Total population
6.2-7 million
Regions with significant populations
Majority populations
Finland Finland 4.87–5.1 million [1][2][3]
Minority populations
United States United States 636,587 [4]
Sweden Sweden 156,045 [5]
Canada Canada 136,215 [6]
Russia Russia 127,600 [7]
Australia Australia 30,359 [8]
Germany Germany 16,000 (in 2002 [9]
Norway Norway 15,000–60,000 [10][11]



Predominantly Christianity
(Lutheranism, Finnish Orthodox)

The Finns (Finnish: suomalaiset) or the Finnish people, are a Balto-Finnic ethnic group that native to the country of Finland in northern Europe. The Finns are sometimes considered part of the Scandinavian group of people, though not ethnically fitting the definition of Scandinavia (as one that follows a North Germanic culture), but due to their long historical association with Scandinavia, especially Sweden, are sometimes considered Scandinavians.

For much of its history, modern Finland formed the eastern Swedish Empire, with most of its population serving in the peasant and serf classes. Russia later occupied Finland after the Russo-Swedish War.

The Finn ethnic group is broken down into sub-groups, that some classify as seperate, but closely related ethnic groups within the larger Finnic family, such as speakers of Finnic languages living in nearby surrounding countries such as Norway, Sweden and Russia where they make noticeable populations.

In Russia, most live in Karelia, a historical territory of the former Swedish Empire, where other Balto-Finnic peoples reside, although they are a minority.

There are approximately 5 million Finnish people proper.


Middle AgesEdit

Information about the Finnish people, and Finland is generally scarce, and the mention of the Finnish people really only begins during the Crusades era, when the area today Finland, came under Swedish rule.

Christianization - 1150sEdit

The Finnish people, presumably originally pagans, were converted to Christianity during Swedish king Eric the Holy's crusade into Finland. At that time, the English clergyman Henry was apparently converting the people to Christianity. However, this information largely comes from religious sources, and lacks any factual evidence.

There is evidence, from archaeological findings, that Christianity already had presence in Finland prior to the Swedish crusades, pointing out that the tales of the Swedish invasion and forced conversions to Christianity may be biased and misleading.

Swedish Crusades into Western FinlandEdit

Birger Jarl, Swedish military led the military crusade into Western Finland between 1248 and 1250.[12] In 1293, another crusade was launched, by King Birger (not the same as Birger Jarl), into Keralia, today a republic of Russia, against Finnish pagans. According the Eric Chronicles, Sweden's oldest chronicles, the invasion was retaliatory for intrusions made by Finnish pagans.

In order to consoldiate Swedish rule in Finland, the Swedes began to built castles and fortresses. In 1280, the Swedes began to build a military fortress in the Finnish city of Turku, which over the next centuries, was improvised and expanded, and eventually becoming a castle. In the 1300s, another castle and fortress was built in the Finnish city of Hämeenlinna and another in the modern-day Russian city of Viborg around the 1290s, presumably over the remains of a Keralian fort.[13]

Under Swedish rule, the Finns were under an elective system of government, and were allowed to send representatives towards the elections. The southern Finnish regions were agricultural. However unlike the rest of Europe, Finnish peasants enjoyed freedoms, and were free from the fuedal caste system. Local governments also played large roles in politics. Though religion still played an important role. as governing bodies were often located in parishes in the rural areas.

Kalmar UnionEdit

In 1397, the Kalmar Union, a loose confederation of kingdoms in Scandinavia was formed, as it was founded by Queen Margaret I of Denmark. The Union was formed as a means to protect the kingdoms of Scandinavia from German invasions. The Finnish frälse class took care of lower politics, while Swedes often dominated the higher politics. Church duties were also handled by sons of the Finnish frälse. Because the cities' populations were small, they could not engage in much foreign trade.

In 1047, an independant court was established in Finland, which was also given powers to govern. This had now enabled Finnish leaders to leader their country. In 1409, Turku had taken the first steps to becoming an independant city-state, but minting the örtug, which were silver coins.

The Union would fall apart due to disputes between the ruling Danish nobility and that of Sweden's lower nobility.[14] This had stripped Finland of necessarry resources to defend its eastern regions, thereby leaving it prone to invasion by the Grand Duchy of Moscow, under the rule of Grand Duke Ivan III.

In the 1430s, peasents began to rebel against the monarchy. In 1436, the Union's monarchy and archbihsop signed a promise to cut the peasants' taxes in order to quell the rebellion.[15]

In 1439, the monarchy was overthrown, and the governing body consisted of an aristocratic council. Bishops and noblemen. dominated this class.

Within the Swedish Empire 1611-1721Edit

For a bulk of its history, Finland was a part of the Swedish Empire, and formed the entirety of the eastern Swedish Empire. Under the ruler of Governer-General of Per Brahe, many towns were built in Finland. In 1640, the first university was built in Turku, Finland and in 1642, an entirely Finnish-language Bible was published.

Between 1638-1655, the Swedish Empire established a colony in the eastern the United States, where the modern states of Pennsylvania and Delaware are located, with many ofthe settlers being Finns.

Great Northern War 1700-1721Edit

Treaty of Nystad

Signing of the Treaty of Nystad

Sweden fought the Great Northern War against a coalition led by Russia, and lost. Finland was the site of many bloody battles between the Swedes and Russians - establising Russian supremacy in the Baltics. Russia successfully occupied the south-eastern parts of eastern parts of the former Swedish Empire, particularly the important fort city of Vyborg after the Treaty of Nystad (Finnish: Uusikaupunki, Russian: Ништадтский мир) in 1721.

Finland's population was ravaged by the war, and the war was marked by constant countryside battles. Finland was ruled by a parliament, dominated by two political groups: the Hats and the Caps, with the former wanting a vengeful retaliation against Russia, and the Caps wanting peaceful relations with Russia. 

The Caps recieved much of the Finnish support. Until 1741, Finland enjoyed a period of relative peace, including a recovery of the population. However, Finnish society was divided into a four-tier system, the peasants, nobles, clergymen and "burghers".

From 1741 to 1743, the Hats initiated a failed retaliatory war against Russia. Lappeenranta and Hamina, both Finnish towns of the eastern Swedish Empire, were ceded to Russia after the Treaty of Åbo in 1743.

Under Russian Rule/Grand Duchy of Finland 1809-1917 Edit


An 1825 map of the Grand Duchy of Finland, in Swedish and Russian

Russian emperor Tsar Alexander I made it plain in the Treaty of Tilsit with French emperor Napoleon, that peace between Russia and Sweden could only ensue if Sweden agreed to follow Napoleon's system of laws in 1807. After the British navy attacked the Danish capital of Copenhagen, Russia declared on Britain, though the war was very limited to minor naval activity. Gustav IV Adolf, the king of Sweden, was complacent about Sweden's ability to defend against an attack from the large Russian army. King Gustav IV Adolf's stubbornness provoked a war with Russia. In the Finnish War fought between Sweden and Russia, the Russians emerged victorious and ended up capturing Finland. The Grand Duchy of Finland (Finnish: Suomen suuriruhtinaskunta, Russian: Великое княжество Финляндское) was established in 1809, at an autonomous state within the Russian Empire. The Grand Dukes of Finland were the Russian emperors themselves. In 1899, the Russians encouraged Finnish autonomy, likely to win their trust. Russian rule in Finland would end when the October Revolution of 1917 commenced, in which Finland declared independence.

Finnish Civil War 1918-1919Edit


Troops of the Finnish White Guard in Tempere

The socialist and communist revolution in Russia influenced the surrounding countries, with Finland included. More importantly, it placed Russian control of Finland in a state of limbo, followed by political oblivion.

After the Bolshevik takeover of Russia, Lenin reluctantly gave away Finland to secession, and on December 17, 1917, Lenin ceded control of Finland to independence. The two-front war Russia faced, or battling the German Empire and a civil war at home shackled its control of Finland.

It was the members and supporters of the left-wing and communist Social Democratic Party, the "Finnish Reds" against the right-wing monarchist and conservative "Finnish Whites", who favored placing Finland under German influence.

Germany, Sweden and White Russian anti-communists supported the Finnish Whites while Soviet Russia supported The Finnish Reds. Nonetheless, many former Imperial Russian troops, including ethnic Finns of the former Imperial Russian Army fought accordingly to their political affiliation.

The Whites attempted to establish the Kingdom of Finland (Finnish: Suomen kuningaskunta). The German Empire partook in the war, supporting the Finnish Whites, led by Carl Gustaf Emile Mannerheim. The Finnish Whites had a large advantage over The Reds in terms of training and professionalism, the Finnish Reds were poorly trained. The German and Finnish White forces finished off the Red forces in the Battles of Helsinki and Lahti. Around 80,000 Finnish Reds and 8,000 Russians were taken as prisoners. 

Republic of Finland (1920-present)Edit

Under the influence of the legal scholar Kaarlo Juho Ståhlberg, Finand opted to become a constitutional republic rather than a monarchy. Ståhlberg was the main mastermind in creating Finland's constitution, and played a large role in getting it drafted in 1919. That same year, Ståhlberg won the first presidential election, defeating opponent Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim. Under the presidency of Pehr Evind Svinhufvud, the government sold land, once owned by nobility to peasants. This had gained strong countryside support for the government.

Finnish Democratic Republic (1939-1940)Edit

In 1939, Soviet premier Joseph Stalin wanted Finnish border territories, to secure the protection of Leningrad, which only lay 20 km south of the Finnish border. As part of a plan to conquer Finland, Stalin set up the Finnish Democratic Republic (Finnish: Suomen kansanvaltainen tasavalta), which operated in Karelia. However in 1940, the Finnish Democratic Republic became part of the Karelo-Finnish Soviet Socialist Republic, one of the constituent republics of the Soviet Union.

Within the Soviet Union (1920-1991)Edit

For the majority of the Soviet Union's existance, it occupied Karelia, home to a native Finnish and Finnic-speaking population. In 1923, the Russian SFSR, the leading republic of the Soviet Union, set up the Karelian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic.

War With the Soviet Union 1939-1944Edit


Finnish troops fire from dug-in trenches

In 1939, Soviet premier Joseph Stalin wanted to extend Soviet influence, and demanded that Finland cede certain territories, in order for the Soviets to ensure the safety of Leningrad, which lay to a very close proximity south of the Finnish border. After the Finns refused, Stalin ordered an invasion of Finland. Despite being outnumbered, and being disadvantaged in terms of armor, the Finns fought with a stubborn patriotism and had superior small-arms, allowing them to mow down entire Soviet divisions. Between 1939 to 1940, the Finns would fight the Soviets in what is known as the Winter War (Finnish: talvisota, Russian: Зи́мняя война́). Despite the earlier Finnish successes, renewed and improvised Soviet offensives would eventually break the Finnish defenses. The Finnish successes against the Soviets is owed to the leadership of Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim, a veteran within the Imperial Russian Army, and the commander in chief of the Finnish forces. In the end, a cease-fire was signed between Finland and the Soviet Union, in which certain border regions of Finland were ceded to the Soviets. However, the war was still seen as a military failure on
Weapons Oct17 960x640

A Finnish soldier during the Continuation War

part of the Soviet Union, and its international reputation was severely damaged as the League of Nations declared it an illegal attack, and expelled the Soviet Union.

The "peace" between Finland and the Soviet Union lasted only 15 months. In those 15 months, Finland and Sweden were becoming choked between the German conquest of Europe in the west and the Soviet conquest of Europe in the east. Despite initially falling under Soviet influence at first, the Finnish government shifted to the side of Germany and the Axis powers. Finland participated in Operation Barbarossa, which was the code-name for the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union. Until 1944, the Finns and the Soviets would fight in what is known as the Continuation War (Finnish: jatkosota), or the period of continued war between Finland and the Soviet Union.

Cold War through Present-DayEdit

During the Cold War, Finland's political situation was unique. While it did adhere to Soviet policies, including the censorship and prohibition of anti-Soviet material, Finland had a western economy, though it traded extensively with the Soviet Union. However, Finland was not a Soviet satellite state, or part of the Warsaw Pact.

Although a majority of Finns had lived in the rural regions, the industrailization of the cities brought many of the people with them. Although the 1952 Summer Olympics attracted international tourists into Finland, the entrance of baby-boomers in the workforce slowed down production. As a result, many Finns emigrated to Sweden.

Finland experienced an economic boom in the 1980s, only to be succeeded by a banking crisis, as well as the collapse of the Soviet Union, Finland's largest trading partner. However, the Finnish economy was able to recover beginning in 1993, and has since then, seen Finland enjoying a steady economy.



220px-Se Wsi Testamenti

Se Wsi Testamenti Somexi, 1548, the first Finnish-language Bible

The Finns who live in the Republic of Finland speaking Finnish as their language. Finnish is spoken by approximately 5.4 million people as a native language. Finnish is a Uralic language, a language family shared by the Hungarian, Estonian and Sami languages. The Finnish language itself belongs to the Finnic sub-family. Finnish is also spoken by the ethnic Finns who live in the Leningrad Oblast and the Republic of Karelia in Russia. In addition to Finnish proper, the Finnic peoples of the Leningrad Oblast and Republic of Karelia in Russia also speak Veps and Karelian, which are both Finnic languages closely related to Finnish. The Meänkieli dialects are spoken by the Finns living along valley of the Torne River in Sweden and the Kven dialect it spoken by those in northern Norway.

Finnish is one of two official languages in Finland, the other being Swedish. The language is currently written in the Latin script, and during the Middle Ages, had no writing system as Finnish was not recognized by the upper classes nor considered a language of prestige.

In addition, the Finns living in Sweden and Russia speak the respective languages of those countries, being Swedish and Russian. This also comes from historical ties and interactions with Sweden and Russia.


The Finnish people are very religious as a whole, and Christianity is very important in Finland. As a matter of act, people in Finland often have part of their taxes go to their respective churches. Finland has two national churches, they are the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and the Finnish Orthodox Church. 

Most Finns belong to the first-mentioned church, more than 70%, having established its foothold in Finland ever since the days of Swedish rule. The Evangelical Lutheran Church currently forms one of the largest Lutheran denominations in the world.

The Finnish Orthodox Church (Finnish: Suomen ortodoksinen kirkko), although has a significantly smaller population of followers than the Evangelical Lutheran Church, was originally part of the Russian Orthodox Church.


800px-Kizhi church 1

The Khiziz Church in the Russian island of Khizi, one of the best examples of Finnish architecture

Finnish architecture is largely influenced by that of the nieghboring countries Sweden and Russia. However, it generally espouses Scandinavian architecture, and is mostly wooden in nature - due to Finland's largely agrarian history. In addition, Finland is also home to historical forts and castles built by the Swedes when Finland was part of the Swedish Empire.

Much of Finland's modern architecture comes from the prominent architect Avar Aalto, who worked with a range from traditional Scandinavian style to international and modern style architecture.

One of the types of architecture that the Finnish are known as for is Nordic Classicism, which was a mix of Nordic architecture and that of classical styles from Western Europe. The most traditional form of Finnish architecture is the building of wooden houses, mostly utilizing timber. Those in eastern Finland are Russian-influenced and those in western Finalnd are Swedish-influenced. Wooden-based architecture was even used for building churches.

One of the best examples of a native Finnish church, utilizing Finnish and Scandinavian styles is the Petäjävesi Old Church (Finnish: Petäjäveden vanha kirkko) in the Finnish city of Petäjävesi (once part of Sweden). The Russian island of Kizhi, located in Lake Onega, contains the Church of the Transfiguration, which contains a blend of Finnish and Russian style artechitecture. The famous church in the island is the Church of the Archangel Michael.


Finnish cabbage

Kaalikääryleet, Finnish cabbage rolls

Culinary traditions are a very important aspect of Finnish life and culture. Due to Finland and Scandinavia's agrarian and hunting culture, game meat and dairy products are popular in Finnish culinary tradition. Due to having many coastal regions, seafood is also popular and important.

Karjalanpiirakat (which can have different spellings based on the Finnish dialect), also known as Karelian pastries, is one of the most important Finnish foods, and is a popular pirog, pastries that utilizing baked dough as the casing, filled with sweet or savory ingredients. It also eaten in Estonia and northern Russia. The most common variant consists of a rye casing, filled with rice. 

Karelian pastries

Karelian pastries

is a similar pastry, but is made with fish instead.

Cabbage rolls in Finland are known as kaalikääryleet.

Grillimakkara is a grilled sausage in Finland, that is popular during the summer time. It is often topped with mustard, and served with beer. Hernekeittois pea soup served on Thursdays, as well as Shrove Tuesday.

Crayfish, specifically rapu, is a delicacy in Finland. A tradition adopted from the Swedes, Finns often have annual summer feasts known as "crayfish parties", which is also accompanied by drinking. 

Finnish cheese

Leipäjuusto - "Finnish squeaky cheese"

Reindeer is a favorite meat of the Finnish people, and its often served with mashed potatoes, known as perunamuusi

Leipäjuusto, also known as hiilikko and juustoleipä is a fresh cow's milk cheese, and viili is fermented milk product resembling yogurt. Pasha, of Russian influence, is a dessert, a fruit cake-like dessert made quark, butter, milk, eggs, fruits and spices.

Glögi is Finland and Scandinavia's own version of the German Glühwein. which is a warm and spiced alcoholic beverage served during the holidays.

Notable Finns or People of Finnish DescentEdit

Mikael Agricola
A clergymen who is considered a founding father of Finnish literature, and was a supporter of the Protestant Reformation in Sweden, he also translated the New Testament and other Christian religious texts in Finnish
Jean Sibelius
A Finnish composer, and violinist of the Romantic and early-modern modern period. He is considered Finland's greatest composer, and his music is often associated with Finland's struggle for independance against Russia. 
Minna Canth
Minna Canth
A Finnish writer and social activist, who was known for promoting women's rights in Finland, she is famous for her play The Pastor's Family, she is the first woman to recieve her own flag day in Finland, which also serves a day of social equality in the country.
Kaarlo Juho Ståhlberg
Stahlberg k j (1)
Finnish academic and jurist who played a central role in adopting a constitution for the modern-day Republic of Finland, he also became its first president and is a receipient two Grand Crosses of Finland, a Cross of Liberty from Estonia and the Order of Three Stars from Latvia
Alvar Aalto
A Finnish architect, designer, sculptor and painter who is known for his various works, from Nordic Classicism to International Style, his career also excelled during the economic boom of the 20th century and which many of his clients were prominent industrialists, he has recieved many awards including the Prince Eugen Medal in 1954, Royal Institute of British Architects in 1957, and a Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects in 1963. He also recieved an honorary doctorate from Norwegian University of Science and Technology in 1960.
Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim
A Finnish military leader and statesment, an avid anti-communist, he led the Finnish White Guard in their war gainst the Red Guard (communists) during the Finnish Civil War, he also served in the Imperial Russian Army, during the Second World War in Finland's two wars fought against the Soviet Union, Mannerheim was instrumental in leading the country's forces as commander in chief against a larger and more powerful Soviet enemy, and the president in 1944 becoming considered one of Finland's greatest and the father of modern Finland.
Paavo Nurmi
A Finnish middle and long-distance runner, known as "the Flyng Finn", he dominated long-distance running in the early 20th century, he is a winner of 9 Olympic gold metals and 3 silver medals, he later coached Finnish runners, financed the Winter War, became a haberdasher, share trader and building contractor - accumalating lots of wealth in the process
Mika Häkkinen


A Finnish former professional racing driver nickname "the Flying Finn", he is the 1998 and 1999 Formula One Champion, driving of McLaren has been ranked one of the greatest racecar drivers for Formula One is various polls, he is currently a brand ambassador for Johnnie Walker and Mercedez-Benz AMG
Tarja Turunen
Tarja-nightwish-349357 375 500
Finnish singer, musician and songwriter, who is a soprano with a vocal range of three octaves, her symphonic metal style had earned her huge commercial success and popularity, she was a leid singer and former lead vocalist of the Finnish metal band Nightwash
Tarja Halonen


 A Finnish politician, who served as the 11th President of Finland, she is one of the most popular presidents of Finland, primarily due to her works concerning human rights - including but not limited to women's rights, LGBTQ rghts, and was voted as one of the "Top Most 100 Powerful Women" by Forbes in 2009, prior to becoming president she was also a lawyer and parliamentary secetary
Renny Harlin


A Finnish film producer, director and screenwriter, some of his works include the popular A Nightmare on Elm Street 4, Die Hard 2 and Cutthroat Island. He is currently the 115th highest-grossing film director on the global market.


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  7. "Error: no |title= specified when using Template:Tl" (in ru). Demoscope Weekly. 30 June 2016. Retrieved 5 July 2016.
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  9. Euroopassa asuneet Suomen kansalaiset maittain 1971-2002. Retrieved 11-21-2007. Template:Fi
  10. St.meld. nr. 15 (2000-2001) " Om nasjonale minoriteter i Norge
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  12. Description of the crusade. Original text.
  13. Taavitsainen, Jussi-Pekka (1990). Ancient Hillforts of Finland. Suomen muinaismuistoyhdistyksen aikakausikirja 94. pp. 240.
  15. Salminen, Tapio: Suomen linnojen ja voutikuntien hallinto 1412-1448, pp. 37–38. Master's thesis, University of Tampere 1993.