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Ropijarvi, FinlandLake Ropijärvi, Finland, in autumn
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Finland is a country in northern Europe. It is one of the Nordic countries which includes Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Finland covers 338,424 sq km (130,596 sq mi), of which 10% is water.

Finland is a sparsely populated country. It has a population of 5.4 million people (2011 estimate), of which about one million people live within the Greater Helsinki area, which includes Helsinki, Espoo, Kaunianen and Vantaa. The area also produces a third of the nation's GDP.

Finnish National Theatre, HelsinkiFinnish National Theatre, Helsinki
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Historically, Finland was a part of Sweden. From 1809 until the Finnish Declaration of Independence in 1917, it was an autonomous Grand Duchy within the Russian Empire. It was a largely agrarian country until the 1950's, after which it experienced rapid economic development. In 2010, it ranks as the best country in the world in terms of health, economic dynamism, education, political environment and quality of life, according to a Newsweek survey.

Finland is officially a bilingual country, to accommodate the 5.6% of its population that speaks Swedish. Place names are often signaged in both Finnish and Swedish, especially in the Swedish-speaking parts of Finland which are on the southern and western coasts of the country.

Church of Muonio, FinlandChurch of Muonio, Finland
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Climate of Finland

Finland experiences a temperate climate. Due to its latitudes, winters are dark and cold, with temperature dropping below -10°C. In summer, temperatures may rise above 20°C, and on occasions, be over 30°C.

Planning your visit to Finland

As a member of the Schengen Agreement, Finland permits nationals of the EU and EFTA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) entry into the country with only an approved ID card.

As of December 2010, nationals of the following non-EU/EFTA countries do not need a visa to enter the Schengen Agreement area: Albania*, Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Bosnia and Herzegovina*, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Macau, Macedonia,*, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro*, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, San Marino, Serbia*, Seychelles, Singapore, South Korea, United States, Uruguay, Vatican City, Venezuela and British Overseas Nationals. In addition, nationals of Taiwan will enjoy the same visa exemption from 11 January 2011.

*National of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia need a biometric passport to enjoy visa-free travel while Serbs residing in Kovoso and holding passports issued by the Serbian Coordination Directorate still do not need a visa.

Winter forest in Ruissalo, FinlandWinter forest in Ruissalo, Finland
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authorshipJan-Erik Finnberg
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Arriving in Finland

By Plane
The Helsinki-Vantaa Airport is the main international airport for Finland. It is home to Finnair, Blue1, Air Finland and Fincomm Airlines. For budget carriers, Ryannair's hub is Tampere while Wizz Air is building its hub in Turku.

By Train
There are train services from Saint Petersburg in Russia. The new Allegro trains travels at a speed of 220kmph. They cover the distance between Helsinki and Saint Petersburg in three hours, and costs €84 one way. There are also regular trains connecting Helsinki with Moscow, a 15-hour journey.

Boletus mushroom, Heinäsaari Island, Lake Saimaa, FinlandBoletus mushroom, Heinäsaari Island, Lake Saimaa, Finland
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Major Cities in Finland

World Heritage Sites in Finland

Finland ratified the World Heritage Convention on 4 March, 1987. As of August 2010, it has seven World Heritage Sites, all cultural sites except one. Finland also has another six sites on the World Heritage Tentative List.

Sites in Finland on the World Heritage Tentative List

  1. The Carvings from historic time at the island of Gaddtarmen (Hauensuoli) (1990)
  2. The large Stone Age ruin of Kastelli at Pattijoki (1990)
  3. The Rock paintings of Astuvansalmi at Ristiina (1990)
  4. The Holy place of worship of Ukonsaari by the Sami people at Inari (1990)
  5. Paimio Hospital (formerly Paimio Sanatorium) (2004)
  6. Saimaa-Pielinen Lake System (2004)

Tourist Attractions of Finland

  1. Hämeenlinna Castle
    Finland's oldest castle.
  2. Kemi
    World's biggest snow castle.
  3. Olavinlinna Castle
    One of the most beautiful castles in Finland.
  4. Porvoo
    Finland's second oldest city.

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