Finland is a northern European country of four seasons for the discerning traveler, not a land of mass tourism. Summer season in Helsinki, winter at the skiing centers in Lapland and few happenings all year round temp enough people to make it a crowd, otherwise you can enjoy the space and silence in the pure northern nature. During the winter months you can have a skiing holiday or visit the Santa Claus and take a reindeer tour. Summer offers you a wide variety of activity from trekking to urban holidays, or you can simply relax at a hidden summer cottage with a sauna near a lake. Besides the mainland with vast forests and thousands of lakes separated by few agricultural and urban areas, the Baltic Sea with widespread archipelagos offers plenty of possibilities for sailing and fishing. Helsinki and few other places are worth of visiting throughout the year. Finland has a high standard of living, comparable to other Nordic countries, facilities are good and especially the telecommunications are next to none in the world. With an area of 338,000 square kilometers, Finland is the seventh largest country in Europe, located between Sweden and Russia.
Finland, the quiet sibling of the Nordic countries, has a down-to-earth natural purity that makes it an exceptionally rewarding place to visit.
Across the south, cultural differences reflect a turbulent history. The picturesque Swedish-speaking wooden towns of the west coast and the onion-domed Orthodox churches of Karelia in the east speak of Finland's oft-repeated role as the rope in a tug of war between Sweden and Russia. In the middle were the stoic Finns, a loyal and warmhearted people with a gloriously independent and idiosyncratic streak. Even the urban technocrats love to get back to basics, chopping wood or hunting for mushrooms from their lakeside cabins.
The Gulf of Finland separates southern Finland from Estonia and in the north Norway isolates Finland from the Barents Sea. Boreal forest cover two-thirds of Finland, one third of the country lies north of the Arctic Circle. Post-glacial lakes are a dominant feature, if marshes and bogs are also counted water covers about 10% of the country. Most of the country is relatively flat with few hills, the highest point of Finland, Halti in Lapland, rises 1328m above sea level. Finnish flora is rich and varied during the warm period between late May and September. The most common mammals in the forests include elks, foxes, lynxes, lemmings and hedgehogs, but also brown bear exists. Reindeer is a very common sight in the northern Finland, Lapland. There are over 300 species of birds including black grouse, whooper cranes and birds of prey, such as ospreys. With climate, Finland is more favored than most areas in the same latitudes, like Alaska. The average temperature in Helsinki is -3.1 °C (26.4 °F) in January and +20.5 °C (68.9 °F) in July. The summer months from July to August are generally warm, the midnight sun does its thing, but the nights can be chilly, and during the winter you should always take warm clothing with you.
In far-northern Lapland, the Sá?mi people still herd their reindeer in the vast swathes of sparsely populated wilderness - at least when they're not podcasting: Finland is one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world. It is also renowned for its design and architecture, particularly strong in the capital Helsinki, a clean, modern and buzzy place, with a strong tradition of artistic and musical innovation and a beautiful coastline and harbour.
Finnish language is different from the Indo-European languages; it belongs to the Finno-Ugric group of languages together with Estonian and Hungarian. Language is not much of a problem in Finland, however, because most Finns know some foreign language and many of them speak several. English is the most widespread foreign language and Swedish has the special status of being the country's second official language, German, French and Russian are not uncommon at the bigger towns and tourist centers. The five million Finns themselves may appear reserved at first, but they'll show the friendly face soon after first contact, especially if you show interest in the local culture like sauna.
Finland is shaped by its climate, and Finns take advantage of their short but intense summers. The country explodes into life with a bewildering array of festivals and celebrations, ranging from Savonlinna's prestigious opera extravaganza to the tongue-in-cheek humour of the Air Guitar World Championships.
Fabulous forests and lakes cover almost 80% of the country and this, plus the excellent network of national parks, makes it a tempting destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Trekking and canoeing are obvious choices, but a trip in winter can offer cross-country skiing, ice-fishing, snowmobiling or a sled safari with a team of huskies or reindeer. And it is hard to beat a traditional wood-fired sauna at the end of the day.