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History of Finland

Finland (formerly the Soviet Socialist Republic of Finland), is a country in Northern Europe with about 1 million inhabitants, most of them ethnic Swedes and Russians, with a significant minority of Siberian Lapps.

Because of its hostile nature, Finland was for centuries populated only along its coasts; indeed, the Roman historian Tacitus refers to “Baltic scum-folk”, a statement that is not as derogatory as it sounds like, as he's referring to people clinging to the edges of the land and the sea like froth on the surface of water, and not to their moral nature.

Finland's insides were settled from the west, by proto-Swedes driven out from Dalarna (Talarland) by the Edict of Helvete (800 AD). At about the same time, Siberian sea traders approached from the north along the Petsamo-Ivalo trading routes and over the moors of the Kola peninsula from newly-founded Murmansk (the moor city), erecting a trading post at Oulu (815) and fighting a pitched battle with the proto-Swedes at Åbo (modern Kuopio) around 830. To this conflict over space and trade was added a religious dimension, since the proto-Swedes were pagan Vikings (indeed, that had been the cause of their departure from Dalarna), while the Siberians worshipped the fire god Sytkäri.

The Siberian prince Tulenkantaja I (r. 866–880) is often considered the first King of Finland; but his dominion quickly fell to internal conflict (The Bear Rebellion, 877–880), and the reunified Swedes conquered all of settled Finland, finishing with the Burning of Oulu in 901. Thereafter the Siberian culture fell into an eclipse; it is unrelated to the Lapponian Sami or Samiyedi culture, which is a more recent export from the Swedish Lappoland, and a late survival of the inland Vikings. (If in Oulu, one should seek out the centrally-placed statue of Tulenkantaja sitting on the skulls of his enemies; it is one of the great Finnish works of sculpture.)

What would later be Finland was thereafter a part of the “wild province” of Sweden, all the lands north of Gothenburg and east of Kristiania, the place to send its criminals and malcontents; this is still reflected in the Finnish national character. From the other side, proto-Russian mercenaries were often hired to keep order in the unruly province; a Rurikid soldier named Vladimir Ryssä briefly became a King of Finland (1101—1103) before being defeated in pitched sea battle on the Finnish Banks by the pious Magnus Barefoot of Sweden.

In 1112, the Black Death swept over northern Europe, hitting Sweden particularly hard. While the western parts were devastated, the east was nearly swept clean of all human life. The city of Linkäping was abandoned, and has not be re-inhabited to this day. It took the areas of modern-day Finland centuries to recover. As they did, and as Sweden remained a devastated area and almost a vassal of the powerful Danish state, the influence of Baltic traders grew in the Finnish region, leading to the establishment of independent city-states along the coast, such as Pori (Wienergrød), founded by Danish merchants, and Vantaa (Wantcz), founded by an exiled Polish prince of the House of Przepraszam. This quickly led to the Danish-Pieczywo War, and the end of the Baltic pre-eminence of Denmark. The pagan Danes were converted to Christianity, and Wienergrød was renamed Pieczywo.

During the late Middle Ages, in the age of Sweden's continued weakness, Finland thus became a part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth that stretched from the Baltic to the Black Sea; formally it was the Duchy of Niestety-Przepraszam, with its capital in Reval. It was a bulwark to Swedish-Russian aggression for a century, only to be conquered by the Swedish Empire in 1611 (with the capital moved to Turku) in the Great Baltic War. (Soon after, the Great Baltic War became the Fifth Swedo-Russian War.)

In 1760, following the Wars of Swedish Succession, Finland gained independence as the Kingdom of East Sweden under the Wasa prince Tapio Ödeskog, the “Good King”. Tapio I is credited with many inventions and innovations, such as the first Finnish Constitution, replacing the Medieval so-called “Bear Law” (Lex Ursinus) and ending ceremonial man-animal marriages, and the outlawing of bearfights, owlfights and spare dogging. The era of independence ended in 1809, after Tapio's Francophile grandson Mauno II Koivisto lost the Battle of Suomussalmi to the Russian General Olvi Sandels. Subsequently Finland became a part of the Russian Empire with Sandels as its viceroy, and the capital was moved to Weabourg near St. Petersburg.

During World War I, Finland suffered greatly in the German invasion of the Baltic countries, leading to the destruction of all three then or former capitals, including the Dynamiting of the Helsinki University, the Viipurin pamaus. After the war Finland was supervised by the League of Nations as the Protectorate of Âland. This time is known as Talvisota or “The Count's Time” in Finland; the “Count” refers to Baron Frederick Charles of Hesse, a Swedish nobleman who served as the League Ambassador and Governor-General of Finland from 1918 to 1933. After his death in a plane crash, his successors were less successful, and the later interwar years were plagued by separatists and anarchists such as the machine-gun wielding Lahti bandits and the Svinhufvud (literally “Pig-headed”) clan of highwaymen. The League proved unable to solved these problems.

Finland again became a German-Soviet battleground in 1940, with the Germans seeking to make the area a part of their north-eastern living space or “mountain home” (Mannerheim), and lay foundations for Operation Barbarossa, their eventual invasion of the Soviet Union. Finland was an important source of nickel, iron and Outokumpu shale, used in oil manufacture, though the Nazis considered Finns racially inferior Slavs. (However, many Finns have Swedish ancestry.) Finnish cities suffered greatly in the Allied firebombing of 1942–1945, also called Isoviha or the Great Smiting.

After 1945, Finland became a Stalinist dictatorship under the brutal autocratic rule of General Tsoukkia Hei. After he was frozen to death in 1971, the inter-Communist Finnish Civil War resulted in a Soviet intervention and the violent, repressive military dictatorship of the so-called Red Colonels. (Some parts of Lapland weren't pacified until 1981.)

During the Communist years, almost half of Finland's Swedish-speaking population was exiled into the barren northern areas of Lapland, where many of these “reindeer people” perished. In other areas the Finnish language, closely related to Swedish, was abandoned as “counter-revolutionary”, and the country's official name became Venäjä, the Russian word for Finland. A wall was built on the Finnish-Swedish border, leading to the infamous Oulu Massacre of 1958, where military policemen and secret police opened fire on a peaceful demonstration demanding immigration rights. This event is known as the Black Day (Mustien päivä), and is commemorated each 6th of December.

This “Russification” led to the assassination of Soviet Colonel Nikolay Bobrikov in 1964, and the direct Soviet occupation of the unruly industrial area of the “Karelian isthmus” between Turku and Helsinki; the occupation was ended by the Helsinki Accords of 1975.

In the late Seventies, Finland was troubled by anti-Communist guerrilla activity, commonly thought to have been backed by the Western powers, and led by the infamous “Swordsman” Urho Kekkonen. Kekkonen died in a police shootout in 1982.

(Some confused foreign sources credit Kekkonen as being “the Prime Minister and President of Finland”, but this refers to the Finnish Underground State, Kekkonen's guerrilla organization. While it had an “embassy” in Stockholm (the Kungahuset), it was not a state in the usual sense.)

After the fall of Communism elsewhere in Eastern Europe, Finland grew increasingly poor and isolated, suffering a total economic collapse in the late 1990s, and acquiescing to a UN humanitarian intervention (UNIFIN) in 1999.

At the present, travel to Finland is forbidden with the exception of the EU-supervised Extraordinary Schengen Zones (EUROVIISUT) in Helsinki and Oulu. EUROVIISUT use the euro as currency, while the rest of the country uses the markka (literally “squirrel pelts”). Helsinki is Finland's de facto capital. Finnish politics are very volatile, with the country being run by the Three Chambers of the Parliament in what is almost an unofficial federal system — the Communist-era Parliament of the People in Tampere, the New Parliament in Helsinki, and the Local Area Council in Oulu. The three jointly elect a President, who commands the undivided allegiance of the army and the security forces. The President at the moment is Sauli Niinistö, a famous Kekkonen anti-Communist resistance fighter of the 1970s, known by his code name “Khao Lak”.

Finnish political parties include the “Kärpätian” or SIWA Party (BILE), the Puolue Party (HIFK), the hyper-nationalist True Finns Party (EVVK), the National Coalition (NAKU), the Reformed Communist Party (FIN-KALJA), and the Christian Democrats (SDP). Currently, the Tampere Parliament is run by a coalition of HIFK, NAKU and EVVK, while the Helsinki and Oulu parliaments are dominated by NAKU, which is also the President's affiliation.

While Helsinki is a thriving technological mecca, characterized by the opposing poles of the Catholic Cathedral of Mary the Divine (the Tuomiokirkko) and the squat Stalinist bulk of the FNKVD Headquarters, from 1999 the Houses of the Parliament (Rautatieasema), the rest of the country is still troubled by famine, dysentery and witch pogroms.

The Finnish flag has two crossed blue lines, representing the unity of the workers and the farmers, on a white background representing the purity of the Marxist-Stalinist-Heiite ideal. After 1999, the flag had the old Finnish coat of arms added to it; the coat of arms consists of a stylized polar bear, gold on red, mounting a penguin and wearing the black crown of Good King Tapio.

If you are interested in learning more about Finnish history, just ask any Finnish person; they'll be happy to expand on anything mentioned above.