A holiday in Finland is full of interesting contrasts. From the exciting city life of Helsinki, to its vast expanse of wilderness in Finnish Lapland, and from the midnight sun, to the period of near darkness in winter.
Finland – or ‘Suomi’ as it is known in Finnish – dates back to 8500 BC when the first settlers arrived after the last sheet of the Ice Age had receded.
Finland is one of the few countries in the world whose surface area is still expanding – by about 7 square kms per year – due to post-glacial rebound taking place since the last Ice Age. Located in the northernmost point of Europe, the country measures approx. 900 miles from north to south. It is bordered by Sweden on the west, Norway on the north and Russia in the east, and the combined border areas of these four countries make up the region known as ‘Lapland’ (home to around 7,000 Sami people), though Finnish Lapland is widely accepted to be the official home of ‘Santa Claus’.
It is a sparsely populated country with the majority of its 5.4 million inhabitants living in the southern region, approx 1 million in and around the capital Helsinki. Over 187,000 lakes and 179,000 islands including 35 National Parks comprise the mostly flat but thickly forested landscape making Finland an ideal holiday destination for nature lovers. Easily arranged activities include Nordic skiing, fishing, lake cruising, hiking, kayaking and bird watching. The Finns also love their saunas and there are over 1.8 million of them in the country. They say that the dream of every Finn is to have a little cottage on one of the islands where they can unwind, go fishing and heat up the sauna!
As a quarter of the country lies north of the Arctic Circle, the sun does not set at the northernmost point for 73 days during the summer, making the Midnight Sun another great attraction. Similarly the amazing Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) offer some of the best displays in the world, which can best be seen in the northern Lapland region.