Finland is situated between West and East bordering Sweden, Norway and Russia by land and Estonia by sea. During its history, Finland has been part of Sweden and an autonomous Grand Duchy under the Russian Tsar before gaining independence in 1917. Twenty percent of the country lies above the Arctic Circle. All this is naturally reflected in the Finnish culture, traditions, cuisine, way of life, and in the character of the people.
Finland is full of interesting contrasts, such as four distinct seasons, the midnight sun, long winter nights and a distinctive culture in the different regions of the country. Finnish people are warm and genuine and treat each other as equals. Democracy and equality are considered more important than cultural hierarchy. Finland is a bilingual country: the main language is Finnish and Swedish is spoken by six percent of the population. All population groups and regions of the country enjoy equal educational opportunities. Special attention is paid to the content of education as well as to educational standards and equality.
Finland is well-known for being a safe and stable society. It is also one of the leading information societies in the world. The Finnish way of life is a unique mixture of high-tech and love for the country's unspoilt nature. Finland is a member of the European Union and has strong ties with the other Scandinavian countries.
Nature is an integral part of the Finnish way of life because nature is everywhere. Approximately 70 percent of the land is covered by forest, there are about 188 000 lakes, 1 100 km of coastline and around 81 000 islands off the coast. The archipelago that lies between mainland Finland and Sweden is the largest in Europe. The country is 1 160 km long: the terrain in Lapland, the northernmost part of Finland, is tundra while the middle and southern parts of the country are lush and green and dotted with thousands of lakes.
Finland has four distinctive seasons: summer (June-August), autumn (September-November), winter (December-February) and spring (March-May). While the temperature may vary from +25C in the summer to -25C (or more!) in the winter, the climate is rather mild considering that Finland is on the same latitude as Siberia. The average summer temperature in Tampere is +10-15C and -5C in the winter.
According to surveys foreigners consider Finns very friendly, polite and helpful, and a bit shy. English is widely spoken, especially among younger people, so even if don’t speak a word of Finnish or Swedish you won’t have difficulties communicating. Finnish society is stable and well-organized. The country’s population in only 5,3 million so long queues are almost unheard of. Traffic jams too are rare – the transport systems in the towns and cities are extremely efficient and every corner of the country is easily accessible by public transport.