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Location of Finland

Finland (Finnish: Suomi [ˈsuo̯mi] ; Swedish: Finland [ˈfɪ̌nland] ), officially the Republic of Finland (Finnish: Suomen tasavalta; Swedish: Republiken Finland; listen to all), is a Nordic country in Northern Europe. It borders 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, opposite Estonia. Finland covers an area of 338,145 square kilometres (130,559 sq mi) and has 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, with Swedish being the native language of 5.2% of the population. Finland's climate varies from humid continental in the south to boreal in the north. The land cover is predominantly boreal forest biome, with more than 180,000 recorded lakes.

Finland was first settled around 9000 BC after the last Ice Age. During the Stone Age, various cultures emerged, distinguished by different styles of ceramics. The Bronze Age and Iron Ages were marked by contacts with other cultures in Fennoscandia and the Baltic region. From the late 13th century, Finland became part of the Swedish Empire as a result of the Northern Crusades. In 1809, as a result of the Finnish War, Finland was captured from Sweden and became a Grand Duchy of Finland, an autonomous state ruled by the Russian Empire. During this period, Finnish art flourished and the idea of full 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. Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, Finland declared its full independence. In 1918 the young nation was divided by the Finnish Civil War. During World War II, Finland fought against the Soviet Union in the Winter War and the Continuation War, and later against Nazi Germany in the Lapland War. As a result, it lost parts of its territory but retained its independence. (Full article...)

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View of central Helsinki along the Mannerheimintie

Helsinki (/ˈhɛlsɪŋki/ HEL-sink-ee or /hɛlˈsɪŋki/ hel-SINK-ee; Finnish: [ˈhelsiŋki] ; Swedish: Helsingfors, Finland Swedish: [helsiŋˈforːs] ) is the capital, largest and most populous city in Finland. Located on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, it is the seat of the Uusimaa region in southern Finland and has a population of 674,963. The city's urban area has a population of 1,360,075, making it by far the most populous urban area in Finland and the country's most important centre for politics, education, finance, culture and research. Helsinki is located 80 kilometres (50 mi) north of Tallinn, Estonia, 400 km (250 mi) east of Stockholm, Sweden, and 300 km (190 mi) west of Saint Petersburg, Russia. It has close historical links with these three cities.

Together with the cities of Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen – and surrounding commuter towns, including the neighbouring municipality of Sipoo to the east – Helsinki forms the Greater Helsinki Metropolitan Area. It has a population of 1,641,329. Often considered Finland's only metropolis, it is the world's northernmost metropolitan area with over one million inhabitants and the northernmost capital of an EU member state. Helsinki is the third largest municipality in the Nordic countries after Stockholm and Oslo, and its urban area is the second largest in the Nordic countries after Stockholm. The official languages are Finnish and Swedish. The city is served by Helsinki Airport, located in the neighbouring city of Vantaa, with frequent flights to many destinations in Europe, North America and Asia. (Full article...)
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Snow-covered landscape in Isokuru, Pyhä-Luosto National Park.

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Helena Aalto (b. 1898) and Elli Vuokko (b. 1890) of the Turku Women's Guard, both executed in May 1918

All-female units of the paramilitary Red Guards served in the 1918 Finnish Civil War. The first Women's Guards units formed in early February in the main Finnish cities. More than 15 female Guards units were established by the end of March 1918, with a total of about 2,000 women serving. The female Guards units consisted of young industrial workers, maids, and servants. Their average age was about 20, but some were as young as 14. The women served in auxiliary units in combat.

By joining the Red Guards, women stepped out of their traditional role in Finnish society and were demonized by the Whites, the anti-Communist paramilitary. The Red commanders were reluctant to commit the female Guards units to battle and usually held them in reserve. Towards the end of the war, several saw combat. During the Battle of Tampere, the city hall was the last pocket of Red resistance; there is a legend that this was because while the male defenders wanted to capitulate, the Tampere Women's Red Guard insisted on fighting to the end. (Full article...)
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In the news

27 January 2024 – Israel–Hamas war
The United Kingdom, United States, Australia, Italy, Canada, Finland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Germany suspend humanitarian aid to UNRWA over allegations that some UNRWA staff members were involved in the Hamas-led attack on Israel. (BBC News) (CBS News)
14 December 2023 – Finland–United States relations
Finland announces the creation of a defense cooperation agreement with the United States. The agreement will grant Finland access to American military resources for use in defensive operations, while the US will gain military access to Finland in the event of conflict. (Reuters)
29 November 2023 – Finland–Poland relations, Finland–Russia relations
National Security Bureau chief Jacek Siewiera announces that Poland will send "a team of military advisors" to the Finland–Russia border in response to an official request for allied support. Finland says it was unaware of the Polish offer. Russia warns against the move, viewing the concentration of troops on the border as a threat. (Reuters)
28 November 2023 – Finland–Russia relations
Finland closes the entire border with Russia after accusing the Russian government of facilitating the entry of asylum seekers into the country. (The Guardian)
22 November 2023 – Finland–Russia relations
Finnish Prime Minister Petteri Orpo announces that Finland will close all but the northernmost border crossing with Russia, amid an increase in asylum seekers entering Finland via Russia. (Reuters)
10 October 2023 –
Finland reports that damage to the Balticconnector submarine pipeline connecting Finland and Estonia is being investigated as either an act of sabotage or accidental damage after officials ruled out a simple malfunction. (The Telegraph)

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View of Lake Pielinen in Koli National Park
View of Lake Pielinen in Koli National Park
Photo credit: commons:User:KFP
Panorama of Lake Pielinen from a hill in Koli National Park, Finland

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