The wars launched by Finland’s neighbours in their various attempts to conquer the country only ended in 1809, when Tsar Alexander I finally succeeded in seizing the country, making it a Grand Duchy of the Russian Empire. The Finns had to wait many years before Finland gained its independence.
Uspenski Cathedral, Helsinki © Office of the Finnish Tourist Board
- 1917 The Russian Revolution results in Finland’s independence on December 6th.
- 1918 Confrontation between the Red Guards, who favour a Bolshevik type revolution, and the White Guards, who favour the monarchy.
- 1919 Finland’s parliament adopts a new Constitution.
- 1920 Finland’s independence is recognised by the Soviet Union.
- 1932 Finland agrees to a non-aggression pact with the USSR.
- 1939 Finland declares its neutrality when the Second World War breaks out.
- 1941-1944 Finland finally becomes involved in the Second World War, siding with Germany against the Soviet Union.
- 1947 Signing of the Paris peace treaty: Finland loses territory and must pay heavy reparations.
- 1948 Signing of a treaty of friendship, co-operation and mutual assistance with the Soviet Union.
- 1955 Finland is admitted to the United Nations.
- 1973 Signing of a free trade agreement with the EEC.
- 1973-1975 Helsinki conference on security and co-operation in Europe.
- 1995 Finland joins the European Union.
- 2000 Tarja Halonen is the first woman to be elected as President of the Republic.
- 2003 The parliamentary elections are won by the center party, followed by the social democrats who set up a coalition government. In June, the parliament approves the appointment of Mr Vanhanen as Prime Minister.
- 2006 Tarja Halonen is reelected as Head of State
- 2010 Mari Kiviniemi (Center Party) becomes Head of Government
Helsinki was founded in 1550 by the King of Sweden, Gustav Vasa. Surrounded by the sea and many islands, Helsinki is one of the most charming cities in Finland. Ideal for visiting by bus, train, tram or metro, Helsinki is a town which remains very close to nature, with its parks and canals. Helsinki’s landscape is characterised by huge buildings, erected in various architectural styles ranging from neo-classicism to modern architecture, not forgetting art nouveau, national romanticism and functionalism. Built between 1925 and 1931, the parliament building is perhaps the most famous building in Finland. Other sites are also well worth a visit, such as the Senate Square, the Finlandia Hall where concerts and conferences are held, the Finnish National Opera, the Temppeliaukio Church, and the Seurasaari open-air museum. With its 96 kilometres of coastline and its 315 islands, Helsinki is the perfect tourist destination for anyone who enjoys the far north.
© Office of the Finnish Tourist Board
Born in 1952 in Tuupovaara, Ari Vatanen is a living legend in the international motor sports arena, and one of the most highly decorated racers in the world. He began competitive racing in 1971 at the age of 19 and took many international prizes. As a rally world champion in 1981, and a long distance rally champion in 1997, he also won the famous Paris-Dakar rally four times. Elected as a Member of the European Parliament in 1999, Ari Vatanen has taken a break from the racetrack to devote himself fully to politics and to his new European role. In June 2004, he was re-elected as a member of the European Parliament, but this time as part of a list of candidates for a constituency in southeastern France. Along with Daniel Cohn-Bendit, he is one of the few MEPs to have obtained a European mandate in two different countries. Despite these new functions, he continues to participate in competition racing, such as the Chamonix 24 Hours on Ice or the Paris-Dakar, in which he achieved a respectable 7th place in 2003.
Ari Vatanen, Member of the European Parliament © European Parliament
In Finland, the sauna is a national institution! There are more than 1.7 million saunas throughout the country. Invented by the Finns more than 2,000 years ago, saunas are today part of day-to-day life in Finland. The traditional sauna is made out of wood and comprises a small room equipped with rows of slatted seating at various heights and a stove on which large stones are heated. A sauna session involves throwing water on the hot stones in order to generate steam and to raise the temperature. The heat generated in this way relaxes your muscles and the sweating, brought about by rubbing birch twigs on the skin, opens your pores and cleans your body profoundly throughout. On the last row, the temperature can reach 90°. After a short time spent in this extreme heat, it is time to leave the room, and to freshen up in the nearby lake at about 3°. For the Finns, sauna sessions are a moment of fun and conviviality, and the perfect place to relax and recover from all the stresses of daily life.
© Office of the Finnish Tourist Board