Sweden proper , as represented in the Riksdag of the Estates. Swedish dominions and possessions. It is one of Finland's most popular tourist attractions. As a result of the crusades and the colonisation of some Finnish coastal areas with Christian Swedish population during the Middle Ages,  Finland gradually became part of the kingdom of Sweden and the sphere of influence of the Catholic Church.
Due to the Swedish conquest, the Finnish upper class lost its position and lands to the new Swedish and German nobility and to the Catholic Church. Swedish kings visited Finland rarely and in Swedish contemporary texts Finns were portrayed to be primitive and their language inferior.
During the Protestant Reformation , the Finns gradually converted to Lutheranism. The first university in Finland, the Royal Academy of Turku , was established in Finland suffered a severe famine in — , during which about one third of the Finnish population died,  and a devastating plague a few years later.
In the 18th century, wars between Sweden and Russia twice led to the occupation of Finland by Russian forces, times known to the Finns as the Greater Wrath — and the Lesser Wrath — An increasingly vocal elite in Finland soon determined that Finnish ties with Sweden were becoming too costly, and following Russo-Swedish War — , the Finnish elite's desire to break with Sweden only heightened.
Sprengtporten , who had supported Gustav III's coup in Sprengporten fell out with the king and resigned his commission in In the following decade he tried to secure Russian support for an autonomous Finland, and later became an adviser to Catherine II.
As a matter of fact, at this time the Finnish peasantry was outraged by the actions of their elite and almost exclusively supported Gustav's actions against the conspirators. The High Court of Turku condemned Sprengtporten as a traitor c. Russian Empire era[ edit ] See also: During the Russian era, the Finnish language began to gain recognition.
From the s onwards, a strong Finnish nationalist movement known as the Fennoman movement grew. Milestones included the publication of what would become Finland's national epic — the Kalevala — in , and the Finnish language's achieving equal legal status with Swedish in The famine led the Russian Empire to ease financial regulations, and investment rose in following decades.
Economic and political development was rapid. However, the relationship between the Grand Duchy and the Russian Empire soured when the Russian government made moves to restrict Finnish autonomy. For example, the universal suffrage was, in practice, virtually meaningless, since the tsar did not have to approve any of the laws adopted by the Finnish parliament. Desire for independence gained ground, first among radical liberals  and socialists.
Civil war and early independence[ edit ] Main articles: Since the head of state was the tsar of Russia, it was not clear who the chief executive of Finland was after the revolution.
The Parliament, controlled by social democrats, passed the so-called Power Act to give the highest authority to the Parliament. This was rejected by the Russian Provisional Government which decided to dissolve the Parliament.
Some social democrats refused to accept the result and still claimed that the dissolution of the parliament and thus the ensuing elections were extralegal. The two nearly equally powerful political blocs, the right-wing parties and the social democratic party, were highly antagonized.
The October Revolution in Russia changed the geopolitical situation anew. Suddenly, the right-wing parties in Finland started to reconsider their decision to block the transfer of highest executive power from the Russian government to Finland, as the Bolsheviks took power in Russia. Rather than acknowledge the authority of the Power Law of a few months earlier, the right-wing government declared independence on 6 December On 27 January , the official opening shots of the war were fired in two simultaneous events.
The government started to disarm the Russian forces in Pohjanmaa , and the Social Democratic Party staged a coup. This sparked the brief but bitter civil war. The Whites , who were supported by Imperial Germany , prevailed over the Reds. Deep social and political enmity was sown between the Reds and Whites and would last until the Winter War and beyond.
The civil war and activist expeditions into Soviet Russia strained Eastern relations. The Finnish—Russian border was determined by the Treaty of Tartu in , largely following the historic border but granting Pechenga Finnish: Petsamo and its Barents Sea harbour to Finland.
Finnish democracy did not see any Soviet coup attempts and survived the anti-Communist Lapua Movement. The relationship between Finland and the Soviet Union was tense.
Army officers were trained in France, and relations with Western Europe and Sweden were strengthened. In , the population was 3 million. Credit-based land reform was enacted after the civil war, increasing the proportion of capital-owning population.
The Porkkala land lease was returned to Finland in Main article: This was followed by the Lapland War of —, when Finland fought retreating German forces in northern Finland. Hakkapeliitta featured on a Finnish stamp The treaties signed in and with the Soviet Union included Finnish obligations, restraints, and reparations—as well as further Finnish territorial concessions in addition to those in the Moscow Peace Treaty of Almost the whole population, some , people , fled these areas.
Finland was never occupied by Soviet forces and it retained its independence, but at a loss of about 93, soldiers. Finland rejected Marshall aid , in apparent deference to Soviet desires. However, the United States provided secret development aid and helped the Social Democratic Party, in hopes of preserving Finland's independence. Valmet was founded to create materials for war reparations.
After the reparations had been paid off, Finland continued to trade with the Soviet Union in the framework of bilateral trade. The average number of births per woman declined from a baby boom peak of 3. Officially claiming to be neutral , Finland lay in the grey zone between the Western countries and the Soviet Union.
This was extensively exploited by president Urho Kekkonen against his opponents. He maintained an effective monopoly on Soviet relations from on, which was crucial for his continued popularity. In politics, there was a tendency of avoiding any policies and statements that could be interpreted as anti-Soviet.
This phenomenon was given the name " Finlandization " by the West German press. Despite close relations with the Soviet Union, Finland maintained a market economy. Various industries benefited from trade privileges with the Soviets, which explains the widespread support that pro-Soviet policies enjoyed among business interests in Finland. Economic growth was rapid in the postwar era, and by Finland's GDP per capita was the 15th-highest in the world.
In the s and 80s, Finland built one of the most extensive welfare states in the world. Finland negotiated with the EEC a predecessor of the European Union a treaty that mostly abolished customs duties towards the EEC starting from , although Finland did not fully join.
In , president Urho Kekkonen 's failing health forced him to retire after holding office for 25 years. Finland reacted cautiously to the collapse of the Soviet Union, but swiftly began increasing integration with the West. On 21 September , Finland unilaterally declared the Paris Peace Treaty obsolete, following the German reunification decision nine days earlier.
The depression bottomed out in , and Finland saw steady economic growth for more than ten years. Financial and product market regulation were loosened. Some state enterprises have been privatized and there have been some modest tax cuts. The language is one of only four official EU languages not of Indo-European origin.
Finnish is closely related to Karelian and Estonian and more remotely to the Sami languages and Hungarian. Swedish is the native language of 5. Finnish Romani is spoken by some 5,—6, people, Finnish Romani and Finnish Sign Language are also recognized in the constitution. There are two sign languages: Finnish Sign Language , spoken natively by 4,—5, people,  and Finland-Swedish Sign Language , spoken natively by about people.
Tatar language is spoken by a Finnish Tatar minority of about people who moved to Finland mainly during the Russian rule from the s until the s. About a quarter of them speak a Sami language as their mother tongue.