Independence Day | 6th December | Finland

From the late 12th century until 1809, Finland was part of Sweden, a legacy reflected in the prevalence of the Swedish language and its official status. It then became the Grand Duchy of Finland, an autonomous duchy within the Russian Empire, until the Russian Revolution which prompted the Finnish Declaration of Independence in 1917.

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This was followed by the Finnish Civil War in which the pro-Bolshevik Finnish Socialist Workers’ Republic was defeated by the pro-conservative “Whites” with support from the German Empire. After a brief attempt to establish a Kingdom of Finland, the country became a republic.

In World War II, Finnish forces fought in three separate conflicts: the Winter War (1939–1940) and Continuation War (1941–1944) against the Soviet Union and the Lapland War (1944–1945) against Nazi Germany. Finland joined the United Nations in 1955 and established an official policy of neutrality. It joined the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 1969, the European Union in 1995, and the Eurozone at its inception in 1999.

In 1906, Finland became the first nation in the world to give full suffrage (the right to vote and to run for office) to all adult citizens, including women.

Finland was a relative latecomer to industrialisation, remaining a largely agrarian country until the 1950s. Thereafter, it rapidly developed an advanced economy while building an extensive Nordic-style welfare state, resulting in widespread prosperity and one of the highest per capita incomes in the world. Finland is a top performer in numerous metrics of national performance, including education, economic competitiveness, civil liberties, quality of life, and human development. In 2010, Newsweek chose Finland as the best country in the world.

On 28 November 2014, Finnish Parliament cast the decisive vote paving the way for the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

– Pete Karjalainen


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