Finland is a country of contrasts. From endless daylight in the summer to the still, wintry darkness of the polar night, the characteristics of Finland’s seasons have a profound effect on life in Finland and its rather peculiar inhabitants.
Not really Scandinavian, nor a part of the Baltics or Eastern Europe, Finland is the black sheep of Northern Europe. Famous for Santa Claus, Nokia and saunas, these brutes actually enjoy sitting in a heated box and, upon reaching boiling point, running outside and rolling in the snow.
They’re crazy about sports and heavy metal, yet they produce some of the finest functional design in the world. Their movies are virtually devoid of dialogue, as seems to be the case in real life.
Finns are considered quiet and reserved, which is partly true. Small talk can hardly be seen as their strongest suit. But get on closer terms with a Finn and you’ll find a warm, sincere and hospitable person underneath the seemingly cool shell. Finns are hard-working and dutiful, but come celebration day, these people will show you the meaning of a good time. Prepare for sarcasm, though, as a Finn might tell you tall tales without ever cracking a smile.
Although known for advancements in technology and progressive urban solutions, most Finns stay close to Mother Nature. With almost 200 000 lakes and half a million summer cottages in the country, there’s lots of hideouts for relaxation and outdoor activities. Hiking, Nordic walking and cross-country skiing are considered fun over here. Some Finns prefer mountain sports, ice hockey, riding snowmobiles or rally driving. A few have even tried a Formula 1 racer.
Culturally, Finland is a unique mix of East and West. The society moves to a western beat, spicing it with eastern tones. Here, hip hop and balalaikas, rock & roll and army choirs, as well as cellos and heavy metal, were meant to merge. Because there’s nothing like Finland.
Finland in numbers:
5.4 million people
1.8 million saunas
5.2 million mobile phones
1 Ice Hockey World Championship title
0 Football World Championship titles (World Cup participation: 0)
2 women in charge: both the President and the Prime Minister are female
188 000 lakes
180 000 islands
475 000 summer cottages
1 Eurovision Song Contest win
203 000 reindeer
200 000 salmon
1 Wife-carrying World Championship competition
1 Air-guitar World Championship competition
35 national parks
8 Unesco World Heritage Sites
1 Santa Claus - the real one!