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Location of Finland
Location of Finland

Finland (Finnish: Suomi [ˈsuo̯mi] (listen); Swedish: Finland [ˈfɪ̌nland] (listen)), officially the Republic of Finland (Finnish: Suomen tasavalta; Swedish: Republiken Finland (listen to all)), is a Nordic country in Northern Europe. It shares land borders with Sweden to the northwest, Norway to the north, and Russia to the east, with the Gulf of Bothnia to the west and the Gulf of Finland to the south, across from Estonia. Finland covers an area of 338,455 square kilometres (130,678 sq mi) with a population of 5.6 million. Helsinki is the capital and largest city. The vast majority of the population are ethnic Finns. Finnish and Swedish are the official languages, Swedish is the native language of 5.2% of the population. Finland's climate varies from humid continental in the south to the boreal in the north. The land cover is primarily a boreal forest biome, with more than 180,000 recorded lakes.

Finland was first 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 contacts with other cultures in Fennoscandia and the Baltic region. From the late 13th century, Finland became a part of Sweden as a consequence of the Northern Crusades. In 1809, as a result of the Finnish War, Finland became part of the Russian Empire 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. 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. It subsequently lost parts of its territory, but maintained its independence. (Full article...)

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Ahtisaari in 2012

Martti Oiva Kalevi Ahtisaari (Finnish: [ˈmɑrtːi ˈʔoi̯ʋɑ ˈkɑleʋi ˈʔɑhtisɑːri] (listen); born 23 June 1937) is a Finnish politician, the tenth president of Finland (1994–2000), a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and a United Nations diplomat and mediator noted for his international peace work.

Ahtisaari was a United Nations special envoy for Kosovo, charged with organizing the Kosovo status process negotiations, aimed at resolving a long-running dispute in Kosovo, which later declared its independence from Serbia in 2008. In October 2008, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize "for his important efforts, on several continents and over more than three decades, to resolve international conflicts". The Nobel statement said that Ahtisaari had played a prominent role in resolving serious and long-lasting conflicts, including ones in Namibia, Aceh (Indonesia), Kosovo and Serbia, and Iraq. (Full article...)
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Mika Häkkinen driving a Mercedes-Benz DTM racing car at Stars and Cars in Stuttgart, Germany.

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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, 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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View from the water tower in Hanko, Finland
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Panoramic photo shot from the water tower in Hanko, Finland

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