In terms of development and prosperity, Finland is one of the most coveted countries in the world. With a high degree of literacy and a revolutionary education system, it stands in the vanguard of the new age. Despite the fact that it is located in the far north, Finland is extremely well-trodden by tourists. So, before you hop on the plane, here are six things for you to keep in mind about it.
1. The weather and the people:
Though countless stereotypes state that Finns are outright cold, we have to draw your attention to the fact that they are wrong. Not only that they are kind, helpful and intelligent, they are also as funny and as happy as they can get. Though hugging and kissing aren’t exactly practiced among people who do not know each other that well, they will be polite and objective (racial or other prejudices are non-existent). So, here’s the fact: the predominantly subarctic climate zone that holds sway over 90% of Finland does not reflect the attitude of its people. Just because people won’t embrace you and let you into their personal space right away, it does not mean that they are inimical.
You may have seen a few places in your life but we assure you that no one loves saunas more than the Finns. They have gone as far as private houses having them installed. Which leads us to another inadvertent subject: nudity. The whole sauna-culture is healthy and recommended but it has a side that not many people may be familiar with. While there is a gender-segregation rule pertaining to saunas, the people that you do end up staying in there with will often be new-born naked. This is quite normal there and they often think that it is normal for everyone. So if you happen to see a Finn stripping naked in front of you in the “hot-room”, do not fret, strive to act casual and do the same (wink) – this is actually a good advice, however queer it may seem, because bathing suits can get extremely uncomfortable when you sweat like there’s no tomorrow.
3. The untamed:
Yes, you read that right: Finland is mostly covered by wilderness and untamed lands. With a total population of just under 5.5 million and stretching upon an area of 338,424 square kilometres, you can imagine that density isn’t exactly a problem there. What this inevitably does is leave plenty of space for wildlife to flourish – wildlife that can support that cold, of course. While it can be a problem to go camping in the -25 degrees of winter, it can be an unparalleled option during summers (which are short, by the way). If you happen to be living in North America, you could imagine the Finnish landscape as something hearkening to northern Canada or Alaska. They do differ but there is an undeniable resemblance that makes them all three unique and alike at the same time.
4. Heavy Metal:
If you’ve been to Finland before, then you probably know that it is the uncontested champion of Heavy Metal bands per capita. One could almost say that it has become entrenched in the local culture so much that it runs in their veins. Finns love Metal music and if you happen to be among the people who also do, then you will be arriving in heaven itself. If you happen to enjoy Nightwish, Sonata Arctica, Amorphis, Celesty, Stratovarius and the likes, then buckle up for you are going to come home more “Metal” than ever (wink)!
This is a cool one: in Finland, Swedish is an official language. You’ll see most road signs and other things written in both Finnish and Swedish. While this may not be of much help to those who speak neither of these beautiful Nordic languages, it might help people who do. Swedes can almost feel like home there and this is proven by the fact that there is a large number of them visiting the country annually.
6. Santa Claus:
Did you know that the city of Rovaniemi has received a document that states that it is the official hometown of Santa Claus? Though this claim is often disputed (as we may all know that dear Santa tends to lean towards the North Pole as well), it is an interesting cultural element of that town. If you happen to visit it, you will see countless shops and public places decorated in Christmas theme. Enjoy it and introduce your kids to the “Big Man” himself (wink)!
Did you enjoy our list? What experiences have you had in Finland and how have they shaped your overall vision of the place? Hit the comment section below and tell us all about it!