Located in Northern Europe where it is bordered by Norway, Sweden, Estonia and Russia, the Nordic country of Finland consistently ranks as one of the best places to live in reference to quality of life, economic opportunities and education. Finland boasted a per capita income of nearly $50,000, one of the highest in the world. Sparsely populated due to its cold climate and rugged terrain, Finland is the eighth largest European country in terms of land measurements, with most of its five million residents living in the southern part of the country, specifically Helsinki, Lahti and Tampere.
Fast Facts about Finland
- The average temperature during winter in south Finland stays below 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 Celsius), with snow remaining on the ground from November to April. However, Finnish summers can get terribly hot. Temperatures of 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 Celsius) in mid July are not unusual.
- Farmers in northern Finland focus on animal husbandry, while southern farmers emphasize cereal farming
- In 2002, Finland's currency (the markka) was replaced with the Euro.
- Finland has two official languages: Swedish and Finnish. 90 percent of Finland's population speaks Finnish. English is spoken by 60 percent of Finns while 20 percent speak German.
Government and Legal System of Finland
A parliamentary democracy governed by a prime minister, head of state and a constitution implemented in 2000, Finland allows its citizens to vote in all country elections as well as European elections. Supreme legislative authority is exercised by Finland's unicameral Parliament comprised of 200 individuals who are given the power to change the constitution, override vetoes by the Prime Minsiter and dismiss the cabinet.
Finland's judicial system is based on civil law and divided between administrative courts and criminal/civil courts. Finnish law is based primarily on Swedish law but is also heavily influenced by Roman law. Appellate (regional) courts and local courts decide cases brought to judges in various jurisdictions throughout Finland. A High Court of Impeachment also exists that deals solely with crimes committed by high-ranking holders of government offices.
Punishment for breaking laws in Finland involves probation, fines and community service. Manslaughter, drug trafficking and other serious crimes generally warrant nine years in prison. Finland does give life sentences for premeditated murder but generally awards the prisoner probation after 10 to 15 years. Finland abolished the death penalty in 1971.