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FINLAND



USEFUL INFORMATION

Map of Finland

Finland is famous for its scenic beauty. It has thousands of lovely lakes, and thick forests cover almost two-thirds of the land. Finland is exciting and varied. During the long nights one could ski across vast frozen lakes enjoying spectacular views. During the months of the midnight sun, coastal regions, are a sailing and fishing paradise. Inland, the largest unspoilt wilderness in Europe attracts thousands of hikers and nature lovers every year.

Location:
Situated in Northern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea, Gulf of Bothnia, and Gulf of Finland, between Sweden and Russia.

Area:
337,030 sq km

Neighbouring countries:
Norway 729 km, Sweden 586 km, Russia 1,313 km

Coastline:
1,126 km (excludes islands and coastal indentations)

Climate:
Temperate climate, but with considerable temperature variations. Potentially subarctic, but comparatively mild because of moderating influence of the North Atlantic Current, Baltic Sea, and more than 60,000 lakes. Summer is warm with relatively mild weather in spring and autumn.

Elevation extremes:
Lowest point: Baltic Sea 0 m highest point: Haltiatunturi 1,328 m

Population:
5,175,783 (July 2001 est.)

Ethnic groups:
Finn 93%, Swede 6%, Sami 0.11%, Roma 0.12%, Tatar 0.02%

Religions:
Evangelical Lutheran 89%, Greek Orthodox 1%, none 9%, other 1%

Languages:
Finland is officially bilingual. Finnish, spoken by 93.4% and Swedish 5.9% are the official languages of Finland, but general knowledge of English is widespread

Getting to Finland:
International airlines have scheduled flights to Finland from all over the world. Finnair and SAS and over twenty international airlines have scheduled flights to Helsinki from most major cities in Europe, as well as from New York, San Francisco, Cairo, Bangkok, Singapore, Beijing, Sydney and Tokyo.

The land routes into Finland from Sweden and Norway are quick and easy. Land crossings from Russia are a little more difficult. Numerous highways and secondary roads link Norway with Finland and Sweden. There are also ferries to/from Denmark, Sweden, the UK, Iceland and the Faroe Islands.

Passports and visas:
For most foreign visitors a passport will be sufficient. But, for certain foreigners a visa is also necessary. Finland, together with Denmark, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, started issuing Schengen visas on March 25, 2001.A Schengen visa should be applied for at the Embassy/Consulate of the country of your main destination, or if still udecided, your first deatination. To find out what rules apply for your home country we advise you to contact the nearest Finnish Embassy or Consulate for further information.

Customs regulations:
The following items may be imported into Finland from non-EU countries without incurring customs duty:
  • 1 litre of alcoholic beverages of more than 22 per cent by volume and 3 litres of alcoholic beverages of less than 22 per cent by volume and 5 litres of wines and 32 litres of beer.
  • 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco or 100 cigarillos;
  • 200 cigarette papers and 250 grams of tobacco
  • 50g of perfume and 250ml of eau de toilette;

    NOTE! The import of alcoholic beverages over 22% is only allowed for persons aged 20 years or over; alcoholic beverages up to 22% may be imported by persons aged 18 years or over.

    The import of drinks containing more than 60 per cent alcohol by volume is prohibited as are certain plants, food and medicines.

    Health and safety:
    No immunizations are required for entry. The water is generally safe to drink, and medical facilities are widely available in Finland, and the crime rate is low. In terms of personal safety, this is a relatively safe country.

    Police/Fire/Ambulance: 112

    Travel insurance should be taken out before departure from your own country.

    Time:
    Finland is 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Daylight-savings time (summer time) means that part of the year the clock is set forward 60 minutes (1 hour) in relation to the time during the rest of the year.

    Currency:
    The currency in Finland is the euro (EUR), formerly markka (mk). Foreign currency and travellers cheques can be exchanged in banks and at bureaux de change at ports, stations and airports. There are no restrictions on the import of local and foreign currency. The export of local and foreign currency is limited to the amount imported.

    Credit cards and banking hours:
    MasterCard, American Express, Diners Club and Visa enjoy wide acceptance as well as Eurocheque cards. Check with your credit or debit card company for details of merchant acceptability and other services which may be available. Up-to-date information is available in Helsinki from American Express (tel: (9) 61 32 04 00) or Diners Club (tel: (9) 693 991). Banking hours are Mon-Fri 0915-1615.

    It is a good idea to check with your credit card company about the degree of acceptability and available services. Traveller's checks are accepted in banks and in some shops, but it is worthwhile remembering that there are additional exchange rate chargeson travellers cheques in currencies other than Euros, Pounds Sterling or US Dollars.

    Shopping:
    Numerous finnish products such as: food, skins, leather, undressed and dressed fur, yarns, fabrics, footwear, furniture, toys, sports goods and drinks are already exported abroad where they are known for their consistently high quality. The leading department store in Helsinki is Stockmann.

    Glass and ceramics: The best known factories are Arabia, Nuutajarvi, Iitala and Riihimaki.

    Food and Restaurants :
    Menus reflect the season. In the summer new potatoes, fresh vegetables, salmon, whitefish and baltic herring are available. Crayfish are in season from about July till September. During the autumn season you will be able to taste game and mushrooms, and cloudberries, blueberries and lingonberries are often served for deserts. In winter you find fish, such as burbot, whitefish and salmon are hauled from under the ice covering the sea and lakes.

    Typical drinks: Vodka and liquers made from unusual berries, such as cloudberry, lakka and mesimarja which are common in Finland. Mild beer is served at most cafes.

    Electricity:
    Voltage:220V AC 50HZ

    Fixed public holidays:
  • New Years Day January 1, 2002
  • Epiphany Jan 6, 2002
  • Good Friday Mar 29, 2002
  • Easter Monday Apr 1, 2002
  • May Day May 1, 2002
  • Ascension Day May 9, 2002
  • Midsummer's Day Jun 22, 2002
  • All Saints' Day Nov 2, 2002
  • Independence Day Dec 6, 2002
  • Christmas Day December 25, 2002
  • Boxing Day December 26, 2002

    Transportation in the country by air:
    As a result of the great distances between many major Finnish communities and the watery nature of the land, Finland has one of Europe's busiest and most extensive domestic airnetworks. Finnish cities are linked by a good network of connections that are serviced by Finnair, the national air carrier, and Air Botnia. Youth fairs are available and are generally 30-50% cheaper. Finnair also has an offer called Snowfair which is about 50 % discount from the normal fare from Helsinki to Kajaani and Rovaniemi all year around. For further details please refer to your nearest Finnair office.

    Transportation in the country by Rail:
    The Finnrailpass entitles the holder to 3, 5 or 10 days of travel within one month on the VR LTD, Finnish Railways network. The ticket is personal and the holder must show the ticket collector on the train his/her passport or identity card. The Finnrailpass is designed only for persons residing permanently outside Finland.

    There are car carriers daily in both directions on the Helsinki-Oulu, Helsinki-Rovaniemi, Helsinki-Kontiomäki, Turku-Rovaniemi and Tampere-Rovaniemi routes, and on certain days on the Helsinki-Kolari, Turku-Kolari and Tampere-Kolari routes. this applies to Passenger cars, station wagons, vans and caravans with a maximum height of 2.60 m. Drvers must accompany their vehicles for the journey although they must travel in the passenger compartments of the train.

    Motoring and car hire:
    Most of the car rental companies have offices in all major cities and at most airports in Finland. A valid driving licence from the driver's country of residence is acceptable as are well-known international credit cards. The minimum age of the hirer varies from 19 to 25 years depending on company. Ther is a requirement of one year's driving experience.

    Taxi:
    Available in every city and from airports or major hotels. Taxi drivers are not tipped. Fares are more expensive at nights (Sun-Fri 2000-0600; Sat 1600-0600).




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    Festivals & Events


    Tango Festival, July

    This highly popular festival, and Finnish tango in general, has now matured into an exotic export commodity with real market clout! The secret of the wonderful atmosphere of the Tango Festival in Seinäjoki lies in superb performers and the tango-dancing public dressed up in their summer fineries, because tango is dance therapy for the soul.
    info@tangomarkkinat.fi

    Midsummer's Day Festivals, June

    Midsummer's Day (Juhannus) has been the most important annual event for Finns since pagan times. People leave cities and towns for summer cottages to celebrate the longest day of the year. Bonfires are lit and lakeside merrymakers swim and row boats. Enthusiastic alcohol consumption is also a feature of midsummer partying. In the north of Finland, Midsummer marks the peak of the exotic appeal of the Arctic, as the sun remains above the horizon all night.

    Savonlinna Opera Festival, July

    Savonlinna Opera Festival celebrates its 90th anniversary in summer 2002. In honour of this jubilee year the programme will include two premieres: Aarre Merikanto's Juha and Wagner's Tristan und Isolde. The colourful history of the Festival will be recalled with nostalgia on July 21 in a gala concert at Olavinlinna Castle entitled The Festival Looks Back. The season will also mark the beginning of a new chapter in this long and distinguished history with the completion of the 800-seat Savonlinna Hall. Adjoining the Wanha Kasino, this new wooden building will provide the Festival with a principal concert venue of the highest calibre.
    info@operafestival.fi

    The Pori Jazz Festival, July

    Pori Jazz is a major international week-long event with world-class performing artists. The Festival has earned consistent praise over the years for the superb atmosphere created by its high-class music, friendly people, fine services and unique milieu. The celebrations centre on the scenic banks of the Kokemäki River, with its parklands, Jazz Street and old factory buildings. The Festival programme comprises over one hundred concerts and other events in 13 performance venues. The town of Pori offers a wide range of cultural attractions and the nearby sandy beach at Yyteri attracts tourists from all over Scandinavia.
    festival@porijazz.fi

    Tampere International Theatre Festival, August


    This major professional theatre event is a landmark in the Nordic cultural calendar. The 2002 programme will present fascinating new international trends in drama, with a chance for youthful new theatre makers and various languages to step into the limelight. Nearly all of the countries in the far north of Europe will be represented in summer 2002, and the domestic component will provide a comprehensive review of the whole of Finland.
    theatre.festival@tt.tampere.fi

    The Helsinki Festival, August

    A full cultural spectrum from music to modern dance and the most interesting names in theatre, visual art and cinema. The classical music programme will include a contribution from the world-renowned Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. World music will be performed in the Huvila Festival Tent and the Children's Festival will provide a special programme for families with children. The highly popular Night of the Arts will be celebrated on 29 August with dozens of events all over the city. The Lord Mayor's Popular Concert will take place in Senate Square on the opening weekend.
    info@helsinkifestival.fi

    Chamber Music by Lake Tuusula, August

    It is places like Halosenniemi, Suviranta and Villa Kokkonen that create the unique atmosphere of this festival. Other concert venues include the churches and fine concert halls of the region. The violinist brothers Jaakko and Pekka Kuusisto are Artistic Directors of the Festival and will perform together with other leading young Finnish musicians. There will be concerts every day, beginning at 16:00, 19:00 and 22:00. The Festival themes in summer 2002 will be the Finnish national character and the music of Beethoven. Tickets on sale from 1 March 2002 at offices of Ticket Service Finland.
    juhani.airas@jarvenpaa.fi

    Full Moon Dance Festival, August

    The large number of premieres in its annual programme make the Full Moon Dance Festival the largest contemporary dance event in Finland. In spite of this size, Pyhäjärvi provides a warm and intimate setting for the Festival. The 2002 programme will include several important Finnish artists and international choreographers. Several courses will also be arranged.
    taydenkuun.tanssit@pyhajarvi.fi

    Joutsa Folk Festival, July

    Joutsa Folk Festival is a summer celebration for everyone who enjoys sunshine, lakeland scenery and a fine programme. It includes heritage exhibitions and old familiar events, but always features something new and surprising. The theme in summer 2002 will be "Wood through the Ages", in culture, for use at home, in handicrafts and in modern refined products.
    joutopv@joutsa.fi

    Manta Art Festival, August

    Mantta Art Weeks is Finland's largest exhibition of contemporary art, and takes place in three exhibition halls in the town of Mänttä. The Curator in 2002 will be Kaisu Koivisto, who has invited about fifty artists working in Finland to come and display their works on the theme of Environments.
    E-mail

    "Vappu", May Day

    Finnish Vappu combines such varied influences as the international workers' movement, European celebrations of spring, the traditional springtime revelry of Scandinavian students, the modern street carnival and the Finnishstyle enthusiasm for drinking. These ingredients all go to create a truly homespun Finnish carnival.

    The Imatra Big Band Festival, July

    The Imatra Big Band Festival is a wide-ranging celebration with a special emphasis on the music of large orchestras. The celebrations in this jubilee year will include a host of top-class performers from Finland, Europe and America. Besides the various styles of jazz and swing, the festival programme will include blues, soul, Latin rhythms, rock, dance and world music. This full week of music in Imatra will encompass more than 40 concerts, about half of which will be free admission outdoor events.
    ibbf@ibbf.fi

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