The Republic of Finland is a Nordic country in north Eastern Europe, bounded by the Baltic Sea to the southwest, the Gulf of Finland to the south and the Gulf of Bothnia to the west. Finland has land frontiers with Sweden, Norway and Russia. The Aland Islands, off the south western coast, are under Finnish sovereignty while enjoying extensive autonomy. Finland has a population of only five million people in three hundred thousand square kilometres. The capital of Finland is Helsinki.
Cold temperate and potentially sub arctic, but comparatively mild because of moderating influence of the North Atlantic Current, Baltic Sea and more than 60,000 lakes.
On 1 January 1999, the European Monetary Union introduced the euro as a common currency to be used by financial institutions of member countries. On 1 January 2002, the euro became the sole currency for everyday transactions within the member countries.
Lapland, far to the north, the indigenous Sami people still tend their reindeer herds. Finland is one of the most technologically switched on countries in the world. It is also renowned for its design and architecture, in particular those of Alvar Aalto, whose humanist approach to modernism extended into fields such as glassware, furniture and major buildings.
Go cross cuntry skiing on Finlands marked and often illuminated tracks all over the country. There are also over 100 downhill skiing resorts. Many resorts have half pipes and snowboard streets for snowboarding enthusiasts. Off site skiing is available through private companies.
Restaurants are divided into two classes, those serving all kinds of alcohol and those serving only beers and wines. Waiter service is common although there are many self service snack bars. Bars and cafes may have table and or counter service and internationally known beverages are available. In restaurants, beer is served from 0900 and other liquor from 1100. All alcohol is served until half an hour before the restaurant closes. Nightclubs are open to serve drinks until 0200 or 0400. Service begins at 1100 and continues until the restaurant closes.
Finnish handicrafts, jewellery, hand woven rugs, furniture, glassware, porcelain, ceramics, furs and textiles are amongst the many specialities. Excellent supermarkets and self service shops can be found all over the country.
Most visits to Finland are trouble fee but you should be aware of the global risk of indiscriminate international terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by foreigners. This advice is based on information provided by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK.
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