Finland History

Finland History

Early to middle ages

Finland has been populated for around 9,000 years. Ancestors of the Sami (rags), who still inhabit the polar northern regions of Scandinavia, are believed to be among the tribes of the time. In two waves about 6000 years ago and then in the first millennium BC. other tribes migrated from the southwest, so that before the birth of Christ various Finno-speaking tribes, including Tavasten and Karelier, lived in the country and forced the Sami to the north. Between the 2nd and 8th centuries AD further waves of Finnish settlement from the Baltic States and the East followed.

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Even before the Viking Age, which lasted from the 8th to 11th centuries, Sweden had settled on the south-west coast of Finland. In the mid-12th century Finland was Christianized by the south-west Tavastland (today Häme). The Swedes gradually conquered large parts of the country, so that Karelia was reached on what is today Finland’s eastern border at the end of the 13th century. At the same time, the Principality of Novgorod had expanded from the east to the west. In 1323 Novgorod and Sweden defined the Finnish eastern border by dividing Karelia. Sweden integrated Finland into its rule system. In 1362 the Finns were granted the right to participate in royal elections. Over time, a common Swedish-Finnish Reichstag developed. At the end of the 14th Century became part of the Kalmar Union by its affiliation to Sweden, which united Denmark, Norway and Sweden until 1523. At the same time, a process began in which the Finnish tribes, under Swedish rule, began to see themselves as one. Associated with this was the fact that the reformer Mikael Agricola, pupil of Luther and Melanchthon, translated parts of the Old Testament into a south-western Finnish dialect and thus initiated a uniform Finnish written language for the first time.

Modern times

According to AbbreviationFinder, Finland became the Grand Duchy in 1581 but remained a Swedish province. Swedish colonists had also moved beyond the border set in 1323 since the 14th century, and in 1595, in the Teusina peace, Moscow recognized the newly formed border, which stretched as far as the Arctic Ocean. An internal political conflict arose over religious, social and political issues; a peasant uprising was the result. This was bloodily suppressed in 1596/97. However, this had no economic consequences: In the 17th century there followed a period of economic prosperity, which went down in the history books as the “count period”.

The Swedish-Russian hostilities continued throughout the 18th century. The 2nd Nordic War 1700 to 1721 brought Finnish loss of territory. First southwestern Karelia and then areas up to Kymijoki were ceded to Russia. When there was another conflict between 1788 and 1790, a conspiracy among the Finnish nobility and officers gave rise to a first, work unsuccessful, national independence movement. The Russian-Swedish War of 1808/09 brought about drastic changes for Finland: it became an autonomous Grand Duchy in the Russian Empire, to which the previously lost areas were incorporated.

19th century

In spite of belonging to the Russian Empire, Finnish national consciousness awoke in the 19th century. It was directed on the one hand against the political influence of Russia, on the other hand against the cultural dominance of Sweden. The extensive autonomy brought the transformation of the pre-administrative assembly to a regular state parliament, which increasingly took on political tasks. In 1863 the Finnish language was put on an equal footing with Swedish, in 1878 a separate army was set up.

20th century

A short phase of russification around the turn of the 20th century was revised after the Russian Revolution in 1905 and a democratically elected Landtag was introduced in 1906 with the state parliament reform. The Social Democrats became the country’s strongest party.

The Russian October Revolution in 1917 gave the Finnish Landtag the opportunity to declare itself independent. In 1918 a special peace was concluded with Germany and with the support of the German Baltic Sea division the Finnish “white” troops managed to force the “red” Bolshevik troops out of the country. Finland adopted a republican constitution in 1919 and was officially recognized by Soviet Russia in 1920. In 1921, the League of Nations of Finland awarded the Åland Islands, which had been administered from Finland since the Middle Ages.

The period up to the Second World Was was marked by contrasts between Finnish and Swedish ethnic groups. Domestic political unrest led to 23 different governments between 1917 and 1939. In 1929 the Lappo movement emerged, a radical nationalist peasant movement that forced the government to resign through a “March on Helsinki”. Anti-communist laws were passed after new elections. An attempted coup in 1932 failed, however, and in 1944 the successor organization of the Lappo movement, the Patriotic People’s Movement, was banned. The Social Democrats came to power again in 1933, and there was a phase of economic recovery until the beginning of the Second World War.

Russia attacked Finland after territorial demands that were not met; after the winter war of 1939/40, about 10% of the Finnish territory was occupied by Russia. Finland resumed the war against Russia on Germany’s side in 1941 and conquered territories again in the “Continuation War”, but had to surrender the same areas to the USSR in 1940 as in 1940. However, Finland remained unoccupied and quickly recovered from the aftermath of the war and the $ 300 million in reparations it had to pay to Russia until 1952.

The country, which remained independent, pursued a course in foreign policy that relied on good-neighborly relations with the Soviet Union. The contracts with Russia aimed in this direction were first signed in 1948 and extended in 1955, 1970 and 1983. At the same time, relations with Scandinavia were intensified. In 1955 Finland joined the Nordic Council and became a member of the United Nations. In 1961 it became an associated member of EFTA, and in 1974 a trade agreement with the EEC came into force.

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In 1969, Finland’s proposal to convene a European security conference in Helsinki was extremely significant. The CSCE drew up a final document in three phases from 1973 to 1975, which, as the Helsinki Final Act, governed the coexistence of the European states and has been effective since 1995 as the OSCE, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. The proposal was largely supported by Urho Kaleva Kekkonen, one of the most important post-war politicians in Finland, who was Prime Minister several times and President of the State from 1956-1981. In addition to the Center Party, the Social Democratic Party was repeatedly involved in the formation of the government in the post-war period. With K. Sorsa as prime minister, she led a coalition government until 1987, which was replaced by H. Holkeri from the National Collection Party. Its coalition was particularly unusual because it was the first time the Center Party went into opposition after 50 years.

In 1991, however, the Center Party again became the strongest force in parliament and formed a coalition government under Prime Minister E. Aho. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, he concluded a new basic agreement with Russia, which replaced the post-war friendship pacts. In 1994, MO Ahtisaari became the successor to Koivistos in the first direct election of a president. The following year Finland joined the EU. Finland is the only Scandinavian country to join the euro area in 1999.

In 2000, a new constitution entered into force that restricted the powers of the president. From March 2000, Tarja Halonen was President of the State. In June 2003, Prime Minister Anneli Jääteenmäki resigned after only three months in office. She had taken over from Paavo Lipponen. With her resignation, Jäätmäki responded to allegations that she had quoted from the State Department’s confidential documents during the election campaign. The Center Party’s previous defense minister, Matti Vanhanen, was sworn in as Jäatteenmäki’s successor. He was replaced by Mari Kiviniemi in 2010.In the parliamentary elections in April 2011, the National Collection Party led by Jyrki Katainen won the most seats, followed by the Social Democrats and the right-wing populist party “True Finns” (since 2012 “The Finns”). Katainen has been Prime Minister since June 2011. The presidential election in early 2012 was won by Sauli Niinistö from the National Collection Party.

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