Area Handbook for Finland

By Theodore L. Stoddard; William K. Carr et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2
HISTORICAL SETTING

Finland's history as a nation relates the passage from Swedish to Russian domination, then from Russian domination to independence. That history has been significantly shaped by Finland's geopolitical position with regard to Scandinavia, Imperial Russia, and the Soviet Union. Modern Finland has arrived at a political accommodation with the Soviet Union and has managed to safeguard a Western cultural heritage that makes it Nordic in customs and institutions.

During this evolution, however, the economy and society of the Finns were shaped more by the rough land of forest and water than by the neighboring powers' centuries-long struggle for influence in the area. These natural barriers to communication isolated the Finns and made them dependent upon their own skills and ingenuity for survival. Then, as contact with the outer world increased from the eighteenth century on, the resources provided by the land became the raw material for industrial development and a medium of exchange and contact. Both the political and the economic development of Finland have been marked by an East-West orientation, so that despite the need to consider East European interests and relationships, the country has been able to maintain and extend close relations with the West European and Scandinavian countries.


SWEDISH UNION (1154-1809)

Finnish recorded history only begins with development of Swedish- Russian rivalry over the area that includes modern Finland, from about the twelfth century. The country's earliest historical records are archaeological ones. The scarcity of even these records precludes any definite knowledge of the origins of the Finnish people, which has been a much debated topic. Anthropological evidence suggests that their Finno-Ugrian ancestors migrated from an area south of the Gulf of Finland between 200 B.C. and A.D. 400. These migrants, whose ancestors had in turn come from the Volga River area of Russia, absorbed indigenous peoples believed to have been in the territory comprising modern Finland as early as 8000 B.C. The earliest Finns lived in relative isolation until Viking raiders and traders initiated more contacts after A.D. 800. Communication over the Baltic Sea was easier than through the dense forest and swamp barrier to the east so that Finland

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Area Handbook for Finland
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Preface v
  • COUNTRY SUMMARY vii
  • FINLAND - TABLE OF CONTENTS xi
  • Contents xii
  • Contents xiii
  • SECTION I. SOCIAL 1
  • Chapter 2 - HISTORICAL SETTING 9
  • Chapter 3 - ENVIRONMENT AND POPULATION 35
  • Chapter 4 - SOCIAL SYSTEM 49
  • Chapter 5 - LIVING CONDITIONS 57
  • Chapter 6 - RELIGIOUS LIFE 71
  • Chapter 7 - EDUCATION AND MASS COMMUNICATIONS 81
  • Chapter 8 - ARTISTIC AND INTELLECTUAL DEVELOPMENT 97
  • SECTION II. POLITICAL 121
  • Chapter 10 - POLITICAL DYNAMICS, ATTITUDES, AND VALUES 139
  • Chapter 11 - FOREIGN RELATIONS 153
  • SECTION III. ECONOMIC 167
  • Chapter 13 - AGRICULTURE AND INDUSTRY 181
  • Chapter 14 - TRADE, TRANSPORTATION, AND SERVICES 193
  • SECTION IV. NATIONAL SECURITY 207
  • Chapter 16 - THE ARMED FORCES 213
  • Index 247
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