Located in Northern Europe, Finland covers an area of about 130,558 sq miles. As the sixth largest country in Europe, it is a little over twice the size of Georgia and slightly smaller than Montana. Its 776 mile coastline wraps around from the south, where it is bordered by the Gulf of Finland moving west where it is bordered by the Baltic Sea; then half way up the west coast where it is bordered by the Gulf of Bothnia. Moving further north above the Gulf of Bothnia, the country is bordered by Sweden to the west, Norway to the north, and Russia along its very long eastern border. The land is mostly flat with low hills and lakes. The majority of Finland’s lakes are located on the southern half of the country and over half of the country is covered in forest. The highest elevations are on the north western region and the highest point in the country is in Haltiatunturi at over 4,300 ft. The lowest point its southern Baltic coastline.
The area of Finland was first occupied by the indigenous Lapps. Thousands of years ago, the ancestors of present-day Finns migrated into the territory pushing the Lapps towards the northern region. Christianity was introduced to the area around 1154 by Sweden’s King Eric. Finland was at first a province of Sweden and then a grand duchy from the 12th to the 19th century and often times Finns would fight in the Swedish army. During this time, Swedish was the dominant language in Finland until the 19th century when Finnish became dominant as Finnish nationalism began to grow. In 1809, Finland became an autonomous grand duchy of Russia after being conquered by Czar Alexander. This lasted until 1917 when Finland declared its independence. With a temporary alliance with Germany during World War II, Finland was able to resist further attacks from the Soviets and successfully defended its independence. In the second half of the century, Finland transformed its farming based economy into a more modern industrialized economy with one of the highest incomes per capita in Western Europe. Finland joined the European Union in 1995 and was the only Nordic state to switch over to the Euro currency.
The majority of the population identify as Finns with a very small minority of Swedish. Most Finns are Lutherans. Other minority religions include Baptists, Methodists, Roman Catholics, Jews and Muslims. Most of the Finnish population lives in the southern region of the country, while the northern areas have been thinly populated and contain Lapps.
Dress codes are very casual for almost all occasions; the people are very genuine. Finns may seem withdrawn at first, but most have very liberal attitudes. They don’t take themselves too serious and have no problems making jokes about themselves. Most are aware of their reserved nature and often find humor in it.
Saunas are a popular cultural past time and it’s estimated there are over 2 million saunas in the country. There is even a sauna in the Parliament.
Finnish and Swedish are both official languages of Finland, although Finnish is the more widely used. The majority of the population also speaks English. A small minority of Lappish people speak Lapp. Finnish and Lappish are both Finno-Ugric languages and are in the Uralic rather than the Indo-European family.
A parliamentary republic, Finland’s system is a mix of presidential and parliamentary with powers divided between a president and a prime minister. The president is given powers over national security and foreign affairs. The prime minister is given power over everything else.
UTC + 2 – (observes summer daylight savings time)
230V supply voltage and 50Hz
Plugs and Sockets Type C & F
Finland is in the northern hemisphere and experiences long summer days and long winter nights. In the northern regions of the country, the sun will not set for several weeks. Summer days are long in the southern region as well, but there is no midnight sun. Winter time will experience reverse conditions, when the sun never comes up in the north. Summers are short and last from June to August. Winter is November to March in the southern region, but the northern regions may start to see snow in October with winter lasting until May. Weather conditions in the summer are mild and usually around 70°F. Winter temperatures in the south can drop down to 20°F and 5°F in the north where winters can be more severe. Rainfall may occur throughout the year in the south, while the north is a bit drier.
Clothes to Wear:
Heavy warm clothing will be required during the winter months. Heavy jackets over thick under-layers, with gloves, hat and snow boots are necessary. Special winter gear may be necessary in the Arctic North but can be purchased in local towns. Clothing for rainfall is good to have with you throughout the year. We usually don’t recommend traveling long distances with an umbrella. If you feel you need an umbrella, rather purchase one overseas. If you are doing any hiking, make sure to bring waterproof shoes with a long sleeve shirt, pants and insect repellant as there are lots of mosquitoes and other insects in the forests, especially in Lapland. During the summer months, lightweight clothing will work during the day, but long sleeves and warmer clothing may be needed in the evenings.
Entry & Exit Requirements:
Traveling Through Europe: If you are planning to visit or travel through European countries, you should be familiar with the requirements of the Schengen Agreement.
Finland is a party to the Schengen Agreement. Visit the Embassy of Finland website at https://finlandabroad.fi/web/usa/frontpage for the most current visa information. For US and Canadian residents who are not US or Canadian citizens (green-card-holders) with foreign passports please consult https://www.schengenvisainfo.com/ for correct European Union visa rules.
- Your passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the period of stay if you plan on transiting a Schengen country.
- You will need sufficient proof of funds and a return plane ticket.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Finland
Itäinen Puistotie 14B
Telephone: +(358) 9-616-250
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Fax: +(358) 9-174-681
Canada Embassy Helsinki
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Medical facilities and staff are generally excellent and widely available for emergency services. English is commonly spoken by Finnish medical personnel. The public hospital system and many private hospitals accept foreign credit cards.
Local medical centers, clinics, or first-aid stations are located at hospitals and will provide a full range of services to tourists and temporary visitors.
For emergency services in Finland, dial 112.
Ambulance services are widely available.
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare/Medicaid does not apply overseas. Most hospitals and doctors overseas do not accept U.S. health insurance.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging, along with your doctor’s prescription. Check with the government of Finland to ensure the medication is legal in Finland.
- You may bring a 90-day supply of most personal prescription drugs with a formal doctor’s note.
- Prescribed narcotics may only be brought into Finland for your personal use for a maximum of 14 days and must be accompanied by a medical certificate stating why you need them.
- Finnish customs regulations prohibit you from receiving medication shipments from abroad. Local physicians may be reluctant to prescribe equivalent quantities or dosages. For more detailed information, please visit the Finnish National Tourist Board website at https://www.visitfinland.com/ or contact the Embassy of Finland.
Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions, such as safe food and water precautions and insect bite protection, may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) hotline for international travelers at 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636) or via the CDC website at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the infectious diseases section of the World Health Organization (WHO) website at http://www.who.int/topics/infectious_ diseases/en/. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
BANKS & CURRENCY
In most areas, banks are open from 9:00am – 4:30pm. Currency is in Euros ( € ).
Country code: 358
Internet country code: .fi
Cell Phone Usage:
Please contact your cell phone provider to determine whether your contract includes coverage in the country you are visiting. Depending on your contract you may have to add international services and/or country specific services.
Food & Drink:
Finnish cuisine starts with natural ingredients. For a taste of Finland’s nature, try fresh summer potatoes, jam made of cloudberries – also known as “the gold of the Arctic” – lingonberry juice, spruce sprouts, wild mushrooms and berries. If you’re doing any exploring in the forest, you can pick fresh berries and mushrooms for yourself, but be sure to bring a guide so you know which ones are safe. Popular meats include reindeer, elk and bear. Other items to look out for are fresh fish, rye bread, Karelian pie, reindeer stew, bread cheese, cinnamon bun and Aland pancakes. Some items are only available during the summer and autumn seasons, while other delicacies may be regional.
Coffee is very popular in Finland and coffee shops (kahvilat) can be found in every town and city. Popular alcoholic beverages include beer, wine and vodka. Drinking age is 18 for most drinks, but 20 or over is required for anything over 22%.
Nightlife energy in Finland is high, but most of the action is on Friday and Saturday nights with Wednesday being the mid week party night. Larger towns have bars and nightclubs with live music or DJs to attend. Small towns may not have nightclubs, but there are usually bars in the area where people go to hang out. Some restaurants keep their bars open until 2:00am. Vodka bars are another popular scene, especially for the younger generations.
There are a variety of shops for handbags, designer clothing, handmade crafts and more in most towns and major cities. As long as you are a resident outside of the EU, you can claim a 12-16% refund on purchased items over €40. Most shops will give you a check that can be redeemed at the airport or border posts.
Baggage rules for international and domestic air travel have changed much in recent years, differ from carrier to carrier and these days even may cover your on-board bags. Checking luggage may cost a separate fee or may be free depending on your personal status with the carrier. We therefore encourage you to read your ticket’s small print and/or contact your carrier for exact rules.
Most restaurants and bars already include a 10% service charge in the bill. It is customary to leave a bit extra for good service. When the service charge is not included in the bill, 10-15% is the general rule. Tips are not expected by taxi drivers, although most people tell the driver to keep the change. Airport and hotel porters should receive the equivalent of US$ 1.00 per bag.
Most hotels will arrange affordable laundry services for guests.
PHOTOS & VIDEOS
In some countries you must refrain from photographing sites such as Military bases and industrial installations. Also be aware of cultural sensitivities when taking pictures of or near churches and other religious sites. It is always courteous to ask for permission before taking photographs of people.
USE OF DRONES
The use of drones is being legislated by many countries. In some cases, drones are already forbidden, and their unauthorized use may carry severe penalties. If you plan to travel with a drone, please contact the embassy or consulate of the country you wish to visit.