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Finland, country in northwestern Europe on the Baltic Sea. Finland is one of Europe’s most northerly countries, with about one-third of its area lying north of the Arctic Circle. Finland is a land of vast green forests and sparkling lakes, of ultramodern buildings and old, walled castles. Its woodlands, which are its most important natural resource, are often referred to as Finland’s “green gold.” Helsinki is the capital and largest city of Finland.

Finland is generally a low-lying country. Great sheets of ice covered Finland until a few thousand years ago. The movement of the ice sheets ground down the terrain, leaving a landscape dotted with thousands of lakes. The country’s official name is the Republic of Finland, but the Finns call their country Suomi—a word that means “land of lakes and marshes.”

Finland is landlocked to the north, where it borders Norway, and to the east, where it borders Russia. To the south lies the Gulf of Finland and to the west lies the Gulf of Bothnia. Thousands of small, rocky islands fringe Finland’s southwestern coast. Few of the islands are inhabited. The most important island group is an extensive archipelago called Ahvenanmaa, (Aland Islands), located at the mouth of the Gulf of Bothnia.

In Finland’s Arctic region, there is almost continuous daylight from May through July. During these months of “midnight sun,” Finland’s scenic coastal areas draw thousands of boaters. In the interior, Finland’s large tracts of unspoiled wilderness attract hikers from around the world.

Finland is sometimes grouped with the countries of Scandinavia, with which it maintains close ties. However, for centuries, Finland was a border zone between the rival powers of Sweden and Russia. After 700 years of Swedish domination, Finland fell to Russia in 1809. It first became an independent state in 1917, after the Russian Revolution. From the end of World War II to 1991, Finland was bound to the Soviet Union by strong economic ties and by a treaty of friendship and cooperation signed in 1948. After 1991, Finland moved toward closer relations with Europe and became a full member of the European Union (EU) in 1995.

Although Finland is one of the youngest nations in Europe, it is renowned for its distinct cultural traditions. Finland is especially noted for its contributions to modern architecture and industrial design. The sauna, or Finnish steam bath, is world-famous and part of the Finnish way of life.

Sources

For younger readers

McNair, Sylvia. Finland. Children's Press, 1997. For readers in grades 5 to 8.

Rodgers, Mary M., ed. Finland: In Pictures. Lerner, 1995. An introduction to the history, people, economy, and government structure of Finland.

Tan, Chung Lee. Finland. Benchmark, 1996. For readers in grades 5 to 8.

Finland: History

Derry, T. K. A History of Scandinavia: Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland. University of Minnesota Press, 1979. Excellent survey includes Nordic unity, political development, and world contributions.

Jutikkala, Eino, with Kauko Pirinen. A History of Finland. Trans. Paul Sjoblom. 4th ed. Weilin & Goos, 1984. Authoritative history, includes relations with Sweden and Russia, nationalism, and culture.

Lander, Patricia S. The Land and People of Finland. Lippincott, 1991. Examination of history, geography, government, economy, and culture for middle school and high school readers.

McNair, Sylvia. Finland. Children's Press, 1997. The geography, history, and culture of Finland. For middle school readers.

Singleton, Frederick Bernard. A Short History of Finland. Cambridge University Press, 1990. History of Finland from the first settlement by the Finns to the 1980s.

Solsten, Eric, and Sandra W. Meditz, eds. Finland: A Country Study. 2nd ed. Government Printing Office, 1990. Authoritative, official U.S. analysis dealing with all aspects of the country; statistical tables and detailed index.

Trotter, William P. A Frozen Hell: The Russo-Finnish Winter War of 1939-1940. Algonquin, 1991. The Soviet invasion of 1939 and Finland's heroic resistance.

Finland: Politics, Society, and Culture

Arter, David. Politics and Policy-Making in Finland: A Study of a Small Democracy in a West European Outpost. St. Martin's, 1987.

Edelsward, L. M. Sauna as Symbol: Society and Culture in Finland. Lang, 1991. Anthropological and sociological study of Finnish social life and customs.

Jutikkala, Eino, with Kauko Pirinen.Trans. Paul Sjoblom. A History of Finland. 4th ed. Weilin & Goos, 1984. Authoritative history, includes relations with Sweden and Russia, nationalism, and culture.

Lander, Patricia S. The Land and People of Finland. Lippincott, 1991. Examination of history, geography, government, economy, and culture for middle school and high school readers.

McNair, Sylvia. Finland. Children's Press, 1997. The geography, history, and culture of Finland. For middle school readers.

Poole, Scott. The New Finnish Architecture. Rizzoli, 1991. A study of Finland's architecture over the last 40 years.

Solsten, Eric, and Sandra W. Meditz, eds. Finland: A Country Study. 2nd ed. Government Printing Office, 1990. Authoritative, official U.S. analysis dealing with all aspects of the country; statistical tables and detailed index.

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