Fast Facts

Population:
5,246,000
Capital:
Helsinki; 1,075,000
Area:
338,145 square kilometers (130,558 square miles)
Language:
Finnish, Swedish
Religion:
Evangelical Lutheran
Currency:
Euro
Life Expectancy:
78
GDP per Capita:
U.S. $25,800
Literacy Percent:
100
Flag: Finland
Map: Finland

Finland, in northern Europe, is low-lying in the south and center with mountains in the north. One quarter of its territory lies north of the Arctic Circle, and the country experiences long, harsh winters. Most of the population is concentrated in the triangle formed by the cities of Helsinki (the capital), Tampere, and Turku.

Coniferous forests and more than 180,000 lakes grace Finland, which maintains a fleet of icebreakers to keep ports open during the long winters. Despite a short growing season Finland is self-sufficient in meat, grains, and dairy products. For years, the wood and paper industry dominated Finland's exports; but now the metal and engineering aspects of industry have surpassed forest products.

After six centuries of union with Sweden, Finland came under Russian rule in 1809. The Finns declared independence in 1917 but lost territory to the Soviets in World War II. Close economic ties between the two nations existed until the U.S.S.R. was dissolved in 1991. Since then Finland has strengthened links with Western Europe by joining the EU. Helsinki remains a preeminent center for international diplomacy.

ECONOMY

  • Industry: Metal products, electronics, shipbuilding, pulp and paper, copper refining
  • Agriculture: Barley, wheat, sugar beets, potatoes; dairy cattle; fish
  • Exports: Machinery and equipment, chemicals, metals, timber, paper, pulp

—Text From National Geographic Atlas of the World, Eighth Edition

Related Features

  • photo: Red shoes in Berlin, Germany

    Your Photos of European Cities

    Travel to the stylish streets, historic quarters, and cultural delights of some of Europe's most beloved cities with these photos submitted to My Shot by users like you.

  • Photo: An open art gallery

    48 Hours: Helsinki Guide

    The Finnish love of nature, steamy saunas, and bold design fuels the creative spirit in the capital city of Helsinki.

  • Photo: A polar bear leaping from an ice floe

    Ice Paradise

    The rich life of Svalbard, Norway's Arctic archipelago, faces a creeping thaw.

Take a Nat Geo Trip

Select a destination or trip type to find a trip:

See All Trips »

2014 Traveler Photo Contest

  • Picture of people on the Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

    Enter Today to Win!

    Submit your best shots for a chance to be featured in our weekly galleries and to win a grand prize trip for two to Alaska.