Finland was a province and then a grand duchy under Sweden from the 12th to the 19th centuries, and an autonomous grand duchy of Russia after 1809. It won its complete independence in 1917. During World War II, it was able to successfully defend its freedom and resist invasions by the Soviet Union - albeit with some loss of territory. In the subsequent half century, the Finns made a remarkable transformation from a farm/forest economy to a diversified modern industrial economy; per capita income is now on par with Western Europe. A member of the European Union since 1995, Finland was the only Nordic state to join the euro system at its initiation in January 1999.
territorial sea: 12 nm (in the Gulf of Finland - 3 nm) contiguous zone: 24 nm exclusive fishing zone: 12 nm; extends to continental shelf boundary with Sweden continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
name: Helsinki geographic coordinates: 60 10 N, 24 56 E time difference: UTC+2 (7 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time) daylight saving time: +1hr, begins last Sunday in March; ends last Sunday in October
chief of state: President Tarja HALONEN (since 1 March 2000) head of government: Prime Minister Matti VANHANEN (since 24 June 2003); Deputy Prime Minister Jyrki KATAINEN (since 19 April 2007) cabinet: Council of State or Valtioneuvosto appointed by the president, responsible to parliament elections: president elected by popular vote for a six-year term (eligible for a second term); election last held 15 January 2006 (next to be held in January 2012); the president appoints the prime minister and deputy prime minister from the majority party or the majority coalition after parliamentary elections and the parliament must approve the appointment; Prime Minister VANHANEN reelected 17 April 2007 election results: percent of vote - Tarja HALONEN (SDP) 46.3%, Sauli NIINISTO (Kok) 24.1%, Matti Vanhanen (Kesk) 18.6%, Heidi HAUTALA (VIHR) 3.5%; a runoff election between HALONEN and NIINISTO was held 29 January 2006 - HALONEN 51.8%, NIINISTO 48.2%; Matti VANHANEN relected prime minister; election results 121-71 note: government coalition - Kesk, SDP, and SFP
unicameral Parliament or Eduskunta (200 seats; members are elected by popular vote on a proportional basis to serve four-year terms) elections: last held 18 March 2007 (next to be held March 2011) election results: percent of vote by party - Kesk 23.1%, Kok 22.3%, SDP 21.4%, VAS 8.8%, VIHR 8.5%, KD 4.9%, SFP 4.5%, True Finns 4.1%, other 3.4%; seats by party - Kesk 51, Kok 50, SDP 45, VAS 17, VIHR 15, SFP 9, KD 7, True Finns 5, other 1
Center Party or Kesk [Matti VANHANEN]; Christian Democrats or KD [Paivi RASANEN]; Green Party or VIHR [Tarja CRONBERG]; Left Alliance or VAS [Martti KORHONEN] (composed of People's Democratic League and Democratic Alternative); National Coalition (conservative) Party or Kok [Jyrki KATAINEN]; Social Democratic Party or SDP [Eero HEINALUOMA]; Swedish People's Party or SFP [Stefan WALLIN]; True Finns [Timo SOINI]
Finland has a highly industrialized, largely free-market economy with per capita output roughly that of the UK, France, Germany, and Italy. Its key economic sector is manufacturing - principally the wood, metals, engineering, telecommunications, and electronics industries. Trade is important; exports equal two-fifths of GDP. Finland excels in high-tech exports, e.g., mobile phones. Except for timber and several minerals, Finland depends on imports of raw materials, energy, and some components for manufactured goods. Because of the climate, agricultural development is limited to maintaining self-sufficiency in basic products. Forestry, an important export earner, provides a secondary occupation for the rural population. High unemployment remains a persistent problem. In 2007 Russia announced plans to impose high tariffs on raw timber exported to Finland. The Finnish pulp and paper industry will be threatened if these duties are put into place in 2008 and 2009, and the matter is now being handled by the European Union.
euro (EUR) note: on 1 January 1999, the European Monetary Union introduced the euro as a common currency to be used by financial institutions of member countries; on 1 January 2002, the euro became the sole currency for everyday transactions within the member countries
general assessment: modern system with excellent service domestic: digital fiber-optic fixed-line network and an extensive cellular network provide domestic needs international: country code - 358; submarine cables provide links to Estonia and Sweden; satellite earth stations - access to Intelsat transmission service via a Swedish satellite earth station, 1 Inmarsat (Atlantic and Indian Ocean regions); note - Finland shares the Inmarsat earth station with the other Nordic countries (Denmark, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden)