Atlanta Finland Society, Inc. (AFS) - Atlanta, Georgia, USA

Atlanta Finland Society, Inc. (AFS)

PO Box 768231 Roswell, GA 30076






About Finland (See here Official Travel Site)

Finland (Finnish name Suomi) is a republic which became a member of the European Union in 1995. Its population in 2012 is 5.4 million. The capital Helsinki has 605 000 residents. Finland is an advanced industrial economy: the metal, engineering and electronics industries account for about 60 % of export revenues, the forest products industry for about 20 %. Finland is one of the leading countries in Internet use.


Forests cover three quarters of the country's surface area of 338 000 sq. km. Other outstanding features of Finland's scenery are some 190 000 lakes and approximately as many islands. The principal archipelago and the self-governing province of the Åland Islands lie off the south-west coast while the main lake district, centred on Lake Saimaa, is in the east.

Geography and Nature

Finland is situated in northern Europe between the 60th and 70th parallels of latitude. A quarter of its total area lies north of the Arctic Circle. Finland's neighboring countries are Sweden, Norway, and Russia, which have land borders with Finland, and Estonia across the Gulf of Finland. Forest covers about 75 per cent of Finland, while bodies of water - mainly lakes - cover almost 10 per cent. Finland is the most heavily forested country in Europe, with 23 million hectares under forest cover. There are approximately 190,000 lakes and about 180,000 islands. Europe's largest archipelago, which includes the self-governing province of the Åland Islands, lies off the south-west coast.



One notable effect of Finland's northerly position on the globe is that the four seasons of the year are clearly distinct from one another. The climate is marked by cold winters and warm summers. The mean annual temperature in the capital, Helsinki, is 5.3 degrees Celsius. The highest daytime temperature in southern Finland during the summer occasionally rises to almost 30 degrees. During the winter months, particularly in January and February, temperatures of minus 20 Celsius are not uncommon. In the far north, beyond the Arctic Circle, the sun does not set for about 73 days, producing the white nights of summer. In the same region, during the winter period, the sun remains below the horizon for 51 days, creating the polar night known in Finnish as kaamos.

The People

The population of Finland is 5.4 million. Finland is the sixth largest country in Europe in area, with a low population density of 15.5 persons per square kilometre. Most Finns, some two thirds, now live in urban areas, while one third remain in a rural environment. The capital, Helsinki, and the neighbouring towns, Espoo and Vantaa, form the fast growing Helsinki metropolitan region, which is now home to almost a million Finns. Other important towns are Tampere and Turku in southern Finland, and Oulu in the north. Ethnically, Finland is still a very homogeneous country. The foreign community accounts for about two per cent of the population. The biggest groups of immigrants are from Russia, Estonia and Sweden. Among them are a considerable number of people of Finnish descent.



The Finnish language is a member of the Finno-Ugric linguistic family that includes, in one branch, Finnish, Estonian and a number of other Finnic tongues, and in the other, Hungarian, by far the biggest language of the Ugric group. Finland has two official languages, Finnish and Swedish, the latter spoken as a mother tongue by about 6 % of the people. The official status of Swedish has historical roots in the period when Finland was a part of the Swedish realm, a period that lasted from the early 13th century until 1809. Another indigenous language is Sami, spoken within the small community of Sami people in Lapland (also known as Lapps). English has become the most popular foreign language and is widely spoken.


There has been complete freedom of worship in Finland since 1923. The Evangelical Lutheran Church is the country's biggest denomination while a fraction of Finns belong to the Finnish Orthodox Church. Both denominations are designated as state religions.




The first missionaries arrive in Finland from Sweden. Finland becomes part of the Swedish realm.


Sweden surrenders Finland to Russia. The Czar declares Finland an autonomous Grand Duchy with himself as constitutional monarch represented by a governor general.


Finland declares independence from Russia on December 6.


The constitution is adopted and Finland becomes a republic with a president as head of state.

1939 - 40

The Soviet Union attacks Finland and the Winter War is fought.

1941 - 44

Fighting between Finnish and Soviet forces resumes in the Continuation War. Some territory is ceded to the Soviet Union but Finland is never occupied and preserves its independence and sovereignty.


Finland joins the United Nations and, in 1956, the Nordic Council.


Finland becomes a member of the European Union (EU).


Finland backs European monetary union.


Banknotes and coins of the EU's single currency, the euro, enter circulation.


The head of state is the President of the Republic who is elected for a period of six years and may serve a maximum of two consecutive terms. The President is chosen by direct popular vote, with a run-off between the two leading candidates if no candidate wins an overall majority in the first round of voting.

In 2000, the Finns elected their first female president, Tarja Halonen who was re-elected again in 2006.

halonen Halonen-Obama


Sauli Väinämö Niinistö was elected to the President of the Republic of Finland in 2012


The President's inauguration took place on March 1, 2012. President of the Republic Tarja Halonen and the incoming President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö arrived together to the Parliament House, where the President of the Republic Tarja Halonen carefully guard of honor.

After this, the Presidents were transferred to the plenary session of give talks. An incoming President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö gave the Finnish constitution provided for a solemn undertaking.

Presidents left the parliament, the new President of the Republic Niinistö carefully guard of honor in front of the Parliament House.

Copyright © Office of the President of the Republic of Finland


Sauli Väinämö Niinistö was born 24 August 1948 in Salo

Master of Laws, Master of Laws with court training
Married to Jenni Elina Haukio in 2009

Married to Marja-Leena Alanko (d. 1995), has two sons Nuutti b. 1975 and Matias b. 1980

Position and duties

The duties and authority of the President of the Republic are enacted in the Constitution of Finland. The President also has other statutory duties besides those specified in the Constitution.

Under the Constitution of Finland, executive power is vested in the President of the Republic and the Government.

The President of the Republic leads Finland’s foreign policy in co-operation with the Government and decides on Finland’s relations to foreign governments and actions in international organisations or negotiations.

The President of the Republic is Supreme Commander of the Finnish Defence Forces.

The President of the Republic, who must be a native-born citizen of Finland, is elected by direct popular vote for a term of six years.

The Government must enjoy the confidence of parliament (the Eduskunta) which has 200 members elected every four years. In recent decades, the three biggest parties in parliament have consistently been the Social Democratic Party, the Centre Party, and the moderate conservative National Coalition Party. Multiparty coalition governments, the prevailing type, usually include two of the aforementioned parties. The leader of the Government, the Prime Minister, normally comes from the party with the most seats in parliament. Finland's present constitution, adopted in 2000, allocates more power to the Prime Minister than its predecessor did.

Foreign Policy

In its foreign policy Finland promotes sustainable development, stability and security in the international community and endeavours to strengthen Finland’s international position. Finland attaches special importance to principles such as democracy, the rule of law and human rights, in line with long-established Nordic values.
As a member of the European Union since 1995, Finland is part of an influential body in world politics. Finland is an active member of the Union and supports a further strengthening of its Common Foreign and Security Policy, including its capability to act in crisis management. Finland is also a firm proponent of the Union’s enlargement process.
Finland’s foreign and security policy is based on military non-alliance and credible national defence. Finland cooperates with NATO in the PfP programme. Finland also has long experience of participation in UN peacekeeping operations.
Finland works actively to strengthen multilateral cooperation, the United Nations and international law in general. Finland has launched the Helsinki Process which aims to improve current global governance structures.

Education and Research

Finnish people have a high standard of education. All children receive compulsory basic education between the ages of 7 and 16. Education beyond the age of 16 is voluntary, taking the form of either a three to four-year course in upper secondary school or 2 to 5 years at a vocational school. Finnish higher education consists of two sectors: universities and polytechnics. There are 20 universities and 29 polytechnics in the country. Nearly 60 per cent of the population have completed post-primary education and 13 per cent have a university degree or comparable qualification. In recent years there has been national focus on research and product development, with special emphasis on information technology.

Industry and the Economy

Finland's road to industrialisation started in the 19th century with the harnessing of forest resources. Forests are still Finland's most crucial raw material resource, although the engineering and high technology industries, spearheaded by the Nokia corporation, have long been the leading branches of manufacturing. The industrial structure of Finnish exports has changed dramatically over the past few decades. The wood and paper industry accounted for well over half of exports less than thirty years ago. Now the paper industry is only one of three major export sectors, the other two being electronics and metal and engineering. Electronics is the most spectacular success story in Finnish exports. Its remarkable growth in the 1990s was mainly based on mobile phones and other telecommunication equipment. As for the country's general prosperity, the net wealth of Finnish households is at the average level for member states of the European Union.


The Media

Finland has approximately 200 newspapers, of which more than a quarter are published 4 to 7 times a week. The total circulation of all newspapers exceeds 3 million. Most newspapers are bought on subscription rather than from news-stands. Finland also has a very high number of magazines; there are about 2,800 genuine weeklies, and if publications appearing at least four times a year are added, the figure reaches 3,500. The print media dominate the mass media economy in Finland and newspaper circulation per capita is the highest in the EU and third highest in the world.
Finland's national public service broadcasting company, YLE, operates five national television channels. There are two privately owned TV channels with national coverage and some thirty local TV stations. Finland has five national radio channels, four of them public service stations and one commercial. Overall, YLE runs thirteen radio channels while the total number of commercial stations exceeds 60.

Culture and Music

Music is arguably the Finnish art form most esteemed abroad. An essential feature of Finnish musical education is that even ordinary comprehensive schools can provide enhanced music teaching. This generates a genuine interest in making music, thus educating an open-minded and active future concert public. The towering figure in Finnish music was for many years exclusively the 20th century composer Jean Sibelius. Today, however, Finland has an exceptionally high number of significant composers and conductors. Finnish pop and rock music have also achieved international recognition in the new millennium.

sibelius lintu


World famous are also Finnish design and architecture. Finnish design became a concept created by its strong tradition, originality, stylishness, high-quality materials and good manufacturing. Products from design-conscious companies such as Marimekko, Iittala, and Arabia have been exported very successfully to the Americas, continental Europe, and Australia. Industrial design has also played an important part in increasing Finland's competitiveness in the 21st century.
The 1950s marked the final breakthrough in international awareness of Finland as a land of progressive architecture. The most influential Finnish architect has undoubtedly been the functionalist Alvar Aalto.



Sauna is an icon of Finnishness, and no wonder. There are at least two million saunas in this country of approximately 5.3 million people and 2.6 million residential properties. The number is rising as most new apartments have an electric sauna adjacent to the bathroom.

avantouinti Nothing makes you feel more alive or refreshed than a dip in icy waters after roasting in the sauna!

In winter, the sauna is a great place for warming up frozen fingers and toes. It is a place for relaxation, tranquillity and deep thought. The sauna experience includes escape from the tensions of everyday life to another reality, towards calm and contentment. Some say that having a dip in a hole in the ice of a lake or the sea is one of the joys of a waterside sauna in winter. It will certainly improve your circulation, and at the very least, make you feel refreshingly alive!

Finns have a sauna to round off an evening, after sports, after sweaty work, in the name of friendship and togetherness, to mark the end of negotiations or just because it's sauna day, if nothing else.

Almost every Finnish family has their own little summer cottage and sauna on the lake where they escape from the hectic city life and spend their summer weekends on the lake fishing and swimming, etc.....


The sauna is a natural part of big days such as Christmas and Midsummer. Contrary to foreign belief, people don't compete about who can stand the heat of the sauna best, or who can stay in the hot room the longest. They consider a temperature of approximately 80 degrees Celsius to be sensible.

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