19 Fun Facts About Finland

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Learn something new about Norway’s Nordic neighbours Finland. Here are 19 Finland facts to impress your family and friends.

Finland, known for its stunning natural landscapes, including vast forests and numerous lakes, is a Nordic country situated in Northern Europe. It boasts a high quality of life and is known as one of the world’s happiest countries.

Frozen harbour in Helsinki, Finland
Frozen harbour in Helsinki, Finland.

In addition, Finland is known for its innovative education system, and strong commitment to equality and welfare. Finland is also celebrated for its design and technology industries.

Continuing our tour of Scandinavia and the Nordic region, it’s time to look at Finland. The Nordic nation lies mostly to the east of Norway and Sweden, and has a long border with Russia.

I've been to Finland a couple of times. I'm a big fan of the capital city Helsinki but I also enjoyed my time in Tampere, which I felt had a very Trondheim-like vibe.

Now that the world of international travel has long since returned to normal, I'm looking forward to exploring Finland much more. Please feel free to make any recommendations in the comments.

In the meantime, here are some of the top Finland facts you may or may not know about this fascinating Nordic country. Enjoy!

1. Finland is the world's happiest country

The Nordic countries consistently rank at the top of the UN's annual World Happiness Report. But in 2020, Finland leapfrogged the rest to finish top of the pile. It has since retained its title, most recently in the 2024 rankings.

Northern lights in Arctic Finland.
Northern lights in Arctic Finland.

The rankings take into account many factors. Finland’s residents enjoy a high standard of living, underpinned by a comprehensive welfare system that ensures healthcare, education, and social security for all.

The country values community, trust, and equality, with low levels of corruption and high levels of government transparency fostering a strong sense of security and belonging among its people.

Additionally, Finland’s emphasis on work-life balance, access to nature, and community support contribute to overall well-being and happiness. The Finnish education system, recognized globally for its excellence, plays a crucial role in societal satisfaction by providing equal opportunities for all.

2. Finland's population is very similar to Norway

According to preliminary data from Statistics Finland, the country's population stood at 5,608,218 at the beginning of 2024.

That compares to 5,550,203 in Norway. As with Norway, Finland's population has grown through immigration in recent years.

3. But Oslo is slightly bigger than Helsinki

Norway's capital city is home to approximately 693,000 people, whereas 675,747 people call Helsinki home. Of course, much of this comes down to somewhat arbitrary borders and definitions.

Helsinki city scene
Helsinki, the capital of Finland.

When considering the total urban area, the Helsinki capital region (1.26 million) outnumbers the Oslo metropolitan area (1.02 million).

4. Almost half of Finland's foreign population lives in Helsinki

We have Statistics Finland to thank once again for this fact! At the beginning of 2023, there were 508,173 people with a foreign background living in Finland.

Of those, 123,676 live in Helsinki city, but that total rises to almost half when taking into account the entire Greater Helsinki region. Those with a Somali and Indian background have the greatest concentration in the capital region.

5. Finnish is totally different from the Scandinavian languages

Although Finland is often lumped in with Scandinavia, the country's language shares nothing in common with its Scandinavian friends.

Finnish is part of the Uralic language family, of which Hungarian is the closest relation.

6. All Finns learn Swedish at secondary school

While Finnish is not a Scandinavian language, Swedish is an important language in Finland. So much so, that it holds official language status together with Finnish.

Finland flag eyes

Swedish is spoken mostly on the western and southern coast of the country, while as many as 5% of Finns consider Swedish their native language.

And of course, Finns also learn English at school too! So Norwegians or Danes who can't get their message across in Swedish can always switch to English.

7. Finns are the world's biggest coffee drinkers

The title of the world's most avid coffee drinkers surprisingly belongs not to the espresso aficionados of Italy or the café culture connoisseurs of France, but to the people of Finland.

Finnish people's coffee consumption outpaces that of any other country, making coffee an integral part of their daily lives and cultural identity.

On average, each Finn consumes about 12 kilograms of coffee annually. Such a figure might seem staggering to the uninitiated, but in Finland, it translates to a societal norm where drinking up to eight cups of coffee a day is commonplace.

This high consumption rate is not merely about the love for caffeine but is entwined with Finnish lifestyle and social customs. Coffee in Finland is a reason to gather with friends, family, or colleagues throughout the day.

The preference for light roast coffee, which is milder yet highly caffeinated, further distinguishes Finnish coffee culture, offering a flavour profile that has become synonymous with the country's coffee tradition.

8. There are 187,888 lakes in Finland

Finland is known as the land of a thousand lakes. Yet in actual fact, the number is more than 187 times that!

Read more: Fun Facts about Iceland

There are some 187,888 lakes in Finland larger than 500 square metres (5,400 sq ft). About 57,000 of them have an area larger than 10,000 square metres (110,000 sq ft). They are listed here along with some smaller noteworthy lakes.

A lake in Oulu, Finland
Finland has a huge number of lakes.

9. Finns don't fill silences

I love this one! Simply put, if you grew up in Finland, chances are you're perfectly comfortable with silence.

When meeting an acquaintance, it's perfectly acceptable to say a quick hello and continue on your way. Small talk just isn't necessary. Finns also naturally keep their distance from other people in public areas.

10. Breakfast is a savoury affair

Sweet breakfasts are popular in some parts of Europe, but not in Finland. Breakfast here is a similar affair, with butter, cold cuts and/or cheese eaten on top of bread, in the same style as Norwegian pålegg.

The sweetest most Finnish breakfasts get is a few berries stirred into porridge. However, it's a different story later in the day!

11. The Moomins are Finnish

The fun Finland facts continue! Swedish-speaking Finnish author and illustrator Tove Jansson created the hippo-like creatures known as the Moomins. The creatures starred in nine books, five picture books and a long-running comic strip along with their many TV appearances.

Jansson was brought up by artistic parents and studied art in Sweden and France. During her youth, Jansson and her family spent summers on an island, which is believed to have inspired some of the tales.

On the island of Kailo in southwest Finland, the Moomin World theme park is open daily from mid-June to mid-August.

Blue Moomin House in Finland
Blue Moomin House at Finland's Moomin World

The blueberry-coloured Moomin House, in which guests can explore all five levels, is one of the park's main attractions. It’s just one of many Moomin attractions throughout Finland.

12. Most Finnish children have two birthday parties

In Finland, birthday celebrations are a significant part of childhood, with a unique tradition that sees many children enjoying not one, but two separate parties in honor of their special day.

The first gathering is usually dedicated to the child's friends, a lively and joyous occasion filled with games, treats, and laughter, allowing young ones to revel in the company of their peers.

Read more: Fun Facts about Norway

The second celebration is more family-oriented, involving relatives and sometimes close family friends, where the focus is on familial bonds and shared joy, often marked by traditional Finnish birthday customs and a meal together.

Conversely, as Finnish children grow into adulthood, the grandeur of birthday celebrations tends to diminish. Adult Finns typically reserve grand celebrations for milestone birthdays only.

13. Finland is sauna mad

Sauna is not just a tradition in Finland; it's a way of life. Estimates put the number of saunas in Finland at around two million. That's not bad for a population of 5.3 million!

The significance of saunas in Finland extends beyond mere numbers. These hot rooms have historically been places of relaxation, purification, and bonding. For centuries, they have been integral to significant life events. Historically, women even gave birth in saunas because they were considered the cleanest places in homes.

In modern Finland, saunas can be found just about everywhere. From sleek designs in city apartments to rustic cabins hidden amidst the vast forests, each sauna offers a unique experience. They are not just restricted to homes. Many businesses, including major corporations, have on-site saunas for their employees.

14. 74% of the country is forested

Finland has more forest than any other European country. Forest covers 74% of the entire country – that's an area larger than the UK or Italy.

A Finnish cabin by a lake

Together with the lakes, this gives Finland its distinctive appearance. Pine, fir and birch trees are the most common species found in the forests.

15. Angry Birds originated in Finland

The mobile gaming sensation Angry Birds began life in Finland. Founded by students in 2003, the game's creators Rovio Entertainment went on to become publicly listed in 2017 at a $1 billion valuation.

Angry Birds isn't the only worldwide smash to have originated in Finland. Nokia's Snake–arguably the most influential mobile game ever–and Clash of Clans are also Finnish.

16. Suomi is Finnish for Finland

Suomi is the Finnish name for their homeland, known internationally as Finland. This linguistic distinction highlights the unique cultural and historical identity Finns hold.

The origin of “Suomi” is shrouded in mystery, with various theories attempting to explain its etymology. Some suggest it derives from a word related to “land” or “people” in ancient Finno-Ugric languages.

Others propose connections to terms signifying “swamp” or “fishing,” reflecting the country's rich natural landscapes and traditional livelihoods.

The name “Finland,” on the other hand, has a clearer past. Its earliest documented appearance is on a Scandinavian runestone, denoting it as the land of the Finns.

This external nomenclature, used by neighbouring countries, contrasts with the internal name “Suomi,” emphasising the perspective from which the country is viewed.

17. Finland is home to Santa

Finland holds a unique position in global folklore as the residence of one of the most iconic figures in Western culture: Santa Claus.

The city of Rovaniemi, situated within the Arctic Circle, is widely acknowledged as Santa Claus's official residence, a designation that captures the imagination of visitors from around the globe.

The home of Santa Claus in Rovaniemi, Finland.
The home of Santa Claus in Rovaniemi, Finland.

Rovaniemi's “Santa Claus Village” is a theme park dedicated to the jolly figure of holiday lore. Within the confines of Santa Claus Village, the magic of Christmas is alive throughout the year.

Guests have the extraordinary opportunity to meet Santa Claus himself, creating unforgettable memories for children and adults alike.

The village offers the unique service of the Santa Claus Main Post Office, where visitors can send greetings to loved ones with a special postmark exclusive to this location, adding a touch of magic to every correspondence.

Beyond the interactions and postal souvenirs, Rovaniemi and its surroundings offer a breathtaking backdrop of snow-covered landscapes, northern lights, and pristine wilderness, embodying the quintessential winter fantasy.

18. Finland is a land of metal bands

Finland has a high density of heavy metal bands. In fact, it has more heavy metal bands per capita than any other country in the world.

The Finnish metal scene is diverse, with bands spanning various sub-genres from symphonic metal to death metal, doom, folk metal, and beyond. Bands such as Nightwish, Children of Bodom, HIM, Stratovarius, Amorphis, and Apocalyptica have gained international acclaim.

Why is the metal genre so popular in Finland? While it's hard to pinpoint a single reason, several factors contribute to this phenomenon. The Finnish cultural landscape, which reveres authenticity and individuality, might be one.

The long, dark winters and the country's remote, vast landscapes may also play a part, providing an atmosphere that resonates with the intense and often melancholic tones of metal music.

19. There’s a national ‘sleepy head day’

In Finland, ‘National Sleepy Head Day' or ‘Unikeonpäivä' is a fun and lighthearted tradition celebrated on 27th July each year.

The day is marked by playful pranks, where family members might wake up the last sleeping person in the household by throwing water on them or, in some cases, even tossing them into a lake or the sea. It's all done in good fun, and many communities and families have their own ways of marking the day.

The roots of the tradition are believed to be associated with religious stories, specifically the tale of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus, who, as the legend goes, retreated into a cave and slept there for centuries as a way to escape religious persecution.

Have you ever been to the country? What's your favourite among these Finland facts?

About David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

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7 thoughts on “19 Fun Facts About Finland”

  1. Hungarian isn’t the closest relative language to Finnish. Actually, it is Karelian, but because most people don’t know it, let’s say Estonian. And the Sami language, which is spoken also in Norway, is a closer relative to Finnish than Hungarian.

  2. Sami languages,l am not sure origin.But l know that Japanise,Soumi languages,Hungary languages and our country Türkiye languages origin came from Ural-Altay languages origin group from Ural-Altay middle Asia.Your information useful .

  3. Traffic signs in Helsinki have three languages: Finnish, Swedish, and English. (I don’t know about the rest of Finland; I have only had the pleasure of visiting Helsinki.)

    • Wow, I didn’t expect that! I guess that helps a lot more people understand the traffic signs. (As someone who only knows English that would make it a lot easier to visit Helsinki.)

  4. As a third generation Finn, I am always proud of my heritage. While most Americans are proud to claim a connection to revolutionary heroes, I often felt left out because my great-grandparents emigrated to the USA. Finally, in high school, while singing in a choir concert the song “ This is My Country,” I understood what it meant to be a decendant of Finnish immigrants as we belted out the second verse. “This is my country, land of my choice. This is my country, hear my proud voice.” I had written my term paper for junior English on the Winter War, had grown up eating Finnish food, and in 2001 visited Finland for three weeks. It was exciting to visit the places where my ancestors were born. The country was beautiful and the people were so nice. I am proud of my Finnish blood.

  5. Just came back from Helsinki for a few days playing at the Savoy Theatre with an Elton John Tribute show. We did 4 shows and all were almost sold out! 1st half they were quite reserved but very appreciative after each song, 2nd half they all got up bopping!
    But very impressed with the place, this time of year too, like something out of a Dickens novel, very Christmassy indeed.
    People were super friendly and hospitable. Didn’t hear a single police car siren all week! For a capital city, that’s saying something!
    Would love to return one day!

  6. Thank you for a good article, but Swedish is not a language of much importance in Finland, at least among young Finns. It is a language that is being marginalised and has already been replaced by English.


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