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  • Ahh Finland...

  • Oh, uh... Let's talk about this place that I totally have no preconceived biases towards...

  • It's time to learn Geography NOW!

  • Hey everybody, I'm your host Barby

  • Welcome to the dark sheep of Northern Europe

  • All the other Nordic countries are like: -La la la la la la!

  • while Finland is like: -*growling sound*

  • We'll get into the heavy metal thing in a bit

  • ...but first!

  • Now just remember: Finland is Nordic, but DON'T call it Scandinavian! There's a huge difference!

  • That title only belongs to Sweden, Denmark, and Norway.

  • First of all,

  • Finland is located in Northern Europe, lying on the Gulf of Finland and the Gulf of Bothnia, east of all that Scandinavian stuff

  • To the west, they border Sweden on the Torne river or the 'Tornionjoki'

  • until it reaches the tripoint border with Norway at the Three-Country Cairn Stone.

  • And to the east, they border big old Russia with another tripoint border with Norway that looks like this.

  • The country is divided into 19 regions, or maakunta

  • with the autonomous region that we'll talk about a little bit later

  • and the capital of Helsinki, located in the south on the Gulf of Finland

  • which is also the second most northern capital in the world after Reykjavík, Iceland.

  • The country also owns about 180,000 islands, the highest concentration of which found in the Baltic off the coast in the Åland Archipelago.

  • Keep in mind, parts of Finland also lie within the Arctic Circle, that's how far up north they are.

  • And the three busiest airports are Helsinki, Oulu, and Rovaniemi

  • Now my favorite part: territorial anomalies!

  • First of all, with Russia, there are too many split islands and pene-enclaves

  • the islands of Äikkääniemi and Suursaari, Tarassiinsaari islands and lakes, the island in the Koitajoki river

  • Seriously, just play around with Google Earth, and see how many you can find.

  • Finally, we get to Sweden, and things get interesting.

  • Most of the borders with Sweden run along rivers that eventually flow into the Torne river

  • then we get a strange golf course that is split between the two countries in the town of Tornio and Sweden.

  • Not only that, but then you have the strangerket island right next to Åland in the Gulf of Bothnia

  • which has an inverted S-shaped border.

  • It had to do with the lighthouse that was built belonging to Finland

  • but then Sweden was like, 'Hey! It's too close to our side of the island!'

  • So they drew a border that was like this to give each side equal shares of the land.

  • See this archipelago cluster of islands right here?

  • Yeah, it belongs to Finland, even though most of the people here speak Swedish.

  • Åland is Finland's strange little administrative anomaly

  • Long story short, it used to belong to Sweden, but then the Russians took over it, in addition to Finland

  • but then after the Russian Revolution, Finland became free

  • and then the UN decided Åland should belong to Finland with autonomy

  • but then the Soviets started attacking again, and then Finland was like, 'NOPE'

  • and then fought back relentlessly, defending themselves and Åland

  • and Sweden just kinda sat there, and didn't really do much for Åland, as they decided to stay neutral.

  • Finland defending Åland was kinda like the turning point

  • Now it's kinda like:

  • land! Come back to me!'

  • 'Look, Sweden, we had some great times, but you kinda really didn't do much for me when things got crazy.'

  • 'I mean, Finland defended me, okay? And he treats me well, okay?'

  • 'His tax incentives are great!'

  • 'It's time to move on...'

  • 'It's not me... it's you.'

  • *sobbing*

  • land!'

  • Also, Finland kinda threatened that if Åland was ceded back to Sweden, they would demand the Tornio valley.

  • Now before the whole Soviet thing, Finland operated the regions of Karelia, Salla, Kuusamo, Petsamo, and some extra islands in the gulf.

  • After the wars with the Soviets, these regions were all ceded back to Russia, affectedly cutting off their access to the Arctic Ocean.

  • Very quickly, some notable sights and landmarks would have to be the old castles

  • like Savonlinna, Hämeenlinna, Olavinlinna, and the most renowned Suomenlinna.

  • You can probably guess what 'linna' means by now...

  • Rovaniemi is otherwise known as the home of Santa Claus, where you can go reindeer sledding

  • Inari and Ivalo is where you can get a real Saami traditional cultural experience

  • Of course, Helsinki is the epicentre of Finnish architecture and culture

  • with landmarks such as the Temppeliaukio Church, excavated into a rock

  • Mannerheim street, the busiest road with all the shops and austere post-Soviet influenced blocky colonnaded buildings

  • or the iconic Helsinki cathedral.

  • Now, those are all great, but Finland isn't really much of a tight metropolitan type of country.

  • They love their space, and have quite a bunch of it.

  • See what lies outside these cities, shall we?

  • Now if you want me to make this simple, some would argue that Finland is the best winter wonderland in the world.

  • I mean, Canada's cool, but they have too many bears, and Iceland is too explodey, and Russia is too... cold.

  • Seriously though, the land is generally flat, except in the north by the border with Norway

  • in which the highest mountain can be found, Mt. Halti, although the peak is in Norway.

  • However, in 2017, Norway plans to give Finland the peak for their 100th anniversary of independence from the Soviets.

  • Finland is just wonderfully crisp and refreshing

  • usually ranking in the top 3 countries in the world with the cleanest air quality.

  • This is partially because Finland is almost 80% covered in forests, one of the highest concentrations per square kilometre in the world

  • only behind countries like Gabon and Suriname.

  • This makes Finland the largest producer of wood in the EU, and one of the top in the world.

  • Not only that, but Finland has about 188,000 lakes, most heavily concentrated in Lakeland

  • and in addition to lakes, about 10% of the country is comprised of all water bodies like rivers, ponds, and streams.

  • When mixed with the land, this makes about one third of the country home to swamps and bogs

  • making it the highest wetland proportioned country in Europe, and disputably the world.

  • 'Ehhh, maybe... But our floods are crazier!'

  • Fittingly, the name for swamp in Finnish is 'suo', and the word for Finland is 'Suomi'

  • I mean, technically they also have like 9 other words for swamp likeme, neva, letto, luhta, lähteikkö, aapa, palsa, jänkä and korpi

  • And they love these swamps, one Finnish pastime is jumping in the mud (sometimes naked)

  • and either playing soccer or wrestling.

  • The landscape of Finland is shaped that way, because imagine what happens when you crush something under a heavy glacier for a really long time

  • and then after the glacier melts, you're left with pockety erosion and mineral residue all over.

  • Not only that, but Finland is experiencing a post-glacial rebound

  • in which the land is steadily rising along the coast of the Gulf of Bothnia.

  • Every year, Finland gains about 7 square kilometres, and is technically rising out of the sea.

  • The longest river is the Kemijoki, that passes through Lapland and reaches the Gulf of Bothnia.

  • And the largest lake, as well as the fourth largest in Europe, Lake Saimaa is located in the southeast.

  • Because Finland is so far north, they are known for being the land of the midnight sun

  • as during summer, you can literally see the sun for 24 hours a day in the northern parts by the Arctic Circle.

  • And of course in the wintertime, there's hardly any sunlight at all

  • but if you're lucky, you can witness an aurora borealis, especially in the northern parts.

  • Oh, and by the way, the national animals are the whooper swan and the brown bear.

  • Finnish agriculture is of course very standard for northern European countries

  • lots of rye wheats, turnips, potatoes, and of course, fishing is huge out here

  • However, due to the abundance of lakes and rivers, Finns prefer their own domestic freshwater fish, like perch, zander, and muikku, as opposed to the sea fish.

  • Speaking of which, coming to Finland, chances are you will eventually try reindeer meat in some shape or form, whether in stew or grilled

  • in Lapland, you might even find bear on the menu

  • You can trymmi, a pudding made of rye

  • and of course, every Finn will make every visitor try the strong, salty salmiakki

  • they love salmiakki so much, that they made it into an ice cream, and it's so good and I'm so mad they don't sell it in my home town!

  • And in the winter time, they build ice hotels, and there's this cool waterfall in the Paratiisikuru area, and the Urhokekkonen National Park.

  • Okay, let's talk about Finnish people!

  • Okay, if you go to Finland, you will most likely experience a rather intense, yet intriguing social construct.

  • First of all, the country has about 5.5 million people, and is the most sparsely populated country in the EU

  • The country is about 90% ethnically Finnish, about 6% are Swedish, and the rest is made up of everything else under the sun like Russians, Estonians, Asians, and Africans.

  • They use the Euro as currency, they use the type C/E/F outlets, and they drive on the right side of the road.

  • Of course, the Finnish people speak the Finnish language, which is arguably one of the hardest languages on earth to learn.

  • Conjugation is a mess, nouns and adjectives have inflectionary forms... whatever that means

  • Nevertheless, Finland has one of the best schooling systems in the world

  • in Finland, school hours are shorter, less homework is given, and there are virtually no mandated standardised tests apart from the exam you take in your final senior year of high school.

  • Also, if you get your PhD, you have the option to get a sword and a top hat along with your diploma.

  • This is also why Finland is one of the most English-friendly countries in Europe.

  • Children are taught around ages 9 to 11, and most people of the younger generation can at least hold an impressibly fluid conversation.

  • Finland is actually a conscription country, in which all men ages 18 and up are required to serve either in the military or civilian services

  • anywhere from 165 days to a year, depending on the type of service applied for.

  • Åland Islands are exempt from the military conscription, but are required to serve in some kind of institution, like the coast guard or civil services.

  • Finnish culture is... actually pretty funny

  • the stereotype is that Finns are incredibly quiet and don't talk that much in most public transactions

  • just mind your business, and no small talk

  • The cartoon 'Finnish Nightmares' illustrates this concept pretty well. Check it out.

  • Which is funny, because Finland is huge on the boisterous, loud, and flashy heavy metal culture

  • having the highest concentration of heavy metal bands out of any other country in the world

  • with nearly 650 per 1 million residents

  • Finns also invented the wife-carrying competition, in which a man must carry either his wife or girlfriend, or any girl that agrees to get tossed around in an obstacle course

  • and the winner gets the woman's weight in beer

  • It's very strategic, because if you want to win, you might want to carry a lighter wife

  • but if you want more beer, you better do your squats bro.

  • Now if you must know one thing about Finnish culture, you have to know about sauna

  • The Finns invented the sauna, most homes, hotels, and apartments have a sauna built into them

  • They actually had a sauna competition at one point, but then a Russian guy died, and they had to kinda cancel it.

  • Overall though, Finns are kinda brought up in a mindset known as 'sisu'

  • it's kinda hard to explain the exact definition of it, but it kinda means something like, 'guts' or 'determination' and 'never giving up'

  • which really helped them along the fight with the Soviets.

  • Sisu is to Finland what janteloven is to Denmark.

  • There are so many other things I wish we could talk about, but we're running out of time.

  • But we do have time for friend time!

  • Historically, Finland was kinda always a little lonely

  • I mean, few if any trading routes ever went through this area.

  • Even the Mongols were like, 'Ehh... we're good. Nah, nah... carry on.'

  • Nevertheless, over time, Finland did develop relations, and to this day, is one of the most diplomatically outreached countries in the world

  • I mean, the Finnish passport is the number 1 ranked and most sought-after, as it has the highest number of visa-free countries applied to it.

  • First of all, Finland generally gets along with other Nordic countries

  • However, they have the biggest frenemy relationship with Sweden.

  • They'll trade and share a beer or two, but when hockey season comes, the bloodbath begins!

  • When it comes to Russia, Finland kinda has to be their friend, because Russia has the longest border with them, and business is important.

  • Nevertheless, Russia is kinda seen as like the next-door neighbour that you once got into an argument with

  • but then you kinda fixed things up, but then you kinda really didn't get over it

  • and then you have to see them every other day in the morning as you go to work.

  • Germans are always welcome in Finland, and Hungarians are like the long-lost distant cousins that they just discovered, and are trying to build a relationship with.