Large country in the north
Finland is a Nordic democracy with a population of 5.4 million. It is a member country of the European Union. Owing to its location, Finland's unique culture has been influenced by both Scandinavian and Russian cultures. With an overabundance of space, Finland's exotic, northern geographic setting is one of its most treasured resources.
In terms of area, Finland is the seventh largest country in Europe but it has a very low population density, 16 inhabitants per square kilometre (40 per sq. mile). 65% of Finns live in towns or urban areas and 35% in rural areas. Forests cover over two thirds of the country. Finland is also a land of thousand lakes: water covers 10% of the area. The archipelago of Finland is one of the world's most beautiful marine areas. The autonomous province of the Åland Islands lies off the southwest coast. The capital of Finland is Helsinki with a population of 600 000.
Land of four seasons
Finland is a land of contrasts and four distinct seasons. During the summer, the highest daytime temperature in eastern Finland occasionally rises to over 25°C (degrees Celsius) but during the winter months, particularly in January and February, temperatures of minus 20°C are common. Similarly in the summer, there is daylight almost around the clock, whereas in the winter there are only a few hours of daylight. In between the summer and winter we have two transitional seasons: spring and autumn. In the autumn the first snow settles in late October or in November, and the landscape will usually be covered with snow in December. The first signs of spring can be seen in March, and in April the snow gradually starts melting away. Still, it is not uncommon that there might be some snow left even in the beginning of May.
Even though the temperatures in the winter can seem quite harsh, Finland has a much milder climate than other areas in similar latitudes. This is due to the many lakes, the Baltic Sea and Gulf Stream warmed airflows from the Atlantic Ocean.