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A Short History of Finland

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Finland formally known as the Republic of Finland is an independent country located in Northern Europe. A peninsula with the Gulf of Bothnia to the west and the Gulf of Finland to the south, the country is bordered by Norway to the north, Sweden to the northwest, and Russia to the east. Finland is located in the geographical area of Fennoscandia which also includes Scandinavia. The country’s population as of 2014 was 5.5 million. It is the 8th biggest nation in Europe and the most sparsely inhabited state in the European Union.

The country’s history will be discussed in brief below.

Prehistory

1926 Marmon E-75 Marshal Mannerheim state car, SourceArchaeological evidence suggests that the area that currently makes up Finland was first inhabited around 8500 BCE during the Stone Age era. The artefacts the first inhabitants left behind have similar characteristics with those found in Norway, Russia, and Estonia. The earliest settlers were hunter-gatherers and they used stone tools. The first pottery emerged in 5200 BCE, after the introduction of the Comb Ceramic culture. The start of agriculture could have coincided with the onset of the Corded Ware culture in southern coastal Finland between 3000 and 2500 BCE. Despite the introduction of agriculture, fishing and hunting continued to be the significant sections of their economy.

The Bronze Age (1500-500 BCE) and the Iron Age (500 BCE – 1200 CE) were portrayed by widespread contacts with other cultures in the Baltic and Fennoscandian territories. There is no agreement on when Indo-European languages and Uralic languages were first used in the region of modern-day Finland. In the first millennium AD, early Finnish was used in agricultural villages in southern Finland, whereas Sámi-speaking people resided in most regions of the country. The Sami and the Finns are distantly related and the Sami are a distinct community who retained the hunter-gatherer way of life longer than the Finns.

Swedish era

In the 12th and 13th centuries Swedish kings established their rule in Finland as part of the Northern Crusades with the first, second and third crusade against Finns proper, Karelians, and Tavastians. Swedish settlers colonized the coastal territories during the Middle Ages and in the 17th century, Swedish became the main language of the nobility, education and administration. Finnish was mainly the language for the local courts, clergy, and peasantry in predominantly Finnish-speaking regions.

In the 16th century, the first written works in Finnish were published by Mikael Agricola. In 1640, Finland’s first university, the Royal Academy of Turku, was established. Between 1696-1697, the country experienced a serious famine and roughly one third of the Finnish populace died.

In the 18th century, Sweden and Russia went to war twice leading to the settlement of Finland by Russian armies. These times are known to the Finns as the Greater Wrath (1714-1721) and the Lesser Wrath (1742-1743). It is approximately that a whole generation of young men lost their lives during the Great Wrath due to obliteration of farms and homes, and due to the burning of Helsinki. A few vocal elite Finns ascertained that Finland’s ties with Sweden were becoming too expensive, thus increasing their desire to break with Sweden. Towards the end of the century, a politically elite section of the Finnish nobility became convinced that because of Russia’s and Sweden recurrent use of Finland as a battlefield, it would be in the nation’s interests to look for autonomy. Despite the attempts of Finland’s nobility and elite to break links with Sweden, there was no actual independence movement in the country until the early 20th century.

Russian era

Finland under the Swedish empire, SourceOn 29 March 1809, Finland became an independent Grand Duchy in the Russian Empire until the end of 1917. In 1811, Russia integrated Russian Vyborg province into the Grand Duchy of Finland. It was during this era when the Finnish language started gaining recognition. From the 1860s, a sturdy Finnish countrywide movement known as the Fennoman movement developed.

The Finnish famine of 1866-1868 killed about 15% of the populace. This was the worst famine in European history and it made the Russian Empire ease fiscal policies, leading to a rise in investments in the decades that followed.

In 1906, worldwide suffrage was embraced in the Grand Duchy of Finland. However, the association between the Russian Empire and the Grand Duchy became sour when the Russian government made moves to limit Finnish sovereignty. For instance, the global suffrage was, in practice, almost worthless, since the tsar never approved any of the policies implemented by the Finnish parliament. As a result, the need for sovereignty acquired more ground among the locals.

Civil war and early independence

After the February Revolution of 1917, the position of Finland as a portion of the Russian Empire was brought to question especially by the Social Democrats who controlled parliament. The Democrats passed the Power Act to grant the parliament the highest authority but the Russian Provisional Government rejected the act and disbanded the parliament. This eventually led to the civil war between the Whites and the Reds and majority of the Reds were locked in camps where most died by execution or from diseases and malnutrition. The civil war and activist invasions into Soviet Russia damaged Eastern relations.

In 1919, Finland became a presidential republic and Kaarlo Juho Ståhlberg was elected as the first president. The Finnish – Russian border was established by the Treaty of Tartu in 1920. After that, Finland did not experience any Soviet coup attacked and it survived the anti-Communist Lapua Movement.

World War II

During WW II, Finland fought the Soviet Union in the Winter War of 1939-1940 after Soviet Union had invaded Finland, and the Continuation War of 1941-1944, following Operation Barbarossa. In June/July 1944, Finland arrived at a ceasefire with the Soviet Union and this was followed by the Lapland War of 1944-1945, where Finland fought against the Germans.

Finland and the Soviet Union signed treaties in 1947 and 1948 and they include Finnish reparations, restrains, and obligations, and also more Finnish regional yielding besides those in the Moscow Peace Treaty of 1940. As a result of the wars, Finland had to cede Petsamo, Salla and most of Finnish Karelia. Soviet forces never occupied Finland and it was able to retain its sovereignty.

Cold War

75 kopeks, currency under the Grand Duchy of Finland in 1824In 1950, about 46% of Finnish employees worked in agriculture and one third resided in urban regions. New jobs in trade, services, and manufacturing attracted most people to the cities. The standard number of births per woman went down from the baby-boom peak of 3.5 in 1947 to 1.5 in 1973. When baby-boomers entered the job force, the economy did not create jobs soon enough, and a lot of people were force to migrate to Sweden which was more industrialized. This led to an increase in migration in 1969 and 1970.

Finland claimed to be neutral and lay in the grey zone between the Soviet Union and the Western countries. The YYA Treaty – Finno-Soviet Pact of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance – granted the Soviet Union some influence in the domestic politics of Finland. Despite close ties with the Soviet Union, Finland remained a market economy of Western Europe. A number of industries gained a lot from trade opportunities with the Soviets. This could be used to explain the extensive support that pro-Soviet laws enjoyed among entrepreneurial interests in Finland. After the war, economic growth was fast, and by 1975 the GDP per capita of Finland ranked at number fifteen in the globe.

In the 1970s and 80s, Finland established one of the broad welfare nations worldwide. When the Soviet Union collapsed, Finland reacted carefully and immediately started increasing consolidation with the West.

Recent history

The collapse of Soviet Union- Finland’s largest trading partner, a banking crisis, a worldwide economic downtown, and miscalculated macro-economic choices caused a deep recession in the country. The depression ended in 1993 and Finland experienced a stable economic growth for over ten years. Finland, like other Nordic countries, had to decentralise its economy since the late 1980s. Product market and financial policies were loosened, a number of state institutions privatized, and modest tax cuts implemented. Most of the economic growth in the late 1990s was brought about by the exceptional success of the mobile phone manufacturer Nokia which represented about 80% of the market capitalization of the Helsinki Stock Exchange.

Finland joined the NATO Partnership for Peace in 1994, the European Union in 1995, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council in 1997, and the Eurozone in 1999.

Present-day Finland

Finland is a top performer in a number of metrics of countrywide performance, including human development, education, civil liberties, economic competitiveness and quality of life. In 2015, Finland was rated as number one in the Press Freedom Index and the World Human Capital, and as the steadiest nation in the globe in the Failed States Index, and number two in the Global Gender Gap Report.

The country’s population is aging and the birth rate is at 10.42 births per 1,000 people annually, or a fertility rate of 1.8. Finland has a median age of 42.7 years, making it one of the states with the most mature population. Most of the voters are approximated to be more than 50 years old.

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