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Summer in Finland


FACTS about Finland

Finland has been the least corrupt country in the world in the transparency international throughout the 3rd millennium: http://www.transparency.org/policy_research/surveys_indices/cpi/2006 . In the OECD's international assessment of student performance, PISA, Finland has consistently been among the highest scorers worldwide; in 2003, Finnish 15-year-olds came first in reading literacy, science, and mathematics; and second in problem solving, worldwide. The World Economic Forum ranks Finland's tertiary education #1 in the world. In 1906, Finland became the first European nation (and one of the first in the world) to grant women the right to vote and run for parliament. Finland's most famous company is Nokia, the world's largest producer of mobile phones. Just 30 years ago, Nokia company was selling mainly tiers, rubber boots and rubber sticks for the police.The most famous Finnish person alive today is Linus Torvalds, who originated (and still maintains) Linux, the shareware free computer operating system which is taking the world by storm and is showing increasing signs of revolutionizing the computer industry (and perhaps other things as well). And a quote: 'If Microsoft, one of these days, will invent something that does not suck, it will probably be a Microsoft vacuum cleaner'.

The Republic of Finland (Suomi in the Finnish) is one of the world's most progressive nations, despite of less than optimal circumstances, including a harsh climate, little variety of natural resources, a very small population and a long history of being oppressed by its more powerful neighbors (The Vikings and the Russian/Soviet Union). Finland's climate is characterized by cold, and sometimes severe, winters and relatively warm summers. Adding to the gloominess of the long winters is the fact that in the far north (Lapland) the sun does not rise for almost two months, and even in the south the days are short and the sun is very low on the horizon even at noon. In summer the longest day lasts more than two months in the far north, and even in the far south the nights never become completely dark, with the days being separated by a just a few hours of twilight.

The most resistant population in the face of the Earth to HIV is the Finnish. This is weird since the biggest difference in the exposure to the HIV as such is between Finnish and Russian border so the resistance has not been developed within the past 30 years. It seems this is due to extraordinary severe assaults of influenza viruses, which has breeded over third part of the population to sustain a truncated form of CCR5 receptor, the coreceptor to both HIV and influenza. The country suffered from severe famines, e.g. in 1696-1697 one of them killed a third of the population, together with influenza epidemic. Thus breeding a resistant nation.

On December 6, 1917, just weeks after the November Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, Finland declared its independence. (The other Baltic nations of Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland did likewise, but only Finland was able to avoid being reconquered.) The following year the country experienced a brief (three and a half months) but bloody civil war. The bitter memories of this conflict continued to affect politics and the national psyche for many years, and healing only began during the Winter War of 1939-40, when both sides had to unite against a common enemy. The Winter War was the result of an attack by the Soviet Union. The Soviet forces were overwhelming in numbers but suffered massive casualties at the hands of the unexpectedly fierce Finnish resistance. Nearly one third of the Finnish army did not got a gun at the stat of the war and had to get them in sieges from the enemy troops. Nevertheless, Finland eventually had to give in and cede most of its Karelia region (a large chunk of the eastern part of the country) to the USSR, causing about 400,000 people to lose their homes and land. During this winter war with -40C temp no other country helped Finland and Nazi Germany had signed Finland secretly to Soviet Unions realm in the Rippentrop-Molotov treaty in Moscow. In the Soviet record of history, the destroyed RUssian divisions just never existed and the whole war was only called a border fight in the Leningrad military area. Subsequently, in 1941 Finland joined the forces against the Soviet Union on the side of Germany with the goal of regaining this lost territory, after Soviet Union had started bombing again to the capital as well as other cities. Stalin thought the Finnish planes had attacked although it was a question of German aircrafts. Finland did not go far beyond its old borders and did not want to close the 900-day-siege of Leningrad in order to avoid killing its civilian inhabitants. The mighty command to the German troops was, after all, to destroy the whole city and its inhabitants in the name of evolutionary struggle or Kampf for life which Finland did not share with its democracy. Finally, Finland wound up having to cede even more territory and pay heavy reparations.

ACTUALLY, Finland was the only country of all the participants of the WWII that paid all the war debts laid over it, which lasted ten years and was even few tiths of the gross income. Just the ships Finland had to mostly import and then donate to the USSR would have made a quey of 20 km or the trains full of machines and the like  numbered141490 wagons. Finland was also the only country of the lost side that was never occupied, either by the German or Soviet troops. She was also the only democracy waging a war aside the Nazi Germany - and had to pay for it dearly. At the end of the war, Finland had to wage war also against the few German troops in the Northern Finland and Norway. Finland was the ONLY country of the WWII where the local Jews were in principle serving in arms with the German troops. Three Finnish Jews were even offered the Iron Cross. They all refused, however, and referred to their Mosaic faith. But one of them rescued a major German unit from a siege. There was even a synagogue in the uttermost front battle field. In 1905, the second major Zionist conference was arranged in Finland, Helsinki. In hte Russian pogroms between 1820 and 1900 even one million Jews were killed but those did not reach Finnish autonomy. In 1905, the second conference on Zionism after Basel and after Theodor Herzl had died was held in Helsinki, despite the demonstrations in the Russia and despite Finland officially still belonged to Russia.

Following World War II, Finland assumed a policy of cautious neutrality. It was not a part of the Eastern block. The term Finlandization entered the international vocabulary and referred to the strong self-censorship, self-control and pro-Soviet attitudes that characterized Finland at that time. Politicians, civil servants and journalists were well aware of the consequences (including to their careers) of publicly discussing injustices such as the attacks leading to the Winter War or news about current Soviet atrocities. There was much concern in the U.S. and elsewhere that a communist takeover would occur in Finland and that Finlandization would eventually overtake other nations in Western European as well.

Today Finland has a industrialized, largely free-market economy with a per capita output and a standard of living (not only in terms of economic indicators but also in terms of public health, public safety, welfare, culture and other intangibles) rivaling those of France, Germany and Italy. This has been accomplished simultaneously with maintaining what is consistently ranked as one of the world's highest standards of environmental protection and sustainability. Finland's economic performance has been attributed to its education system, its infrastructure and a national consensus on problem solving. But it is also likely due to the fact that the country is a strong and vibrant democracy. In fact, according to some rankings it is at, or near, the top of all countries with regard to democracy, press freedom and a lack of corruption.

The total population is only about 5.2 million. A density of 15 persons per square kilometer (40 per square mile) makes it one of the most sparsely inhabited countries in Europe. The capital and largest city is Helsinki, a port city which was founded in 1550. ("Hell sin", named and cursed as such by the Western invaders of the time.) The Finnish language is not related to most other European languages (i.e., the Indo-European languages), and it may be of Asiatic origin. Recent genetic studies have shown that, in contrast to the language, most of the population of Finland is closely related to the Baltic and Germanic peoples. The Samis, Finnish Indians are an indigenous minority who live mainly in the far north, are linguistically related to the other Finns but are genetically very far from them and Scandinavians. The Kalevala, Finland's national epic, was compiled in the 19th century by the Finnish physician and scholar Elias Lönnrot, who undertook the huge task of collecting folk poetry from the remote wildernesses of Karelia. These old lyrics, ballads and incantations, which even included a creation myth, had been part of the oral tradition of speakers of the Balto-Finnic languages for at least two thousand years. At the beginning of the 19th century, common folk could recite often 2000 verses out of it by heart. In order to comprehend the intertextual analogies and similarities between the Jewish Genesis and pre-Christian sediments of the Kalevala epic, you have to be able to read Finnish, unfortunately: http://www.helsinki.fi/~pjojala/Kalevala.html 


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