Where are we?
Finland is located in northern Europe between the 60th and 70th parallels of latitude. One quarter of Finland’s total area lies north of the Arctic Circle (Napapiiri in Finnish). The topography of Finland is flat with the exception of the high rounded fells in Lapland, the northern part of the country. Thousands of lakes, rivers and streams as well as forests and woods dominate the Finnish landscape.
Kemi and Tornio
The towns of Kemi, Tornio and Haparanda (Sweden) and three municipalities, Keminmaa, Simo and Tervola comprise the Kemi-Tornio region with about 61 000 inhabitants. Kemi and Tornio are located about 25 kilometres apart, but they are well connected by regularly running buses. Due to the location on the northern coast of the Gulf of Bothnia, into which the region´s three great rivers – the Simo, Kemi and Tornio Rivers –flow, the area is sometimes called Sea Lapland (Meri-Lappi).
Rovaniemi is a town of 61 000 inhabitants and it is located on the Arctic Circle. Due to the location and the exotic experiences the city offers, Rovaniemi attracts tourists all over the world. Finland’s longest river, The Kemi River, flows through Rovaniemi. The distance from Rovaniemi to Kemi is about 114 kilometers. Way to Tornio takes a little bit more time, because the distance is 125 kilometers. Railroad and bus connections make the distances easier to travel.
What's the time?
Finland is two hours ahead (+2) of Greenwich mean Time (GMT) and one hour ahead of central European Time (CE T). We set the clocks twice a year: daylight Saving Time (or summer time) is in effect from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday of October. A 24-hour timetable is commonly used. For example 8.00–16.00 means the same as from 8 am to 4 pm.
Who are we?
The Finns form a distinct linguistic and ethnic population bearing features from both Eastern and Western Europe. The Finnish language, with Estonian and Hungarian, belongs to the Finno- Ugric group of languages. The population of Finland is 5, 4 million people. Families with one child are the most common. The average life-expectancy of Finnish women is 83 years and of men 76.
Finns are curiously silent in public places and they rarely enter into conversation with strangers, but will converse after you take the initiative. Most Finns speaks English fluently except most of the elderly people.
Finns are better at listening than at talking, and interrupting another speaker is considered impolite. A Finn does not grow nervous if there are breaks in the conversation; silence is regarded as a part of communication. Having once got to know a stranger better, Finns are quite willing to discuss any topic; generally not even religion or politics are taboo. Visit: http://virtual.finland.fi
How do we live?
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. Chauvinistic or patronizing attitudes towards women are generally considered unacceptable. Women are usually independent financially and may offer to pay their share of a restaurant bill, for instance. A man may politely refuse such an offer but it is equally polite to accept it.
Although a total of 5.4 million Finns, about 80 % of the population live in urban areas in the southern part of the country, many people have summer cottages in the countryside. Practically every Finnish house has a sauna of its own. There are public saunas in swimming halls with indoor swimming pools, water slides, water massage, Jacuzzi and so on. What do you do in a sauna? To learn more visit the website of the Finnish Sauna Society www.sauna.fi
What we do for a living?
Finland belongs to the 20 wealthiest countries in the world. The GDP has increased in real terms by over 50 percent over the past ten years. The ratio of R&D investments to domestic output in Finland is among the highest in the world.
Independence Day (6th of December)
6th of December is the date for celebrating the Finland’s independence that started 1917 after the declaration of independence. The day consists of parades and patriotic speeches. At the evening, Presidential Independence Day reception is held and televised. Guests of the reception are members of the parliament and government of Finland, veterans, previous presidents, diplomats, otherwise distinguished individuals and famous Finns. During the day it is a custom to remember and honor veterans and those who we lost at wars. Another tradition is to light two candles on a window sill and turn the lights off at 6 pm.
Easter (4 day period in March- April)
Easter is church holiday for celebrating the resurrection of the Christ. People usually make Easter cards, decorate Easter Eggs and grow decorative grass. Easter is a time of many goodies, such as chocolate eggs and mämmi (Finnish Easter pudding). On Palm Sunday, children dress as witches and carry decorated willow’s sprigs. They go around houses and recite a special verse, give one of the sprigs and get a reward in return which can be chocolate, candy or a few coins.
Vappu, May Day ( 1st of May)
May Day is for celebrating International Worker’s Day and the soon ending spring. This is a holiday for students - even the old students put their graduation hats on. People enjoy the outdoors if the weather permits and usually restaurants and bars are full of people. Goods such as sima (mead), tippaleipä (funnel cake) and doughnuts are usually part of the celebration. Balloons and serpentine are popular decorations and some people might even wear fun costumes.
Juhannus Midsummer (Friday between 19th & 25th of June)
Finns usually spend midsummer at the countryside. They go to their cottages or either rent one. Typical traditions are going to sauna and lighting a bonfire. Some might even try to do midsummer magic, which can e.g. help you to see your future spouse in your dreams. Enjoying good food, company and drinks are essential parts of Finnish Midsummer.
Christmas (from 24th to 26th of December)
Christmas is a time of families and homes. People decorate with Christmas decorations, prepare traditional foods, listen to Christmas carols, go to sauna and enjoy the company of their loved ones. At midday of Christmas Eve, Turku (the former capital of Finland) declares the Christmas peace. Naturally Santa Claus can pay a visit and bring presents.