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Tuesday 12th December
Finland Information - Page 2
History
Finland has been inhabited since early times. A few Iron Age settlements have been found and there are many early hill-forts.

Over the centuries Finland was of interest to its neighbours, Sweden and Russia. Sweden controlled Finland from the middle of the twelfth century to the nineteenth century. In 1809 Finland was ceded to Russia. Russia remained in overall control until the Russian October Revolution when Finland declared independence. The Republic of Finland was established in 1919.

In 1939 the Russians took the area of southern Karelia and it was animosity between the Finns and the Russians which caused Finland to fight against the USSR during World War Two. However after the Allied victory Finland lost more land.

A peace treaty was signed with the Soviet Union in 1947 and from the beginning of the 1950s Finland pursued a policy of friendly neutrality with the Soviets.

Economy
Finland fought against the USSR in the Second World War but developed a special trading relationship with the Soviet Union during the "Cold War". With the break-up of the USSR, Finland looked more towards the countries in Western Europe joining the EU in 1995.

During the second half of the twentieth century Finland made the transition from an agricultural and forestry economy to a modern industrial economy. Today agriculture and forestry employs a relatively small percentage of the labour force whereas industry employs over thirty percent. However, forestry is an important export earner and provides secondary employment for the rural population.

Principal industries include pulp and paper, metals, electronics, machinery and scientific instruments, shipbuilding and telecommunications. Nokia is a Finnish success story and the star of the communications industry. Another successful Finnish product is Benecol, made by the Raisio Group. Benecol is the registered name of food and drink products containing Plant Sterol Ester said to lower serum cholesterol.

Tourism is a growing sector with potential for further growth. There is much to see and do in the cities and the Finnish countryside. (2008)

Arts
Finland is especially famous for design. Alvar Aalto, the twentieth century functionalist architect, led the way in design, producing everything from fittings to furniture for his buildings.

Finnish culture gained an international audience when the Kalevala (1835), a collection of epic folk poems, and a landmark in Finnish literature, was translated into a number of languages.

Finland's most famous musician is the composer Sibelius (1865-1957).

Sport
Sports in Finland are athletics, football, Finnish rules baseball, ice hockey and, of course, cross-country and downhill skiing. Ice fishing is also popular.

Holidays
The Christian holidays of Christmas and Easter are observed. In fact Finnish Lapland is the home of children's favourite Christmas visitor, Santa Claus.

The summer festival of Juhannus - John the Baptist Day - is celebrated with bonfires and traditional music and dancing.

Independence Day (1917) is on 6 December.

News
News from Finland can be found in Newslink.

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