25 Things You Didn’t Know About Finland

Almost 190,000 lakes, white nights north of the Arctic Circle and a distinctive sauna culture – Finland delights with unspoiled natural landscapes and cosmopolitan charm. We reveal 25 things that are typical for the Scandinavian country and are little known to the public.

Land of 1,000 lakes
The name “Land of 1,000 Lakes” is familiar to most Finland vacationers. However, very few people know how many there actually are. There are a total of 187,888 inland lakes in the Scandinavian country, in which there are more 178,888 islands. This means that Finland has the highest density of lakes in the world.

World champion coffee drinker
The Finns are world champions at drinking coffee. Per capita consumption in the Scandinavian country is 12.17 kilograms, around two kilograms higher than coffee consumption in Norway, which ranks second in the international comparison.

Daily sauna visit
There are over 2.2 million saunas in Finland. With a population of around 5.5 million, this is a considerable number. Finns use the sauna excessively and usually sweat once a day in convivial company. Health plays a subordinate role. The focus is on the communal experience, with public saunas separating the sexes.

Birch branches in the sauna
In Finland, it is customary to take a bouquet of birch twigs, with young leaves if possible, to the sauna. In the sauna, the branches are doused with hot water, which creates an aromatic scent. Afterwards, sauna-goers slap their backs with the wet container, which is supposed to stimulate blood circulation.

Income-based penalties for traffic offenders
Fair and unfair at the same time: motorists in Finland are punished differently for failing to comply with traffic rules. Fines are based on the income of the offender and, as a result, can vary widely for the same offense.

No public phone booths
There are no public telephone booths in Finland. In the country of the former cell phone manufacturer Nokia, pay phones and map phones have been completely banned from the streetscape and can only be seen in museums. On the other hand, no other country in the world uses more cell phones in relation to its population than the Scandinavian country.

Barbecue, wild camping and fishing anywhere in nature
The so-called Everyman’s Right in Finland allows you to light a campfire in almost any place in the wilderness, spend the night in a tent or camper, paddle across the waters and fish in the lakes. Nevertheless, the Finns do not have a garbage problem, because for the nature lovers it is a matter of course to collect the garbage on departure and take it with them.

Air Guitar World Championship
Since 1996, the Finnish city of Oulu has hosted the Air Guitar World Championship. The contest is one of a whole series of curious competitions in the Scandinavian country. Advantages for the participants: You don’t have to know the instrument, nor do you have to be able to read music. The winner will be the one who performs the most spectacular contortions with an imaginary electric guitar on stage.

Mud soccer and cell phone long throw world championship
In Hyrynsalmi in northeastern Finland, recreational soccer players from all over the world meet annually for the World Championship in mud soccer. In ankle-deep mud, teams compete to score the most goals. In the country of cell phone pioneer Nokia, it is not surprising that there is a world championship in cell phone long throw. The winner is the participant who manages to hurl the discarded device as far as possible.

Winter swimming in freezing cold
Finns are native to the far north of Europe and are used to the cold. The inhabitants take advantage of this fact and like to take a bath in the lake in icy temperatures in winter. Like going to the sauna, the focus of winter swimming is not on health aspects, but on a refreshing energy boost.

Finnish inventiveness
In addition to the sauna, the Finns have made numerous other inventions. Salty licorice (Salmiakki), the SMS, the rescue sled and the Linux PC operating system were all developed in the Scandinavian country. The world’s first Internet browser with the UX user interface was invented by three Finnish engineering students in 1994.

Highest per capita consumption of milk
Finns are not only excessive coffee drinkers. The Scandinavians also lead the world in per capita milk consumption. Statistically, each Finn drinks one liter of milk per day. This fact is highly surprising, as 17% of the population suffers from lactose intolerance.

Finns love the tango
Around 13,000 kilometers lie between the Argentine tango capital Buenos Aires and the Finnish capital Helsinki. Nevertheless, the Latin American dance causes enthusiasm storms in the Scandinavian country. In the late 1960s, rhythmic tango numbers competed with Beatles songs for the top spots on the Finnish charts. Every year in July, the Seinäjoki Tango Festival is held, which attracts more than 100,000 spectators and is one of the most important summer events in Finland.

Failure day
Every year on October 13, Finland celebrates the so-called “Day of Failure”. Although it is not an official holiday, the whimsical commemorative day occupies a permanent place in the calendar. Since 2010, personal failure, glaring stupidity and embarrassing omissions have been celebrated as events from which useful lessons for the future course of life are drawn.

Compulsory lights for motorists
In Finland, drivers are required to have their lights on at all times of the day and night, regardless of the season or weather. Anyone who does not switch on the low beam must expect a fine, as this omission is considered a traffic violation.

Midnight sun in Utsjoki
The Finnish parish of Utsjoki is located near the 70th parallel and is the northernmost village in the European Union. The midnight sun shines from May 15 to July 29, turning night into day. Although the sun does not sink behind the horizon during this period, daytime temperatures rarely reach the 15-degree mark.

Long polar night in winter
The municipality of Utsjoki is a place of extremes. While the midnight sun does not set for two and a half months in summer, there is darkness for just under two months in winter. The polar night lasts at the northern tip of Finland from November 24 to January 17.

Outstanding top athletes
From Finland come some outstanding top athletes, who by no means could only convince in the winter disciplines. In addition to Olympic ski jumping champion and multiple world champion Matti Nykänen, former Formula 1 world champion Kimi Räikkönen and two-time rally world champion Marcus Grönholm hail from the Scandinavian country.

Kalakukko – Fish in a robe
Fish in a robe” is the name of a Finnish national dish called kalakukko. This is a trout or perch, which are put into a bread dough. After the baking time of 4-5 hours, the dish is ready to serve.

Rovaniemi – home of Santa Claus
Finns are firmly convinced that Santa Claus is at home in the far north of the country. The city of Rovaniemi in Lapland is officially considered the home of Santa Claus. Around 300,000 visitors from all over the world pay the white-bearded old man with the red coat a visit every year.

Alcohol consumption: expensive pleasure
Drinking alcohol is an expensive pleasure in Finland. Beverages with an alcohol content of more than 4.7 percent may only be sold in state-run liquor stores. Favorites include local vodka, the sweet cloudberry liqueur Lakkalikööri and the thick licorice schnapps Salmiakkisnapsi.

Summer cottage in the country
Their own summer cottage in the countryside is sacred to the Finns. Almost every third inhabitant owns a log cabin in the wilderness, called a “moekki”. Mostly the accommodations are self-built, have no electric and water connection, but have their own sauna house.

24-hour daycare centers
Childcare in Finland is organized by the state and has a high level. 24-hour daycare centers exist across the country. All-round care makes it easier for working parents to return to work after parental leave.

Passport flip book
The Finnish passport has one special feature. As you quickly flip through the document, a moose sets itself in motion, appearing to stride across the pages. Counterfeiters have a bad hand with this flip book: Only if the forest dweller keeps moving is the passport actually genuine.

Sauna gondola ride in Lapland
The world’s first sauna gondola lift operates at the Ylläs ski resort in the far north of Finland. While it’s freezing cold outside, you can sweat for 15 minutes on the two-kilometer track. Up to four people can fit in one gondola and a fantastic view of the deep snow-covered landscape is included in the price.

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Ich bin absoluter Skandinavien-Fan und reise schon seit über 12 Jahren in die schönen Länder Skandinaviens. Hier teile ich meine Erfahrungen und Tipps zu den skandinavischen Ländern und der Ostsee-Region.