July 6, 2022
Finland, officially the Republic of Finland (Finnish: Suomi/Suomen Tasavalta; Swedish: Finland/Republiken Finland), is one of the twenty-seven sovereign states that make up the European Union. It is located in northeastern Europe. It has borders to the west with Sweden, to the east with Russia and to the north with Norway. To the west and south it is surrounded by the Baltic Sea, which separates it from Sweden and Estonia, crossing the Gulfs of Bothnia and Finland, respectively. The country's capital and largest city is Helsinki, and the second largest city and largest urban area is Tampere, 180 kilometers north of Helsinki. In 2017, it had a population of 5.5 million inhabitants in an area of 338,145 km². The vast majority of the country's population is concentrated in the extreme south, on the coast of the Gulf of Finland and its surroundings (including the Helsinki Metropolitan Area). Finland is the seventh largest country in Europe and has a low population density of 16 inhabitants per km², making it the least densely populated country in the European Union. Most Finns speak Finnish[Note 1] as their mother tongue, which is one of the few official languages of the European Union that is not descended from the Indo-European family. The second official language of Finland is Swedish, spoken as a mother tongue by 5.6% of the population. Finland was part of Sweden until it was annexed by the Russian Empire in 1809, becoming the Grand Duchy of Finland (an autonomous entity of Russia until 1917, when it gained independence). Since independence, there have been a total of four wars in Finland: the Finnish Civil War in 1918, the Winter War in 1939-1940, the Continuation War in 1941-1944, and the Lapland War in 1944-1945; and in each war for Finnish independence, the army was led by C. G. E. Mannerheim, Finnish Field Marshal. Today, Finland is a parliamentary and democratic republic, and has been a member of the United Nations since 1955, as well as the European Union since 1995. The Finnish economy is one of the most prosperous in Europe, based on the important services sectors, as well as manufacturing. In the country there is a welfare state, as well as highly democratic politics and extremely low levels of corruption.