Flag and map courtesy of the CIA World Factbook

Area north of 60 latitude
99% of its total area (337 030 sq. km.)

Ethnic Mix:
Mostly Finns; a sizable minority of Swedes (6%), smaller numbers of Sami, Gypsy, Tatar. Finnish and Swedish are both official languages; English is commonly used in business.

Principal industries:
Metal manufacturing and shipbuilding, forestry and wood processing, copper refining, foodstuffs, textiles, clothing

Currency: markkaa, or Finmark = 100 pennia; Euro (EUR) as of March 1, 2002.

Aboriginal peoples: Sami

Did you know?
Most Finns have a sauna at least once a week, often on Saturday evening. The whole family may have a sauna together. Family members use it to cleanse their bodies, relax and calm themselves. They say it gives them a sense of well-being. Afterwards, there is a traditional cup of strong, hot coffee (or hot chocolate for children).

Learn more:

Canadian Global Almanac 2003
The Northern Circumpolar World by Bob MacQuarrie (Reidmore Books)


Finland is home to the most northern university in the European Union, the University of Lapland in the city of Rovaniemi which is located right on the Arctic Circle.

One of the university’s most interesting features is the Arctic Centre. This is an international research institute that pulls together advice from scientists in Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the USA and Canada.

The Arctic Centre is based in a fantastic building called Arktikum House that is surrounded by native plants and shrubs. When you stand in the gardens, you can see a long glass corridor, brightly lit, pointing north and running into the hillside – that is all you can see of the building however because the rest is underground.

The aim of the Arctic Centre is to become the top-level unit for Europe’s knowledge of the Arctic. The Institute, with its Science Centre exhibitions, is one of Lapland’s most visited tourist attractions. About sixty people work at the Arctic Centre.

Also in Arktikum House is the Provincial Museum of Lapland, with polar collections and displays. In particular, the museum has extensive holdings of Sami materials and cultural artifacts. The exhibition area is divided into three sections: Sami reindeer husbandry and other aspects of Sami culture; the Province; and the history of the city of Rovaniemi.

All this knowledge and learning “fits” beautifully in Finland – a country which in 1997 enjoyed a literacy rate of 100%. This was a superb national achievement and one that brought distinction to the country’s educators and politicians. Finnish children begin school at the age of seven. Everyone receives nine years of basic education. Tuition, materials and school meals in the country’s comprehensive schools are free.

The Northern Circumpolar World by Bob MacQuarrie (Reidmore Books)