macrohistory & world report

The Republic of Finland

Map of Finland

Finland (capital Helsinki) and neighboring states

World Factbook as of October 2014: "Finland has a highly industrialized, largely free-market economy with per capita output almost as high as that of Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, or Sweden. Trade is important, with exports accounting for over one-third of GDP in recent years. Finland is historically competitive in manufacturing – principally the wood, metals, engineering, telecommunications, and electronics industries... Because of the climate, agricultural development is limited to maintaining self-sufficiency in basic products. Forestry, an important export earner, provides a secondary occupation for the rural population. Finland had been one of the best performing economies within the EU in recent years and its banks and financial markets avoided the worst of global financial crisis... Finland's main challenge will be to stimulate growth while faced with weak export demand in the EU and its own government austerity measures. Longer-term, Finland must address a rapidly aging population and decreasing productivity in traditional industries that threaten competitiveness, fiscal sustainability, and economic growth."

Health care is available to all and the responsibility of local government and include medical consultations, dental care and preventive care. Health centers exist in rural areas, in the larger urban centers employ as many as hundred of doctors and include specialized services. Most Finnish municipalities have adopted a family doctor system, with each doctor responsible for about 2000 patients. The Finns pay out of pocket about 20% of the cost of their health care. 

In the average number of years spent in school, Finland is second only to Norway.

2004: A study by PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) comparing student skills in math, reading and science, puts Finland in first place. South Korea is second and Canada third. From Finland comes the remark that for the sake of economic survival and to compete with the low-cost economies of Asia, it was necessary to invest heavily in education and training. Finnish children learn at "their own pace" rather than being bunched together according to year. 

A United Nations survey in 2003 ranked Finland's water as first among 122 nations surveyed. 

Economic growth rate
2013: -0.6%
2012: 0.3%
2011: 2.7%
2010: 3.3%

Unemployment rate
2013: 8.1%
2012: 7.3%
2011: 7.7%
2010: 8.4%
2009: 8.5%
2008: 6.4%

Currency is the euro.

2004: Seventy percent of mothers with young children work.

Finland ranks high in social security and welfare expenditures.

Wikipedia: "Finland's climate and soils make growing crops a particular challenge. The country lies between 60° and 70° north latitude, and has severe winters and relatively short growing seasons that are sometimes interrupted by frosts.

In 2002, Finland bought 14.5% of its imports from Germany, 10.9% from Sweden, 9.9% from Russia 9.9, 5.7 from the UK, 4.3 from France and 4.2 from Denmark.

Military expenditures as a percentage of GDP
2005: 2.0%

Distribution of family income – GINI index
Finland's division of wealth is flatter than the United States. It ranks 11th most equal in income distribution among 140 countries, its GINI index at 26.8. It has a revenue to GDP ratio of 72.4% compared to 15.0% for the US

Health expenditure

2009: 11.7% of GDP, with good health figures to show for it. Infant mortality is 3.4 compared to 5.98 for the US, where health expenditure is 16.2% of GDP.


Living in an urban area
2011: 83.7%
2010: 85%

Births vs deaths per 1,000 population
2014: Births 10.35, deaths 10.51. Finland has a higher percentage of older people than does the United States, whose death rate is 8.15 per 1,000. Estimates for 2014 have Finland with 19.2% over 65 compared to13.9% for the US, which may account for Finland's higher rate of death.

2006: Finn 93.4%, Swedish, 5.6 %. Russian, 0.5%, Estonian 0.3%, Roma (Gypsy) 0.1%

2006: Lutheran Church of Finland 82.5%, Orthodox Church 1.1%, other Christian 1.1%, other 0.1%, none 15.1%

Net migration rates
2013: A net gain of 0.62 persons per 1,000 population.
2012: A net gain of 0.62 persons per 1,000 population.

Divorce rate:
2004: According to, Finland's divorce rate is 1.85 per thousand per year. For the US this is 4.95 per thousand.

Before the 2004 Olympic games, Finland led the world in per capita medals won in summer games.

Helsinki is not a popular place to go during the winter. A complaint on the internet describes its streets in winter as having only drunks and the homeless. All of Helsinki's beautiful people are indoors keeping warm.


Between Sweden and Russia. Capital: Helsinki. Mostly flat, wooded, interspersed with lakes. Slightly smaller than Montana.


Parliamentary democracy. Unicameral parliament. President elected by popular vote for a six-year term (eligible for a second term)/

Recent History

After World War II, the Finns transformed their economy from farm and forest to a diversified and highly industrialized largely free-market economy. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Republic of Finland was free of its agreement to remain neutral, and in 1995 it joined the European Union.

Copyright © 2009-2013 by Frank E. Smitha. All rights reserved.