History

When exactly the first Finns invaded Finland, from where they came, and whom they found on their arrival in their Nordic setting—these are questions we are still unable to answer satisfactorily. Even the origin of the Finnish name for Finland, "Suomi," is not without controversy. To some the word "Suomi" stems from the Finnish "suo" (swamp) and "maa" (land) and refers to the many lakes, bogs, and swamps that the new arrivals must have found. To others, the word "Suomi" appears to be related to Saami. Apparently, the Finns' forefathers came to the shores of Finland approximately 10,000 years ago. Several waves of immigration took place and local cultures evolved. Cultures clashed, and at around 5000 BC encounters between so-called Finnish Comb ceramic sealers and Aland Pitted ware people may have resulted in cannibalism: at least this is the conclusion of examinations of human bones and skulls from Jettbole (Aland/Ahvenanmaa Islands). On the basis of the many Saami names that are in use for places and landscape features in southern Finland, there can be no doubt that the Saami once used to live much further than now. What is unresolved is whether invading Finns pushed them northward or changes in climate and reindeer migratory routes caused the ancient

Saami to vacate the more southerly regions voluntarily. Ptolemy, apparently, was aware of the Finnish population and is said to have referred to them as "Phinni." Between the years 1155 and 1293, Swedes carried out three crusades into Finland and in 1323 concluded with Novgorod the Treaty of Pahkinasaari, defining the eastern border of Finland for the first time in history. The territory annexed by Sweden became known as the "Eastland," a name first mentioned in the 1340s. Turku became its principal town and the seat of the Bishop. Helsinki was founded in 1550, but the first university (the Academy of Turku) was established in Turku in 1640. During the Great Northern War (1700-1721), Russia occupied Finland, but in the Treaty of Uusikaupunki (Nystad) all the Finnish provinces, except for the southeastern part, reverted to Sweden. After almost 600 years of domination by Swedes, the situation changed in 1809, when after a brief war Sweden had to cede Finland to Russia and Russia awarded its newly-annexed province the status of a Grand Duchy and gave it considerable autonomy. Since Turku was geographically and culturally too close to Sweden, the Russians made Helsinki the capital of Finland. As a consequence of food shortages, mass emigrations of Finns, chiefly to Canada, occurred between 1899 and 1902. Reaching 25,000 per year, they left entire regions of Finland depopulated. During the rule of Czar Nicholas II, a program of "Russification" of Finland began. This was, of course, resented by the Finns and led, in the wake of the revolution taking place in Russia and the turmoil of World War I, to the declaration of Finnish independence on December 6, 1917. A civil war, in which the Senate received assistance from Germany and which ended in mid-May 1918, ensued. At the close of the civil war, it was decided to turn Finland into a monarchy, not with a Finnish or Swedish or Russian king, but with Prince Friedrich Karl of Hesse (brother-in-law to Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany) selected as the first King of Finland. However, following the collapse of Germany at the end of World War I, an inauguration never took place and Finland became a presidential republic in the summer of 1919. A conflict on the future of the Aland Islands (which till then had been under Russian authority) arose between Finland and Sweden. The matter was decided by the League of Nations in 1921 and the islands became an autonomous province of Finland. The League of Nations was the cornerstone of Finnish security policy in the 1920s and was involved in solving the thorny issue of the status of Finland's only entirely Swedish-speaking province, the Aland/Ahvenanmaa Islands. During World War II, the Soviet Union broke the 1932 nonaggression pact with Finland and invaded, thus starting the infamous Winter War. Although a treaty, in which the Soviet Union gained southeastern Finland, was signed the following year, hostilities continued until September 1944, when Finland had to cede the Petsamo corridor (now Pechenga in Murmansk province) to the Soviet Union, Finland's only access to the Arctic Ocean and a place of valuable nickel and copper mines, as well as Karelia. After the war, Finland sought friendly relations with the Soviet Union, but not at the expense of relations with western countries. Helsinki hosted the summer Olympic Games in 1952, and the Soviet Union ended its occupation of the southern Finnish region of Porkalla in 1956. Under the postwar presidents J.K. Paasikivi (1946-1956), Urho Kekkonen (1956-1982), Mauno Koivisto (1982-1994), Martti Ahtisaari (1994-2000), and now Tarja Halonen, Finland asserted itself more and more internationally. In 1989 it joined the Council of Europe, and in 1995 it became a member of the European Union.

V.B. Meyer-Rochow

See also Karelia; Lapland; Lappin lääni; National Parks and Protected Areas: Finland; Rovaniemi; Saami

Further Reading

Dahlgren, M. & M. Nurmelin, Sauna, Sisu, and Sibelius,

Helsinki: Yrityskirjat Oy, 1999 Elovainio, P., "The Modern Welfare State." In Facts about

Finland, 2nd edition, Helsinki: Otava, 2000 Huurre, M., 9000 vuotta Suomen historiaa [9000 Years of

Finnish History], Helsinki: Otava, 1995 Irwin, J.L., The Finns and the Lapps, Newton Abbot: David Charles, 1973

Möbius, M. & A. Ster, Lappland, Cologne: DuMont, 1994 Nunez, M. & K. Liden, "Taking the 5,000 year old 'Jettböle skeletons' out of the closet: a Palaeo-medical examination of human remains from the Aland (Ahvenanmaa) Islands." International Journal of Circumpolar Health, 56 (1997): 30-39 Singleton, F. & A.F. Upton, A Short History of Finland, Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998 Suikkari, R., Finland Today, Helsinki: RKS Tietopalvelu 1999 Tarkka, J., "A Society of Nordic Values." In Facts about

Finland, 2nd edition, Helsinki: Otava, 2000 Tiitta, A., "A Land of Many Faces." In Facts about Finland, 2nd edition, Helsinki: Otava, 2000 Zetterberg, S., "Finland Through the Centuries." In Facts about Finland, 2nd edition, Helsinki: Otava, 2000

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