Finland (Swampyland or land of the Fens), a grand-duchy of Russia annexed by her in 1809. It is bordered on the nortn by Norwegian Lapland, on the east by Russia, on the west by the Gulf of Bothnia and on the south by the Gulf of Finland. Its population is about 2,900,000. The area of Finland is nearly 145,000 square miles, or rather larger than Great Britain and Ireland.
The people of Finland, called Finns, are related to the Laplanders and to the Magyars of Hungary, and are entirely different from the Swedes and Russians. They are mostly of native Finnish descent, intermingled with the Scandinavian races. They are an industrious and honest people, though not very intellectual; tall and well-proportioned, with rather square faces, and belong to the agricultural class. In early times they were known as pirates, and formed an independent empire.
Their attacks on sea-vessels so annoyed other nations that the Swedes undertook a crusade against them in the 12th century, conquered them, and converted them to Christianity. Sweden kept possession of Finland until 1809, when it was conquered by Russia. Of recent years Finland has rapidly become Russianized, and that in violation of the state constitution. In 1900 the Russian language became the sole official one; while Russia now insists on legislating in Finland, in defiance of the local diet, in all matters affecting Russian interest. As a result there has been much disturbance in the country, with several notable assassinations of Russian high officials, besides considerable emigration from it.
Surface. The country abounds in lakes, about a quarter of it being occupied by lakes or marshes, the largest being Lakes Ladoga, Saima, Enara, Kemi, Ulea and Payauue. Lake Saima has an outlet into Lake Ladoga over the famous Imatra Falls, the finest in Europe, and is connected with the Gulf of Finland by a canal 36 miles long, which is considered a triumph of engineering skill, running through granite rock. Finland has no large mountains and only small rivers.
Natural Resources. Neither fossils nor coal are found, but there are remarkably fine quarries of granite and a large area of Crown forests. These give employment to over 21,000 timbermen and lumbermen. Of wild animals, there are bears, wolves, foxes, otters, hares and ermines; seals are plentiful along the coast; and reindeer thrive in the far north. Of birds there are 211 species, and in the rivers, lakes and seas are 80 known kinds of fish, including the salmon, trout, perch and pike.
Climate and Agriculture. The climate is severe in winter, 25° below zero frequently being registered; and the summer, though very short, is hot. Apples, pears and cherries are found below latitude 63°, and currants, raspberries and strawberries thrive everywhere. Of cereals, rye is the most known, then barley, oats and wheat.
Exports and Manufactures. Its chief exports embrace timber, paper, cardboard, leather, hides, tar, pitch, iron and iron products. Her manufactures give employment to over 100,000 workmen and yield an aggregate product (exclusive of four mills) of the value of 351,000,000 marks (about $71,000,000).
Government and Education. The country is governed by a grand duke, who is the emperor of Russia. There is a senate, nominated by the crown, presided over by a governor-general, which sits at the capital, Helsingfors (population, with Sveaborg, 147,369), and is the chief administrative body. Education is in a highly advanced state, no less than 91 per cent, of the adult population being educated.
There is a university with 1,092 students. The country is divided into 16 electoral districts. There are 2,012 miles of railroads, almost all belonging to the state. The army consists of 5,400 men in time of peace and about 20,000 reserves. There is only a commercial navy, numbering 357 steamers of 54,556 gross tons, and 2,536 sailing-vessels of 297,758 gross tons burden. The financial condition of the country is good, its public debt being more than offset by the value of the state property.
The New Student's Reference Work (1914)