History Of Finland Essay, Research Paper
The History of Finland
Finland s traces of human settlements date back to the thaw of the last Ice Age some 10.000 years ago. The Finns ancestors seem to have dominated half of northern Russia before arriving on the north of the Baltic coast well before the Christian era. By the end of the Viking Age, Swedish traders and chieftains had extended their interests throughout the Baltic region.
Finland s position, sandwiched between East and West, has given the Finnish way of life and culture a distinctive flavour all of their own. For five years Finland was part of Sweden, then for a hundred years of Russia, there still are traces of this.
1.1 The Swedish period
Until the middle of the 12th century, the geographical area that is now Finland was a political vacuum. Both its neighbours, Sweden and the Catholic Church on one side, and its eastern neighbour Russia and its Greek Orthodox Church at the other side were interested. Sweden became the most of the country at the peace treat of 1323 was signed between Sweden and Russia. Russia became only the eastern part of Finland. The western and southern parts were tied to Sweden. The western and southern parts of Finland had become the Western European cultural sphere, but the eastern part and Karelia became part of the Russo-Byzantine world.
As a consequence of Swedish domination, the Swedish legal and social systems took root in Finland. The Finnish peasants were never serfs, they always retained their personal freedom.
The Reformation started by Luther in the early 16 century also reached Sweden and Finland, and the Catholic Church consequently lost out to the Lutheran faith.
The King of Sweden founded Helsinki, Gustavus Vasa, in 1550 to compete with Tallinn in Estonia for trade in the Baltic region. It moved to the present site in the 17 century, but although a new town centre was built, it was to remain a sleepy little town of wooden houses for many decades to come.
It did not really expand much until 1748, when the ruling Swedes decided to build a mighty fortress at the mouth of the harbour. The building of this fortress gave the town a great economic boost.
1.2 The Russian period
In 1809 Russia wrested Finland from Sweden, the made Helsinki the capital and Finland an autonomous grand dutchy subordinate to the Russian Emperor. During the Swedish period, Finland was subdivided in a group of provinces and not a national entity. Finland was governed from Stockholm, this was also the capital of the Finnish provinces, and now it became Helsinki. Grand dutchy, that is the way the Grand Duke was called. He was the Russian emperor, whose representative in Finland was the Governor General.
The Russian Emperor Alexander I, was Grand Duke of Finland in 1809-1825. He gave Finland extensive autonomy thereby creating the Finnish state. Alexander I died in 1825 and was succeeded by Nicholas I. It was under his rule, that the nationalist Finnish movement began to gain momentum. Alexander II, who became Tsar in 1855, issued the Language Manifesto in 1863. Finnish should be accorded equal status with Swedish Language of the civil service and courts of law within twenty years. But the Swedish retained its dominant position until the early years of the twentieth century.
During the reign of Alexander III, from 1881-1894 and particularly of Nicholas II, from 1894-1917, nationalist circles in Russia gained increased influence. The Russification of Finland began during the First Oppression , from 1899-1905, and continued during the Second Oppression , from 1909 till 1917.
The revolution of 1905 gave the Finns a brief respite, during which they managed to enact a new Constitution replacing the old Diet of Four Estates with a unicameral Parliament elected by universal suffrage applying to all men and women aged 24 or more. This was the most democratic national assembly in Europe at the time.
1.3 Finland as an independent republic
The First World War, which broke out in the summer of 1914, led to revolution in Russia in 1917. On the 6 of December 1917, parliament approved the declaration of independence drawn up by the Senate under the leadership of Svinhufvud, from 1861-1944.
At the end of January 1918, the leftwing parties staged a coup, and the government was forced to flee from Helsinki. The Civil Ware ended in May, and the government troops had their victory. Finland became a republic in the summer of 1919, K.J. Stahlberg was elected as the first president. From 1865-1952.
Construction of the new independent republic now got under way. A law on compulsory education was enacted in 1921, and compulsory military service the New Year.
The left-wing parties got a taste of power as the country had its first Social Democratic government, from 1926 to 1927. The ultra-rightist Lapua Movement, modelled on the Italian Fascist party, staged mass demonstrations in 1929, demanding a ban on all Communist activity. The enactment of the Communist laws of 1930 met this demand.
Independent Finland concluded a highly advantageous peace treaty with Soviet Russia in 1920.
1.4 The Second World War
In August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union signed a non-aggression pact, which included a secret protocol relegating Finland to the Soviet sphere if interest. After the Finns had rejected Soviet territorial demands, the Soviet Union rescinded the 1932 non-aggression pact between the countries, and invaded Finland on 30 November 1939. That was the beginning of the Winter War. This War ended with the signing of the Treaty of Moscow on 13 March 1940. That meant giving south-eastern Finland to the Soviet Union.
When Germany invaded the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941, Finland entered the War as a cobelligerent with Germany. The continuing War was ended in September 1944.
In 1955 Finland joined the United Nations and the Nordic Council. This under the leadership of Paasikivi. Finland s international position grew stronger.
In Finland the upheaval in great power politics that took place at the end of the 1980s and early 1990s was evident in both a liberalised intellectual atmosphere and in greater latitude in foreign policy.
Finland became a full member of the EFTA in 1986 and finally a member of the Council of Europe in 1989.
Ideology game – an architectural review
There has been little discussion of architectural ideals in Finland during the 1990s. In fact only Juhani Pallasmaa and Kai Wartiainen have, in non-convergent lines of thinking, enunciated form-giving s ideological underpinnings. Simultaneously architecture has sought a new direction. A complex polymorphic style has quietly shifted towards simplified forms.
Even if they are not discussed, architectural ideals do not disappear or cease to exert their influence. Various present-day form languages have visible and hidden links to the principles, values, and ideals that designers consider meaningful. Ideals also include aesthetic desires. Defining the significant differences between form languages demonstrates architecture s tendency towards branching out – and at the same time is an attempt to understand what is happening.
Metaphysico – Theologo Cosmolonigology
To represent the current state of Finnish architecture, we have selected plan drawings of buildings. Plans symbolise the buildings presented. Additionally we have described the plans geometry as part of an ideological geography. In selecting projects we have aimed at a representative, diversified and progressive sample. A problem arises as to the number of projects because the media has also worn out the neutrality of numbers: duality, three colours, six memos, in seven houses… After serious consideration we arrived at the number thirteen. In our table of trends we have replaced the plan drawing with the designer s last name. This action reduces the size of the table, and the surname alludes to the architect s entire output, which in turn happily increases the number of contradictory interpretative possibilities. We have imagined that the present state of affairs will last approximately ten years.
In establishing the review s objectives, and in unclear cases, of which there are several, we draw on Pangloss s philosophy. Master Pangloss taught the metaphysico-theologo-cosmolonigology. He could prove to admiration that there is no effect without a cause; and, that in this best of all possible worlds, the Baron s castle was the most magnificent of all castles, and My Lady the best of all possible baronesses. (Voltaire) What is the best possible of all possible modern Finnish architecture?
Rationalism – Romanticism
Traditionally contemporary Finnish architecture has been understood by dividing it in two. The split results in two halves: Rationalism and Romanticism. To Rationalism belongs the names Frosterus, Revell and Ruusuvuori, along with the catchwords construction, modern technology and universality. The Romanticism department includes the names Sonck, Aalto and Pietil as well as the attributes form, individuality and place.
The Rationalism-Romanticism conception has flourished particularly well in The Museum of Finnish Architecture (Ky sti +lander 1966, Asko Salokorpi 1971, Marja-Riitta Norri 1990). The model is, however, not conservationist but a process containing practical benefits. When other conceptual dualities are associated with the bipartition, the finished results inadvertently produce value systems. Popular associated pairs have been international-domestic and universal-individual.
When analysing the current state of our architecture ( 7 Viewpoints exhibition, 1990), Marja-Riitta Norri finds the familiar rationalism-romanticism pattern. She softens the duality somewhat by stating that at no point had the bipartition occurred in a completely linear fashion (Norri 1990). She does not define rationalism as a universal truth. Instead she finds deepened rationalism and gives to it the local colour favoured by that time: It is a matter of interpretation as to whether the architectural vanguard represents a new local school of deepened rationalism or not; in any case it is not completely at the level of clearly defined forms. (Norri 1990)
In terms of the number of people who speak it, Finnish is far from being one of the world’s major tongues. A member of the Finno-Ugric family of languages, it has only five million speakers and sounds exotic to the neighbouring peoples of both Scandinavia and Russia. Nonetheless, the language is intensively used. The people who speak it have boasted one of the world’s highest literacy rates since at least the beginning of the century, and are also heavy users of written information. Furthermore, Finland has always been proud of its writers. The honorary title of National Author was given to Aleksis Kivi long ago, but the names best known to international readers are Nobel laureate Frans Emil Sillanp and Mika Waltari, the author of Sinuhe, the Egyptian.
F.E. Sillanp (1888-1964) was Finland’s most respected prosaist in the inter-war period and
also the countries best known author abroad. His main works were the novel Meek Heritage, set against the background of the civil war that erupted after Finland had declared independence in late 1917, and “Silja the Maid”, a lyrical description of the fate of a young girl. It was the latter work that won him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1939. Sillanp ’s main works have been translated into many languages.
Sillanp , who originally planned to become a doctor, published his first novel, “Live and Sun”, in 1916. With its charming descriptions of nature and bold examination of sexuality, it caused quite a stir. It was long regarded as a summer love story, but on closer examination turns out to be a tale of a young student who tries to use his relations with women as a means of boosting his low self-esteem.
The central themes of Sillanp ’s output are already staked out in his debut novel. These include the difficulty of sustaining self-esteem, problems of identity, sexuality and the incomprehensibility of death. Sillanp ’s characters have a poor awareness of their own needs. They do not know what motives prompt their actions and are therefore astonished at their own behaviour. When internal conflicts and reality threaten, they flee into their fantasies.
Mika Waltari (1908-79) is not only Finland’s internationally best known writer, but also by far the most versatile in terms of output. Yet his enormous productivity as an author of novels, plays, detective stories, cartoon books, fairy tales, travelogues and even wartime propaganda did nothing to lower his standard. Everything he wrote has held its own right across a broad front and the sense of historical reality found through his writer’s intuition continues to astonish scientists.
Waltari, who studied philosophy, aesthetics and literature in addition to theology, began his career with a booklet entitled “God in the Leading Role” (1925), which was published by the Finnish Seamen’s Mission Society. His breakthrough as a novelist came with the publication in 1928 of “Great Illusion”, a youthfully melancholic and very lucid reflection of the mood of life in the 1920s. From then on he was regarded as a typical Helsinki writer, whereas Sillanp , who came from the heart of the inland province of H me (Tavastia), drew his strength and inspiration from the Finnish rural heartland.
Yet the novel that earned Waltari international fame, “A Stranger came to the farm” (1937), described a triangular drama set in a lonely, dilapidated country house. The book has been published in 17 languages. Its great success convinced Waltari that he could write for international readerships, and he decided to do just that.
In 1945 he wrote “Sinuhe, the Egyptian”, which describes the life of its main character, a physician, in Egypt between 1390 and 1335 BC. The novel can also be read as an exposition of the Finnish middle class’s disappointment and the collapse of life values in the aftermath of a lost war.
With its lively character descriptions and many levels of meaning, Sinuhe is Waltari’s greatest achievement in the art of the story. It rapidly propelled him to dazzling world success and is the only Finnish book to have made it onto the bestseller charts in France and the USA. So far, too, it is the only book to have headed the American bestseller list for two years. It was also made into a movie (directed by Michael Curtiz, 1954).
In common with Sillanp , Waltari wrote about difficult things. He was interested in periods of intellectual upheaval in world history, the plight of humanism caught in the squeeze of tough material values, the eternal problem of good and evil, and people struggling in the cross-currents of ideologies.
The literature of Finland has a double root from which it continues to draw its vitality. One fork reaches far into the past, into the oral Finnish-language folk tradition and the sources of anonymous poetry, the world of the Kalevala. The other follows the Swedish-language mother culture deep into the European tradition, of which it remained a part long after Finland, as a result of war between Sweden and Russia, was separated and made an autonomous grand duchy of Russia in 1809. With the help of those links, more than a century and a half ago, an independent Finnish literature began to seek its place in European culture.
The national awakening stressed self-reliance, but also the desire rapidly to become a part of the literary world, to grasp Shakespeare in one hand and Dostoyevsky in the other and to create works equal to their genius in Finnish and Swedish. In the poetry of J.L. Runeberg, a Finnish ideal interpreted in the Swedish language and the European poetic tradition encountered one another both in individual feelings and in the historical vision of V nrikki Stoolin tarinat ( The tales of Ensign St l , 1848, 1860). The Kalevala, which appeared in 1849, was a composition by Elias L nnrot, of the Finnish people s poetic heritage, and Aleksis Kivi continued the shaping of the national identity with his independent creativity. Zachris Topelius was a master of the historical novel in the spirit of Walter Scott, particularly in his V lsk rin kertomuksia ( Tales of a barber-surgeon ), prose written in Swedish and immediately translated into Finnish.
Kivi s role as a key artistic figure in Finnish literature must be considered unique. He created the first Finnish plays, he gave form to lyric poetry that reflected the beauty of the Finnish language and wrote Seitsem n veljest ( Seven brothers , 1870), a novel which was at first met with opposition but later became a national symbol. The novel marked a step from depiction of ordinary people carried out in the spirit of idealistic romanticism toward realism. Clearing of virgin territory, a subject dear to Kivi, took on allegorical overtones: it meant working for the triumph of Finnishness in the cultural sphere.
In the late 19th century, Finnish literature absorbed influences from European realism and naturalism strongly. At the same time, there opened up a connection with Russian literature, its demands of originality and faithfulness to reality. In Finland, realism took on a homespun aspect: there were plenty of wrongs to be exposed, authentic folk figures were sought in the wildernesses, there was a need to speak out on behalf of the disadvantaged and of women.
Of the change in world-view, too, was born literature reflecting the new fragmentary nature of life-experiences and moral conflict, its leading writers Juhani Aho, with his concentration on emotional experiences, and Minna Canth, with her unwavering analysis of the position of women. Juhani Aho developed language as a means of expression of psychological sensitivity and found a lasting symbol in the Finnish landscape. In her many plays and stories, from Ty miehen vaimo ( A working man s wife , 1885) onward, Canth gave voice to the disappointment and feelings of emptiness of married women. Women lived at the mercy of men, and the leap to freedom of which they dreamed did not generally succeed. In the end, religious redemption was, for Canth too, the solution to human problems.
A realist trend describing people in their social setting has continued unbroken in Finnish literature via K.A. Tavaststjerna, Joel Lehtonen, F.E. Sillanp and V in Linna to the prose-writers of today, such as Eeva Joenpelto, Paavo Rintala, Hannu Salama and Christer Kihlman. Realism has constantly developed toward a more internalised description and a psychologically oriented perspective.
Artistic ambition directed the human destinies described subtly by Maria Jotuni, Hella Wuolijoki and Aino Kallas, most of them stories about women and often taking the form of plays. Wuolijoki s Niskavuori series became a handsome tribute to the strength of the Finnish peasant, in whose care the countryside lives and also encounters new winds. Among novels, Maria Jotuni s Arkiel m ( Everyday life , 1909) and Joel Lehtonen s Putkinotko (1919-20) took depiction of ordinary people in a more intellectual and critical direction. Volter Kilpi brought his narrative style, based as it was on the personal richness of language, to a climax in his novel Alastalon salissa ( In Alastalo s parlour , 1933), whose slow tempo describes the nature and life of the islanders of south-west Finland through a shipbuilding project. Frans Eemil Sillanp , too, found a sensitised descriptive style that reflected the ultimate questions of life in his novels of the 1930s, Nuorena nukkunut ( Fallen asleep while young ) and Ihmiset suviy ss ( People in a summer night ). In 1939 he was awarded the Nobel prize for literature.
The modernism of the lyrics and “the new poetry”
The 80 years of Finnish independence are divided, in poetry, into two periods by the years of the Second World War. The starting signal for each was given by change. Symbolism and late romanticism, however, continue to echo in the verses of the representatives of the older generation, Eino Leino, V.A. Koskenniemi and Otto Manninen. The first transition led to the breakthrough of modernism in Finland-Swedish poetry, to free form and new imagistic expression. Edith S dergran (1892-1923) employed the daring expressive devices of the new European poetry, which transcended genre, and filled them with the colourful inner visions of her eremitic life.
The Finnish-language poets of the Fire-bearers group of the 1920s opened windows noisily to Europe and farther afield, on exotic, strangely glowing gardens of images. Gradually these poets, such as Katri Vala and Elmer Diktonius, also awoke to the growing violence in Europe and spoke up strongly for peace. Close to them in ideas was Hagar Olsson, who wrote in both Swedish and Finnish and whose essays and plays pulse with the angst of the times and with the question of individual responsibility. Olsson s play Lumisota ( The snow war , 1939) was such an accurate anticipation of future political reality that it could be performed only after the war was over.
The next phase of modernism was associated with the ending of the Second World War, and with the recovery of Finnish cultural life, which had been isolated or caught in the mills of propaganda. The new poetry, supported by Swedish poetry of the 1940s and by the work of T.S. Eliot, settled its accounts emphatically with past values, experimented with a diversity of stylistic and formal possibilities and interpreted mystical experience and new freedoms. Eeva-Liisa Manner, Paavo Haavikko, Pentti Saarikoski and Lassi Nummi approached the uncertain feeling of the time through philosophy, history, politics and experience of nature.
The starting-points of Eeva-Liisa Manner s poetry include her experiences as a refugee in her childhood and existential questions that are reflected in both her mould-breaking collection T m matka ( This journey , 1956) and in the conflict between dreams and the cruelty of everyday life, which recurs in many radio and stage plays. Paavo Haavikko has developed into a master of many genres, who wields his pessimistic philosophy of life like a surgeon s life to dissect the apparent truths of power, money, love and death. Pentti Saarikoski represented a new kind of detective nomad who was given a home by the classical poetic tradition and a constant, ardent opposition to conventionality that also expressed itself in political terms; for him, quotidian introspection was the fount of poetry. In Lassi Nummi s poetry, the atmospheres of nature have consistently deepened and taken on a devotional quality that expresses itself in imagery that ranges from the metaphysical to the religious, without losing their highly individual, fluent melancholy. Solveig von Schoultz, Bo Carpelan, Claes Andersson and Tua Forsstr m have continued to develop the expressive language of modernism in Swedish-language poetry.
The novel after the Second World War
In novels, the war continued for a long time to influence subjects and coming to terms with experiences. Helvi H m l inen s critical depictions of cultural circles in Helsinki, S dyllinen murhen ytelm ( A genteel tragedy ), appeared on the eve of war and was the subject of renewed attention in the early 1990s, when H m l inen was awarded a big literary prize for a collection of poetry settling accounts with the war period, Sukupolveni unta ( Dreams of my generation ). Maria Jotuni s tragic description of a marriage, Huojuva talo ( The swaying house ), written in the 1930s, was likewise not published until 30 years after it was written. Greater distance was needed in order to understand the work of these writers, filled with bitter humour and submissive women.
Distances from the events of his time was sought by Mika Waltari in his youth an admirer of machine and city culture in the subjects he chose for his novels. His Sinuhe egyptil inen (I, Sinuhe, 1945) gave melancholy voice
and resigned wisdom to the uncertainty and feelings of emptiness of the generation that had experienced the war. Of the depictions of the war itself, the most significant were V in Linna s Tuntematon sotilas (The Unknown Soldier, 1954), Olavi Paavolainen s Synkk yksinpuhelu ( Sombre monologue , 1946), which takes the form of a diary, and Veijo Meri s Manillak ysi ( The manila rope , 1957). In Meri s work, absurdist humour and the randomness of events often lead to chaos. Linna revised the Finnish view of history with his three-part novel T ll Pohjant hden alla ( Here beneath the North Star , 1959-62), in which the life of a small rural community is dominated by both the increasingly pointed class differences of the civil war and the struggle with nature.
International influences transform the novel
During recent decades, the image of literature has emphasised the novel more than poetry. The representatives of modernism have remained vital, and no new transition has occurred in poetry. Rather, greater self-assuredness has been gained in relation to international movements, for example in the poetry of Pentti Holappa (born 1927). Many contemporary poets are also translators, often from distant languages, such as Pertti Nieminen and Kai Nieminen from Chinese and Japanese.
In novels, contacts with international developments are clearly visible. The generation that is now in middle age has seen national traumas in wartime, traumas that cast a long shadow into the future in human relations and world-views, as Antti Tuuri has demonstrated in his Pohjanmaa ( Ostrobothnia ) series. There problems have been handled with macabre humour by Veikko Huovinen, whose social criticism is directed at the bureaucratic nannyishness of the welfare state and sees as salvation the attempt to regain the old, wise everyday reality, often outside society, as in the novel Lampaansy j t ( The mutton-eaters , 1970), or as an insignificant side-character in nature in the work Puukansan tarina ( Tale of the wood-folk , 1984).
Psychological description sometimes has its origin in the writer s own circles, but also in cultural and historical contacts. Bo Carpelan s Axel (1986) describes the life and creative struggle of Jean Sibelius through the eyes of an apparently humble onlooker whose friendship, however, is all-enduring, while Hannu M kel s Mestari ( The master , 1995) draws a new fictive chart of the earthly wanderings of the great poet Eino Leino.
Alpo Ruuth s work follows in the tradition of broad depictions of working-class life, but for example in K mpp ( Digs , 1969) and Kotimaa ( Homeland , 1974), a story about unemployment, it frees itself from the earlier pathos of the genre to become more ironic and at the same time more understanding. A new identity free of all embellishment has been sketched by Hannu Salama who, in the 1960s, horrified the moral majority with his depiction of the grotesque drunkenness of the Finnish midsummer night s dream in his novel Juhannustanssit ( Midsummer dance , 1964). Siin n kij miss tekij ( No crime without a witness , 1972) is, with its political analysis seen from different angles, an important indicator of the acceptable and forbidden solutions of wartime.
Powerlessness and anxiety often appear as main themes in the new Finnish novel. In Olli Jalonen s novels, security systems people build for themselves become threatening and ominous. Behind a public life that follows conventional forms live shame and violence, as in the novel Hotelli el ville ( A hotel for the living , 1983). With its changing narrators, Kenen kuvasta kerrot ( Whose image are you talking about , 1996) shows that uncertainty and surprises also include the agreement between the book and its reader. In his latest, highly successful work Yksityiset t htitaivaat (’Private heavens’) Jalonen builds an extensive family tale full of surprises based on three of his earlier works. Its events unfold through the 1990s and on into the new millennium. Jalonen creates his characters from the inside, from dreams and fears, from the inexplicable logic of life and from memories of nightmares. Out of the relationship between nature, history and man grows both oblivion and order. Society has a strong metaphysical dimension.
An easily recognisable picture of modern times is formed in the novels of Juha Sepp l , Kari Hotakainen and Jari Tervo. Their style is often irony tinged with bitterness, in the light of which they examine the absurd and cruel traits of human chaos. Their literary style and worldview have earned them sobriquet ‘Meri’s sons’. Few rays of light strike their manly reality, at most a curl, mysteriously thrilling, from their own children’s hair.
The world of interdictions and liberties is also the territory of Arto Paasilinna. In his novels, however, he has produced a completely different image of the reality of everyman s Weltschmerz, his encounters with rules and tyranny and his cheerful liberation from the guardianship of society. Paasilinna has also reached large readerships abroad. A large, faithful readership has also claimed Laila Hietamies and Kalle P talo as its own. Both write novels whose nostalgic tone includes memories from their own childhood s, Hietamies of romantic Karelian-Russian history, P talo, in novel after novel, in the slow story of the development of a boy from Kainuu in north-east Finland. In her latest novel Siniset Viipurin illat (’The blue evenings of Vyborg’) Hietamies paints a vivacious and picturesque portrait of this erstwhile Finnish town in north-west Russia where days are brightened by the warmth of home-baked bread and ladies of style decorously sip their wine as the milestones and mysteries of life roll past.
Women authors with their own voice
In literature written by women, the epic form emphasises adaptation to the harsh reality of everyday life, but criticism of dreams and unrealistic expectations also recognises their necessity, as in Eeva Joenpelto s Lohja series. Eeva Kilpi has continued in the tradition of Jotuni and Kallas by emphasising women s right to their emotional lives and sexuality despite the resistance of social opinion. Raija Siekkinen too has developed into a polished and profound chronicler of male-female relationships who distils the themes of discovery and loss, fear and courage into the forms of both short story and novel.
Annika Idstr m is interested in the force of evil and the forbidden in inter-personal relationships, the greedy struggle for power between mother and child in Veljeni Sebastian ( My brother Sebastian , 1985) and the culmination of a myth-negating cruelty in cannibalistic symbols in El v ravinto ( Living nourishment ). Loathing between children and adults can also grow to embrace ecological destruction and guilt, as in Leena Lander s novel Tummien perhosten koti ( Home of the dark butterflies ). Anja Kauranen (now Anja Snellman) has described the turning-points of a woman s development and the difficulty of following one s own path; since her first book, Sonja O. k vi t ll ( Sonja O. was here ), which attracted a great deal of attention, she has wandered in the borderland between dreams and raw reality. Her new novel Paratiisin kartta (’A map o paradise’) tells of a young woman teacher’s anxieties and attempts to reach out to her schoolchildren in a society that is restless and constantly ailing from a values crisis.
A wild appeal to understand even the dark sides of human life is contained in the short stories of Rosa Liksom. Their subjects range from the world of the displaced young people of the cities to the dying spark of life in the countryside. Absurdist humour creates an extraordinary combination in the encounter between the helpless individual and the power of expression. The clash of dreams and reality for young city women has been described with refined irony by Monika Fagerholm in her Swedish-language novel Underbara kvinnor vid vatten (Wonderful women by the water, 1994).
Finnish plays have always been distinctly literary by nature: they address moral and existential questions such as power and violence, youth and old age, from the basis of both history and the present day. Jussi Parviainen binds the superficial fashion phenomena of today together with the individual s desperate searching, and ends in a destructive dead-end. Jouko Turkka s method is a cruel but comically disarming cynicism, which reveals the corruption of both love and political life. Esa Kirkkopelto has had the courage to address difficult historical processes and to find in them basic human strength and the search for a better world. Reko Lund n and Ilpo Tuomarila chart turning points in history often via people of apparent insignificance and their little worlds. The pair sometimes has fun destroying the images of the rich, the famous or the powerful. Their plays get an earthy grip on rank and title and make a mockery of them. People might find togetherness if they learned to assess and accept their own condition and potential in this world of oddities.
Children s literature
The post-war period has also altered attitudes toward children: the success of didactic stories has been passing, and the world of fantasy offers a better preparation for the encounter with complex reality. This was proved early on by Yrj Kokko s Pessi ja Illusia ( Pessi and Illusia , 1944), a projection of war and humanity on to the level of a child s understanding and emotions. The best children s books are also beloved of adults: Tove Jansson s Moomin books are still read by the grandparents of the current generation of children, and the poems of Kirsi Kunnas and the stories of Kaarina Helakisa include both the pain of life and inventive, triumphant humour. In an important sense, children s literature constitutes and invitation to new readers who sustain the reputation of Finns as real lovers of books.
Finnish art has been highly successful in merging national and international influences. The various isms have taken on a distinctly Finnish garb here, adapted to the local mentality, landdscape and climate. Even the severest abstract modernism is imbued with the warmth of natural forms, as seen in the flowing lines of the sculpture of Kain Tapper (b. 1930) and others, reflecting the smooth surface of the Finnish bedrock.
The first Finnish painter to rise to European standard was Werner Holmberg (1830 1860), who studied in Dusseldorf in the 1850s. Before his time, the gentry commisioned their portraits from itinerant painters known as counterfeiters most of whom were of foreign origin. One of the best Finnish painters among them was Margareta Capsia (1682 1759), Finland s first woman artist. Mikael Toppelius (1734 1821) was a prolific religious painter who filled many churches in northern Finland with didactic religious imagery.
The Finnish artists of the late nineteenth century flocked to the studios of Paris, bringing back the fashions of outdoor painting and impressionism when they returned. The new continental style of painting, however, presented an almost insuperable challenge back in the home country: how to capture on canvas the cool, translucent northern light: the midnight sun in summer; the cold, glittering blue lakes; the brooding forest, with spruce trees standing to attention in military fashion; the snow and ice with their endless shades of white? These were the problems tackled by painters such as Albert Edelfelt (1845 1905), highly successful in the salons of Paris and a precursor of impressionism in Finland, who also depicted the Finnish country people in images of idealized dignity.
The National Romantic and Symbolist movements of the turn Of the century gave rise to the golden age of Finnish art. Akseli Gallen-Kallela (1865-1931) created an imagery from the Kalevala which is still part of the national identity. The drawings and watercolours of Hugo Simberg (1873-1917), Gallen-Kallela s pupil and prot g , are highly prized today. Simberg translated Finnish folk tales into a fairytale world of his own, people with little devils and wounded angels.
Women painters made their mark early in Finland. Fanny Churberg (1845-1892) was a bold stylist and colourist who paved the way for her younger colleagues, such as Maria Wiik (1853-1928) and Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1945).
The Parisian-style naturalism introduced in Finland by Schjerfbeck and her sister painters aroused considerable controversy at the time. Over the years, Schjerfbeck developed into a highly individualistic, elegant modernist, whose work has only recently begun togain the international attention it deserves.
The role of the women in Finnish art has continued to grow. Today s pioneers, such as Marita Liulia (b. 1957) and Henrietta Lehtonen (b.1965), work with new media , such as CD-ROM and video art.
Postwar Finnish art has been marked by a debate between Constructivism and Expressionism, intellectual control and emotional extravagance. The precise, carefully planned forms of Sam Vanni (1908 1993), Juhana Blomstedt (b. 1937) and Matti Kujasalo (b. 1945) contrast with a pitiless dissection of emotions in the works of Aimo Kanerva (1909 1991), Marika Makela (b. 1947) and Marjetta Tapiola (b. 1951).
Today s young gegnartion prefers to maintain an ironic distance form the archetypal Finnish images. A frequently seen guest at the international forums of the 90s is Esko Mannikko (b. 1959), a photographer specializing in portraits of humble northern folk, particulary lonely backwoodsmen, and a Vermeerean virtuoso of atmosphere.
Notable Finnish artworks can also be found outside galleries and museums. Although many of the wall paintings in the mediaeval greystone churches were hidden behind a coat of whitewash in the days of the Lutheran Reformation, some remarkably evocative frescoes from the early sixteenth century have been preserved, notably in the churches of Hattula, Lohja and Rymattyla. The colourful figures of saints in ancient altar screens were also destroyed after the Reformation, with the result that the interiors of most Finnish churches are extremely ascetic.
The country s oldest artworks, however, are rock paintings dating from between 3000 B.C. to the beginning of the Christian Era. They mostly depict game elk, deer and bear hunted and worshipped by the nomadic tribes of the north. The same motifs can be found in ritual objects, the finest of which are genuine works of art.
2.4 Music and dance
40 years of Finnish rock
Rock music came ashore in Finland as in other Western European countries in the late 1950s. To begin with the Finnish bands mainly copied and admired their models across the Atlantic. The very title of a great hit at the time says a lot: Onni Gideon and Hawaiian Rock.
Many of the popular performers of the 1950s and early 1960s in fact hovered somewhere between rock and the more traditional Schlager or hit. The star who occasionally branched out into rock in order to draw in a wider audience was very common at the time.
Guitar bands hit even in Japan
The period nevertheless spawned a number of guitar bands. The boom of the early 60s gave Finnish rock its first taste of success abroad; The Sounds’ Manchurian Beat hit the charts in Japan.
The upsurge of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones gave the guitar bands increasing impetus. Jormas, Topmost and Blues Section were among the most popular bands of the time, but their repertoires were still firmly rooted in those of their foreign idols.
These bands nevertheless released the first real Finnish albums and many of their members still play an active part in Finnish musical life.
As the 60s drew to a close, the national favourites began to stand out more and more: pop stars such as Danny (”Finland’s Johnny Halliday”) and the pioneers of the new styles.
Among the latter were Wigwam and Tasavallan Presidentti. Wigwam, with English-born Jim Pembroke at the helm, started out as a pop group pure and simple nut gradually sailed into the more progressive waters represented right from the outset by guitarist Jukka Tolonen’s Tasavallan Presidentti.
A big effort was made in the mid-1970s to send Wigwam into global orbit with an advertising campaign that outstripped anything ever seen before by a Finnish band and handled by the legendary British company Virgin.
By this time the Wigwam ranks were, however, beginning to fall into disarray and the final breakthrough was never made. Of all the Wigwam members, the one to make the most successful solo career has been bass player Pekka Pohjola, in fusion music.
70s: beginning of the Finnish rock culture
The Finnish rock of the 70s, and specifically that sung in Finnish, finally got established so that the country could at last claim to have a rock culture all of its own. But despite their foreign-sounding names, neither Hector, nor Juice Leskinen nor Dave Lindholm managed to make any headway abroad.
There was by contrast one major band that made it to the top before the punk rock wave of the 1970s. The Hurriganes meant rock with a capital R. Their no-nonsense thud was something quite new and they got well-deserved publicity in Sweden, too.
In Finland as elsewhere, punk swept the floor of most of the attitudes of the previous generation, though its leaders admittedly became no more than national heroes; none but collectors have ever heard of Pelle Miljoona or Eppu Normaali outside Finland.
The bird that rose from the ashes of the punk explosion was nevertheless a peacock. Hanoi Rocks was a dazzling, daredevil band of five whose great international breakthrough has never yet been equalled by any other Finnish band.
Hanoi Rocks was something of a trailblazer for such megabands as Guns ‘n Roses, but it lost much of its glitter on the streets of Los Angeles when its drummer was killed in a car crash in December 1984. Of the remaining members, both guitarist Andy McCoy and vocalist Michael Monroe have tried to make a solo career, with varying success. The neon lights of the big wide world have nevertheless been abandoned in favour of a quieter life at home in Finland.
Inspired by Hanoi’s example, Finland was virtually swamped with would-be exporters singing in English in the mid-1980s. The Helsinki bands Smack, Havana Black and Nights of Iguana even made it all the way to Los Angeles.
In the end these bands lacked either luck, patience or funds and one by one their musicians wandered off home until soon there was no band left.
The same fate befell Gringos Locos, a band hatching its plans in Finland, and Melrose, whose guitar twang akin to rockabilly called forth a response in Central Europe.
Hardcore: a Finnish invention?
Finnish rock has in fact carried considerable prestige in the musical subcultures of the world ever since the mid-1980s. The hardcore punks did a lot to help it on its way in this respect through the Propaganda label and such bands as Riistetyt, Terveet K det and Lama. Some say that hardcore itself is a Finnish invention.
A twist all of their own was given by Sielun Veljet gigging abroad under such names as L’Amourder and applying themselves with zest to performances in the Soviet Union as it gradually opened up.
More recent examples include the humorous Leningrad Cowboys who have done their best to burnish the image of Finland by means of fairly big money and mobile phones, and their rather more underground-minded soul brother, the crazy oompah band El kel iset.
The more experimental eccentrics such as Jimi Tenor and Pan Sonic recording on British labels have also been vital pieces in the Finnish music jigsaw of the nineties.
Tradition and mainstream
The increasingly fragmented music field of the present decade also has room for some more traditional subcultures. Honey B & T-Bones have been performing more traditional swamp blues and 22-Pistepirkko their urban blues for years both in Finland and abroad. Thee Ultra Bimboos have specialised in trash rock that has gone down a treat in Germany, particularly, while Laika & The Cosmonauts have made a hit with their biting surf-minded instrumentals.
The mainstream artists have, with the exception of a few of the bigger heavy rock names (Amorphis, Apocalyptica, Stratovarious, Sentenced, Waltari), had less part to play in the drive to export Finnish rock. Typically Finnish artists such as Don Huonot, Ultra Bra and J. Karjalainen have, by contrast, had a real party on the sales lists. There is still a bigger demand in Finland for domestic music than there is in the rest of Europe, in this case both rock in Finnish and the thriving Schlager culture.
Dance has always been an international art form in Finland, with strong ties to the neighbouring centres Stockholm and St. Petersburg. The influence of St. Petersburg is obvious in the development of ballet in Finland while Stockholm has become a second home for many Finnish dancers in this century.
Helsinki is clearly the centre of Finnish dance, although the field has expanded greatly in the past few decades. The professional dance education that begun to develop in the major cities during the 1980 s has taken dance culture beyond the capital. The 1990 s have been a period of strong artistic growth, bringing about the foundation of not only new dance groups, but also new festivals, production centres and, foremost, new work and production methods.
It is often difficult to approach the myth of the primitive strength of Finnish art. It is also impossible to distinguish the myth from reality, which is the cause and which the effect? Though the majority of the Finns live in cities and though high technology has intruded into the smallest villages, the myth maintains a picture of a country of a thousand lakes and forests.
Nevertheless, Finnish dance lives and breathes to the urban rhythm. Finnish dance is still created by Finnish dancers in Finland. On the other hand, Finnish dance reflects influences from all the trends in modern and contemporary dance. German dance theatre and Japanese butoh have contributed most, as well as contact improvisation and release techniques. In spite of this, Finnish dance remains isolated, for better or worse. Its aesthetic arises from a cultural scenery dominated by the functional severity of Finnish design and architecture. Perhaps that explains why the physical is so emphasised in Finnish dance.
Finland is mainly a country of literature, theatre and music, where the corporal aspect in general has made people feel uneasy. The culture, which cannot speak of the body, expresses otherwise reflected physical attitudes and aspects through dance. In Finnish culture, dance gains its significance in relation to the prevailing Lutheran concept of humanity and a way of life moulded by the austere conditions of the North.
Many of the Finnish choreographers are more concerned with the physical expressiveness than with the quality of movement. The aim has not been to cultivate nor tidy the body; rather to free than to add cultural control. The late rise of a dance culture has further heightened this view of the body as the sole signifier in dance.
In looking back at the focal points of dance policy it is possible to distinguish two obvious trends: on the one hand, the strong development of professional education within the fields in the 1980s and, on the other hand, the attempt to strengthen the position of dance theatres by bringing them in the realm of regular government support. Higher education in the field began in 1983 at the Department of Dance of the Theatre Academy in Helsinki. Soon thereafter, four more professional schools were established in different parts of the country. Training in classical ballet is on the shoulders of the ballet school, started in 1922 of the Finnish National Opera.
Dance companies, including the Finnish National Ballet employ less the 30 pr cent of all dancers. The issue of supporting the freelance artists and young dance artists and connecting them to the Finnish dance field is a major challenge to dance policy. The national council for dance has noted this problem and for its part supports individual choreographers. In addition to safeguarding the basic conditions required for artistic activity there are issues related to the social status of artists and to taxation and the economic status of retired dancers are yet to be resolved. The public funding is not likely to grow notably in the present political atmosphere which favours cuts in public sector spending
Finnish food has elements of both Western and eastern cuisine s, with a lot of variations and local specialities. Potato is the staple food, served with various fish or meat sauces. Furthermore Finnish people eat nowadays a lot of pasta, pizzas, kebab, Tex-Mex etc. The issue of family meal varies a lot. Some families never eat together, because the work-, school-and activity times might be very uncomfortable to fit in a meal at a certain time. Some families, on the other hand, always eat together. In the weekends, family meals are quite common. It is also common, that some families eat their Saturday or Sunday meal at the restaurant once a month. The afternoon snacks after school are typically tea or hot chocolate with bread, yoghurt or corn flakes and fruit. Keep
In mind, that part of the learning during your exchange period is to get accustomed to our food traditions. Remember to say always “Thank you” (kitos) after a meal to the person who made the food.
The country of Finland
The landscape of Finland is pretty varied. A sparsely populated country in the far north-east corner of Europe, Finland is nevertheless a midsize European state in terms of land area. Almost one quarter of the country s territory lies north of the Arctic Circle, making Finland the world s northernmost country together with Iceland. In the south and west, Finland is bounded by the Baltic sea, offering a direct sea route to the Continent. The broken coastline in the south-west gradually gives way to the Saaristomeri, or Archipelago Sea, unique in the world for the amount, variety and closeness of its islands. All in all, Finland s territorial waters count over 80000 islands, the two largest being the main island of the Aland group and Kemio, just southeast of the big city of Turku.
Finland lies on the western side of the Eurasian zone, the taiga. The forests are characterised by many different species: the only trees of any economic meaning are pine, spruce and the birch. Although Finland extends from the northern boundary of the oak zone to the bare sub-arctic fells, the country has no mountain ranges proper. The highest altitudes are in the country s north-western arm , the Econtekio region, an outliner of the Scandic fells featuring Finland s highest peak Halti with it s 1328 meters.
The lie of the land is characterised by small-scale variation. Most of the country is low-lying, and slopes gently towards the south or south-east. Eastern Finland is dotted with lakes and high hills: the rolling landscape of Central Finland gives way in the west to the Ostrobothnian plains, with lowlands in other coastal areas. The bare, rugged fells of Lapland are separated by canyons with turbulent rivers.
The topography is founded on the ancient bedrock, most of which was formed some 1800-1900 million years ago. In contrast, the soil is very young, for the glaciers of the last Ice Age carried off virtually all-loose matter. A reminder of this relatively recent period of glaciation is the uplift phenomenon, which continues to remodel the landscape, increasing the country s land area by some 7 square kilometres every year.
Finland has something like 188.000 lakes, more than almost any other country in the world. Lakes constitute about 10 per cent of Finland s total area; indeed, in some parts of the country a quarter or even half of the surface is under water. Most of the lakes are very small, but the largest, Greater Saimaa, ranks fourth in Europe and forty-third in the world.
The rivers are mostly short and have relatively small discharge, as none of the watersheds are far from the coast. The principal watershed is called Maanselka, which separates the rivers running into the Baltic Sea (91%) from those discharging into the Arctic Ocean and the White Sea (9%) The longest river is the Kemijoki-Kitinen (552 Km).
The aquatic environment is unique. The smooth-worn bedrock, the Ice Age and uplift have together created a veritable maze of waterways. The large lakes of Central Finland are virtually at the same altitude. Between them meanders an endless succession of narrows and slow-flowing straits, interspersed with inlets, headlands, and islands. The lakes contain a total of nearly 100.000 islands, the second highest number in the world after Canada.
Some 70 % of the land area is productive forest, making Finland the most densely forested country in Europe. The proportion of mires is higher than anywhere else in the world. If poor-growth forest is included, wetlands represent almost one third of Finland s territory.
Finland s fauna is similar to that of Scandinavia and northern Russia, consisting mostly of species typical of the boreal coniferous zone, such as the brown bear, the national animal. In addition, arctic species are found in the north and south. The fauna have arrived so recently that few species are endemic, a rare exception being the ringed seal of Saimaa, a protected species that is a relict from the post-glacial era.
The Finnish climate is a great deal milder than micght be expected given the northen location of the location of the country. The Baltic Sea, the inland waters and, above all, the westerly winds bringing in Atlantic air warmed by the Gulf Stream, moderates the cold. The mean temperature in Finland is between 6 and 10 degrees higher than elsewhere in the world at similar latitudes.
The winters are relatively humid and cold. The occasional continental fronts that push in from the east causing severe frosts in the winter and heat waves in the summer. During the coldest winters the temperature in the north may fall to 40 or even 50 degrees, whereas readings of up to 35 degrees have been recorded during the brief summer. Many visitors find the sharp seasonal shifts hard to get used to.
Winter is the longest season in Finland. I northernmost Lapland, the polar night, or kaamos, lasts 52 days, while the southern parts of the country have just six hours of daylight in the darkest midwinter period. The light of summer makes up for the winter darkness. On the south coast, the sun is up for almost 19 hours at midsummer. In Nuorgam in the far north, the sun does not set for 67 days. Although rain or snow falls throughout the year, overall precipitation is not evenly divided. The early summer tends to be too dry for the farmers liking, especially in the south-west and along the Ostrobothian coast, whereas rainfall is often excessive at the end of the growing season (the period during which the average temperature exceeds 5 degrees). This season lasts about two months longer in the south than in the north, although the difference is offset somewhat by the fact that Lapland s midnight sun provides plants with a larger dose of light during the summer.
3.3 Important cities
Finland is a very sparse populated country. Almost half of the five million people live in the major cities of Finland. This is a still growing trend, more and more people want to live in the cities.
The capital of Finland is Helsinki, a city with about 500.000 inhabitants.
It s the northernmost capital of Europe, but by far not the one with the most inhabitants. It s the centre of cultural, financial and economic activity. It has great parks and waterways, many open-air cafes and a busy marketplace. All this together make it a great city to visit for tourists in summer. The city doesn t have any high buildings like many other capitals do. On the area of art is Helsinki also a leading city. It has many art museums including one which contains Finnish and international art from the 19th century.
In the middle of Helsinki lies a big island which is ideal for daytrips. People can have a picknick here, and by the end of the day they return by one of the many ferry s riding between the island and the continent.
Another big city is Turku. This was Finland s first capital and the oldest city. It has been tortured by big fires many times throughout time . In 1812 the capital moved from Turku to Helsinki which was a big financial blow.
The city is covered with modern buildings covering the older wooden ones. Nowadays many artists live in these premises.
Another major city of Finland is +land. It s been build on about 6400 small islands making it an interesting place for adventurous people. Several dialects of Swedish are spoken and few people in this city speak Finnish. This city is a very attractive place for people who love to make bicycle tours or to learn the folk dancing of Finland. The most interesting municipality is Sund, at the eastern end of the main island, where you’ll find the impressive Kastelholm Castle. Of strategic importance during the 16th and 17th centuries, its exact age is not known, but it was mentioned in writings as early as 1388.
4.1 Population division
The Finns forefathers first came to the shores of Finland some time between 9000 and 8000 B.C.. They found a barren coastline, laid waste by the retreating continental ice shelf. The settlers arrived from at least two different directions, east and south. Finland has remained settled ever since that time. Over the centuries, new waves of settlers arrived from different directions, but they were all assimilated into the earlier population.
The population growth picked up somewhat on the 1980s, as many emigrants returned and the birth rate increased. The five-million mark was reached in 1991, and by spring 1999 Finland had a population of 5.159.646. Demographically, the country is characterised by a high proportion of working-age people and a streadily acing population. Children from 0 to 14 account for less than one fifth of the population, while the proportion of senior citizens over 65s is now over 16%. Over two thirds of the Finns are in the working-age category 15 to 64.
Over 51% of the country s population are women. This is primarily due to a higher mortality rate among men, more boys are born than girls. Women account for more than two thirds of the senior citizens category.
The Finns population is unusually homogeneous, as the only indigenous ethnic minorities are the Sami of Lapland and the Romany. The majority of the former (a group of from 3000 to 6000 people, depending on the criteria applied)live in the Sami home region in the northernmost municipalities of Lapland, while the 9000-strong Romany population are more evenly distributed throughout the country.
The proportion of foreigners is among the lowest in Europe. At the end of 1998, bare 85.060 foreign citizens were living in Finland. The number of immigrants from the Soviet Union has grown rapidly in recent years. The country has received only a limited number of refugees, some 15.500 in all. In 1997, 973 persons applied for asylum in Finland.
The official Languages are Finnish and Swedish. Finnish is a language that is belonging to the Finno-Ugric family, holds an uncontested dominant position, being the mother tongue of over 93% of the population. Fewer than 6% of the Finns speak Swedish as their mother tongue, the most of them live on the south or west coast or in the Aland Islands.
Finnish is a very distinctive language and the only non-Indo-European language of the European Union. It is characterised by fine shades of meaning sometimes hard to pin down precisely, and an affinity for natural sounds. Perhaps because of this different quality of the language, no satisfactory translation has ever been produced of the greatest and the most Finnish of all Finnish novels.
4.3 Religion and Finland
The Catholic Church extended sins the 12 century, when the Swedish conquered western Finland, Christianising it in the process. Meanwhile, the Principality of Novgorod was busy propagating the Orthodox creed in Karelia and eastern Finland. The Lutheran doctrine of Reformation took over from the Catholic Church during the 16 century, since which Finland and the other Nordic countries has been the foremost stronghold of Lutheranism in the world.
In principle, the Finnish State is neutral in religious matters, but the Evangelical-Lutheran Church is mentioned in the Constitution Act, and its administration and activities, as well as those of the Finnish Orthodox Church, are regulated by the Church Act, issued by Parliament.
The role of the Lutherean Church as the principal national church is shown by the fact that the Evangelical-Lutheran congrations had 4.400.00 members in 1997, or 85,6% of the population.
Finland s second largest religious community is the Orthodox Church, which has 54.000 members, or 1,1% of the population.
The Pentecostal revival movement numbers some 50.000 baptised members plus a considerable number of their children. Jehovah s Witnesses have 17.000 members in Finland, the Free Church of Finland has 13.000 the Catholic Church 6.000 and the Jewish congrations 1.100 members.
The historical foundation of Finland was the Scandinavian yeoman farmer s society. It is the only republic to have developed on this basis; and yet the Finnish President has a far greater political role than the monarchs of the other Scandinavian countries.
The Republic of Finland is a parliamentary democracy headed by a president as chief of state. The current Finnish constitution was first adopted in 1919. In recent years it has been amended several times.
The President is Head of State and has considerable powers. The President appoints the Prime Minister and his Cabinet. He also has the right to initiate and veto legislation. The President is elected for a six-year term by popular vote (max. two consecutive terms). If no candidate gets an absolute majority of the votes cast, a second round is held between the two candidates with the most votes in the first round. The current President is Tarja Halonen of the SDP (since March 2000).
Legislative power is shared by the president and the one-chamber parliament of 200 members.
The government which is headed by a prime minister, is responsible for the country’s general administration.
The executive power is vested in the Council of State. This Government consists of the Prime Minister and between 13-17 Ministers.
Current Prime Minister is Paavo Lipponen (SDP) (since April 1995). On 21 March 1999, new elections led to a considerable defeat for the SDP, which nevertheless continues to be the biggest party and is thus set to form the new government in a coalition with other parties.
5.1 The political parties
The Centre was called The Agrarian League until 1965 and it still derives its main support from rural areas covering most of Finland. Not nearly all the voters have anything to do with farming, but loyalty to the Centre is almost a family value in the provinces, particularly the two northern ones (Oulu and Lapland). The higher voting percentage of the rural areas is an additional asset. The party has a strong anti-EU wing. Famous representatives for the Centre have been the late President Urho Kekkonen, the former Prime Minister Eske Aho, and the former minister for foreign affairs Paavo V yrynen.
The Social Democrats (SDP)
They are strongest in the Southern industrial towns, also sharing much of the middle-class and public employee vote. President Martti Ahtisaari, EU commissioner Erkki Liikanen, former Prime Minister Kalevi Sorsa, and the current (1995-) Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen might be heard of also outside of Finland.
The National Coalition (Conservatives)
Presents itself as the party of entrepreneurs and patriots, winning 90 per cent shares of vote in army bases. Helsinki and the other main cities are National Coalition strongholds. While most of rural Finland is dominated by the green of the Centre, Eastern H me is blue for some reason.
The Young-Finns (neo-liberals)
Appearing as a more modern, “cool” urban alternative to the Conservative National Coalition.
The Left-wing Alliance (Communists)
This party is a 1990 attempt to gather together the quarreling Communist movement. Some splits are still visible both inside and outside of the party. Much stron