The Republic of Finland (Finnish: Suomi, Suomen tasavalta, Swedish: Republiken Finland), is one of the Nordic countries. Situated in Northern Europe, it shares land borders with Sweden to the west, Russia to the east and Norway to the north while Estonia lies to its south. Book a ferry crossing to Finland from Germany, Sweden or Baltic countries with Ferry Travels. Finland is bounded by the Baltic Sea with the Gulf of Finland to the south and the Gulf of Bothnia to the west. The Åland Islands, off the south-western coast, are an autonomous province of Finland.
Finland has a population of over five million people spread over more than 330,000 km² (127,000 sq. mi) making it one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. The country is ranked 11th on the 2006 United Nations Human Development Index. Along with Estonian and Maltese, Finnish is one of the few official languages of the European Union that is not of Indo-European origin.
Finland's capital city, Helsinki is a very vibrant city whose stunning architecture, picturesque harbour, cosmopolitan cafes, and world-class museums earned it a coveted place on the European Union's list of European Cities of Culture 2000. Streets and avenues curve around bays, bridges arch across to nearby islands, and ferries reach out to islands farther offshore. Over 400 parks, as well as numerous waterside walkways, weave past a stunning combination of architectural styles, the result of a neo-classical building scheme in the early 1800s and the effort of modernist Finnish designers, such as Alvar Aalto.
Also, Finland is a country of thousands of lakes and islands; 187,888 lakes (larger than 500 m²) and 179,584 islands to be precise. One of these lakes, Saimaa, is the 5th largest in Europe. The Finnish landscape is mostly flat with few hills and its highest point, the Halti at 1,328 metres, is found in the extreme north of Lapland. Besides the many lakes the landscape is dominated by extensive boreal forests (about 75 per cent of land area) and little arable land.
The greater part of the islands are found in south-west, part of the archipelago of the Åland Islands, and along the southern coast in the Gulf of Finland. Finland is one of the few countries in the world that is still growing. Owing to the post-glacial rebound that has been taking place since the last ice age, the surface area of the country is growing by about 7 square kilometres a year.
According to archaeological evidence, the area now comprising Finland was first settled around 8500 BCE during the Stone Age as the ice shield of the last ice age receded. The earliest people were probably hunter-gatherers, living primarily off what the tundra and sea could offer. It has been postulated and held probable that the speakers of the Finno-Ugric language arrived in the area during the Stone Age, and were possibly even among the first Mesolithic settlers.
The arrival of the Battle-Axe Culture in southern coastal Finland around 3200 BCE may have coincided with the start of agriculture. However, the earliest certain records of agriculture are from the late 3rd millennium B.C. Hunting and fishing continued to be important parts of the subsistence economy, especially in the northern and eastern parts of the country.
The Bronze Age and Iron Age were characterised by extensive contacts with Scandinavia, northern Russia and the Baltic region. Inhabitants of Finland - like the Kvens - and their "kings" are mentioned in some historic chronicles and other writings such as the Scandinavian sagas. There are also some written documents from the 13th century, also the "King's Road" dates back to same century and was the main thoroughfare between the courts of the Swedish Kings and the Russian Czars, running between the capital cities of Scandinavia and Russia.
Book a ferry to Finland and you can also sail directly the 770 year old former capital of Turku which is the Western end point of the culturally and historically rich King's Road which stretches all the way from Helsinki to Turku in the west and east to the spectacular Lake District.
The climate in Southern Finland is a northern temperate climate. In Northern Finland, particularly in the Province of Lapland, a subarctic climate dominates, characterised by cold, occasionally severe, winters and relatively warm summers. Finland is near enough to the Atlantic to be continuously warmed by the Gulf Stream, which explains the unusually warm climate considering the absolute latitude.
A quarter of Finland's territory lies above the Arctic Circle, and as a consequence the midnight sun can be experienced — for more and more days, the further up north one comes. At Finland's northernmost point, the sun does not set for 73 days during summer, and does not rise at all for 51 days in winter. Between the months of October and April, Finland becomes a vibrant and glowing festival of lights. Fondly referred to as the "Lively Season," visitors have a wealth of cultural and historical attractions from which to choose.
From the spectacular archipelago in the south to exotic Lapland in the north, you will find a vibrant, friendly country of sophistication, fascinating history and unspoiled natural beauty-where English is widely spoken. Start planning what to choose from the rich variety of attractions in Finland with Ferry Travels.