Finland, Finland Swedish: [ˈfinlɑnd]), officially the Republic of Finland (Finnish: Suomen tasavalta, Swedish: Republiken Finland (listen to all)), is a Nordic country located in Northern Europe. Finland shares land borders with Sweden to the west, Russia to the east, and Norway to the north and is defined by the Gulf of Bothnia to the west and the Gulf of Finland to the south that are part of the Baltic Sea. Finland has a population of approximately 5.5 million, making it the 25th-most populous country in Europe. With an area of 338,455 square kilometres (130,678 sq mi), Finland is the eighth-largest country in Europe, and the most sparsely populated country in the European Union. Helsinki, the capital of Finland, is the largest city in the country.
Finland is a parliamentary republic consisting of 19 regions and 310 municipalities. The archipelago of the Åland Islands located southwest of the mainland is the only autonomous region of Finland. The climate in Finland varies due to the country's relatively vast latitudinal differences; southern Finland is classified as having a humid continental climate with the rest of the country being characterised by a boreal climate. Finland can be considered to have a mainly boreal forest biome. More than 180,000 Finnish lakes have been recorded, which is why Finland is internationally called "the land of a thousand lakes".The majority of the population lives in central and southern Finland with over 1.5 million people living in the Greater Helsinki metropolitan area, which produces a third of the country's GDP. The main language is Finnish, a Finnic language of the Uralic language family, which is unrelated to the Scandinavian languages. Swedish is the second official language of Finland, and is mainly spoken in certain coastal areas of the country and on Åland.
Finland was first inhabited around the end of the most recent ice age, approximately around 9000 BC. The Comb Ceramic culture introduced pottery in 5200 BC and the Corded Ware culture coincided with the start of agriculture between 3000 and 2500 BC. The Bronze Age and Iron Age were characterised by extensive contacts with other cultures in Fennoscandia and the Baltic region. At the time Finland had three main cultural areas – Southwest Finland, Tavastia and Karelia. From the late 13th century, Finland gradually became an integral part of Sweden as a consequence of the Northern Crusades and the Swedish colonisation of coastal Finland, the legacy of which is reflected in the prevalence of the Swedish language and its official status.
In 1809, Finland was annexed by the Russian Empire as the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland, during which Finnish art flourished and at the same time the basic pillars were created without knowing about future independence. In 1906, Finland became the first European state to grant all adult citizens the right to vote, and the first in the world to give all adult citizens the right to run for public office. Nicholas II, the last Tsar of Russian Empire, tried russificate Finland and also terminate its political autonomy, but following the 1917 Russian Revolution make end to his rule, and Finland declared itself independent from the empire. In 1918, the fledgling state was divided by the Finnish Civil War, with the Bolshevik-leaning Red Guards, supported by the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, fighting against the White Guard, supported by the German Empire. After a brief attempt to establish a kingdom, the country became a republic. During World War II, Finland fought the Soviet Union in the Winter War and the Continuation War, and the Nazi Germany in the Lapland War, with Marshal Mannerheim as the absolute commander-in-chief of the aforementioned wars. After the war, Finland lost part of its territory, but maintained her independence.
Finland largely remained an agrarian country until the 1950s. After World War II, the country rapidly industrialised and developed an advanced economy, while building an extensive welfare state based on the Nordic model, resulting in widespread prosperity and a high per capita income. Finland joined the United Nations in 1955 and adopted an official policy of neutrality. The Finno-Soviet Treaty of 1948 gave the Soviet Union some leverage in Finnish domestic politics during the Cold War. Finland joined the OECD in 1969, the NATO Partnership for Peace in 1994, the European Union in 1995, the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council in 1997, and the Eurozone at its inception in 1999.
Finland is a top performer in numerous metrics of national performance, including education, economic competitiveness, civil liberties, quality of life, and human development. In 2015, Finland was ranked first in the World Human Capital and the Press Freedom Index and as the most stable country in the world during 2011–2016 in the Fragile States Index, and second in the Global Gender Gap Report. It also ranked first on the World Happiness Report report for 2018, 2019 and 2020.