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Finland - History

Finland, a province and a grand duchy of the Swedish kingdom from the 1150s to 1809 and an autonomous grand duchy of Russia from 1809 until the Russian Revolution in 1917, has been an independent republic since 1917. Ancestors of present-day Finns—hunters, trappers, agriculturists�me to Finland by way of the Baltic regions during the first centuries AD , spreading slowly from south and west to east and north. Swedish control over Finnish territory was established gradually beginning in the 12th century in a number of religious crusades. By 1293, Swedish rule had extended as far east as Karelia (Karjala), with colonization by Swedes in the southwest and along the Gulf of Bothnia. As early as 1362, Finland as an eastern province of Sweden received the right to send representatives to the election of the Swedish king. On the basis of the Swedish constitution, Finland's four estates—nobles, clergy, burghers and peasant farmers—were also entitled to send representatives to the Diet in Stockholm. As a result of over six centuries of Swedish rule, Finnish political institutions and processes (marked by growing constitutionalism and self-government), economic life, and social order developed largely along Swedish lines. Swedish colonization in Finland was concentrated in the southern and western regions of Finland.

When Sweden was a great power in European politics in the 17th century, Finland and the Finns bore a heavy military burden. Finland was a battleground between the Swedes and Russia, whose encroachments on southeastern Sweden were persistent as Swedish power declined in the 18th century. After Sweden's military defeat in the Napoleonic wars of 1808�, sovereignty over Finland was transferred to Russia from Sweden after Napoleon and Tsar Alexander I concluded the Peace of Tilsit. Under the Russian rule of Alexander I, Finland was granted a privileged autonomous status that enabled Finland to continue the grand duchy's constitutional heritage. Alexander I, like his successors, took a solemn oath to Ȭonfirm and ratify the Lutheran religion and fundamental laws of the land as well as the privileges and rights which each class and all the inhabitants have hitherto enjoyed according to the constitution." Toward the end of the 19th century, a Russian drive to destroy Finland's autonomy ushered in several decades of strained relations and galvanized the burgeoning nationalist movement. Culturally, the nationalist movement in Finland was split linguistically between the Fennomen who advocated Finnish language and culture and the Svecomen who promoted the continued dominance of Swedish. By the end of the 19th century, the Fennomen had gained the upper hand. In Russia's Revolution of 1905, Finland managed to extract concessions that included the creation of a modern, unicameral parliament with representatives elected through universal suffrage, including women. Thus, Finland was the first European country to offer women political suffrage at the national level. After the Bolshevik seizure of power in Russia in the late fall of 1917, Finland declared its independence on 6 December. A short civil war ensued (28 January� May 1918) between the Red faction supported by the Soviet Bolsheviks and the White faction supported by Germany. The White forces, led by General Mannerheim, were victorious, but Finland was forced to reorient its alliances toward the western allies when Germany was defeated in WWI.

In July 1919, Finland became a democratic parliamentary republic. In the nearly two decades of peace following the settlement of disputes with Sweden (over the Åland Islands) and the former USSR (East Karelia) there were noteworthy economic and social advances. Despite its neutral pro-Scandinavianism in the 1930s and support for the collective security provisions of the League of Nations, the country was unavoidably entangled in the worsening relations between the great powers. Negotiations with the former USSR, which demanded certain security provisions or

territorial concessions, broke down in 1939, and two wars with the USSR ensued. The Winter War, lasting from 30 November 1939 to 13 March 1940, ended only when Finland ceded areas of southeastern Finland and the outer islands of the Gulf of Finland to the Soviets. However, Finland watched warily as the Soviets annexed the independent Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. After appeals to western allies went unfulfilled, Finland turned toward Germany for protection, and when Germany attacked the USSR on 26 June 1941, Finland entered the war on the German side. During the early part of the Continuation War, which lasted from 26 June 1941 to 19 September 1944, the Finns pushed the Soviets back to the old frontier lines and held that position for nearly three years. In 1944, a Russian counterattack forced Finland to ask for peace. The armistice terms of 1944, later confirmed by the Paris Peace Treaty of 10 February 1947, provided for cession of territory and payment of reparations to the Soviets and required Finland to expel the German troops on its soil this resulted in German-Finnish hostilities from October 1944 to April 1945. Under the 1947 peace treaty Finland ceded some 12% of its territory to the USSR, imprisoned several prominent politicians, reduced its armed forces, and undertook to pay heavy economic reparations. A Soviet naval base was established only 25 km from Helsinki. A separate Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance, concluded in 1948 under heavy Soviet pressure, obligated Finland to resist attacks on itself or the USSR and in effect precluded Finland from undertaking any significant foreign policy initiative without the Kremlin's approval.

Finland's postwar policy, based on the Paasikivi Line named for the president that formulated the policy, has been termed dismissively as ȯinlandization." It is true that Finland maintained a scrupulous and cautious policy of neutrality in foreign affairs. However, after 1955, when the Soviets withdrew from their Finnish base, Finland became an increasingly active member of the United Nations and the Nordic Council, as well as various Western economic organizations. Despite Soviet pressure, the Finnish Communist Party steadily declined in influence. Finland's standing was further enhanced by the signing of the 1975 Helsinki treaty, which called for pan-European cooperation in security, economic, political, and human rights matters. The dominant figure of postwar politics was Urho Kekkonen, the Agrarian (later Center) Party leader who held the presidency from 1956 to 1981, when he resigned because of ill health. The cornerstone of his policy was maintenance of a center-left coalition (including the Communists), good relations with the former USSR, and a foreign policy of ⊬tive neutrality."

Despite the negative connotations, ȯinlandization" was something of a success. Unlike the Baltic states, Finland maintained sovereign independence and even managed to prosper in the post-WWII environment. Postwar political stability allowed a striking economic expansion and transformation in Finland. In 1950, nearly 70% of Finns worked on the land now that figure is about 6%. Kekkonen's long rule ended in a resignation owing to ill health and the Social Democratic leader Mauno Koivisto, then prime minister, became acting president in October 1981. Koivisto was elected president in his own right in January 1982 and reelected in 1988.

Koivisto tenure as president ended in 1994. In the presidential elections of February 1994 when voters for the first time directly elected the president, Martti Ahtisaari, former UN mediator and of the Finnish Social Democratic Party, defeated Elisabeth Rehn (Defense Minister) of the Swedish People's Party in a runoff election. Ahtisaari chose not to run for reelection in 2000, and in that contest no fewer than five candidates for the presidency were women. On 6 February 2000, Finns elected their first female president, Tarja Halonen, the Social Democratic Foreign Minister in the Lipponen government, who won 51.6% of the vote in a runoff electoral contest with Esko Aho, leader of the Center Party.

Finland faced a deep recession brought about in part by the collapse of the Soviet market that accounted for 20% of Finnish exports. During 1991�, the recession pushed unemployment up to nearly 20%. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the dissolution of the FCMA Treaty by mutual agreement of Finland and the USSR prompted Finland to reassess its relationship with Europe. In March 1994, Finland completed negotiations for membership in the EU. Finland's relationship with the EU was a major issue of political debate even within the governing coalition. Following a referendum held in October 1994 with 57% approval, Finland formally joined the EU at the beginning of 1995. Finland also joined the European economic and monetary union in 1999, and adopted the euro as its currency in2002.Beyond Finlandization: Finland and the European Union

While a relative newcomer to European politics, Finland entered the political limelight as they took over the six-month rotating presidency of the European Union in the second half of1999. The priorities of the Finnish presidency included a number of pressing issues: preparing for institutional reform necessary prior to enlargement of the Union increasing the transparency of the functioning of EU institutions boosting employment and deepening the social dimension of European cooperation environmental responsibility and finally, in the area of foreign policy, the Finns championed the "Northern Dimension" which would extend a number of cooperative schemes to include the EU and non-EU countries along the Baltic, including increased ties with northwestern Russia. Though highly touted, this last initiative foundered as Europe continued to be preoccupied with the ongoing NATO efforts in Kosovo. At the presidency's concluding summit (December 1999) of the European Council in Helsinki, the Finns could nonetheless point to a number of successes under their presidency. The groundwork for opening accession negotiations with six more applicant countries from Eastern Europe and recognizing Turkey's applicant status were approved by the 15 heads of state. In addition, the European Council approved the establishment of a rapid reaction force outside the structure of NATO, which would allow Europe to have an independent capacity to react in areas in which NATO was not engaged. This was an important accomplishment for Finland, whose neutral status makes participation in NATO actions problematic. However, in recent years, Finland has considered NATO membership its military policy calls for increased cooperation with and participation in NATO and EU-led operations, including NATO's "Partnership for Peace" program. The issue of Finland's support for the US-led war in Iraq that began on 19 March 2003 was a deciding factor in the 16 March parliamentary elections. Opposition leader Anneli Jäätteenmäki accused sitting Prime Minister Paavo Lipponen of moving Finland too close to the US position on the use of military force to disarm Iraq, and her party went on to win the elections, albeit by a slim majority. Finland donated 1.6 million euros for humanitarian aid in Iraq.

1) One of the Viking sagas is about a feisty Finnish princess who strangled a king with a golden chain

The Heimskringla [the best known of the Old Norse kings’ sagas, written c1230] includes the story of Skjalv, daughter of the Finnish King Froste. After defeating her father, King Agne dragged Skjalv back to Sweden to serve as a concubine.

Skjalv, however, waited until the drunken Ingemar was asleep, and then strangled him with his golden chain, Jabba the Hutt-style. His corpse was found hoisted into a tree.

Finland: the Viking Ages

Viking Age Finland is a topic which is rarely discussed when talking about Finnish history. In schools, pupils learn next to nothing about pre-Medieval Finnish society. Also, historians have been rather reluctant to deal with the topic in-depth in recent years, and so very few works have emerged. It is almost as if it were taboo.

1.0 Western Finland
1.1 Introduction

NOTE: The terms might be somewhat confusing, so to make it a bit clearer, I will avoid using the word "Finnish" to describe the Finnic tribes of Finland in general. The term Finn and Finnish is going to refer to the particular tribe, although in some cases it is impossible to avoid using it to refer to the tribes in general. I have tried to make it obvious from the context which meaning is implied.

Ahvenanmaa, or the Åland Islands, began to 'Germanicize' and became dominantly Germanic in culture and language by the end of the Viking age, although people settled there from both east and west, as well as south (Ests from Estonia and most likely Saaremaa).

2.0 Eastern Finland

As the eastern trade routes increased in importance, so did the favourability of the position of the Karelian Culture. It seems evident, that the Karelians thrived from the eastern trade, and that they grew wealthy from it. As Novgorod began to become a major power in the region, it seems that Novgorod and Karelia became allies. Once again, the difference between alliance and vassalization is not always clear, but Karelia did not pay tribute to Novgorod by the mid-12th century, so it can be assumed, that they were independent. As a part of trading, the Karelians are assumed to have quite actively hunted for furs and taxed the Sámi population of the north. They are mentioned in the Viking Sagas as having been active in the north, and to have clashed with the Kvens and the Norwegians. Another centre of trade might have been Bjarmia or Perm, but very little is known for certain about it. The Viking Sagas mention it as a major place of trade, and many other historical sources mention as well, but it is impossible to say anything for certain about it, as its exact location has not been found, but it thought to be on the coast of the White Sea. One theory suggests, that "Bjarmian" did not refer to a people as such, but to a trade: merchants. This theory is argued by Kustaa Vilkuna, and it is supported by the fact, that there are said to have existed two Bjarmias. One around the south shores of Lake Ladoga, and one in Viena Karelia. Also, the Veps are supposed to have used the term "Bjarmian" for some merchants up to relatively recent times. However, as evidence is scarce, it leaves much room for guessing and speculation. I personally think that Bjarmia was a Karelian settlement, or may be a large market place, with settlements further away (as was the custom on unsafe shores). There are simply too many mentions of it in historical documents, even such details as what gods the Bjarms are supposed to have worshipped. One particular god which comes up is 'Jomali' or 'jomala', which is undoubtedly a Finnic god. The vast majority of historians agree, that the Bjarmians most certainly were a Finnic people, probably Karelians. The name Bjarmia is most likely a distorted Scandinavian form of the name "Perm" which is present in many of the local place names in the region. Perm again might come from "Perä-Maa" bening "Back land" or the "Country Beyond". The origin of the name however is uncertain, and cannot be known for sure. References to Bjarmia vanish around the Mongol invasions of Russia, and it is thought that this is one of the reason for the destruction of Bjarmia. Norwegian Sagas record, that many Bjarmians escaped to Norway.

As far as political organisation in late pre-historic Karelia is concerned, it would seem, that as Karelia grew in wealth it also grew in organization. The surroundings of Käkisalmi is quite heavily fortified, with over 20 hill-forts dotting the western shores of Lake Ladoga. As is the case with Tavastians, those forts had to be manned and kept in condition. As is the case with the Tavastians, however, the large number and small distance between the forts can also be interpreted as a very splintered and weakly organized community. A comparison has been made to the Celts of the Classical times, disorganized between themselves, and therefore unable to counter outside pressure effectively.

Also, the Novgorodian Chronicles often refer to their Karelian allies, and they remain as 'allies' all the way until 1269, when Novgorod is thought to have strengthened their grip on Karelia. So, if the Karelians were independent from Novgorod, as it would seem, and yet they provided man power to go on raids into Tavastia and to fight western Finnic invaders as well as the expansionist Swedes, it can be assumed, that some sort of governing body decided to provide this man power, unless the men joined out completely free will (most probably some did in the hope of war booty). The coordination does hint at some greater decision-making body of some sort, although the archaeological finds say nothing about this. I personally believe, that Karelia was indeed beginning to form into a united entity, at least the Käkisalmi region down to the isthmus, but that this development was cut short by the expansionist Swedes and Novgorodians, who over-whelmed the Karelians stuck between a rock and a hard place. Karelia did regain temporary freedom from Novgorod again in 1278, when the city was suffering from internal strife, and taking advantage of this, the Karelians are told to have rebelled. This freedom was short-lived, however

3.0 Hill-forts, ancient places of refuge
3.1 Introduction

The walls of Rapola were made of rock and timber and there are traces of a wooden embattlements on the walls, where the defenders could stand. The gates were quite strong, especially the southern gate is thought to have been very tough. It is thought that the village of Rapola was home to the ancient Tavastian tribal chiefs, and therefore it is also the home to the greatest fort in Finland. A letter from the Pope Benedictus XII caught the attention of historians, because it, written in 1340, names one of the hosts of the Rapala 'castle' as Cuningas de Rapalum, King of Rapola. It is interesting, because at this time it is thought that the area had already for long been under Swedish control, and yet, a tribal chieftan, calling himself king of Rapola, is in charge of the Rapola 'castle'. The Pope uses the word Cuningas, which is Finnish, not Swedish

4.0 Warfare in late iron-age Finland

When we combine the information we do have, regarding weaponry and armour, culture, terrain and historical documents, a picture begins to emerge. A tribal warrior was probably most likely a very individual fighter, which might be brake the cohesion of larger war bands. The tribal warrior was also armed with a variety of weapons, many of which were ranged weapons, so it can be assumed, that the tribal warrior would first attempt weaken his enemy before engaging in a hand to hand fight. The level of organisation within larger forces must have been quite low, as the Novgorodian chronicles suggest (splitting of forces, etc), and therefore the tribes are not very likely to have engaged in very many pitched battles, as these require a somewhat cohesive command structure. So, a tribal war band on the attack/on a war raid was most likely a disorganized force, probably avoiding battle but targeting defenceless settlements. On the defence, the troops might have had a degree of more cohesion, as they were defending their homes and families, and probably realised, that working together was vital for survival. This is all strictly speculation, which rests on archaeological finds and historical documents

5.0 Beliefs and Religious life in Viking Age Finland

Finland History

Humans have lived in what is now modern-day Finland for some 10,000 years, which makes the history of Finland a long one. The earliest settlers, who were hunters and gatherers, slowly gave way to more agriculturally-minded societies, though hunting and fishing remained key components of the overall economy. Between the years 1,500 B.C. and 1,200 A.D., the people living in Finland mixed heavily with other cultures from both the Baltic region and the Scandinavian area, which undoubtedly helped to shape Finnish culture as we now know it. During those times, Finland was far from becoming a country, and it lingered on for centuries, its people most likely aware of the simmering tensions between Sweden to the west and Russia to the east.

By the thirteenth century, Sweden began to take interest in the lands that now pertain to Finland, so much so that they claimed them for themselves. During this period in Finland history, Swedish was the official language, and it was mostly priests, the local courts, and peasants who maintained the Finnish tongue. The city of Turku, which is found in southwestern Finland on the Baltic coast, became the administrative hub of the newfound Swedish territory, and the Bishop of Turku was more or less its leader. By 1280, the Turku Castle was built, and it became the main administrative center in the Finnish lands. The castle still stands to this day, thanks to renovations, and it continues to be the most important castle in the country, especially when it comes to the history of Finland. In the year 1300, the Turku Cathedral was dedicated, and though it was damaged by the city&rsquos 1827 fire, it too has been restored and can still be visited to this day. Catholicism was the main religion in the early days of Swedish rule in Finland, though Finnish culture would eventually change.

The history of Finland in the sixteenth century was influenced by the fact that monarchs in Scandinavia began to adopt Lutheranism in place of Catholicism. This period was known as the Reformation, and it affected much of northwestern Europe. Finnish culture evolved in many ways in the sixteenth century, and a push towards higher learning eventually resulted in the founding of Finland&rsquos first university. The Royal Academy of Turku was founded in 1640, and it appeared that Sweden was making quite a lot of progress in its new lands. The possibility of invasions from Russia certainly weighed on the minds of the Swedish crown and those living in Finland at the time, however, and other castles were built across the land to help protect Sweden&rsquos main Finnish settlements. Between the years 1696 and 1697, however, a significant event occurred in Finnish history, halting much of the progress that Finland was making. Famine struck, and it struck hard. One-third of the people in Finland perished, and the 1700s would not bring much better times. You can learn more about these early times in Finland history at the Turku Castle&rsquos historical museum. It is one of the most highly-visited museums in Finland, and for good reason.

Finland Map

Twice in the 1700s, Russia invaded and occupied Finland. It wasn&rsquot until 1809, however, that Russia assumed a more lengthy period of control. It did so after winning the Finnish War, which lasted almost two years. Sweden handed over its eastern third to Russia, which included Finland, and again, the culture of Finland changed significantly. The Finnish lands became the Grand Duchy of Finland, and in 1812, Helsinki, which had been nothing more than a small coastal town under Swedish rule, became the new capital. It replaced the old, unofficial capital of Turku. Helsinki rapidly grew after becoming the capital of the Grand Duchy of Finland, and among the major city landmarks that were built during that time are the Helsinki Cathedral and the Uspenski Cathedral. It is interesting to note the predominantly Russian look of the Uspenski Cathedral, which gives testament to the era in Finland history when Russia ruled the land.

Finnish autonomy was constantly restricted by Russia in the 1800s, which only helped to fuel the fire of rebellion. Aiding in the Finnish plight for freedom was the fall of the Czar of Russia, which occurred in tandem with the 1917 Communist Revolution. With a weakened Russia reeling from its blows, the Finnish senate took the opportunity to declare independence. They did so on December 6, 1917, and an ugly civil war came soon after. A period of relative peace followed, though Finland history again saw Russia attempt a rematch, so to speak. A war in northern Finland broke out in 1939, resulting in the loss of some Finnish lands to Russia, and German troops were called upon by the Finns to help keep the Russians at bay. After growing tired of the Germans, Finland again had to fight, this time to rid the northern Lapland region of German forces. Upon retreating, the Germans laid waste to much of Finnish Lapland. As such, there are barely any surviving edifices in Lapland of any real historic value.

The recent history of Finland is a much more peaceful one. Nowadays, Finns enjoy a quality of life that is hard to match and the Finnish culture is alive and well. Tourism continues to increase in Finland, as more and more people become aware of all that Finnish culture and travel have to offer. So, the next time you think of visiting Europe, consider Finland. You won&rsquot be disappointed if you come here. This European Union member country welcomes visitors with open arms, and there are so many fun things to do in Finland, including learning more about its history at its various regional museums.


Finland becomes part of Sweden Edit

The starting point of the Swedish rule is under a large amount of uncertainty. It is connected to the efforts of the Catholic Church to expand the faith in the Eastern Baltic Sea region and to Northern Crusades.

According to the legend of Eric the Holy, written in the 1270s, the King of Sweden Eric the Holy and English bishop Henry made the first Swedish crusade to southwest Finland in the 1150s. According to the chronicle and other fabulous sources, the bishop Henry was converting people to Christianity in the areas of Finland Proper and Satakunta during the crusade. The crusade is not considered to be a real event. [13] [14] Also, the Christianisation of the South-western part of Finland is known to have already started in the 10th century, and in the 12th century, the area was probably almost entirely Christian. [15] According to Eric Chronicles Swedish kingdom, which was only starting to form, made two crusades to Finland in the 13th century. The so-called Second Crusade against Tavastians in 1249-1250 and the so-called Third Crusade against Karelians in 1293. According to historical sources, the reason for the crusades besides spreading catholic faith, were the numerous raids that heathen Finnish tribes made to Sweden. Pope Alexander IV even accepted marriage between Swedish king Valdemar and Sophia, daughter of Danish king Eric IV, so they could better repel heathen attacks. [16] [17]

By the 14th century, with the successful crusades and the partly colonisation of Finnish coastline with Christian Swedish colonists, what is now Western and Southern Finland and the Karelian isthmus, had become part of Sweden, Catholic Church and the Uppsala diocese. Eastern Karelia, the Käkisalmi region and the Ladoga Karelia retained their ties to the Orthodox Church and to Novgorod.

The Treaty of Nöteborg, made in 1323 between Sweden and Novgorod, was the first treaty that defined the eastern boundary of the Swedish realm and Finland at least for Karelia. The boundary in northern Finland remained unclear. However, Sweden annexed the Finnish population on the shores of Northern Ostrobothnia in the 14th century to its realm.

Finland as part of the Kingdom of Sweden Edit

To help establish the power of the King of Sweden, three castles were built: the Turku Castle in Finland Proper, the Häme Castle in Tavastia and the Vyborg Castle in Karelia. In mediaeval times the castles were important for the defence of Finland and they also acted as government centers in Finland. The government area surrounding a castle was called a slottslän (linnalääni in Finnish). Sweden was an electoral kingdom in mediaeval times and the election was held at the stones of Mora. Finland also received the right to send their representative to the election in 1362, which shows the established role of Finland as part of Sweden. The development of government and justice had a large role in the law established during the reign of king Magnus IV of Sweden.

In mediaeval times, the historical regions of Finland Proper and Satakunta were part of the central area of the Swedish government and retained the ties to Scandinavia they had formed already during prehistory. In Southwest Finland, Tavastia, southern Karelia there was permanent agricultural population, which gradually condensed and spread to a larger area. The spreading and establishment of the new population in Middle and North Ostrobothnia was one of the most notable events in the history of the Finnish population during the mediaeval ages. In Åland, the Turku archipelago and the coastal regions of Ostrobothnia and Nylandia there also was a Swedish-speaking population. In the mediaeval ages, peasants were by far the largest population group in Finland. A large part of the area of current Finland was a wilderness in mediaeval times, where people from Satakunta, Tavastia and Karelia held hunting trips, and which was inhabited by Lapps, at least some of which spoke Sami. The wilderness was not part of any government area in practical terms.

In the early times of the Swedish rule, official government documents were often written in Latin, which emphasised the role of the clergy also in secular government. The use of old Swedish as a written government language increased during the 14th century. In local governments in cities, particularly concerning international trade, the Middle Low German language was also largely used. It is however impossible to present accurate approximations of the relations of different languages in mediaeval times.

The countryside and cities Edit

Unlike the situation in central Europe, peasants in Sweden were free and feudalism never developed in the Swedish realm in the proportion it did in central Europe. The local government was based on local settlements (socken) and parishes in the countryside.

In the medieval times, the concept of cities was introduced to Finland. The bourgeoisie living in the cities, such as merchants and handicraft workers, only represented a small part of the population. The most important mediaeval cities in Finland were Turku and Viipuri. Other cities were Naantali, Rauma, Ulvila and Porvoo. Faraway trade in Finland and other Nordic countries in the mediaeval times was mostly in the hands of German Hanseatic League merchants and as such a significant portion of the bourgeoisie in Turku and Viipuri were Germans. In cities, the local government was in the hands of a court led by a mayor.

The frälse Edit

The Ordinance of Alsnö, given during the reign of Magnus III of Sweden, established a small secular frälse (Finnish: rälssi) or nobility, freed from tax, in Sweden and Finland in 1280. The spiritual frälse meant spiritual people who were exempt from paying tax to the secular government (such as priests, nuns and beggar brothers).

The parishes of the Catholic church in the area of Finland belonged to the Archdiocese of Turku. The bishop of Turku, the head of the diocese, had as well as power over the church, a large amount of secular power, and he was a member of the Privy Council of Sweden. One of the most notable mediaeval bishops of Turku was Magnus II Tavast, who held the office from 1412 to 1450. The spiritual frälse were the educated, literate intellectuals in mediaeval Finland. Its members had often attended the Turku cathedral school and some had also studied in foreign universities.

The age of the Kalmar Union Edit

Finland as part of the Kalmar Union Edit

The Nordic Kalmar Union was founded by Queen of Denmark Margaret I in 1397. In practice, conflicts arose within the union, as the Swedish high classes with their expansion policy were interested in the east, the direction of Russia, whereas the Danish were more interested in the south – the direction of the German lands. There were also internal conflicts between the high class of individual nations. The struggle to power was not only the result of "foreign political" differences in modern parlance.

Even in the union age, Finland did not form a continuous governmental area but was divided into two separate governmental districts. Viipuri acted as a significant, sometimes almost independent centre, whereas Turku was a more integral part of the governmental area of the central authority. According to Kauko Pirinen, "In the decentralised union nation Finland was also decentralised. In practical terms, it was not a continuous political entity."

The independent position of Viipuri was evident in that although Finland was divided into two separate lawspeaker areas, Southern and Northern Finland, in 1435, Viipuri had its own independent Karelian lawspeaker area already in the 1440s, with the lawspeaker probably appointed by the chief of the Viipuri Castle. However, the Karelian lawspeaker had no authority in the Turku land court. [18]

In the union age, Finland's position as part of the realm changed. For four decades, the monarch's grasp of Finland was tighter than before. King Eric of Pomerania visited Finland twice, in 1403 and in 1407. With the union, the leading authorities in Finland also changed, as the king placed his own trustees to lead the castles. Abraham Broderson rose as the chief of the Turku Castle and the Danish Klaus Fleming was appointed as lawspeaker. Later, Klaus Lydekesson Djäkn and Krister Nilsson Vasa rose to significant positions. The bishop Magnus II Tavast was a supporter of the union power.

The community under the union times Edit

The frälse and the clergy formed the leading political group under the union times. Finland's own frälse only rarely ruled over larger slottslän, which were mostly ruled by Swedes or Danes, sometimes even German-born men, who had however lived in Finland for decades. The Finnish frälse was mostly responsible for the lower government, military duty and especially justice. The most significant duties in the church were also assigned to sons of the Finnish frälse under the union times. However, peasants could also participate in the activities of different courts and have an effect in political decisions, such as the election of the king.

Apart from Turku and Viborg, cities under union times were small, and numbered very few. As such, foreign trade was modest. Even Viborg could not compete with Reval (Tallinn) as the centre of Russian trade. Domestic trade was economically more significant than foreign trade.

Under the union times, the Finnish government was reorganised to help the economic situation. In 1405, hundreds of farms had their tax exemption status revoked. With this, the foundation for systematic agricultural taxing was created. The crown attempted to raise tax income also by settler activities: farming fields caused tax income, whereas work in the wilderness did not. Tax income could be raised by dealing out wilderness areas for permanent population. In 1409, Turku started minting its own money, which had a different value than the money used in the rest of Sweden. They were örtugs made of silver and six penny coins. In 1407, Finland got its own supreme court, the Turku land court, which was also given governmental powers. The leaders of Finland could now decide on their country's matters in their own meetings.

The union begins to fall apart Edit

Externally, the early times of the Kalmar Union were a time of peace for Finland. With his active foreign policy, the king Eric of Pomerania ran into conflict with the Hanseatic League, which made trade more difficult. In the 1430s, the upper class and peasant rebel movements in Sweden did not really have an effect on Finland. The opposition to the upper class caused by the minor peasant rebel movements in Finland can be explained by the expansion of the property of the crown and the frälse. [19] The best known of these rebel movements was the so-called "David rebellion" in Tavastia in 1439. It was directed at the Viikki manor. [20] [21]

No one from Finland participated in the Arboga meeting in 1435. In the same autumn, the bishop Magnus II Tavast and Krister Nilsson arrived in Sweden, and in the negotiations there they participated in the discharge of the leaders of the Engelbrekt Engelbrektsson rebellion and the forming of a compromise. Krister Nilsson became the drots (seneschal) and Karl Knutsson Bonde became the marshal. After Nilsson had returned to Finland in the same autumn, rebel movements started in Sweden again.

In order to fight the rebel movements, the Finnish peasants were promised a cut in taxes in a letter dated 24 June 1436, signed by the archbishop, the drots and the marshal, under authority from the government. The stated reason was that the Finns had proven to be loyal to the realm and sworn never to take up a leader of their own, and promised not to rise up in rebellion, and accepted the leader appointed by the government. Seppo Suvanto has interpreted this so that Sweden feared that the Finnish local government would detach itself from the Swedish realm and the Finns would choose a leader of their own. [22]

Clashes of power between Finland and Sweden Edit

The king was finally deposed in 1439, after which Sweden was ruled by a council of aristocrats. It was composed of bishops and leading noblemen. The mightiest of this group was Karl Knutsson, who was elected leader of the realm in 1438. His biggest competitor, the drots Krister retreated to Vyborg after this. After the fall of the absolutist government, Finland's connections to Denmark were severed. However, the connections to Sweden were not really strengthened but local slottslän governors mostly ruled the country.

In 1440, the Danish invited Christopher of Bavaria to their country and elected him as their king. In Sweden, negotiations were being held about the conditions of his recognition. Charles VIII of Sweden moved to Finland in the same year and took hold of the Turku and Kastelholm castles, promising to denounce his position as leader of the realm if he were to receive the whole of Finland as his county. This wish was granted, apart from Åland. However, the situation changed very quickly, and Charles VIII had to contend himself with the Vyborg slottslän. Turku returned to the power of an official appointed by the king. The king's intention was to prevent the forming of a continuous Finland.

After Christopher died in 1448, Charles VIII sailed from Vyborg to Stockholm with 800 armed men, where he was elected king (1448 to 1457), apparently because of his military superiority. His term was marked by a war with Christian I of Denmark, which caused taxes to rise also in Finland. During this period, Finland was the king's most significant support area. In 1457, the Swedish high nobility rebelled against the king, and he fled to Danzig. Christian I was elected as king of Sweden. He ruled from 1457 to 1464. However, not all people supported the new king – especially in Vyborg.

Dispute over the eastern border Edit

The next period was marked by problems in the eastern parts of the realm. As population spread to the wilderness, border disputes and fights with Novgorod and the Karelians started. As Savonian population spread, Northern Karelia was also populated. In 1478, Novgorod was annexed to Moscow, and a new power arose beyond the eastern border. To secure the border, the Olavinlinna castle was built to protect the new settlers. The Russians viewed this as a breach of the border treaty, and open war reigned for many years until the interim peace in 1482. However, the parties could not agree on where the border was to be located.

From Axelsson to Sten Sture Edit

In the battle for the Swedish crown, Finnish castles were also conquered and persuaded to the union king's side. The Danish knight Erik Axelsson Tott came with his brothers to conquer castles in the 1480s, and in the end, all the castles were under the power of the Axelssons. After Erik's death he left the Vyborg, Hämeenlinna and Savonlinna counties to his brothers Ivar and Lauri, who already ruled over Raseborg. However, the formation of a continuous circle of power did not fit to the regent Sten Sture's plans. In 1481 Sten Sture arrived in Finland, all the way to Vyborg. The regent and the local governors could not come to an agreement: the regent promised tax cuts to the people the local landowners could not accept this.

In the end of the union times, no regent had universal acceptance from all the Nordic countries any more. The King of Denmark John (reigned 1481–1513) was not accepted in the union countries, and the councils took power into their own hands. In 1483 Sten Sture received power over three counties in Finland: Vyborg, Savonlinna and Hämeenlinna. The former realm of the Axelssons became the regent's support area and Finland became an even more integral part of the central government especially as even Raseborg came to the power of Sten Sture's supporter Knut Posse. Sture did not distribute the castles to the nobility, but ruled over them through officials dependent on him, gathering a significant amount of tax income to himself.

Unrest during the end of mediaeval times Edit

In the late 15th century, previous skirmishes with Moscow escalated into a war. In 1495, the Vyborg Castle was sieged. People from Western Finland were also drafted to war. In threatened areas, all people over 15 years of age were called to arms, and in addition, German mercenaries and people from Sweden arrived in the country. The Russian attacks stretched from Karelia to Ostrobothnia, Savonia and Tavastia. Peace was made in 1497.

In the same year, the Privy Council of Sweden deposed Sten Sture as regent. However, the Finnish slottsläns remained under his control. A civil war followed, where King John beat the regent's troops, becoming King of Sweden himself (1497–1501). In 1499, Sture had to renounce his areas in Finland. In 1503, Svante Nilsson Sture (reigned 1504–1512) was elected as regent, and the Finnish leaders swore their loyalty to him. In a meeting held in Turku, the people showed their support for his position. However, the unanimity was only specious, as part of the leaders of Finland supported their own political standpoint together with Sten Sture's family. Their goals have remained somewhat unclear. However, national history has emphasised the role of eastern politics in the disagreements.

The reign of Gustav Vasa Edit

The final battles of the union Edit

The final times of the union were a time of unrest in most of Finland, not only in Vyborg. In the late 16th century, the Danish went on pillages on the Finnish coast, and the pirate captain Otto Rudi robbed Turku and its cathedral's treasures. As the Danish union king Christian II of Denmark came to power, in his coronation he had tens of Swedish noblemen beheaded. This was called the Stockholm Bloodbath. The Swedish nobleman Gustav Vasa rose up to oppose the union king and won the peasants on his side. The German Hanseatic merchants also supported Gustav Vasa and provided him with weapons and money. The Finnish-born brothers Erik and Ivar Fleming conquered the Finnish castles for Gustav Vasa and drove the Danish away from Finland in 1523. The age of the Nordic union came to an end, and Gustav Vasa became king of Sweden and Finland.

An early modern state is born Edit

During the reign of Gustav Vasa, a continuous Swedish realm started to form. He managed to suppress the regional communities who had been driving their own politics. In turn, the reformation suppressed the church. The high nobility, already weakened by the bloodbath, was now attached to support royal politics. However, the governing was still done in the medieval tradition: the king had numerous noblemen and scribes to help him, but these were not really officials. Also the government did not have a clear distinction of jobs, but tasks under the king's service changed according to the situation. In the 1530s, Gustav Vasa started to bring in German government officials to the country, along with whom new visions of royal power arrived in Sweden. During the 1544 Västerås Diet, the royalty was changed to hereditary and Gustav Vasa's eldest son Erik was named heir to the throne.

The crown's local government concentrated in the hands of officials after land grants had been revoked. Their jobs were numerous, but collecting taxes was one of the most important ones. During Gustav Vasa's reign, tax collecting switched to literal government first, systematic land documents (of ownership of land) were kept to help in taxation, other kinds of catalogues and literal accounts soon followed. The officials were also responsible for repopulating vacated houses, providing transport and roads. The officials also had to prevent illegal trade and handwork practiced in the countryside. Also overall peacekeeping and justice work belonged to the officials' duties – this way the crown's share of tax and fine income could be secured. Enhancing government raised the crown's tax income by tens of percents.

The war against Russia Edit

Continuing conflicts with Russia were still significant in Finnish foreign politics. In the start of Gustav Vasa's reign, negotiations were held in an attempt to regain an idea of where the borderline went. The Swedish tried to postpone checking the borderline for as long as possible, and despite temporary agreements, conflicts and raids on both sides continued. In a nobility meeting held in Vyborg in 1555, the king was advised to go to war. The attack resulted in a counter-attack by Ivan the Terrible from the direction of Vyborg and Savonia. Negotiations held from 1556 to 1557 resulted in an interim peace lasting 40 years. There was a plan to hold a new negotiation about the borderline in 1559, but this never happened.

Misconduct by the nobility Edit

In war times, the king had spent a long time in Finland. There he ordered an extensive investigation of misconduct by the nobility. This investigation resulted in the so-called Jakob Teit complaint list, which is a significant source of community history in the 16th century. In summer 1556, the king made Finland into its own duchy, and named his son John as its ruler. Gustav Vasa died in September 1560. Erik XIV of Sweden succeeded him on the throne.

From throne conflicts to the start of great power politics Edit

The reign of Erik XIV Edit

Erik XIV was crowned as king in 1561. He attempted to strengthen the monarchy even more in regard to the nobility and also to his brothers. To weaken their position, Erik founded new counties and baronships to divide the power of dukes. In Finland, the king's politics also resulted in new lawspeakers being appointed to the country. In 1561 the king approved the so-called Arboga articles at a diet, which submitted the dukes to the king's control and stripped them of a chance for independent foreign politics.

Destroying the position of John, the duke of Finland, was important to the king. As John's duchy, Finland became a "feudal minicountry" subject to the realm, with its own chancery, tax chamber and council, which could be compared to a state council. John's prerogatives in Livonia were also in conflict with the king: through a planned marriage with Catherine Jagiellon, John could receive numerous castles under his power in Livonia. At the same time, Erik XIV was being driven to war with Poland because of his expansion politics directed at Livonia. In 1561, the Tallinn city council had already given the city to the protection of the king, and during the same spring the Virumaa and Harjumaa nobility also resigned from the German knighthood.

The struggle for power Edit

After the conflict had intensified, the king assembled a diet in 1563, where John was sentenced to death. The development led to the siege of the Turku Castle in summer 1563. After conflicts and bombardments, the castle surrendered on 12 August 1563, after which the luxury of the castle was destroyed, the duke and his wife were arrested and sent to Sweden for imprisonment. In the 1560s, Swedish foreign policy was marked by war against Poland in the Baltics. As well as this, Erik XIV was driven to war against Denmark-Norway and Lübeck. This required good relations to the east: concentrating military forces elsewhere required good relations towards Moscow. Erik XIV's era ended in 1568 after the nobility rose up against the king. This time even the Finnish nobility was on the side of the rebels, both old supporters of John and Erik's trusted men. The Turku Castle fell under the power of the rebels. Erik spent the next years in prison, until he was sentenced to death and poisoned in 1577.

The long wrath Edit

Under the reign of John III of Sweden, the border conflicts at the border of Käkisalmi county led to a new war (1570–1595), which is now known as the "25-year war". It was mostly a brutal war with guerilla warfare on both sides. In its beginnings, the war was well organised, and there was a truce on the Finnish front from 1573 to 1577. In the middle of the decade the peasant conflicts started again: the Karelians attacked in the direction of Oulujärvi and Iijoki, forces from Southern Finland travelled across the Gulf of Finland. At the end of the decade, organised warfare started again with an attack to Narva (1579) and the conquest of Käkisalmi in 1580. Narva was conquered the next year, after which negotiations led to an interim peace lasting until the year 1590. Despite the interim peace, guerilla warfare continued on both sides of the eastern border, which led to Kainuu and Northern Ostrobothnia being largely deserted in the 1580s. Led by Pekka Vesainen, the Ostrobothnians made vengeance trips to Viena Karelia. The war ended in 1595 with the Treaty of Teusina.

A new struggle for the throne Edit

After John III died in 1592, the throne was left vacant. There were two candidates for his successor: Sigismund and the duke Karl. The question of the monarchy was entwined with the church politics: in the time of the counter-reformation in Europe Sigismund was a Catholic, which made his position even more problematic in the Lutheran Sweden. In 1593, Sigismund arrived in the country to be crowned. He gave his oath as a ruler in the autumn of the next year. At the same time, he accepted the Lutheran line of the Uppsala estate and church meeting (1593). With Sigismund's coronation, a personal union between Sweden and Poland, lasting a few years, was born Sigismund was king of Poland until 1632.

After the king returned to Poland, conflicts arose among the nobility about Karl's position as a regent. In this conflict, Finland's leader Klaus Fleming sided with the king. At the Arboga diet in 1597, Karl was still named as regent. At this time, he declared his opponents, especially Klaus Fleming, to be rebels.

Justice becomes stricter Edit

In general, secular courts in Europe during the start of the New Age in the 16th and 17th centuries started using the so-called "Law of Moses", that is to say, some parts of the Bible. According to the Law of Moses, witchcraft and magic was forbidden, and for example blasphemy, swearing, betraying one's parents, perjury, killing, demanding too high interest, false testimony and numerous sexual crimes could be punished by death. The Law of Moses became a general guide of justice in the Swedish realm in 1608 and remained in force until the new law of the realm in 1734. However, the law was often not used to the full extent of its cruelty, and death penalties were replaced with lesser penalties in about half of the cases. [23] [24]

The peasant unrest in the 16th century and the Cudgel War Edit

Unrest increased among the peasants during Gustav Vasa's reign, because of both heightened taxes and the struggle for power amongst his sons. The unrest resulted in the Cudgel War from 1596 to 1597. It ended bloodily, with the army beating the Ostrobothnian and Savonian peasants, armed by cudgels, spears and bows. The rebellion in Finland was directed at the nobility in power and especially at Klaus Fleming. The rebels sought help from the duke Karl who had been trying to usurp the throne. According to current research, the reasons for the rebellion included strain left from the 25-year war, financial setbacks and suffering caused by the castle camp system. Researchers disagree on how big an effect the duke Karl's leading the rebels against Klaus Fleming had on the outbreak of the Cudgel War. [25] [26]

The Treaty of Stolbovo Edit

From 1604 to 1611, the duke Karl of Södermanland was king Charles IX of Sweden. During his reign, the realm was almost constantly at war with Russia and Poland, especially about the ownership of the Baltic lands of Estonia and Livonia. Also, a war with Denmark was fought from 1611 to 1613, resulting in a loss for Sweden. After Charles IX died, his son Gustav II Adolf inherited the throne. The realm was in a bad state and Sweden had to sign a peace treaty with Denmark in 1613. The Treaty of Stolbovo was signed with Russia in 1617, which resulted in the Käkisalmi county, Nöteborg and part of Ingria being annexed into Sweden.

Modernisation and renewals Edit

Under the leadership of the king and the chancellor of state Axel Oxenstierna, significant renewals were made in Sweden and Finland once the foreign political situation had calmed down. The army and the military organisation were reorganised especially based on the model of the Dutch Mortis of Orania. The realm received a new form of government and was divided into counties. Also, a Governor General was appointed to Finland in the 17th century to improve the conditions in the country. Governor Generals of Finland included Niels Bielke and count Per Brahe the Younger, whose official residence was the Turku Castle. During the superpower age, new cities were founded in Finland, as well as the Turku court of justice and in 1640, Finland's first university, the Royal Academy of Turku.

The Thirty Years' War Edit

In the Baltics, Sweden was still at war with Poland, and in 1629 the temporary Truce of Altmark was made. In Germany, Gustav II Adolf joined the Thirty Years' War between the Catholic emperor and the Protestant princes in 1630 after making landfall in Northern Germany. Sweden's aim in the war was to support the German Protestants and strengthen its own position. However, Gustav II Adolf died in the Battle of Lützen in 1632 and his daughter Christina succeeded him on the throne while still a minor. In practice, the realm was ruled by a caretaker government led by Axel Oxenstierna. In the Peace of Westphalia that had ended the Thirty Years' War in 1648, Sweden secured its position as a superpower. However, the Thirty Years' War and other conflicts in the superpower age drained Sweden's and Finland's resources badly. A significant part of the peasants had to serve in the army and the navy, and many of them died in service.

From the wars to the age of peace Edit

During Christina's reign from 1632 to 1654, a large amount of lands were given as feudal lands to the nobility. The nobility had the right to collect taxes on their lands, which made the crown's financial position more difficult. After Christina had renounced the crown, Charles X Gustav of Sweden followed her on the throne and ruled over the Swedish realm from 1654 to 1660. Charles X died in 1660, and was followed by Charles XI of Sweden, during whose reign from 1660 to 1697, a large reduction was made, which returned most of the feudal lands to the crown. Charles XI weakened the power of the nobility and ruled the realm as an autocrat. Charles XI's reign meant a long time of peace for Finland. The Protestant clergy was responsible for teaching literacy to the people, and clerical life was dominated by religious purism. From 1695 to 1697 Finland was devastated by the Great Famine, which resulted in a significant part of the population dying of hunger and illnesses.

The Great Northern War Edit

During the reign of Charles XI's successor Charles XII of Sweden, the Great Northern War erupted in 1700, resulting in Sweden losing its superpower position. The cause of the war was an alliance against Sweden made by its enemies Denmark, Russia, Poland and Saxony. In the 1617 Treaty of Stolbovo, Russia had lost its connection to the Baltic Sea. The renovation-minded czar Peter the Great sought to reopen a connection to the Baltic Sea for Russia, so that its connections and trade to Western Europe would become easier.

Although Charles XII managed to beat Denmark, Russia's attacking troops (in the Battle of Narva) and Poland, one at a time, the Swedish finally suffered a decisive defeat to the Russians in the Battle of Poltava in 1709. After this, the king fled to Turkey and the realm was open to an enemy attack. Vyborg was conquered in 1710, and the Russians occupied the rest of Finland after the Battle of Pälkäne in Pälkäne, the Battle of Storkyro in Ostrobothnia and the Battle of Gangut in front of Hanko by 1714. The Russian invasion period from 1714 to 1721 is commonly called the Greater Wrath. The occupation period was destructive to Finland. Thousands of people were killed and even more were sent to Russia, and a large part of the country's officials and clergy fled to Sweden. The Great Northern War and the Greater Wrath ended in the Treaty of Nystad in 1721. In the treaty, Ingria, Estonia, Livonia, the Käkisalmi county and Vyborg were annexed to Russia. The part of Karelia annexed to Russia is commonly called Old Finland. Russians also sometimes enslaved large parts of the Finnish population both swedes and Finns. Swedish boys were praised for their high literacy and almost all Swedish slaves being able to read. Being considered luxury goods by Russians nobles and Ottoman nobles for their beautiful blonde eyes and blonde hair. Slavery was banned, in Sweden in the 14 century. But the primitive ruling system in Russia enabled slavery to remain economically feasible. During the Swedish and Russian wars, Finns were frequently sold into slavery by Russian cossacks. Due to the Swedish state, higher morals and political pressure concerning slavery created a demand to stop the slave trade of Finnish and Swedish slaves in Russia among Russian noblemen. [27] [28]

Karl XII also spoke some Finnish with the Finnish part of the Swedish military. [29]

Proposals about the Swedification of Finland Edit

During the Great Northern War, professor Israel Nesselius of the Turku Academy wrote several articles about the fate of the Finnish language. In one of his articles, he proposed the Swedification of Finland by teaching the Swedish language to the people of Finland and by bringing more population from Sweden to strengthen and expand the Swedish population. He thought that the Finnish language was so peculiar that only a couple of villages on the border of Lapland should be allowed to keep their language. According to Nesselius, this could be handled by bringing army recruits from Skåne as immigrants to Finland to defend the country against Russian attacks. In return, Finnish soldiers could be moved to Skåne as farmers and to defend the border against Denmark. Also the Finnish sauna custom - "that constant sauna bathing" - should be eliminated as it wasted firewood and was different from the Swedish customs. [30]

In the 18th century, there was discussion about bringing Swedish population as immigrants to Finland in a different context. The idea was to kill two flies in one stroke. On one hand, areas suffering from overpopulation, such as Dalarna County, would be addressed. On the other hand, farming could be extended to sparsely-populated areas in Finland. The Swedish official and economist Ulrik Rudenschöld specified in 1738 that this kind of migration would help develop bilingulaity in the eastern parts of the realm. [30]

At the Diet of 1738, the president of the court Samuel Åkerhelm started a discussion about languages at the discussion of the great secret court. According to Åkerhelm, the peculiarity of the eastern part of the realm was exaggerated and the use of the Finnish language was a lesser problem than what had been claimed. According to him it was short-sighted to demand knowledge of both languages in order to get official posts in the eastern parts of the realm. If posts in the eastern parts of the realm required knowledge of Finnish, which in practice meant being born in Finland, the same requirement had to be also in the western parts of the realm. He saw this as causing envy and striking a wedge between "our two nations", which would harm the realm. However, he saw it as an unchangeable fact that the people in the realm spoke two different languages. Jakob Faggot continued the same thought in his letter in 1745, but according to him, the Finnish people should be taught Swedish so they could become as good Swedes in their language as they were in their mind. [31]

The Diet of 1746-1747 saw the increase of the use of the Swedish language in Finland as favourable. It was seen as "strengthening the trust between two peoples". However, even the proponents of this matter saw its practical fulfilment as impossible. [30]

Power away from the king Edit

In the Swedish realm after Charles XII, the estates took power away from the king in the 1719 and 1720 governments and the age of autocracy changed into the age of estate rule (the "Age of Liberty"). Economy and science progressed during this age, but on the other side, power politics among parties caused problems. France and Russia gained power in Sweden by financing competing parties, which were called the Caps and the Hats. [32]

Finnish became an official language of the Swedish administration in Civil Code of 1734. So monolingual Finnish parliamentarians could always use Swedish translators at the Riksdag of the Estates and use Finnish with local administrators. It was a new liberal reform made to modernize the Swedish state. [33] The reform had been proposed earlier in the 18 the century but the invasion of Finland by Russia delayed the Swedish government from passing the new law until 1734. The law is also the oldest law both partially still in use in both Finland and Sweden. It was the first time in Sweden and Finland's history when the king and Riksdag created a unitary legal code applied to the entire country. It was also translated to Finnish so that Finnish speakers would understand. [34]

The Hats' War Edit

The Hats' rise to power in the 1738–1739 diet led to a Russophobic foreign policy, which was a disadvantage for Finland. An attack war against Russia, known as the Hats' War, erupted in 1741. Sweden suffered a defeat in the battle of Lappeenranta in the same year, and the later stages of the war fared no better for it. In 1742, the Swedish army withdrew from a Russian attack and surrendered. Russia occupied Finland again from 1742 to 1743. This occupation period is known as the Lesser Wrath. The Russian empress Elizabeth spread a manifesto in 1742, urging Finns to abandon Sweden and form an autonomous state protected by Russia. However, after the occupation of Finland, promises of autonomy stopped. [35] The occupation ended in the Treaty of Åbo. The occupation during the Lesser Wrath did not cause as much damage as the longer and more violent Greater Wrath a couple of decades earlier.

Thoughts in the new age Edit

After the war, the mercantilist principles in the trade led to the financial gain from tar and shipbuilding being left in Stockholm. In 1760, Anders Chydenius, the vicar of Kokkola, started demanding freedom of trade and speech. [32] During the last decades of the 18th century, interest to Finnish history and Finnish national poetry arose in the Royal Academy of Turku, especially because of Henrik Gabriel Porthan, the "father of Finnish history". [36] Of the researchers, Eino Jutikkala says: "People in various regions and of various estates in Finland in the late 18th century consciously considered themselves as Finnish as opposed to the Swedish who lived on the other side of the sea." [37]

The Swedish clergy demanded universal literacy. Finland and Sweden had the highest literacy rates in comparison to other European nations. That was due to the Lutheran priests demanding pupils and farmers to read the bible. It created a fast development in reading skills. Already in the 1660s religious school classes could read with good scores for the time in comparison with other European nations. Charles XI of Sweden meant that an illiterate man can never become a full member of the Swedish church. Therefore he will never join the church and, he will never marry if he is not a member of the church. In Carl av Forsell's official examinations of Finland and Sweden, Carl av Forsell found high literacy an essential part of religious education for commoners in both countries in 1833. [38] The first Finnish papers only started to appear in the late 18th century. [39]

The restless reign of Gustav III Edit

In 1772, after Gustav III of Sweden had seized power, a new constitution was made, giving power back to the king. The age tried to get rid of mercantilism. Freedom of speech and freedom of religion expanded. Finnish officers trusted the king less, because the nobility lost their power to the king, who was supported by the people. Some high-ranking soldiers moved to serve in Russia. [32]

From 1788 to 1790, the so-called Gustav III's war, started by Gustav III, was fought between Sweden and Russia. Sweden was also confronted by Denmark. The officers in the Anjala conspiracy, among others, opposed the war. Despite a decisive marine victory at the Battle of Svensksund, Sweden did not gain any new territories in the Treaty of Värälä. The Union and Security Act of 1789 strengthened the king's power even more. With the war, the nobility grew even more bitter towards the king, and this eventually led to the king's murder in 1792. [32]

Sweden loses Finland Edit

The Finnish War was fought from 1808 to 1809 between Russia and Sweden. The reason for the war were the Treaties of Tilsit made between Russia and France on 7 July 1807. In the treaties, France and Russia had become allies and Russia had promised to pressure, with armed force if necessary, Sweden and other countries to join the Continental System against the United Kingdom, an embargo that France would have used to strengthen its position against the maritime power of the United Kingdom.

The last Grand Duke of Finland during the Swedish era was Gustav IV Adolf's second son Karl Gustaf, who was born 1802 and died as an infant 1805. [40] Gustav IV Adolf of Sweden, the last Swedish king of Finland, ironically was one of few Swedish kings to learn Finnish. He also became popular among the people in Finland when he was 9 years old and spoke Finnish with local Finns during his visit to Finland. Gustav travelled to Finland on several vacations, because of his extensive knowledge of the language. But was considered an incompetent ruler when it came to international politics and his management of Swedish Armed Forces. [41] [42]

The Swedish thought Finland was far away from the centre of power and from Stockholm. From Stockholm's point of view, inhabitants of the eastern part of the realm were seen as "the people of that country". Royal letters about matters relating to Finland told that information had been gathered "from that area" and people came from Finland "over here to Sweden". Landlords in Finland could be called to come "here to Sweden". People who ended up in Finland from Sweden felt they had arrived in a strange and foreign environment. For example, troops from Småland stationed in Vyborg rebelled in 1754 because they had not received the benefits usually given to Swedish troops stationed abroad. They also felt that they were not required to defend Finland as it was not their home country. Governor-General Niels Bielke, who had arrived in Turku in the 1620s to strengthen the rule of the central power, described Finland as a repulsive land of barbarians, and the bishop Isak Rothovius felt he was "in the middle of scorpions and barbarians".

Professor Michael Gyldenstoppen, who had moved from Växjö to Turku in 1640, repeatedly wrote to Per Brahe the Younger that as a Smålandian, he was "a foreigner in this country" and he felt sorry for "the moment he arrived in this country". Carl Johan Ljunggren, who had served in the Västmanland regiment in the Finnish War in 1808 described the Swedish-speaking people of the coast as similar to the common people of Sweden, but the peasants in the inner country as looking repulsive and impolite. They wore dome-shaped caps on their heads and leather boots on their feet. Living in smoke cabins had made their skin a dirty shade of brown and they spoke "incomprehensible gobbledygook". [43] Still, during the period after the loss of the great power status and due to the potential growth of Finnish nationalism, a need for common identity arose. Instead of treating the Finns culture and history poorly or as inferior the need for a more equal status arose. The Swedish state started to advocate that the Finns were the original Inhabitants of Sweden. According to Johannes Messenius a Finnish king with his people was the first monarch of Scandinavia before the Swedes arrived. A thesis launched already during the 16 century. Even before the idea that the first Swedes were Germanic was presented to Swedish historians. Finland was considered one of the most essential parts of Sweden in official descriptions but also somewhat status of a dominion.

The so-called Fornjót dynasty was a direct descendent of the Finns which made up the first kingdom in Scandinavia according to Sven Lagerbring and Johan Ihre. [44] Swedish historians meant Finns were still speaking Hebrew and were considered a noble lost tribe of Israel. Olof von Dalin, 18th century, was one of the advocates for that Finns were a lost Scythian, Greek Hebrew tribe. Olov von Dalin 1732: "They are a mix of Scythians, Greeks and Hebrews". Finns were to have been the creators of the first advanced civilization according to some Swedish historians. [45] Olov von Dalin describes Finns as simple people that live simple lives but are as close to god as they can be. Very happy and satisfied with their easy life and closeness to nature and god. [46] Olov von Dalin also claims Finns are as fast as trolls on their skis moving incredibly fast. But that their clothing style looks somewhat wild in comparison with Swedes making them look like trolls. [47]

According to Dalin the Finnish and Swedish elite even before the Swedish crusades had close friendly connections but also fought some wars. Neurer or Finns the first inhabitants of Scandinavians according to Dalin already had an independent Finlandic kingdom with their own courts and kings before the Old Uppsala kingdom was created. The Finns according to Olov von Dalin took part in the Gothic migration from Sweden into the Roman empire. Were the West Geats together with the Finns made up noble ancestors of the Gothic migration from Sweden. [48]

This noble Finnish past was created by a geopolitical need to create a common identity between Swedes and Finns against Russia. The idea of Finns being a lost tribe of Israel became a consensus among Swedish historians. The Finnish language was ancient Hebrew by the Swedish priest Olof Rudbeck with the Gotish language. The idea of Finnish being ancient Hebrew soon had support among many Swedish historians. German nationalist awakening claimed the Germanic peoples or the Swedes made up the bulk of early Swedish civilization. It got rejected by Swedish mainstream historians that meant it was Finnish tribes that first reached Sweden. The idea that Finns was Hebrew was later abandoned by a majority of mainstream historians even though some stuck to the theory. But the Finns being the first people in Sweden stuck among the majority of historians.

When Finland was lost the ideas of Finns being the original native population of Sweden and a lost tribe of Israel was gradually abandoned. It was abandoned since there were no geopolitical benefits for building a common identity any longer. New pseudohistorical ideas of Swedes instead of being mixed with Finno Ugric peoples, the idea that Swedes were completely culturally clean both in history and archaeology started to develop. Due to the shared Viking history with Norway and Denmark especially, after the Union between Sweden and Norway the interests in regaining Finland ended. Finnish archaeological findings in Sweden began to get denied even though they had been widely examined and studied before. Even though there were clear traces of Finno Ugric tribes in some parts of Sweden archaeologists, ended their research concerning Finnish history in Sweden. Some bitterness remained in the hope of reunification remained but an idea of Scandinavism or Scandinavian unification like in Germany and Italy started to develop among the Nordic language speaking populations in Scandinavia in the 19 century. [49]

Living with the Soviet Union

1917 - The Russian Revolution allows Finland to declare its independence.

1918 - Bitter civil war, which leads to some 30,000 deaths. A rebellion by left-wing Red Guards is put down by General Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim.

1919 - Finland becomes a republic. Kaarlo Stahlberg becomes first president.

1939 - Outbreak of Second World War. Finland declares its neutrality. In November the Soviet Union invades in the Winter War.

1940 - Despite fierce resistance, the Finns are forced to concede. The Treaty of Moscow gives around 10% of Finnish territory to the Soviet Union.

1941 - Germany attacks USSR in June. Finland launches military campaign to retake territory.

1944 - The Soviet Army invades. An armistice is signed in September. Finland concedes more land to the Soviet Union and agrees to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in war reparations.

1950 - Urho Kekkonen becomes prime minister and is subsequently elected as president in 1956. He pursues a policy of friendly neutrality with the Soviet Union.

1955 - Finland joins United Nations and Nordic Council.

1973 - Trade agreements signed with the European Economic Community and Comecon.

So, was Finland ever a part of Russia?

Before Finland fell under Russian rule in 1809, it had been a part of Sweden for over six centuries. While European knights were fighting for liberation of the Holy Land in the Middle East, Swedish crusaders chose another direction for their expansion. Three major crusades were undertaken by the Swedish crown in the 12th and 13th centuries, which resulted in the subjugation of lands of Finnish tribes.

Finland's coat of arms from 1633, under Swedish Empire and a map of Sweden and Finland, made in Stockholm, Sweden, 1747.

Helsinki University Library, Royal Armoury, Sweden

Here Sweden encountered another great adversary - the Novgorod Republic, who had its own interests in the region. Numerous battles between two sides followed, but Stockholm managed to keep the Finnish territory as its own. It turned out it wasn&rsquot Russia&rsquos time to annex Finland then.

Engraving by J Bye from Travels through Sweden, Finland and Lapland to the North Cape, in the years 1798 and 1799 by Giuseppe Acerbi, (London, 1802).

During the Great Northern War (1700-1721) huge parts of Finland were occupied by Russian troops. As a result of the conflict, Sweden lost its status as a superpower, along with vast lands in the eastern Baltics. However, the Swedes again managed to keep Finland, except for some parts in Karelia.

The storm of Swedish fortress Noteburg in October, 1702, by Russian troops. The Russian Tsar Peter I is shown in the center. Alexander von Kotzebue.

The Finnish War (1808-1809), known in Sweden as &ldquothe greatest national catastrophe in the long history of the Swedish state&rdquo, resulted in the country losing Finland to the Russian Empire. It was essentially the loss of a third part of its territory and a quarter of its entire population.

Wounded Warrior in the Snow by Helene Schjerfbeck.

Russian Emperor Alexander I suddenly had a huge unknown region with an alien protestant population under his rule. He didn&rsquot forget how effective and furious the Finns had led the partisan war during the conflict and decided to carefully integrate Finland into Russia. At the Diet in Porvoo in spring-summer of 1809, the autonomous Grand Principality of Finland was proclaimed. The Finns had never enjoyed such status under Swedish rule. Finnish Estates were allowed to keep their religion and their rights. The Swedish Instrument of Government from 1772 (constitution) was then confirmed as the constitution of Finland.

Tsar Alexander I opens the Diet of Porvoo 1809 by Emanuel Thelning.

In 1811, Alexander I gave Finland the territory of the Vyborg Governorate, located on the Karelian Isthmus. With this, a time bomb was laid, which exploded over a century later, leading to several brutal Soviet-Finnish conflicts.

Pioneers in Karelia by Pekka Halonen, 1900.

The following year, the capital of the Grand Principality was moved from the most important Finnish city of Åbo (Turku) to Helsinki. It was closer to St. Petersburg and was therefore less under Swedish influence.

In the second half of the 19th century, the Finnish Grand Principality was granted important privileges, such as its own monetary system (the Finnish markka) and its own army. However, soon Russia&rsquos state politics towards the Finns changed completely: major russification processes were initiated, power of local authorities were significantly limited and, in 1901, the Finnish army was disbanded and included in the armed forces of the Empire.

Finnish dissatisfaction with these processes led to the Finns joining the 1905-1907 First Russian Revolution, and the Emperor Nicholas II was forced to make concessions. In 1906, Finland became the first country in Europe where women were granted a right to vote and be elected to the newly formed parliament. At world sporting events, Finland participated independently from Russia, under its own flag.

Parliament of Finland, The first session in 1907.

Shortly after the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, the Finnish parliament proclaimed independence and it was Lenin&rsquos government that first recognized it. It didn&rsquot prevent the countries, however, from a soon-to-come conflict. The White Finns&rsquo victory over the Red Finns (supported by Soviet Russia) in the Finnish Civil War finally separated two states from each other.

The last major conflict between two countries occurred during World War II, and it was Emperor Alexander&rsquos present to Finns that backfired on them. The reason for war was the Karelian Isthmus with Vyborg, a key defense point of Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). After the USSR took it during the Winter War, Finland allied with Hitler to try and reclaim it, but failed. During the post-war period, the leadership of both countries decided to overcome past grievances and develop a new cooperation. As a result, Finland became one of the best and friendliest neighbours for the Soviet Union (and later Russia).

Soviet T-26 light tanks and GAZ-A trucks of the Soviet 7th Army during its advance on the Karelian Isthmus, December 2, 1939.

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U.S.S.R. attacks Finland

On November 30, 1939, the Red Army crosses the Soviet-Finnish border with 465,000 men and 1,000 aircraft. Helsinki was bombed, and 61 Finns were killed in an air raid that steeled the Finns for resistance, not capitulation.

The overwhelming forces arrayed against Finland convinced most Western nations, as well as the Soviets themselves, that the invasion of Finland would be a cakewalk. The Soviet soldiers even wore summer uniforms, despite the onset of the Scandinavian winter it was simply assumed that no outdoor activity, such as fighting, would be taking place. But the Helsinki raid had produced many casualties-and many photographs, including those of mothers holding dead babies, and preteen girls crippled by the bombing. Those photos were hung up everywhere to spur on Finn resistance. Although that resistance consisted of only small numbers of trained soldiers fighting it out in the forests, and partisans throwing Molotov cocktails into the turrets of Soviet tanks, the refusal to submit made headlines around the world.

President Roosevelt quickly extended $10 million in credit to Finland, while also noting that the Finns were the only people to pay back their World War I war debt to the United States in full. But by the time the Soviets had a chance to regroup, and send in massive reinforcements, the Finnish resistance was spent. By March 1940, negotiations with the Soviets began, and Finland soon lost the Karelian Isthmus, the land bridge that gave access to Leningrad, which the Soviets wanted to control.

An Economic History of Finland

Finland in the early 2000s is a small industrialized country with a standard of living ranked among the top twenty in the world. At the beginning of the twentieth century it was a poor agrarian country with a gross domestic product per capita less than half of that of the United Kingdom and the United States, world leaders at the time in this respect. Finland was part of Sweden until 1809, and a Grand Duchy of Russia from 1809 to 1917, with relatively broad autonomy in its economic and many internal affairs. It became an independent republic in 1917. While not directly involved in the fighting in World War I, the country went through a civil war during the years of early independence in 1918, and fought against the Soviet Union during World War II. Participation in Western trade liberalization and bilateral trade with the Soviet Union required careful balancing of foreign policy, but also enhanced the welfare of the population. Finland has been a member of the European Union since 1995, and has belonged to the European Economic and Monetary Union since 1999, when it adopted the euro as its currency.

Gross Domestic Product per capita in Finland and in EU 15, 1860-2004, index 2004 = 100

Sources: Eurostat (2001–2005)

Finland has large forest areas of coniferous trees, and forests have been and still are an important natural resource in its economic development. Other natural resources are scarce: there is no coal or oil, and relatively few minerals. Outokumpu, the biggest copper mine in Europe in its time, was depleted in the 1980s. Even water power is scarce, despite the large number of lakes, because of the small height differences. The country is among the larger ones in Europe in area, but it is sparsely populated with 44 people per square mile, 5.3 million people altogether. The population is very homogeneous. There are a small number of people of foreign origin, about two percent, and for historical reasons there are two official language groups, the Finnish-speaking majority and a Swedish-speaking minority. In recent years population has grown at about 0.3 percent per year.

The Beginnings of Industrialization and Accelerating Growth

Finland was an agrarian country in the 1800s, despite poor climatic conditions for efficient grain growing. Seventy percent of the population was engaged in agriculture and forestry, and half of the value of production came from these primary industries in 1900. Slash and burn cultivation finally gave way to field cultivation during the nineteenth century, even in the eastern parts of the country.

Some iron works were founded in the southwestern part of the country in order to process Swedish iron ore as early as in the seventeenth century. Significant tar burning, sawmilling and fur trading brought cash with which to buy a few imported items such as salt, and some luxuries – coffee, sugar, wines and fine cloths. The small towns in the coastal areas flourished through the shipping of these items, even if restrictive legislation in the eighteenth century required transport via Stockholm. The income from tar and timber shipping accumulated capital for the first industrial plants.

The nineteenth century saw the modest beginnings of industrialization, clearly later than in Western Europe. The first modern cotton factories started up in the 1830s and 1840s, as did the first machine shops. The first steam machines were introduced in the cotton factories and the first rag paper machine in the 1840s. The first steam sawmills were allowed to start only in 1860. The first railroad shortened the traveling time from the inland towns to the coast in 1862, and the first telegraphs came at around the same time. Some new inventions, such as electrical power and the telephone, came into use early in the 1880s, but generally the diffusion of new technology to everyday use took a long time.

The export of various industrial and artisan products to Russia from the 1840s on, as well as the opening up of British markets to Finnish sawmill products in the 1860s were important triggers of industrial development. From the 1870s on pulp and paper based on wood fiber became major export items to the Russian market, and before World War I one-third of the demand of the vast Russian empire was satisfied with Finnish paper. Finland became a very open economy after the 1860s and 1870s, with an export share equaling one-fifth of GDP and an import share of one-fourth. A happy coincidence was the considerable improvement in the terms of trade (export prices/import prices) from the late 1860s to 1900, when timber and other export prices improved in relation to the international prices of grain and industrial products.

Openness of the economies (exports+imports of goods/GDP, percent) in Finland and EU 15, 1960-2005

Sources: Heikkinen and van Zanden 2004 Hjerppe 1989.

Finland participated fully in the global economy of the first gold-standard era, importing much of its grain tariff-free and a lot of other foodstuffs. Half of the imports consisted of food, beverages and tobacco. Agriculture turned to dairy farming, as in Denmark, but with poorer results. The Finnish currency, the markka from 1865, was tied to gold in 1878 and the Finnish Senate borrowed money from Western banking houses in order to build railways and schools.

GDP grew at a slightly accelerating average rate of 2.6 percent per annum, and GDP per capita rose 1.5 percent per year on average between 1860 and 1913. The population was also growing rapidly, and from two million in the 1860s it reached three million on the eve of World War I. Only about ten percent of the population lived in towns. The investment rate was a little over 10 percent of GDP between the 1860s and 1913 and labor productivity was low compared to the leading nations. Accordingly, economic growth depended mostly on added labor inputs, as well as a growing cultivated area.

Catching up in the Interwar Years

The revolution of 1917 in Russia and Finland’s independence cut off Russian trade, which was devastating for Finland’s economy. The food situation was particularly difficult as 60 percent of grain required had been imported.

Postwar reconstruction in Europe and the consequent demand for timber soon put the economy on a swift growth path. The gap between the Finnish economy and Western economies narrowed dramatically in the interwar period, although it remained the same among the Scandinavian countries, which also experienced fast growth: GDP grew by 4.7 percent per annum and GDP per capita by 3.8 percent in 1920–1938. The investment rate rose to new heights, which also improved labor productivity. The 1930s depression was milder than in many other European countries because of the continued demand for pulp and paper. On the other hand, Finnish industries went into depression at different times, which made the downturn milder than it would have been if all the industries had experienced their troughs simultaneously. The Depression, however, had serious and long-drawn-out consequences for poor people.

The land reform of 1918 secured land for tenant farmers and farm workers. A large number of new, small farms were established, which could only support families if they had extra income from forest work. The country remained largely agrarian. On the eve of World War II, almost half of the labor force and one-third of the production were still in the primary industries. Small-scale agriculture used horses and horse-drawn machines, lumberjacks went into the forest with axes and saws, and logs were transported from the forest by horses or by floating. Tariff protection and other policy measures helped to raise the domestic grain production to 80–90 percent of consumption by 1939.

Soon after the end of World War I, Finnish sawmill products, pulp and paper found old and new markets in the Western world. The structure of exports became more one-sided, however. Textiles and metal products found no markets in the West and had to compete hard with imports on the domestic market. More than four-fifths of exports were based on wood, and one-third of industrial production was in sawmilling, other wood products, pulp and paper. Other growing industries included mining, basic metal industries and machine production, but they operated on the domestic market, protected by the customs barriers that were typical of Europe at that time.

The Postwar Boom until the 1970s

Finland came out of World War II crippled by the loss of a full tenth of its territory, and with 400.000 evacuees from Karelia. Productive units were dilapidated and the raw material situation was poor. The huge war reparations to the Soviet Union were the priority problem of the decision makers. The favorable development of the domestic machinery and shipbuilding industries, which was based on domestic demand during the interwar period and arms deliveries to the army during the War made war-reparations deliveries possible. They were paid on time and according to the agreements. At the same time, timber exports to the West started again. Gradually the productive capacity was modernized and the whole industry was reformed. Evacuees and soldiers were given land on which to settle, and this contributed to the decrease in farm size.

Finland became part of the Western European trade-liberalization movement by joining the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Bretton Woods agreement in 1948, becoming a member of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) two years later, and joining Finnefta (an agreement between the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) and Finland) in 1961. The government chose not to receive Marshall Aid because of the world political situation. Bilateral trade agreements with the Soviet Union started in 1947 and continued until 1991. Tariffs were eased and imports from market economies liberated from 1957. Exports and imports, which had stayed at internationally high levels during the interwar years, only slowly returned to the earlier relative levels.

The investment rate climbed to new levels soon after War World II under a government policy favoring investments and it remained on this very high level until the end of the 1980s. The labor-force growth stopped in the early 1960s, and economic growth has since depended on increases in productivity rather than increased labor inputs. GDP growth was 4.9 percent and GDP per capita 4.3 percent in 1950–1973 – matching the rapid pace of many other European countries.

Exports and, accordingly, the structure of the manufacturing industry were diversified by Soviet and, later, on Western orders for machinery products including paper machines, cranes, elevators, and special ships such as icebreakers. The vast Soviet Union provided good markets for clothing and footwear, while Finnish wool and cotton factories slowly disappeared because of competition from low-wage countries. The modern chemical industry started to develop in the early twentieth century, often led by foreign entrepreneurs, and the first small oil refinery was built by the government in the 1950s. The government became actively involved in industrial activities in the early twentieth century, with investments in mining, basic industries, energy production and transmission, and the construction of infrastructure, and this continued in the postwar period.

The new agricultural policy, the aim of which was to secure reasonable incomes and favorable loans to the farmers and the availability of domestic agricultural products for the population, soon led to overproduction in several product groups, and further to government-subsidized dumping on the international markets. The first limitations on agricultural production were introduced at the end of the 1960s.

The population reached four million in 1950, and the postwar baby boom put extra pressure on the educational system. The educational level of the Finnish population was low in Western European terms in the 1950s, even if everybody could read and write. The underdeveloped educational system was expanded and renewed as new universities and vocational schools were founded, and the number of years of basic, compulsory education increased. Education has been government run since the 1960s and 1970s, and is free at all levels. Finland started to follow the so-called Nordic welfare model, and similar improvements in health and social care have been introduced, normally somewhat later than in the other Nordic countries. Public child-health centers, cash allowances for children, and maternity leave were established in the 1940s, and pension plans have covered the whole population since the 1950s. National unemployment programs had their beginnings in the 1930s and were gradually expanded. A public health-care system was introduced in 1970, and national health insurance also covers some of the cost of private health care. During the 1980s the income distribution became one of the most even in the world.

Slower Growth from the 1970s

The oil crises of the 1970s put the Finnish economy under pressure. Although the oil reserves of the main supplier, the Soviet Union, showed no signs of running out, the price increased in line with world market prices. This was a source of devastating inflation in Finland. On the other hand, it was possible to increase exports under the terms of the bilateral trade agreement with the Soviet Union. This boosted export demand and helped Finland to avoid the high and sustained unemployment that plagued Western Europe.

Economic growth in the 1980s was somewhat better than in most Western economies, and at the end of the 1980s Finland caught up with the sluggishly-growing Swedish GDP per capita for the first time. In the early 1990s the collapse of the Soviet trade, Western European recession and problems in adjusting to the new liberal order of international capital movement led the Finnish economy into a depression that was worse than that of the 1930s. GDP fell by over 10 percent in three years, and unemployment rose to 18 percent. The banking crisis triggered a profound structural change in the Finnish financial sector. The economy revived again to a brisk growth rate of 3.6 percent in 1994-2005: GDP growth was 2.5 percent and GDP per capita 2.1 percent between 1973 and 2005.

Electronics started its spectacular rise in the 1980s and it is now the largest single manufacturing industry with a 25 percent share of all manufacturing. Nokia is the world’s largest producer of mobile phones and a major transmission-station constructor. Connected to this development was the increase in the research-and- development outlay to three percent of GDP, one of the highest in the world. The Finnish paper companies UPM-Kymmene and M-real and the Finnish-Swedish Stora-Enso are among the largest paper producers in the world, although paper production now accounts for only 10 percent of manufacturing output. The recent discussion on the future of the industry is alarming, however. The position of the Nordic paper industry, which is based on expensive, slowly-growing timber, is threatened by new paper factories founded near the expanding consumption areas in Asia and South America, which use local, fast-growing tropical timber. The formerly significant sawmilling operations now constitute a very small percentage of the activities, although the production volumes have been growing. The textile and clothing industries have shrunk into insignificance.

What has typified the last couple of decades is the globalization that has spread to all areas. Exports and imports have increased as a result of export-favoring policies. Some 80 percent of the stocks of Finnish public companies are now in foreign hands: foreign ownership was limited and controlled until the early 1990s. A quarter of the companies operating in Finland are foreign-owned, and Finnish companies have even bigger investments abroad. Most big companies are truly international nowadays. Migration to Finland has increased, and since the collapse of the eastern bloc Russian immigrants have become the largest single foreign group. The number of foreigners is still lower than in many other countries – there are about 120.000 people with foreign background out of a population of 5.3 million.

The directions of foreign trade have been changing because trade with the rising Asian economies has been gaining in importance and Russian trade has fluctuated. Otherwise, almost the same country distribution prevails as has been common for over a century. Western Europe has a share of three-fifths, which has been typical. The United Kingdom was for long Finland’s biggest trading partner, with a share of one-third, but this started to diminish in the 1960s. Russia accounted for one-third of Finnish foreign trade in the early 1900s, but the Soviet Union had minimal trade with the West at first, and its share of the Finnish foreign trade was just a few percentage points. After World War II Soviet-Finnish trade increased gradually until it reached 25 percent of Finnish foreign trade in the 1970s and early 1980s. Trade with Russia is now gradually gaining ground again from the low point of the early 1990s, and had risen to about ten percent in 2006. This makes Russia one of Finland’s three biggest trading partners, Sweden and Germany being the other two with a ten percent share each.

The balance of payments was a continuing problem in the Finnish economy until the 1990s. Particularly in the post-World War II period inflation repeatedly eroded the competitive capacity of the economy and led to numerous devaluations of the currency. An economic policy favoring exports helped the country out of the depression of the 1990s and improved the balance of payments.

Agriculture continued its problematic development of overproduction and high subsidies, which finally became very unpopular. The number of farms has shrunk since the 1960s and the average size has recently risen to average European levels. The share of agricultural production and labor are also on the Western European levels nowadays. Finnish agriculture is incorporated into the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union and shares its problems, even if Finnish overproduction has been virtually eliminated.

The share of forestry is equally low, even if it supplies four-fifths of the wood used in Finnish sawmills and paper factories: the remaining fifth is imported mainly from the northwestern parts of Russia. The share of manufacturing is somewhat above Western European levels and, accordingly, that of services is high but slightly lower than in the old industrialized countries.

Recent discussion on the state of the economy mainly focuses on two issues. The very open economy of Finland is very much influenced by the rather sluggish economic development of the European Union. Accordingly, not very high growth rates are to be expected in Finland either. Since the 1990s depression, the investment rate has remained at a lower level than was common in the postwar period, and this is cause for concern.

The other issue concerns the prominent role of the public sector in the economy. The Nordic welfare model is basically approved of, but the costs create tensions. High taxation is one consequence of this and political parties discuss whether or not the high public-sector share slows down economic growth.

The aging population, high unemployment and the decreasing numbers of taxpayers in the rural areas of eastern and central Finland place a burden on the local governments. There is also continuing discussion about tax competition inside the European Union: how does the high taxation in some member countries affect the location decisions of companies?

Development of Finland’s exports by commodity group 1900-2005, percent

Source: Finnish National Board of Customs, Statistics Unit

Note on classification: Metal industry products SITC 28, 67, 68, 7, 87 Chemical products SITC 27, 32, 33, 34, 5, 66 Textiles SITC 26, 61, 65, 84, 85 Wood, paper and printed products SITC 24, 25, 63, 64, 82 Food, beverages, tobacco SITC 0, 1, 4.

Development of Finland’s imports by commodity group 1900-2005, percent

Source: Finnish National Board of Customs, Statistics Unit

Note on classification: Metal industry products SITC 28, 67, 68, 7, 87 Chemical products SITC 27, 32, 33, 34, 5, 66 Textiles SITC 26, 61, 65, 84, 85 Wood, paper and printed products SITC 24, 25, 63, 64, 82 Food, beverages, tobacco SITC 0, 1, 4.


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Heikkinen, S. Labour and the Market: Workers, Wages and Living Standards in Finland, 1850–1913. Commentationes Scientiarum Socialium 51 (1997).

Hjerppe, R. The Finnish Economy 1860–1985: Growth and Structural Change. Studies on Finland’s Economic Growth XIII. Helsinki: Bank of Finland Publications, 1989.

Jalava, J., S. Heikkinen and R. Hjerppe. “Technology and Structural Change: Productivity in the Finnish Manufacturing Industries, 1925-2000.” Transformation, Integration and Globalization Economic Research (TIGER), Working Paper No. 34, December 2002.

Kaukiainen, Yrjö. A History of Finnish Shipping. London: Routledge, 1993.

Myllyntaus, Timo. Electrification of Finland: The Transfer of a New Technology into a Late Industrializing Economy. Worcester, MA: Macmillan, Worcester, 1991.

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