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Finland lies between 60 and 70 degrees latitude in the north of Europe, bordered by Sweden in the west and Russia in the east. One third of the country lies above the Arctic Circle. It is a beautiful country of many lakes and islands, heavily-forested with a large coastline to the Gulf of Bothnia and the Gulf of Finland. There are two official languages, Finnish and Swedish.  Finnish, the main language, is part of the Finno-Ugrian language group and quite distinctive. 

Finns call their country "Suomi" which may derive from the word "suo" meaning "marshland" . This is similar to the derivation of the English term for Finland, from "fenland". (3)

Finland's history has been marked strongly by its geographical position between east and west.

Map of Finland (

  Finnish Prehistory
10000 BC Finland was buried under a sheet of ice. (4)
7200 BC Relics of human culture dating to this period have been found. (4)
3000 BC The Comb-Ceramic Stone Age culture spread throughout Finland. Artefacts include pottery. (4)
1800 -1600 BC The Battle Ax or Cord-Ceramic culture moved into Finland, possibly from Baltic migration. Artefacts include distinctive axes, burial relics and pottery. (4)
1600 -1200 BC A hybrid culture of the Battle Ax people and the original stock became known as the Kiukainen culture. By this time agriculture was well-established. (4)
1300 - 500 BC Bronze was introduced to Finland but was an imported commodity. (4)
97 AD Tacitus describes "the Fenni" as a wild and very poor people; he may have referred to the Lapps (1) (4)
100 - 400 AD Migrations from the southern Baltic occur, particularly from Estonia to Finland. (4)
400 - 800 AD Finland strengthened ties with Scandinavia. An independent Iron Age culture developed.  (4)
1155 - 1809 Part of the Kingdom of Sweden
c1155,1249,1293 Crusades were made by Sweden into Finland by order of the Pope to establ;ish Roman Catholicism. (6) Finns lived in clans at this time. (2)
1155-1809 Finland became incorporated into the Kingdom of Sweden.
Finland was treated equally and had Parliamentary representation (2) (6) Scandinavian legal and social systems became integrated into Finland. (7)
Monastic orders developed in Finland. (2)
1397 Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Sweden and Finland came under one rule under the Union of Kalmar when Eric of Pomerania became ruler of all these kingdoms. (5) (2)
1495 - 1497 "Great Russian War" occurred when Russians destroyed large areas of Ostrobothnia. (6)
1523 The Treaty of Kalmar was broken by Gustav Vasa and Sweden revolted from the union with Denmark and Norway. (5) (2)
May 1527 Relations with the Pope were broken off.
Gustavus Vasa (King of Swede, 1523 - 1560) established the Lutheran Church in Sweden and Finland. (5) (6)
1548 Translation of the New Testament into Finnish and development of a Finnish grammar was made by Mikael Agricola (1510-1557), Bishop of Turku, leader of the Reformation in Finland. (6)
1563 - 1570 Scandinavian Seven Years War when Denmark-Norway defeat Sweden. (5)
1593 Augsburg confession adopted as the doctrine of the Church of Sweden-Finland. (6)
1596-7 "Mallet War" - the farmers of Ostrobothnia and Central Finland revolted against the nobles. (6)
16th, 17th & 18th centuries Intermittent conflicts with Russia
1611 - 1632 Thirty Years War during the reign of Gustavus Adolphus II. Sweden and Finland were involved. (5)
1640 Establishment of the University at Turku (Abo), brought about by Per Brahe, the Governor-General of the time. (6)
1658? Ability to read became a condition under Church Law for marriage and Holy Communion. (6) 
1660 -1697 Finland was preserved from serfdom by the restoration of estates which had become the property of the nobles; this broke the nobles' feudal power. (6)
1696-7 Devastating famine; population dropped from 500,000 to 400,000. (6)
1700 -1721 "The Great Northern War".
From 1713-1721, during the  "Great Wrath" Russia invaded Finland and maintained a long reign of terror. (6)
Sweden lost significant power and territory. (5) (7)
1741 - 1743 "The Russian War". In 1743 the Peace of Turku concluded another war with Russia at the price of considerable Finnish territory. (7)
1750 Population was 430,000. (6)
1780s Finnish separatist movement was developing. (6) An influential person in this was Henrik Porthan (1739 - 1804), the "father of Finnish history". (2)
1771-1792 War with Russia; a bid for Finnish independence was made by the Anjala league, an officer conspiracy in 1788. (6)
1808-9 "The Finnish War" was fought between Sweden & Russia. (7)
Under the Treaty of Hamina, Sweden ceded Finland to Russia. Tsar Alexander I became the constitutional monarch of Finland, assuring limited  self-government to Finland as a Grand Duchy of Russia. A State Council of Finns was appointed. (6)
1809 -1917 Autonomy under Russia
1825 - 1853 Under Tsar Nicholas I a new capital for Finland was developed at the fishing port of Helsinki with neo-classical buildings designed by C.L. Engel. (2)
1820s National movement awoke.
The impetus to adopt Finnish as the mother-tongue developed, particularly influenced later by Snellman, the great Finnish statesman. (6) (7)
1835 The Kalevala, the national epic of Finland, was collected and published by Elias Lönnrot. (6)
1848, 1860 The tales of Ensign Stahl, a body of heroic patriotic poems by J.L. Runeberg and based on the stories of Carl Gustav Polviander, were very influential in keeping alive the memory of Russia as an enemy. (6)
1853 - 1881 Under Tsar Alexander II Finnish autonomy continued. Local government was developed; elementary schools were established and a national army was permitted. (6) In 1864 Finnish peasants were allowed to buy land. (2)
1860s Aleksis Kivi published Seven brothers.
1879 - 1880 The first ship is taken through the Arctic via the Northeast Passage by the Finnish explorer, A.E. Nordenskiöld. (5)
1881 - 1894 Under Tsar Alexander III some of Finland's earlier rights were encroached upon. (6)
Rural poverty led to large-scale emigration to the United States. (5)
1894 - 1917 Under Tsar Nicholas II Finland lost much of its autonomy. A policy of russification of Finland was initiated. (6) Censorship & conscription were introduced. (2)
1865 - 1957 Jean Sibelius, the late- Romantic composer, became a significant part of the "renaissance" of culture in the north. (5)
1905 Finns were able to secure their modern parliament after the disruption caused by the 1905 revolution in Russia and the Russo-Japanese War. (2) However, there was a second period of Russian oppression between 1908 and 1914. (7)
1906 Universal suffrage for all men & women was introduced. The four estates of nobility, clergy, burghers and farmers were abolished. (6) This was "the most radical parliamentary reform in Europe". (7)
1917 - Finland - an independent republic
1917 Finland became independent from Russia on 6 December 1917 after Lenin seized power and the Russian army collapsed. (6) 
1918 From 18 January to 15 May a civil war took place in Finland between the "Whites" and the "Reds", Soviet sympathisers and radical socialists. The "Whites" won under the leadership of Carl Gustav Mannerheim. The first regent of Finland was P.E. Svinhufvud followed by Field Marshal Mannerheim. The first president of Finland was K.J. Stahlberg. (6) (2)
1920 The Peace of Tartu formalised peace with Russia and Finland's independence. (6) (2)
Finland became a member of the League of Nations. (6)
1929 - 1931 The Great Depression. Many Finns emigrated.
1930 The Lapua movement led to the great peasants' march to Helsinki, followed by armed rebellion in 1932. (2)
1939 - 1940 On 30 November Russia attacked Finland leading to the start of the Winter War; this lasted 100 days. Peace negotiated with Russia. (2)
Finnish soldiers living in the forest during the Winter War, at the entrance to their "home". Heikki Bäckström, second from right.

1941 "Operation Barbarossa" - Hitler attacked Russia. Finland was bombed and had to enter the war alongside Germany. (7) (2)
1941-1944 "The Continuation War" with Russia in which 65,000 Finns died and 158,000 were wounded. Finland paid huge war reparations in full. Peace was negotiated in September 1944. (7) (2)
1945 Finland fought against Germany in Lapland. (7)
1948 Finland & the Soviet Union signed the Treaty of Friendship, Co-operation and Mutual Assistance. This formed the basis of what became known as the Paasikivi-Kekkonen line, a neutral foreign policy attempting to balance east and west. (7) (2)
1952 The Olympics were held in Helsinki. 
1955 Finland joined the Nordic Council and the United Nations. (7)
1975 The Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe was held in Helsinki bringing together east and west in a climate of diplomacy and neutrality. (7) (2)
1994 Finland became a member of the NATO Partnership for Peace programme. (2)
1995 On 1 January Finland joined the European Union. (2)
2002 Finland changed its currency to the Euro.

1. Irwin, J.L. (1973). The Finns and the Lapps. David & Charles: London.
2. Insight guide: Finland. (2000). Insight guides: London.
3. Simpson, C. (1966). The Viking Circle. Angus & Robertson: Sydney.
4. Jutikkala, E. (1962). A history of Finland. Thames & Hudson: London.
5. Scandinavia. (1985). Time-Life Books.
6. Leiviskä, I. (ed.). (1938). Guide to Finland. OY. Suomen kirja: Helsinki.
7. Facts about Finland. (1987). Otava: Helsinki.

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