When it comes to people, the Finnish are an incredible bunch. That can be seen in the many celebrities and notable names that hail from the country, including actor Ville Virtanen, Formula One race car driver Kimi Raikkonen, director Renny Harlin, former hockey player Teemu, "The Finnish Flash" Selanne, philosopher Pekka Himanen, and singer-songwriter Alexi Laiho. You may even recognize composer Jean Sibelius, writer Hella Wuolijoki, screenwriter Aki Kaurismaki, and famed sniper, Simo Häyhä. For those of you looking for Finnish YouTube channels - be sure to check out Angry Birds, Dudesons and DudesonsVlog, and, in case you haven't seen their videos already, the Hydraulic Press Channel.
9. Cuisine of Finland
When you touch down in Finland, you'll probably be hungry. Satisfy your appetite with some local favorites, including karjalanpiirakka, a melty pastry filled with an assortment of vegetables; kalakukko, a herring-filled pie; korvapuusti, or Finnish cinnamon buns; or rapu, a freshwater lobster. You'll also want to dine on poronkaristys, leipajuusto, and grillimakkara, a simple fat sausage made for grilling and typically served with mustard and beer. The Finns also dine on reindeer meat and snack on cloudberries, or nordic berries, which are said to resemble a very tart raspberry.
8. Finnish Inventions
Finland may seem to keep to itself, but that doesn't mean its people just sit tight and wait for the rest of the world to make progress. On the contrary, the Finnish are known for several notable inventions, including an electric solar sail that's waiting on real-world implementation, the first internet browser with a user interface and IRC chat protocol, the circular lock, the heart rate monitor, safety reflectors, Fiskars scissors, and the Savonius wind turbine. Some of the more exciting inventions to come from Finland include satchel charges and molotov cocktails.
7. Finland Sites and Attractions
For much of the world, viewing the Northern Lights is not something they have the pleasure of doing. For the Finnish, it's a treat they get to enjoy quite frequently. It's said Lapland is the best place to view this spectacle of lights. Back on the ground, though, you may want to check out Lemmenjoki National Park, Archipelago National Park, the quaint town of Turku which houses its own historical museum, the year-round Santa Claus Village, the 19th century Helsinki Cathedral, and, last but not least, the Sibelius Monument.
6. Finnish World Records
Where there are people, there will be world records! For the Finnish, that equates to world records for the Largest Game of Musical Statues, the Longest Marathon Playing Floorball, and the Most People on a Single Pair of Skis. The Finnish were also responsible for breaking the record for Loudest Scream by a Crowd (Outdoors) and, for you gamers out there, the Longest Video Game Marathon on a Halo Game and the Largest Gathering of People Dressed as Video Game Characters. Simo Häyhä, who we mentioned earlier, also holds the title for most kills for a sniper during a major war.
5. The Most Coffee Consumption
Think you love coffee? The Finnish may have you beat with their affinity for a good cup 'o joe. According to a 2015 article in This is Finland, the Finnish are at the top of the list of coffee drinkers in the world. The International Coffee Association reported that, on average, the Finnish consume approximately 12 kg of coffee per year. As one local put it in an interview with Independent, "Finns love coffee so much because you can't drink alcohol all the time." In comparison, Finns drink about three times as much coffee as Americans.
4. Finland and Sports
Turn on a television in Finland and chances are you'll see some form of coverage on ice hockey or Formula One, but the national sport is Pesapallo. For those unfamiliar, Pesapallo is also known as Finnish baseball and features a bat and ball not too dissimilar to American baseball. A game is divided into four innings, each consisting of two periods. The rules are very similar to American baseball, where each team takes a turn at bat in an inning and the batting team has three outs to score. In 1952, Pesapallo was a demonstration sport of the Summer Olympics, but the game has been around since the 1920s.
3. Top Notch Education
Why are Finnish schools so successful? It was a question Smithsonian.com asked and one that just about every nation should be contemplating - especially the United States. The Finnish continue to remain towards the top of education rankings. At an early age, students aren't force-fed mathematical equations. They're taught how to handle emotional pain and how to interact with one another. Standardized testing is replaced by teacher-specific tests - that is, tests that teachers put together. Students are encouraged to play for 15 minutes after 45 minutes of instruction, which helps keep their minds fresh. For students, homework isn't the most important thing. Since there's a level of trust between teachers, parents, and the schools, there's no urgency to send children home with additional learning materials.
2. The Least Corrupt Government?
If you're wondering why you don't hear of many scandals coming out of Finland, it's because there aren't many. In terms of political corruption, public opinion is that it's considerably low. The Corruption Perception Index, which was released by Transparency International in 2017, reported that Finland is the third-most transparent country, falling behind just Denmark and New Zealand. Though it has dropped five points since the 2012 index, it still remains high on the list. For reference, the United States was reported as the 18th least corrupt in 2016 with an overall score of 74.
1. Finland's Independence
Every December 6th, the Finnish people come together to celebrate the nation's independence, which came about in 1917. Once under Russian rule, the state's declaration of independence came during a time of turmoil for Russia during the First World War. After the declaration of independence, however, Finland broke out into a civil war that lasted from January to May of 1918. The Finnish Reds, backed by the Soviet Union, squared off against the Finnish Whites and the German Empire, leading to a Finnish Whites victory. Though Germany was in place to rule over Finland, after its defeat in World War I, the Finnish people were released from any rule and became completely independent.
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