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Finland – The Land Of 1000 Lakes

Known as the "land of 1000 lakes" (more precisely, 187, 888 lakes and 179, 584 islands), Finland is a country in Northern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea through the the Gulf of Bothnia in the east, and Gulf of Finland in south . It is bordered to the east with Russia, with Sweden in the west, and with Norway in north. Off the southwestern coast of Finland, there are found the Aland Islands, an autonomous province of Finland. It has an area of 338,145 sq km (it is the seventh largest country in Europe) and over 5 million inhabitants(with a density of only 15 inhabitants/sq km).

Due to the fact that it was under Swedish domination for almost seven centuries (from XII century until the early nineteenth century), Swedish language is the second official language after Finnish, one of the few languages from the European area that does not belong to the ancient Indo-European fund, but Ugro-Finnic group of languages.

Since 1917, Finland became an independent state (recognized as such in 1918) and, currently, is a parliamentary republic led by a president and a unicameral Parliament (Eduskunta), consisting of 200 members. From administrative point of view, Finland is made up of six provinces and 90 districts, organization which has not undergone significant changes since 1634. It is a European Union member state since 1995, with a high living standard, with advanced education (at university level, is considered the most powerful country in the world and with the smallest number of illiterate), a functional society in all views that is said to be devoid of corruption. It is considered also, "immigrant friendly", the biggest impediment for those who want to establish here being the language (although most of the inhabitants can also use fluent the English language).

Finland's extraordinary beauty lies, first of all, in its unmistakable nature, as expected from one of European countries with the most beautiful landscape, untouched by industrialization. Two thirds of the country's surface are covered by forests, and a third lies beyond the Arctic Circle. Here, "white nights" take about ten weeks, during which the sun never sets. Moreover, not only in the north, but throughout Finland, winter turns the country into a magical place. People celebrate this season and everything is decorated and embellished. Traditions are strictly kept, for example, Christmas sauna (which is given a meaning of a purifying ritual, a "wash" of all the evils that are left behind) and giving gifts brought by Joulupukki (Finnish Santa), which comes in a sleigh pulled by reindeers.

Many of the sights in Finland are registered on UNESCO World Heritage List: Old Rauma city, Suomenlinna fortress, Petajavesi Church, burial site from Sammallahdenmaki (bronze age) or Struve Geodetic Arc.

In summer, tourists can choose to enjoy the beauty of cities (very different from the rest of Europe, because urban areas are very large and very green), the spectacular scenery of mountains (from those abundant in vegetation from south , to the blunt ones, from ice age in the north side of the country), the boat trips to the Baltic Sea or from the countless islands.

Helsinki, the capital of Finland, is located on the south coast and has over a million inhabitants. It is a natural blend of traditional landscape ( the project for the city was realised largely by German architect Carl Engel) and modern sights. It is one of the cleanest and civilized European capitals, with many tourist attractions: Kaivopuisto Park (1000 ha), situated near the sea (from the coast, the lucky ones can see whales), Seurosaari, an island located north of downtown, with traditional Finnish houses, the National Museum, the Science Centre (Heureka), Museum of Contemporary Art, Church in Rock, 12 m high, circular-shaped, made of stone blocks and a copper and glass dome, Church of St. John (Johaneksenkirkko), the largest in Helsinki, built in Gothic style and the Linnanmki Amusement Park that attracts especially through its Rollercoaster (which is constantly added other slopes even more hazardous for lovers of adrenalin).

In November and early December, on the sky of Helsinki, one can admire the aurora borealis, with its spectacular effects. Tourists are attracted by the beauty of the city and by the hectic nightlife, with many clubs and bars, some famous (The Ice Bar, DTM), as well as countless shops and outdoor markets where there it can be found everything, from antiques to high-tech products.

Turku, Finland's first capital, the place where it was established the first university in the country, is the most spectacular in the winter holidays, when for several weeks, there are parties and spectacles, from which Santa Claus is never missing. But the "headquarters" of Santa Claus is at Rovanieni, a town in Finnish Lapland, the northernmost point of the country.

Also, thousands of tourists visit each year, Savonlinna, a town of about 30,000 inhabitants, situated in a region of lakes, in which the main tourist attraction is the Castle of St. Olaf, built in 1475, the city Spoo, the second largest, the famous gardens of Tapiola district, Mikkeli town, with splendors of Finland's nature. Tampere is the largest city in the Nordic countries and a major university and cultural center.

If to the beautiful northern landscapes and to the picturesque settlements we add also the impeccable behavior of Finns, showing a high degree of civilization, then it should be even more clear that this Nordic country must be visited and admired.

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