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Finland is a state in the North of Europe, in the east it borders with Russia, in the north - with Norway, and in the northwest - with Sweden. The southern and western part of the state is washed by the Baltic Sea. The population of the country is about 5.5 million people, the capital is the city of Helsinki, which is home to 580 thousand.
Finland, although it is Russia's northern neighbor, is poorly studied by our citizens. Usually, the information that stuck in the head turns out to be either strongly distorted or has nothing to do with the truth at all.
It’s a paradox - it’s only an hour to fly from Moscow to Helsinki, and five hours from St. Petersburg by car, and the country remains a blank spot. Therefore, let's find out more about her, along the way debunking the most popular myths about her.
Finns speak slowly and little. Many people believe that the Finns, like many northwestern peoples, speak with drawling words. But it's worth trying to learn Finnish and get rid of this prejudice. Anecdotes on this topic are completely untrue, especially since different people have different accents and speak the language differently. The Finns themselves do not consider their speech to be slow. But chatting in vain is really not accepted in this country, silence is not perceived as an inability to communicate, but is part of social interaction.
Finns are gloomy and unfriendly. It would be naive to expect that when meeting or meeting, a Finn will throw himself on his neck or be completely open, sparkle with jokes, happily maintaining a conversation. However, you should not be afraid that after a possibly cool acquaintance, the Finn will forget you. And if there is a rapprochement, it means that you will remain in your memory for a long time - the inhabitants of this northern country value their acquaintances very much, remembering names well. These people are also very patient. You can distort words in a conversation with them, choosing with difficulty the cases, but they will always listen carefully and will be ready to understand and help. Of course, in order to ensure closer contact, you must at least try to learn Finnish in order to communicate with the residents in their native language.
Finns do not have a sense of hospitality like other Europeans. You shouldn't expect the table to burst with food at a party, but this is largely due to the fact that Finnish cuisine is simple and even austere. Most of the food is potatoes, deer meat, Karelian pies. Or options with the participation of the above. Naturally, such a set after the Russian hospitality is perceived almost as an insult. Despite all the differences in mentality with the Russians, the Finns are happy to throw parties; for this, chips and a local snack - chopped carrots - are served with beer. There are also parties, where the number of dishes is certainly wider, but not much. So local residents do not shy away from social events at all, and the scarcity of their diet is due to traditional reasons. So don't be afraid to make Finnish friends, you will soon be able to have fun together.
In Helsinki, as in many other cities in Finland, tourists have nothing to do. This opinion is often met by our tourists returning from Helsinki by train. However, what was included in the tourist program? Usually tourists are dropped off the bus at Aleksanterinaukio near the Tuomiokirkko church, they climb the stairs, from where they can take a couple of pictures, then 2-3 more sights will be shown at a frantic pace, and in the evening they will be served reindeer meat and Karelian pies in the restaurant. Perhaps shopping will also be added to the program. In this case, you can't really see much. The fact is that Finland and Helsinki, in particular, have their own unique flavor, which is difficult to grasp for a quick routine tour. If you want to understand this country, then it is better to visit the country on your own and not walk around the hackneyed places - sit in Kaivopuisto, feed the seagulls in the port, take a walk along Katajanokka, pay attention to the Jugend style of local buildings, take a tram ride or visit the interesting city of Tampere. Believe me, you will see the country with different eyes!
Finland is much colder than Moscow, in winter there is almost always frost below 20 degrees, and there is almost no summer. While many in the West believe that polar bears walk in Moscow, some of our compatriots think that polar bears walk in Helsinki. When planning to visit the capital of Finland, even in summer people for some reason take a down jacket with them, then surprising their friends with an unexpectedly beautiful tan. Of course, if we look at Lapland, then it is really cold there in summer, and in some places it snows until June, but a sweater is quite enough there, although it is better to use a warm blanket at night. By the way, in this area in mid-June the sun does not set at all, shining both day and night. But looking at the south of Finland (including Helsinki), you can find that the climate there is quite similar to that of St. Petersburg, and sometimes even warmer. Winter in the capital, although cold, is quite similar to Moscow in terms of average temperatures. The only difference is the humid wind blowing from the bay, which reminds, again, of St. Petersburg. So our man will not find any unique climatic differences.
Finland was heavily oppressed under Russian rule. This myth was born by those who see in everything the manifestation of the imperial past of Russia. However, not everything was so bad for Finland. It was annexed to the Russian Empire in 1808-1809 as an autonomous Grand Duchy. The locals were quite loyal to the royal power, for which they were rewarded. A university appeared in Helsinki, the autonomy had its own monetary unit, its own post office. In the 19th century, Finnish industry and economy grew rapidly, and national culture flourished. The country is beginning to interest Europe not only in timber, but also in metallurgy. But in 1899, Nicholas II put an end to the country's autonomy by starting to Russify it. All this met with indignation of the indigenous population, which led to the separation of Finland from Russia in 1917.
There was no civil war in Finland. Immediately after the country gained independence, a civil war broke out in the country, the people were divided into "red" and "white". But in the spring of 1918, the Whites, under the leadership of General Mannerheim, won, thereby choosing the democratic path of the country's development, with developed parliamentarism.
In the summer of 1941, it was the USSR that attacked Finland. Recently, more and more works of domestic and Western historians have appeared, who argue that Finland entered the Great Patriotic War by force, only in response to the Soviet bombing of June 25, 1941. After the end of the winter war against the USSR in 1939, Finland quickly found an ally in the person of Germany, by the summer of 1941, Nazi troops were deployed on the territory of Suomi, on June 21-22 the Finns began to mine the Baltic Gulf and seize the demilitarized zones, which was a direct violation of the peaceful agreement with the USSR. It was planned that active operations would begin two weeks after the German attack. On June 22, 1941, German Ambassador Schulenburg, in an interview with Molotov, announced that Finland would enter the war together with Germany. The ambassador of this country himself refused to explain the positions of his state the next day, without declaring neutrality, as was done immediately after the outbreak of World War II. It was in such conditions that the bombing of Finland by Soviet aviation began on June 25. Only here some significant military targets were not hit, and in the eyes of the world community, the USSR itself became an aggressor. Therefore, England declared war on Finland only in December 1941, and the United States did not do this at all, maintaining diplomatic relations for another 3 years. It remains only to mention the words of the Finnish President Kekkonen, expressed back in the 70s: "Even an absolute fool can no longer deny that a small Finnish leadership group concluded a secret agreement with Nazi Germany on Finland's participation in Hitler's aggressive war in the summer of 1941."
The defeat in World War II was a heavy burden on Finland. Finland began to fight back in November 1939, when it opposed the USSR. By the way, this defeat resulted in large territorial and material losses for the country. But already in June 1941, the Finns supported the Nazis, acting on their side, but in 1944 Finland officially withdrew from the Second World War, expelling German troops from the country along the way. So the military losses were not as significant as those of other German allies. Yes, Finland agreed to pay the USSR huge repatriations, but this entailed the formation of new industries, its growth in general. After repatriation payments, cooperation between our countries continued on a commercial basis. At the same time, it is important that Finland has preserved its social and political system, remaining a democratic state. So it can be stated that the country was not exhausted by the war, having courageously stepped over adversity and by hard work won its right to prosperity.
There is a language problem in Finland. The fact that the territory of Finland for a long time passed from Sweden to Russia and back could not but be reflected. Since 1922, there are 2 official languages in Finland - Swedish and Finnish, although in the period 1809-1917 Russian was also the official language. Today about 6% of the population speaks Swedish, and less than 1% speak Russian. The country has schools for Swedish-speaking people, a press is published, and state television is broadcast. Mixed marriages are very common. There is even an area in Finland where the local Swedish population does not understand Finnish at all. Interestingly, in order to ensure the rights of the Sami peoples, a law was passed in 1992, which obliges to translate into the Sami language those documents that directly concern the issues of these groups. So the country is quite tolerant towards the issues of the language of national minorities.
Finland still has a dry law. The popularization of this myth is facilitated by the behavior of the Finns in the Russian territories. Foreigners drink a lot and stock up on cheap alcohol. In fact, the "dry" law in Finland has been canceled for 70 years, and this behavior is caused by a significant difference in the price of alcohol in Finland and Russia. The reason for the cancellation was the flourishing of alcohol smuggling and home brewing.
Young families are very much supported in Finland. The number of mothers with strollers is striking in the country, they are literally everywhere. But this is not caused by significant government assistance, the child subsidy is only 100 euros, but a difference in mentality. In addition, mothers with strollers have the opportunity to ride the tram for free, so they take with them already quite adult children.
Finland has a high unemployment benefit, you can even travel freely on it. The amount of such an allowance is 500-700 euros, you can't really run away, although by Russian standards this is certainly a lot. The state constantly offers jobs to the unemployed, but the vacancies of loaders and cleaners are initially open for visitors.
Finland has quality free healthcare. Many consider this country to be the embodiment of socialism, nodding to free medicine. However, no one will rush to help a patient for free, yes, they can make an appointment with a free doctor ... in two or three weeks. And the queue to a free dentist lasts for six months. However, no one guarantees the quality of such services.
Finland is a country of equal opportunities. In fact, it is quite difficult to get a decent job, even with knowledge of the language and diplomas. Finnish society is riddled with xenophobia and racism, although this is not openly discussed. You simply won't be hired, without explanation. So be prepared to work at the lowest levels if you are unlucky enough to get a job in a large international company or Nokia.