Not many people outside of Finland know much about the country, but I’m about to make a short trip there for the first time, so I’m reading up about the country. I always like to get to know a new place and this will be the 57th country that I have visited.
In fact, as an independent nation state, Finland – called Suomi by the Finns – is a relatively new nation. Finland was a part of Sweden from the 12th to 19th century, and from 1809 to 1917 was an autonomous Grand Duchy within the Russian Empire. The Finnish Declaration of Independence from Russia came on 6 December 1917 so, as an independent country, it is less than 100 years old.
This year is the 200th anniversary of Helsinki - which was founded in 1550 – as the country’s capital, since in 1812 the Russian rulers moved the capital from Turku. This year Helsinki is also World Design Capital.
In population terms, Finland is a small country with a total population of 5.4 million. Helsinki has a population of around 600,000.
In geographical terms, however, it is a large country in European terms – almost the size of Germany. Two-thirds of the country is covered in forest and the far North forms part of the Arctic Circle.
Currently the Finnish economy is one of the most robust in Europe. While unemployment is 7.5% and inflation is 2.9%, the country has generous welfare provision and income per capita is among the highest in Europe.
At the moment, it is the only country in the Eurozone with a stable triple-A credit rating. This is partly because, on a net basis, the country has no debt since annually it raises in taxes just more than the level of government debt.