|Finland :: Brief History|
Capital City: Helsinki
National Holiday: Independence Day, 6 December (1917)
National Anthem: Click here for anthem.Brief History: Conclusive archaeological evidence exists that the area now comprising Finland was settled during the Stone Age, as the inland ice of the last ice age receded. The earliest inhabitants are thought to have been hunters and gatherers, living primarily off what the forests and sea could offer.
Old Scandinavian sagas and some historians like Danish Saxo Grammaticus and Arabian Al Idrisi tell that there have been Finnish kings before Sweden conquered Finland.
Finland's nearly 700-year association with the Kingdom of Sweden began in 1154 with the introduction of Christianity by Sweden's King Erik. Swedish became the dominant language of administration and education, although Finnish recovered its predominance after a 19th century resurgence of Finnish nationalism (fennomania) following the publication of Finland's national epic, the Kalevala.
In 1808, Finland was conquered by the armies of Russian Emperor Alexander I and thereafter remained an autonomous Grand Duchy in personal union with the Russian Empire until the end of 1917. On December 6, 1917, shortly after the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, Finland declared its independence.
The social frontier between the ruling and the working class has been broader in Finland than in most comparable countries. Into the 19th century there was a most obvious language barrier; then during the 19th century Finland developed a proud University-educated meritocracy that felt as being the true representation of "the people" since they spoke the people's language and since a great deal of their ancestors really had been poor peasants.
In 1918, the country experienced a brief but bitter Civil War that coloured domestic politics for many years. The Civil War was chiefly fought between the educated class, supported by Germany and the big class of independent small farmers, against property less rural and industrial workers who despite universal suffrage in 1906 had found themselves without political influence.
During World War II, Finland fought the Soviet Union twice: in the Winter War of 1939-1940 (with some support from Sweden) and again in the Continuation War of 1941-1944 (with considerable support from Germany). This was followed by the Lapland War of 1944-1945, when Finland forced the Germans out of northern Finland.
Treaties signed in 1947 and 1948 with the Soviet Union included obligations and restraints on Finland vis-à-vis the Soviet Union as well as further territorial concessions by Finland (compared to the Moscow Peace Treaty of 1940).
After the Second World War, Finland was in the grey zone between western countries and Soviet Union. So called YYA treaty (Finno-Soviet Pact of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance) gave Soviet Union some right of determination to Finnish domestic politics. Many politicians used their Soviet Union relations to solve party controversies, which of course meant that Soviet Union got more power. The others while on other hand did single-minded work to oppose the communists.
When the Soviet Union fell down in 1991 Finland was fully surprised, but they used it immediately as their advantage. Finland was free to follow her own course and joined the European Union in 1995. Even today Russia's influence can be seen; Finland supports federal country development more than other Nordic countries.
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