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Location of Finland
Location of Finland

Finland (Finnish: Suomi [ˈsuo̯mi] (About this soundlisten); Swedish: Finland [ˈfɪ̌nland] (About this soundlisten)), officially the Republic of Finland (Finnish: Suomen tasavalta; Swedish: Republiken Finland (listen to all)), is a Nordic country and a member state of the European Union in Northern Europe. It shares land borders with Sweden to the west, Russia to the east, Norway to the north, and is defined by the Gulf of Bothnia to the west, and the Gulf of Finland of the Baltic Sea across Estonia to the south. Finland covers an area of 338,455 square kilometres (130,678 sq mi), with a population of 5.5 million. Helsinki is the country's capital and largest city, but together with the neighbouring cities of Espoo, Kauniainen, and Vantaa, it forms a larger metropolitan area. Finland is officially bilingual, with Finnish and Swedish being official. The climate varies relative to latitude, from the southern humid continental climate to the northern boreal climate. The land cover is primarily a boreal forest biome, with more than 180,000 recorded lakes.

Finland was inhabited around 9000 BC after the Last glacial period. The Stone Age introduced several different ceramic styles and cultures. The Bronze Age and Iron Age were characterized by extensive contacts with other cultures in Fennoscandia and the Baltic region. From the late 13th century, Finland gradually became an integral part of Sweden as a consequence of the Northern Crusades. In 1809, as a result of the Finnish War, Finland was annexed by Russia as the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland, during which Finnish art flourished and the idea of independence began to take hold. In 1906, Finland became the first European state to grant universal suffrage, and the first in the world to give all adult citizens the right to run for public office. Nicholas II, the last Tsar of Russia, tried to russify Finland and terminate its political autonomy, but after the 1917 Russian Revolution, Finland declared independence from Russia. In 1918, the fledgling state was divided by the Finnish Civil War. During World War II, Finland fought the Soviet Union in the Winter War and the Continuation War, and Nazi Germany in the Lapland War. After the wars, Finland lost parts of its territory, including the culturally and historically significant town of Vyborg, but maintained its independence. (Full article...)

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Gyromitra esculenta /ˌrˈmtrə ˌɛskjəˈlɛntə, ˌɪrə-/ is an ascomycete fungus from the genus Gyromitra, widely distributed across Europe and North America. It normally fruits in sandy soils under coniferous trees in spring and early summer. The fruiting body, or mushroom, is an irregular brain-shaped cap dark brown in colour that can reach 10 centimetres (4 inches) high and 15 cm (6 in) wide, perched on a stout white stipe up to 6 cm (2+12 in) high.

Although potentially fatal if eaten raw, Gyromitra esculenta is a popular delicacy in Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, and the upper Great Lakes region of North America. Although popular in some districts of the eastern Pyrenees, it is prohibited from sale to the public in Spain. It may be sold fresh in Finland, but it must be accompanied by warnings and instructions on correct preparation. (Full article...)
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Photo credit: Christopher Batt
Juuso Pykälistö in his Peugeot 206 WRC during the 2003 Swedish Rally.

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A scene of the Kauhajoki vocational college campus a few hours after the shooting
A scene of the Kauhajoki vocational college campus a few hours after the shooting

The Kauhajoki school shooting occurred on 23 September 2008, at the Seinäjoki University of Applied Sciences (SeAMK) in Kauhajoki, in the former province of Western Finland. The gunman, 22-year-old student Matti Juhani Saari, shot and killed ten people with a Walther P22 Target semi-automatic pistol, before shooting himself in the head. He died a few hours later at Tampere University Hospital. One woman was injured but was in a stable condition.

The shooting took place at the Kauhajoki School of Hospitality, owned by the Seinäjoki Municipal Federation of Education. The facilities and campus were shared between SeAMK and the Seinäjoki Vocational Education Centre – Sedu. Saari was a second-year student in a Hospitality Management undergraduate degree programme. The incident was the second school shooting in less than a year in Finland, the other being the Jokela school shooting in November 2007, in which nine people including the gunman died. Before that, only one other school shooting had taken place in the country's history, in Rauma in 1989, leaving two people dead. (Full article...)
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Panoramic photo shot of Jyväskylä, Finland
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