southern shores of the Gulf of Finland to the high fells of Lapland. It is also an urbanised region with many cultural events and activities.
Commercial cruises between major coastal and port cities in the Baltic region, including Helsinki, Turku, Tallinn, Stockholm and Travemünde, play a significant role in the local tourism industry, as they aid in boosting arrival numbers.
Finland is regarded as the home of Saint Nicholas or Santa Claus, living in the northern Lapland region. Above the Arctic Circle, in midwinter, there is a polar night, a period when the sun does not rise for days or weeks, or even months, and correspondingly, midnight sun in the summer, with no sunset even at midnight. Lapland is so far north that the Aurora Borealis, fluorescence in the high atmosphere due to solar wind, is seen regularly in the fall, winter and spring.
Another popular attraction would be Suomenlinna, an inhabited sea fortress built on six islands, today within Helsinki. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Finland’s most visited tourist attractions.
Sources: visitfinland, Wikipedia, gofinland
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Outdoor activities range from Nordic skiing, golf, fishing, yachting, lake cruises, hiking, kayaking among many others. As wildlife is abundant in Finland, one of the most popular activities is also bird-watching. At Finland's northernmost point, in the heart of summer, the Sun does not completely set for 73 consecutive days. As Bird-watching is popular for those fond of avifauna, however hunting is also popular. Elk, reindeer and hare are all common game in Finland, always subject to certain conditions. Olavinlinna in Savonlinna hosts the annual Savonlinna Opera Festival. All these lovely places cannot be reached relying only on public transport. Renting a car for a few days will help you appreciate the beauty of Finland even more and allow you to explore it at your own pace.
You may pick up one of our rental cars in any Finnish location which is to your preference, such as city centres and airports. Our dedicated purchasing team compares prices across all the main suppliers such as Avis, Budget, Sixt, Europcar and Hertz as well as an abundance of other carefully selected and reliable local suppliers to find you the best car rental rates possible, 24/7 all year round. Visit any of our pages, or the orange car search facility in the top right section of this page and receive a concise, online and fully inclusive quote today and see how much can be saved on your next car rental in Finland, simply by using our services.
Sources: Wikipedia, gofinland
Speed limits in Finland are:
• Towns and cities : 40-50 km/h (25-31 mph)
• Open Roads : 80-100 km/h (50-62mph)
• Motorways : 120 km/h (75 mph)
Source: europe.org, alltravelfinland
Tips for driving in Finland
Finland uses the Right side for Driving and Finnish drivers overtake on the left. Take extreme care whilst Driving in Finland, as the Winter season could be hazardous. Snow tyres are a necessity from December to February and engine heaters are strongly recommended. All motor vehicles must use headlights at dusk, or in the fog or rain. Headlights must be used at all times outside built-up areas (indicated by a sign). Motorists all over Finland should remain alert for elk and reindeer which frequently wander onto roads and are most active at dusk.
The blood/alcohol limit in Finland is 0.05. Travellers should be aware that drink driving laws in Finland are strict. Police strictly enforce all traffic laws and institute random roadside breathalyser tests. Those drivers who register a .05 or above alcohol content are subject to immediate arrest.