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Travel & Tourism . Tourist Guide to the Country

Finland History and Culture




History

Finland's traces of human settlement date back to the thaw of the last Ice Age some 10,000 years ago. The Finns' ancestors seem to have dominated half of northern Russia before arriving on the north of the Baltic coast well before the Christian era.
By the end of the Viking Age, Swedish traders and chieftains had extended their interests throughout the Baltic region. Over the centuries, Finland has sat precariously between the Protestant Swedish empire and Eastern Orthodox Russia. For seven centuries, from the 12th century until 1809, it was part of Sweden.

Finland was blighted by constant battles with Russia, and severe famines. From 1696-97, famine killed a third of all Finns. The 1700s were punctuated by bitter wars against Russia, culminating in the eventual loss of Finland to Russia in 1809.
With nationalism beginning to surge during the latter half of the 19th century, Finland gained greater autonomy as a Grand Duchy, though new oppression and Russification followed, making Finns emotionally ripe for independence.

The downfall of the tsar of Russia, and the Communist revolution in 1917, made it possible for the Finnish senate to declare independence on 6 December 1917.
Demoralising internal violence flared up, with Russian-supported 'Reds' clashing with nationalist 'Whites' who took the German state as their model. During 108 days of a bloody civil war, approximately 30,000 Finns were killed by their fellow citizens. Although the Whites were victorious, Germany's weakened position after WWI discredited it as a political model and relations with the Soviet Union were soon normalised.


Culture
After the conquest of the Finnish tribes by Sweden beginning in the 12th century (see History, below), the indigenous culture was to a great extent dominated by Swedish influences, which endure to the present.
Among the peasants, traditional epic poems continued to be sung to the accompaniment of the zitherlike kantele, and wood carvings and rugs were still decorated with the traditional polychromy and spiral, swastika (an ancient symbol), and similar simple, geometric designs.

Among the educated, however, Swedish culture predominated. Swedish was spoken and, with rare exceptions, was the language of literature. Because the styles of Swedish art and architecture were largely derivative, many Finnish buildings and works of art reflected Italian, Flemish, German, and other European influences.
In the 19th century, however, educated Finns began to revive the folk traditions of their country. At the same time, a national literature in the Finnish language emerged, and Finnish styles appeared increasingly in art and architecture. The sauna, a steam bath produced by pouring water over heated rocks, is a Finnish invention.


 

Acknowledgements: ASIATRAVELMART.COM








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