Finland is famous for its 188,000 lakes and 30,000 islands and is sometimes called ‘The land of a thousand lakes'.
Finland is the sixth largest country in Europe in terms of geographic area (338,000 km2). Forest covers 68 per cent of its land area - the highest proportion of any country in the world. Its population is about 5.5 million. Finland's capital city is Helsinki, which has a population of 613,000.
The Republic of Finland elects its president for a period of four years. Its official languages are Finnish and Swedish. Five per cent of the population are native Swedish-speakers. Swedish is mainly spoken along the coast.
Population: 5.5 million
Official languages: Finnish, Swedish
Climate and the Four Seasons
Although Finland is the second northernmost country in the world (a quarter of its total area lies north of the Arctic Circle), its climate is milder than many other areas of the same latitude, partly because of the influence of the warm Gulf Stream.
Finland's winter climate can be harsh. January and February are the coldest months, but provide all the excitement of winter sports. Temperatures of -20 degrees Celsius are not uncommon in the wintertime. The spring is long, light and cool. The summer months of June to August are mostly delightful, with temperatures of 15-30 degrees Celsius. The early autumn can be beautiful, with fiery bright yellow and red hues.
Light and Dark
It never gets completely dark during the summer and, in the far north, beyond the Arctic Circle, the sun does not set at all for about 73 days. During the dark winter period in the same region, the sun remains below the horizon for 51 days. However, the snow on the ground enhances the light of the moon and stars, and sometimes the northern lights paint the sky green, red and yellow.