Country Profile: Finland
Capital and largest cityHelsinki
Official languagesFinnish, Swedish, Sami
Area338 145 sq km
Population5, 331, 483 (2009 est.)
A very high percentage of the Swedish population speak the Finnish language as their first language. Finnish is an Uralic language, similar in construction to Estonian, although the two are not mutually intelligible. The second official language is Swedish, and other minority languages spoken are Russian, Estonian, Finnish Romani, as well as the three Sami languages, Northern Sami, Inari Sami and Skolt Sami.
Finland's is an industrialised, free-market economy, with a relatively high GDP. The country is well integrated into the EU, with EU trade making a large proportion of its income, and it is notable for currently being the only Nordic country to have taken the Euro as its currency, and hence to have joined the Eurozone. Finland has been ranked as the second most stable country in the world.
Industry and public services are the most important economic sectors. Agricultural produce in Finland includes barley, wheat, sugar, beets, potatoes, fish and dairy. The country's main industries are metals, machinery, electronics, shipbuilding, pulp and paper products, chemicals, textiles and clothing. Finland's main natural resources are timber, iron ore, copper, zinc, lead, nickel, gold, silver and limestone, and its trading partners are Sweden, UK, Russia, Germany, China, Netherlands, Denmark and the US.
Finland is part of the Nordic energy market, which provides competitive energy prices for fuel, and moreso than compared to surrounding EU countries. Finland has some oil shale, hydropower and hydrocarbon resources, but most of the country's energy needs are supplied by fossil fuels. However, Finland also has the more long-term and less environmentally harmful nuclear power stations, and there are plans to build another which will become the most important in Europe. Finland is a leader in the EU in terms of renewable energy sources, with a percentage of 25% (2008) significantly higher than the rest of the EU's average 10% (2008).
In the 19th century there was a nation-wide Finnish romantic movement, which saw Elias Lonrot collecting Finnish folk poetry and compiling it to make Kalevala, the national Finnish epic. More recently, Finland has been home to modernist writers Waltari and Sillanpaa.
Finns specialise in handicrafts, and sculpture is another important art form, for example seen in the work of Aaltonen. Architecture is also noted, with Aalto bringing functionalist architecture to the country.
Finland has a wealth of musical forms and artists, but its most celebrated artist - from the classical world - is Sibelius, whose Finlandia became a national treasure, perfectly evoking the still and beautiful landscape of the country. Other classical composers include Esa-Pekka Salonen and Mikko Franck. There is also a thriving rock and folk tradition in the country.
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