Finland has more trees than people, nearly as many saunas, and more islands than any other nation on earth. Its Famous for its modern design (Alvar Aalto & Marrimekko), Moomins and the home of Santa Claus. Helsinki is the capital city, its small but it boats; historic churches, public squares, many museums and art galleries and a vibrant harbour. Large areas of Finland are protected by national parks providing plenty of opportunities to see birds, elks, and bears. 10% of Finland is covered in water and 69% with forests, there is no end to the outdoor adventures one can have here!

Finland was ruled by Sweden from the 12th to 19th centuries and by Russia from 1809 until its independence in 1917! The culture of fins has been shaped by this historic tug-of-war between Sweden and Russia, leaving enclaves such as the Russian-tinted Kerelia and Swedish-speaking Aland. Even their language is closer to Hungarian than it is there fellow Scandi neighbours.

 Finland gained its independence on the 6th December 1917 and maintains a strong independence streak.  Finland ranks very high in quality of life indexes, it has a booming technology industry and an ever growing tourism sector. They are known for the quality of their research, training, and education which pays dividends for they have one of the best-qualified workforces in the world. Finland has been judged to be the world’s least corrupt country, according to transparency International. In 2003 Finland became the first country to have both a female president and prime minister.

 

Ethical Travel Issues and advice

Population: 4 Million

Languages: Finnish and Swedish

Religion: Christianity

Finnish people are fairly relaxed it would not be easy to cause offense. The Fins do put great value on words and they do not enjoy unnecessary small talk, they choose when and what they say carefully. (this should not be mistaken for unfriendliness)   They have a strong national identity and although Immigration is growing quickly in an otherwise homogenous country, their tolerance for other cultures is widely respected. There is a high degree of equality between the sexes in Finland, as can be seen in the relatively high number of women holding advanced positions in politics and other areas of society as well holistic inclusive childcare rights. Fins are avid time-keepers events start exactly when they say they do and meetings are held at agreed times.  

Saunas – This is an essential part of the Finnish Culture and an important part of their hospitality. The only acceptable excuse for refusing would have to be medical. Whilst the Fins tenacity for withstanding the heat whilst having a drink is impressive, to avoid death one should always follow their own bodies and do what is comfortable. The famous birch tree ritual is more pleasant and relaxing than it looks. Unless with the family men and women do not sauna together.

Finland’s well-kept landscapes provide habitat for many wild animals and birds including magnificent bears, wolves, lynx, eagles, cranes and swans, as well as the world’s rarest seal. Birdwatchers flock to Finland to find species that are hard to spot anywhere else in Europe. t spectacular shots of our amazing animals in their natural wild settings. Great places to watch for these creatures include Finland’s 37 national parks, which are freely open to everyone all year round. Sporadically placed around the park are huts with wood you can burn in designated fire spots and there are often utensils left to enjoy a picnic, some you can even sleep in. These wooden huts are well looked after and respected! 

Finland enjoys extreme temperatures and daylight.  Although the summer is no surprise it is met with great esteem and the country basically shuts down and is transformed for the 6 weeks that follow  Midsummer in late June; families tend to migrate to their country homes and people flock to the streets, cafes and bars. This reaction is justified as Winter is long and harsh with temperatures regularly as low as -20 and the days are short! Winter is also a great time for winter sports: skiing, skating, snowboarding and with some Finnish ‘sisu’ ( determination), you can even go ice-swimming too! 

Finnish cuisine has western European, Scandinavian and Russian elements. Lunch is usually eaten between 11.00 and 13.00, . Evening meals at home are eaten around 17.00-18.00. In most restaurants, dinners are served from 18.00 onwards. Guests should not begin to eat until everyone has been served; usually, the host will propose a toast at the beginning of the meal, wishing the guests hyvää ruokahalua,.

Traditional dishes include: ‘Kaalikaaryleet’ – Cabbage rolls. Game meat, ‘Hernekeitto’ – pea soup, served on Thursday along with a pancake. Leipajuusto -a cheese, Lihapullat – Finnish meatballs. Arctic wild berries are distinctively featured in Finnish cuisine with their strong flavor and high nutrient content as do fish and wild mushrooms. 

Although the Law has some catching up to do – with Equal marriage only coming into to play from March 2017 – It is a very safe country to visit as a member of the queer community. Couples are free to express their love in the same way heterosexuals are in public. There are clubs, hotels and the like available in the cities.  Mistreatment would be very rare. 

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