Geography of Finland

Learn Information about the Northern European Country of Finland

Finland Flag
The Finland flag is white with a blue cross extending to the edges of the flag; the vertical part of the cross is shifted to the hoist side in the style of the Dannebrog (Danish flag). Source: CIA World Factbook, 2007

Population: 5,259,250 (July 2011 estimate)
Capital: Helsinki
Bordering Countries: Norway, Sweden and Russia
Area: 130,558 square miles (338,145 sq km)
Coastline: 776 miles (1,250 km)
Highest Point: Haltiatunturi at 4,357 feet (1,328 m)

Finland is a country located in Northern Europe to the east of Sweden, south of Norway and the west of Russia. Although Finland has a large population at 5,259,250 people, its large area makes it is the most sparsely populated country in Europe. The population density of Finland is 40.28 people per square mile or 15.5 people per square kilometer. Finland is also known for its strong educational system, economy and it is considered one of the world's most peaceful and livable countries.

History of Finland

It is unclear about where the first inhabitants of Finland came from but most historians claim that their origin is Siberia thousands of years ago. For most of its early history, Finland was associated with the Kingdom of Sweden. This began in 1154 when Sweden's King Eric introduced Christianity in Finland (U.S. Department of State).

As a result of Finland becoming a part of Sweden in the 12th century, Swedish became the region's official language. By the 19th century however, Finnish again became the national language.

In 1809, Finland was conquered by Czar Alexander I of Russia and became an independent grand duchy of the Russian Empire until 1917. On December 6th of that year, Finland declared its independence. In 1918 a civil war took place in the country. During World War II, Finland fought the Soviet Union from 1939 to 1940 (The Winter War) and again from 1941 to 1944 (The Continuation War). From 1944 to 1945, Finland fought against Germany. In 1947 and 1948 Finland and the Soviet Union signed a treaty that resulted in Finland making territorial concessions to the USSR (U.S. Department of State).

Following the end of World War II, Finland grew in population but in the 1980s and early 1990s it began to have economic problems. In 1994 Martti Ahtisaari was elected as president and he began a campaign to revitalize the country's economy.

In 1995 Finland joined the European Union and in 2000 Tarja Halonen was elected as Finland and Europe's first female president and prime minister.

Government of Finland

Today Finland, officially called the Republic of Finland, is considered a republic and its executive branch of government is made up of a chief of state (the president) and a head of government (the prime minister). Finland's legislative branch is composed of a unicameral Parliament whose members are elected by popular vote. The country's judicial branch is made up of general courts that "deal with criminal and civil cases" as well as administrative courts ("CIA World Factbook"). Finland is divided into 19 regions for local administration.

Economics and Land Use in Finland

Finland currently has a strong, modern industrialized economy. Manufacturing is one of the major industries in Finland and the country depends trade with foreign nations. The main industries in Finland are metals and metal products, electronics, machinery and scientific instruments, shipbuilding, pulp and paper, foodstuffs, chemicals, textiles and clothing ("CIA World Factbook").

In addition, agriculture plays a small role in Finland's economy. This is because the country's high latitude means that it has a short growing season in all but its southern areas. The main agriculture products of Finland are barley, wheat, sugar beets, potatoes, dairy cattle and fish ("CIA World Factbook").

Geography and Climate of Finland

Finland is located in Northern Europe along the Baltic Sea, the Gulf of Bothnia and the Gulf of Finland. It shares borders with Norway, Sweden and Russia and has a coastline of 776 miles (1,250 km). The topography of Finland is relatively gentle with low, flat or rolling plains and low hills. The land is also dotted with many lakes, over 60,000 of them, and the highest point in the country is Haltiatunturi at 4,357 feet (1,328 m).

The climate of Finland is considered cold temperate and subarctic in its far northern areas. Most of Finland's climate is moderated by the North Atlantic Current however. Finland's capital and largest city, Helsinki, which is located on its southern tip has an average February low temperature of 18˚F (-7.7˚C) and an average July high temperature of 69.6˚F (21˚C).

To learn more about Finland, visit the Geography and Maps page on Finland on this website.


Central Intelligence Agency. (14 June 2011). CIA - The World Factbook - Finland. Retrieved from: (n.d.). Finland: History, Geography, Government, and Culture- Retrieved from:

United States Department of State. (22 June 2011). Finland. Retrieved from: (29 June 2011). Finland - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved from: