Finland is a Northern European nation bordering Sweden, Norway and Russia. Its capital, Helsinki, occupies a peninsula and surrounding islands in the Baltic Sea. Helsinki is home to the 18th-century sea fortress Suomenlinna, the fashionable Design District and diverse museums. The Northern Lights can be seen from the country’s Arctic Lapland province, a vast wilderness with national parks and ski resorts.
Finland was first inhabited around 9000 BC after the Last glacial period. The Stone Age introduced several different ceramic styles and cultures. The Bronze Age and Iron Age were characterized by extensive contacts with other cultures in Fennoscandia and the Baltic region. From the late 13th century, Finland gradually became an integral part of Sweden as a consequence of the Northern Crusades. In 1809, as a result of the Finnish War, Finland became part of the Russian Empire as the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland, during which Finnish art flourished and the idea of independence began to take hold. In 1906, Finland became the first European state to grant universal suffrage, and the first in the world to give all adult citizens the right to run for public office. Nicholas II, the last Tsar of Russia, tried to russify Finland and terminate its political autonomy, but after the 1917 Russian Revolution, Finland declared independence from Russia. In 1918, the fledgling state was divided by the Finnish Civil War. During World War II, Finland fought the Soviet Union in the Winter War and the Continuation War, and Nazi Germany in the Lapland War. After the wars, Finland lost parts of its territory, including the culturally and historically significant town of Vyborg,but maintained its independence.
The earliest written appearance of the name Finland is thought to be on three runestones. Two were found in the Swedish province of Uppland and have the inscription finlonti (U 582). The third was found in Gotland. It has the inscription finlandi (G 319) and dates back to the 13th century. The name can be assumed to be related to the tribe name Finns, of which the first known record is from AD 98.
From the vibrant art-filled cities of Helsinki and Turku to the depths of the boreal forests and the thinly inhabited outer archipelago, Finland remains a relatively unknown corner of Europe. This is likely because it is so far from the mainstream tourist routes, but the country’s many cultural and historical attractions add to the unspoiled natural surroundings to make it an ideal destination. Its lakes, fells, rivers, and vast wild areas, along with the certainty of snow in the winter make it a Nordic playground for both winter and summer activities.
Suomenlinna is an 18th-century sea fortress and nature area with centuries-old artillery and defensive walls, spread across 6 linked islands. Walking trails cross parkland between popular sights like the King’s Gate drawbridge and Suomenlinna Museum, which recounts military and maritime history. Submarine Vesikko lets visitors explore a restored 1930s vessel. There’s also a brewery and several waterside restaurants.
The Suomenlinna district of Helsinki lies southeast of downtown Helsinki and consists of eight islands. Five of the islands are connected by either bridges or a sandbar landbridge. Länsi-Mustasaari (sv: Västersvartö) is bridged to Pikku Mustasaari (sv: Lilla Östersvartö), which is bridged to Iso Mustasaari (sv: Stora Östersvartö), which is bridged to Susisaari (sv: Vargö), which was connected to Susiluoto (sv: Vargskär) by filling in the separating waterway during the Russian period. This island, which has the greatest concentration of fortifications was renamed Gustavssvärd (King Gustav’s sword) (fi: Kustaanmiekka) during the construction by Sweden. The three unconnected islands are Särkkä (sv: Långören), Lonna (sv:Lonnan), and Pormestarinluodot (sv: Borgmästargrundet). The total land area is 80 hectares (0.8 km2).
Sweden started building the fortresses in January 1748. Ehrensvärd’s plan contained two fortifications: a sea fortress at Svartholm near the small town of Lovisa, and a larger sea fortress and naval base (Sveaborg) at Helsingfors. There were two main aspects to Ehrensvärd’s design for Sveaborg: a series of independent fortifications across several linked islands and, at the very heart of the complex, a navy dockyard. In addition to the island fortress itself, seafacing fortifications on the mainland would ensure that an enemy could not acquire a beach-head from which to stage attacks on the sea fort. The plan was also to stock munitions for the whole Finnish contingent of the Swedish Army and Royal Swedish Navy there. Additional plans were made for fortifying the Hanko Peninsula, but these were postponed.
Rovaniemi is the capital of Lapland, in northern Finland. Almost totally destroyed during World War II, today it’s a modern city known for being the “official” home town of Santa Claus, and for viewing the Northern Lights. It’s home to Arktikum, a museum and science center exploring the Arctic region and the history of Finnish Lapland. The Science Centre Pilke features interactive exhibits on northern forests.
Due to its location near the Arctic Circle, Rovaniemi has a subarctic climate (Köppen Dfc) with short, pleasant summers, while the winters are long, cold and snowy. The city lies just south of the 0 °C (32 °F) mean annual isotherm, but freezing in the soil is very limited even during the winter due to typical heavy snow cover. Its extreme northerly location combined with frequent overcast skies leads to very low levels of sunshine in the winter months; December averages just under six minutes of sunshine daily.
Winters are somewhat modified by marine air from the North Atlantic Current that ensures average temperatures are less extreme than expected for an inland area at such a northerly latitude. On 26 April 2019, Rovaniemi recorded its warmest April day on record with 19 °C (66 °F).
Because of the unspoiled nature of the area and numerous recreational opportunities, tourism is an important industry in Rovaniemi. The city has a number of hotels and restaurants located both in the centre and on the outskirts of the town, hosting over 481,000 visitors in 2013.
Rovaniemi is also considered by Finns to be the official home town of Santa Claus. It is home to the Santa Claus Village at the Arctic Circle and SantaPark Arctic World, which is located 8 km (5 mi) north of the centre.
Directly across the river from the town is the Ounasvaara ski centre. The top of the Ounasvaara hill bears the site of some of the earliest known human settlements in the area.
A phenomenon also attracting numerous tourists is the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights. In Finnish Lapland, the number of auroral displays can be as high as 200 a year whereas in southern Finland the number is usually fewer than 20.
A distinctive landmark in the Helsinki cityscape, with its tall, green dome surrounded by four smaller domes, the building is in the neoclassical style. It was designed by Carl Ludvig Engel as the climax of his Senate Square layout: it is surrounded by other, smaller buildings designed by him.
The church’s plan is a Greek cross (a square centre and four equilateral arms), symmetrical in each of the four cardinal directions, with each arm’s facade featuring a colonnade and pediment. Engel originally intended to place a further row of columns on the western end to mark the main entrance opposite the eastern altar, but this was never built.
After Helsinki was made into the capital of Finland in 1812, Alexander I decreed in 1814 that 15 percent of the salt import tax were to be collected into a fund for two churches, one Lutheran and one Orthodox. The cathedral was built on the site of the smaller 1724–1727 Ulrika Eleonora Church (Helsinki) [fi], which had been dedicated to its patroness, Ulrika Eleonora, Queen of Sweden. Helsinki Old Church was built between 1824 and 1826 in nearby Kamppi to serve the parish while the Ulrika Eleonora Church was being demolished and until the consecration of the new cathedral. The bells of the old church were reused in the cathedral. Construction of the cathedral began in 1830, although it was only officially inaugurated in 1852.Engel died in 1840.
The building was later altered by Engel’s successor Ernst Lohrmann, whose four small domes emphasise the architectural connection to the cathedral’s models, Saint Isaac’s Cathedral and Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg.Lohrmann also designed two extra buildings to the sides of the steps: looking from the square the left building is a bell tower and the right building a chapel. He also erected larger-than-life sized zinc statues of the Twelve Apostles at the apexes and corners of the roofline in 1849. They were sculpted by August Wredov and Hermann Schievelbein and cast by S. P. Devaranne in Berlin in 1845–1847.The altarpiece was painted by Carl Timoleon von Neff and donated to the church by Emperor Nicholas I. The cathedral crypt was renovated in the 1980s by architects Vilhelm Helander and Juha Leiviskä for use in exhibitions and church functions; Helander was also responsible for conservation repairs on the cathedral in the late 1990s.
Today, the cathedral is one of Helsinki’s most popular tourist attractions. In 2018 there were half a million visitors.The church is in regular use for services of worship and special events such as weddings.
In the winter, the Arctic region is a paradise for skiers and others who love snow and ice sports. You can ride across frozen lakes and visit Sami villages on a dogsled safari, learn to drive your own reindeer sled, snowshoe, or cross-country ski for miles, and watch the spectacular northern lights.
Downhill skiers should head about 170 kilometers north of Rovaniemi to Levi, a center for all winter recreation, with miles of scenic Nordic ski trails, lighted for night skiing. So are the pistes and slopes of Finland’s largest downhill ski area. Many hotels at Levi have rooms with glass ceilings, so you can watch the northern lights from inside.
The comfortable Levi Hotel Spa is a five-minute walk from the ski resort, where you can rent equipment. Right at the resort hotel, you’ll find saunas, swimming pools, outdoor hot tubs, bowling, and a kids’ play area.
Ideally visible between September and March in the Finnish Lapland, the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis is a surreal treat for the eyes that sends onlookers into a trance. A mystical, out-of-the-world experience, these lights in the sky are one of the most breathtaking Finland attractions. So, did this entice you enough for planning a trip to the gorgeous Finland soon?
tay in a glass igloo and see the Northern Lights in the comfort of room temperature; go on an evening snowmobiling, dogsledding or reindeer sledding safari and see the Northern Lights in the middle of wilderness; or just take a walk outside your log cabin or on one of the frozen lakes to witness the spectacular light snow.
Sometimes the sky can create a spectacular all night long Northern Lights show, and sometimes the lights may appear for just a couple of minutes. Remember that your own effort will increase your chances of seeing the lights. You might have to stay up later than usual and be sure to look NORTH!
The Market Square is a central square in Helsinki, Finland. It is located in central Helsinki, at the eastern end of Esplanadi and bordering the Baltic Sea to the south and Katajanokka to the east.
Archipelago is a subdivision of Åland and one of the Sub-regions of Finland since 2009.
Åland is situated in an archipelago, called the Åland Islands, at the entrance to the Gulf of Bothnia in the Baltic Sea belonging to Finland. It comprises Fasta Åland on which 90% of the population resides and a further ±6,500 skerries and islands to its east.Of Åland’s thousands of islands, about 60-80 are inhabited. Fasta Åland is separated from the coast of Roslagen in Sweden by 38 kilometres (24 mi) of open water to the west. In the east, the Åland archipelago is contiguous with the Finnish archipelago. Åland’s only land border is located on the uninhabited skerry of Märket, which it shares with Sweden. From Mariehamn, there is a ferry distance of about 160 kilometres (99 mi) to Turku, a coastal city of mainland Finland, and also to Stockholm, the capital of Sweden.
Åland’s original name was in the Proto-Norse language *Ahvaland which means “land of water”. Proto-Germanic ahwō is related to the Latin word for water, “aqua”. In Swedish, this first developed into Áland and eventually into Åland, literally “river land”—even though rivers are not a prominent feature of Åland’s geography. The Finnish and Estonian names of the area, Ahvenanmaa and Ahvenamaa (“perchland”)(>avenet, Finnish, for the type of fish)), are seen to preserve another form of the old name.
Another theory suggests that the Finnish Ahvenanmaa would be the original name of the archipelago, from which the Swedish Åland derives.
The official name, Landskapet Åland, means “the Region of Åland”; landskap is cognate to English “landscape”.
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