Interesting & fun facts about Finland

Whenever I visit a country for the first time, I observe things inquisitively and try to look for something which was not known to me. Finland was new for me and so was my curiosity for it. It was fun to know about this ‘cold from outside but warm inside’ country.

Here are some random interesting and fun facts about Finland and Finns. Tell me, how many of these were known to you.

Things you didn’t know about Finland

 

Nice design!! 😀

Finland is a design nation. Some of the world’s most celebrated and admired designers and architects come from Finland. Finland has been setting trends for decades. Helsinki, the World Design Capital has University of Art and Design Helsinki (now called Aalto University’s School of Art and Design) and the Design Museum.

Payphone? What’s that? Surprisingly, there are no public payphones in Finland! A country that is famous for “Connecting People” with Nokia mobile, you won’t find a single payphone within the territory of Finland. There are over 5 million mobile phones in Finland for a population of 5.4 million. But no payphones please! Except, perhaps in the museums.

Mobile network – Speaking of cellphones, the mobile network is very powerful. We used DNA SIM cards and to my surprise the network was available even in jungle! Be it a remote place in Lapland, in Helsinki city or inside the air-conditioned bus, your cell phone will never leave you alone.
And yes, SMS was invented in Finland! 😀

English language – If you are travelling to Finland and do not speak local language, worry not. I was surprised to see Finns speaking fluent English! Finland isn’t like other non-English European countries where only people working in tourism sector or in cities speak English. You will find English speaking people everywhere. In Finland learning two languages is mandatory and English is one of them.
I found that Finns are amongst the best English speakers in Europe. You’ll have no problems getting help. Except the very old, everyone speaks the language.

Finland is the most literate country in the world. Can you beat that? 😀

Lovely people. Photographer : Lauri Rotko

Helpful & friendly – I did not find a single person who was not friendly or helpful. Whether it was the capital Helsinki or up north Lapland, Finns always extended a helpful hand with a smile. So much so, they went out of their way to help us when we were lost. They drew maps, showed us the directions, guided us for shopping and so on.

Tap water is safe – Did you know Helsinki has some of the cleanest tap water of all big cities in the world? And tap water is safe for drinking too.

Safest place in the world- Finland is one of the few countries in the world where lost wallets and mobile phones are returned to their owners. As per a Reader’s Digest global test on honesty, 11 out of 12 wallets deliberately left abandoned around Helsinki were returned. People feel safe walking alone in city parks or use public transport regardless of the hour.

Sauna … Photo credit: Harri Tarvainen

Sauna- It is a well known fact that saunas are a significant part of the Finnish culture. Do you believe, on an average there is one sauna per 2.5 people in Finland which translates to one per household? It is estimated that there are three million saunas in Finland. More than the number of cars they have.
Finns think of saunas not as a luxury but as a necessity. So much so, that a new Burger King branch in Helsinki has devised a brilliant way to distinguish themselves from other burger franchises … by opening a sauna and serving burgers inside spa. This sauna can seat 15 persons at a time.
The saunas are so important that they were set up and frequently used by Finnish soldiers even during wartime. Currently, 99% of Finns take a sauna at least once per week.

Restaurant Day! Photographer: Saara Salama
Restaurant Day! Photographer: Saara Salama

Restaurant Day – Did you know that there is a day, when anyone can set up a restaurant of their choice, anywhere they want ? Roadside, park, station, outside the house… just anywhere. Just like any car owner in Kazakhstan can make it a taxi at any time. And did you know that Helsinki has one of the most vibrant food scenes in Europe?

Vegetarian food – You would be surprised, as I was, to know that there is no dearth of vegetarian food in Finland. Three of us were vegetarians in our group and we had variety and plateful of veggie delights in every meal. Also, there are plenty of Indian restaurants which will satiate your taste buds.

Coffee anytime, anywhere. That’s Finnish style. Photographer: Vastavalo

Coffee anytime. The Finns love coffee more than anyone else in the world. When it comes to java, the Finns do it best … and the most. The average Finn consumes four to five cups of coffee every day and are the most prolific coffee drinkers in the world. In short, you will find cafes at every corner. Small or big, they serve excellent coffee and most of them have Wi-Fi as well.

Milk anyone? – When it comes to coffee, how can milk be far behind? Finland has world’s highest per capita consumption of milk! On an average, each person consumes 1 quart every day. Umm I guess that’s why I found Finns to be fair and strong. 😉 However, the weird fact here is, 17% of Finns are also lactose intolerant.

You can enjoy Trams in Helsinki just like I did.

Transport System. In Finland, traveling from one place to another is a breeze. Wherever you go, you’ll find roads are excellent. From south to north, nowhere did I find a bad patch or a pot hole. There are train connections between all major cities. However, trams run only in Helsinki city. Yes, I had a taste of it as well. 🙂

Speed at your own risk – While we are discussing about the transport system, let’s also talk about the traffic fines. Are you fast, furious and super rich? Then you better not get caught zooming through Finland. In Finland, the amount you get fined for speeding, depends on the amount you earn! Isn’t it strange? 🙂
Here the traffic fines are based on two factors. The severity of the offense and the driver’s income. The most expensive speeding ticket ever given was in 2003 for a whopping 170,000 Euros for over speeding. Having said that, I noticed everywhere that the Finns obey the rules… even in remote place where nobody is watching them.

Headlights on please – While we are still on the topic of driving rules, another interesting legal requirement is to have your headlights on, whether you are driving in summer or winter, in sunlight or darkness, or even under the midnight sun!

There exists a Santa Claus village – Even if you are not a child, I am sure you would want to meet Santa Claus. You can meet Santa Claus and cross the magical Arctic Circle every day at the Santa Claus Village in Lapland in Finland. But beware, there are hundreds of versions of Santa Claus in Finland.
When Santa Claus declared Rovaniemi as his hometown, the privacy of his secret location had to be maintained. The Elf folk decided to build a place where Santa could meet people from near and far at the Northern Arctic Circle. Children can meet the great man at his rustic cottage, and bake cookies with Mrs Claus.

I could not meet him at his village but yes, saw his office in Lapland. 🙂

Office of Santa Clause

World’s strangest sports – When it comes to unconventional past-times, Finland is the winner, hands down. Finland hosts some of the strangest world championships and people from all over the world come to participate. A few of them are, Wife Carrying World Championship, the World Sauna Championships, a Mobile Phone Throwing Championship, mosquito catching, swamp soccer, boot throwing, Air Guitar World Championship.
Do you what’s the first prize for Wife Carrying World Championship? Beer equivalent to wife’s weight!!

Mobile ? Let me see how far I can throw!
interesting fun facts finland
Come on! You’ll get beer equivalent to your wife’s weight!!

National Sleepy Head day – In Finland if you are the last person to wake up in the family on National Sleepy Head Day, you stand the risk of being thrown in to a lake or the sea by the rest of the family.

Home to Western Europe’s second biggest lake – Talking of lakes, Finland is affectionately referred to as the Land of a Thousand Lakes, but this number doesn’t even come close. There are a whopping 187,888 lakes within the territory of Finland … the most of any country in the world. At 1,700 square miles in surface area, Lake Saimaa is the largest lake in Finland.

Finland is also called as the land of midnight sun, because in summer the sun shines all day and all night in the north, not dropping below the horizon.

People are preparing for winter sports on the frozen lake Saimaa.

A place for bird watching. The dense forest population makes Finland an excellent country for bird watching. The Whooper swan (Finland’s national bird), Cranes and Golden Eagle can easily be spotted at any time. The best time for this activity is late May or September during the mass migration seasons.

Freedom to Roam. Like other Nordic countries, Finland has some of the world’s best ‘Freedom to Roam’ opportunities. This means you can pitch a tent, sleep, swim, sail, fish or forage anywhere you like for free and without worry.

Faith and freedom –
The religious freedoms have become a part of life in Finland. In Finnish law every person is allowed the right to any (or none) religion that they see fit, and are given religious instruction in accordance to their own beliefs. It is estimated that only fifty percent of Finns attend church services once a year. In fact, most of the churches are only full during the Christmas season.

Failure ?? Let’s celebrate it!

Feel like a failure? Further cementing the nation’s wonderfully off-beat sense of humor, Finland celebrates an annual Day for Failure. On October 13th, the ceremony rejoices bad news and ill-fortune as a way of learning for the future. Better luck next time, losers!

Baby in a cardboard box!! Did you know many Finnish newborns sleep in cardboard boxes? The Finnish state provides all expectant mothers with a beautiful, durable box with clothes, sheets, nappies, toys and a mattress … to be used as an excellent bed for the tiny newcomer. Some say it helped Finland achieve one of the world’s lowest infant mortality rates.
All mothers get to stay at home with their babies for almost a year with full salary or excellent benefits. In most cities when a parent with a child in a pram uses public transport, they travel free of charge.

Card Board box baby !! Image Source: Finnish Baby Box

So tell me, how many of them you knew already ? 😀

Disclaimers:
1. My trip to Finland was made possible by Club Mahindra and Holiday Club Resorts.
2. Images used here are either shot by me or have been provided by Visit Finland with due permissions.

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87 thoughts on “Interesting & fun facts about Finland

  1. wow! So many many interesting facts. I never knew more than half of these. Now I am waiting for individual stories. I love the concept of Santa’s Village

  2. I was here in August 2016 and how I miss the Finnish vibes.. Wish I could go back to the Market Square and shop some more..Next time I want to visit the Moomin world and indulge in some local music fest.. Finns are awesome, I think the entire Scandinavia is stunning with best people you can ever meet. Great pictures here.. thanks for sharing this lovely post 🙂

    1. Oh you know Moomin? 🙂 I am so glad that someone from India knows about it. They have a big shop at Helsinki airport itself.

      I want to go there again. 🙁

  3. One of my closest friends is Finnish but I still wasn’t aware of half these facts. Surprised to know about the quirky races they have and the National Sleepy Head Day. Scandinavian countries are huge on food, but Restaurant Day is an awesome initiative especially for foodies like myself. Thanks for this.

    1. I was in absolute awe for this country. Such a cool attitude towards life and people. 😀

      I knew about something similar to Restaurant day, in which I also had participated in Switzerland. 🙂

  4. How beautiful! And those interesting facts… they are amazing! And the city! And the pictures with the snow! I have never been to Finland but it was on my to do list… Now I think I will do my best to plan it as my next destination!

    Thank you so so so much for sharing!

    1. Ha Ha I liked the idea of speeding fines. In my country, it’s noticed that rich people drive recklessly. I so want this rule to be here. 😀

      Baby box idea is too cool in my opinion. 😀

  5. Very interesting facts! Those competitions sound quite crazy–wife carrying competition and mobile phone throwing competition sound hilarious. Would love to see them in action! And it’s crazy how many saunas they have–makes me want to go for a steam right about now!!

    1. Thank you.
      I would also love to see them in action. 😀

      Sauna made me crazy as well. And it’s a necessity for them ! Can’t believe it. 🙂

      Shall we go together.

  6. I didn’t realise there are no public payphones in Finland. It stands to reason, as the home of Nokia….Which day of the week or month is restaurant day? That sounds like fun!

    1. Yup I was also surprised to know about payphones. And also about the speeding fines. 😀

      Restaurant day happens on 3rd Saturday of the month May. Isn’t it a great way of mingling and feeding people what you know best to cook? 😀

  7. I was in Norway last year and I must admit that I’ve never drunk so good coffee. And, yes, in that cold weather, a sauna is such a rewarding thing. I wouldn’t even think of Norway or Finland without having a sauna.

  8. I love Finland – travelled in 2007 and had a really wonderful time. Yes, Finland is the most literate country in the world, and has the best system of education in the world – I felt quite embarassed when I found out most speak 3 or even 4 languages and I only speak one!

    1. This was my first time there. 🙂

      And I totally fell in love with it. How could a country be so nice and good on almost all fronts?

      Want to go there again.

    1. Thanks for your kind words Anindya.

      Well, I also didn’t know about most of them and there are so many more. I wish I could live there for at least 6 months to learn more about the country, its culture and people.

  9. Even though I was with you on the trip, I learnt a few new things here! I had no clue about milk consumption and the wife carrying sport 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Keep the posts from Finland coming Nisha and we must travel again together! 🙂

  10. Finland is so interesting. I didn’t know they had the highest literacy rate in the world. It really says how much they value education. And I had no idea it was such a fun loving place too. We would love to visit.

    1. It was a surprise for me as well.

      ha ha I hear you on that! 😀
      I want a complete one year to experience all the four seasons. 😀

      What about you?

  11. I enjoyed the post much more than I thought I would when I clicked on the link. I did not know most of the facts actually. I am an architect myself, and I did not know that Finland celebrates architecture and design so much. Apart from that, I had no idea that SMS was invented in Finland, most of the people speak fluent English, it is the most literate country in the world, all about the strange sports, and quite impressively, their tolerance for other religions.
    I have always wanted to go to Scandinavia, but Norway was always my first choice. Quite honestly, now I have a tie!

    1. Ha Ha I am glad I could ignite that spark in you for Finland. 😀

      Yes, I also wasn’t aware of many of these things when I landed there. So much to learn! And Travel teaches us in a noble way. 🙂

  12. This is really interesting. There are so many parallels I didn’t know about between Finland and New Zealand (where I live). Actually, I had thought we were the safest country. There are also quite a few differences, like we don’t celebrate failure, nor do we drive very well.

    1. It’s a human nature to compare two places…. one where s/he lives and the other which is being visited. 🙂 I also do that.

      We’ll always find differences and the facts will clarify all the myth that we had. 🙂

      BTW, I consider New Zealand as one of the most beautiful countries. I loved the countryside very much.

  13. Those are some really interesting facts about Finland I didn’t know. I didn’t understand the concept of keeping the headlights on all the time. I wish I could get my wallet back too. But no chance of that happening anytime soon.

  14. Wow! There are some really incredible facts here! I am amazed. I love restaurant day – that would be so much fun to wonder around and check out all the restaurants. The fact about coffee makes me feel better about the 3+ cups I have been consuming lately too! Hope to get to Finland this year :).

    1. Thank you.

      I love the fact that they have these quirky funky days and celebrate them in style. I can see the zeal in their life for positivity. Don’t you think so? 😀

  15. This was really interesting, some of the facts I knew about Finland, but most were new to me. I love that cardboard box for moms and the fact that they are the most literate country in the world is a great fact! Great article I really enjoyed it!

    1. Thank you very much.

      I was also unaware of most of these facts. I loved at their creativity to tackle all the problems such as cardboard box and also failure day. 🙂

      Thanks for dropping by.

  16. So many facts I didn’t know in the list. I think I should go and check my DNA maybe I am a Finn since I drink a lot of milk 😉 I really want to go to Finland, especially during winters to watch the Northen lights

    1. Ha Ha
      Your love for milk will probably create a doubt ! 😉

      Seeing Northern Lights is pure luck, so be prepared for other things.

  17. Yes! I knew I wanted to visit Finland for a reason! The people seem so lovely and I would love to have the sauna experience. I have done the whole dip in freezing water and run back into the sauna here in Canada. It’s exhilarating! I also love the idea of visiting Santa Claus in Lapland. How magical. Thanks for the post.

    1. I am glad I could help you find those reasons. 😀

      After experiencing it in Canada, you should now go to Finland and compare which one is better.

  18. I enjoyed reading your post, very educational and interesting! Keep up the good work and I would love to discover fun fact about other countries too, Nisha!

    1. Thank you very much.

      I always try to see from a different perspective and come up with such a post. 🙂

      You may want to read some more if you scroll up and see the related posts.

  19. I am going to Helsinki in June, so I am excited to know these facts. Some of them I knew already like that Finns are famous for literacy and speak excellent English. But I didn’t know that there are no pay phones or about National Sleepy Head Day. Very interesting!

    1. All the best for your Finland trip.

      No Pay phone surprised me as well but then it speaks volumes about the mobile network they have. 🙂

  20. My favorite fun fact was about the saunas! 99% of Finns go to the sauna! Wow, I’m missing out here.

  21. Thanks for sharing some amazing facts about the country. No payphone that is interesting 🙂 and ya, some of the best architect in the world are Finnish. I have been dying to visit for so long. I think this year am gonna visit Finland for sure.

    Btw could you share how many days it took to get a Finland Tourist visa?

    1. Thank you very much. Glad that you liked it.

      Now that you live quite near, you can make it. 🙂

      I applied for Finland Tourist visa thru VFS which are the official agents to do this. And it took 5-6 working days to have my passport in my hand.

  22. Whoa! Interesting.

    I’d heard about the cardboard box. (It comes with some goodies for the baby, right? ) It was in the news not so long ago.

    The rest on the list here were news to me. 😀

    1. You are the first person to say cardboard box thing was known to you! 😀

      I’m glad that something was new to you. And you enjoyed the post.

  23. WOOOW, that’s a lot of facts. I didn’t know most of them. I really like the weird sports and championships, plus everything else! 😀 Great article!

    1. Thank you !

      I liked all of them.

      In fact, I would like to attend some of these sports though not sure if my husband would be able to lift me for beer. 😛

  24. Great post! Finland always has been on top of my list to visit, and your post is definitely a good introduction on what to expect when visiting. I only have been to Aland Islands, which is technically Finland, but it has a stronger Swedish culture. Thank you for sharing!

  25. Loved it. I Know many finish people, all of them really educated, polite, intelligent and friendly people, because of that I knew some stuff that you have here. I just never thought that SMS was invented there, didn’t know that they have this connection with telecommunications. 1 sauna for each 2,5 person?!? Awesome, I have been in Norway and I think it is similar in almost everything. I need to make it to Finland 🙂

    1. Thank you.

      I have a Finnish friend who is very polite and understanding. When he came to India, he never boasted about things in his country. So humble. When I visited his country, it was all new to me.

      Yeah, Norway would be quite similar.

  26. I visited Helsinki last year and its a great city. The hostel I stayed in even had a sauna, which was great. The transport too is great, its so easy to get around the city. There was so much to see and do, its a great place to visit.

    1. Yes, I agree with you.

      I would have loved to be there for some more days to explore on foot as well. Loved the city to the core. 😀

  27. That is really interesting about the cardboard box for babies. Cot death is a terrible thing, why don’t more countries follow this lead as they have the lowest cot death rate. Your photos are beautiful illustrations of your words.

    1. Thank you very much.

      Yes, I agree. To me, the cardboard box thing was new. If not anywhere, we can adopt it in our own country where the infant mortality rate is quite high.

  28. I knew only a small handful of these facts before reading (Santa Clause village being one – it’s been on my bucket list for years!) but it was really fun to read all these quirky bits of info. I love the sound of Restaurant Day!! And Wife Carrying World Championships. If I ever get married I think I might have to make participation in that championship one of my goals!

    1. I knew nothing !! 😀

      Restaurant Day looks very appetizing 😉 and I don’t think my husband would be able to carry me in a race. 😀

    1. Hello madam!
      This post is quite old! The next in line is also more than a week old. Kindly read that too. 😀

      BTW, thank you.

  29. Fresh perspective on Finland. This goes beyond the Northern Lights, Reindeer and Santa Claus. Really, there is so much more to Finland. It is indeed a white wonderland. It is nice to know that English is spoken by most people, so convenient.

    1. Thank you.!

      Even I though people go to that remote place only to watch northern lights. What I want to say that, it’s totally luck which rules. So don’t be sad, there are other things to do.

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