Provinces of Finland

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Coat of arms of Finland.svg
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Six now-defunct geo-political provinces (Finnish: läänit, Swedish: län; see Län) comprised the state of Finland from 1997 until the end of 2009. The provincial authority was part of the central government's executive branch, not directly elected. The system was created in 1634, and its makeup was changed drastically in 1997, when the number of the provinces was reduced from twelve to six. This effectively made them purely administrative units, as linguistic and cultural boundaries did not follow the borders of the provinces.

The provinces were abolished altogether effective 1 January 2010. State administration has two local hierarchies, ely-keskus and aluehallintovirasto. Six Regional State Administrative Agencies (aluehallintovirasto, regionförvaltningsverk, abbr. avi) – in addition to the Government of Åland – are primarily responsible for law enforcement: Southern Finland, Eastern Finland, South-Western Finland, Western and Central Finland, Northern Finland, Lapland. Among these, South-Western Finland and Western and Central Finland cover the former province of Western Finland, and the former province of Oulu was revamped as Northern Finland; other old provincial boundaries remain much the same in the new disposition. There are 15 elinkeino-, liikenne- ja ympäristökeskus, which are responsible for other state administration: employment, road and transport infrastructure, and environmental monitoring.

Duties[edit]

Each province was led by a governor (Finnish maaherra, Swedish landshövding) appointed by the president on the recommendation of the cabinet. The governor was the head of the State Provincial Office (Finnish lääninhallitus, Swedish länsstyrelse), which acted as the joint regional authority for seven ministries in the following domains:

  • social services and health care
  • education and culture
  • police administration
  • rescue services
  • traffic administration
  • competition and consumer affairs
  • judicial administration

The official administrative subentities under the Provincial Office authorities were the Registry Offices (Finnish maistraatti, Swedish magistrat). Formerly there was also a division to state local districts (Finnish kihlakunta, Swedish härad), which were districts for police, prosecution, and bailiff services, but there was reorganization such that 24 police districts were founded. These usually encompass multiple municipalities.

Provinces governed only state offices, such as the police. Most services, such as healthcare and maintenance of local streets, were and remain today the responsibility of municipalities of Finland. Many municipalities are too small for a hospital and some other services, so they cooperate in municipality groups, e.g. health care districts, using borders that vary depending on the type of service. Often Swedish-language municipalities cooperate even if they do not share a border.

Provinces of Finland, 1997–2009[edit]

No. Coats of arms Provinces Finnish and
Swedish names
Residence city Largest city Population (2003) Area (km²) Merged Provinces (1997) Map
1.
Etelä-Suomen läänin vaakuna.svg
Southern Finland Etelä-Suomen lääni
Södra Finlands län
Hämeenlinna
Tavastehus
Helsinki 2,116,914 34,378 Uusimaa, Kymi, Häme FI-provinces-numbered.svg
2.
Länsi-Suomen läänin vaakuna.svg
Western Finland Länsi-Suomen lääni
Västra Finlands län
Turku
Åbo
Tampere 1,848,269 74,185 Vaasa, Turku-Pori, Central Finland, Häme
3.
Itä-Suomen läänin vaakuna.svg
Eastern Finland Itä-Suomen lääni
Östra Finlands län
Mikkeli
S:t Michel
Kuopio 582,781 48,726 Kuopio, North Karelia, Mikkeli
4.
Oulun läänin vaakuna.svg
Oulu Oulun lääni
Uleåborgs län
Oulu
Uleåborg
Oulu 458,504 57,000 No changes
5.
Lapin läänin vaakuna.svg
Lapland Lapin lääni
Lapplands län
Rovaniemi
Rovaniemi
Rovaniemi 186,917 98,946 No changes
6.
Coat of arms of Åland.svg
Åland[a] Ahvenanmaan lääni
Ålands län[b]
Mariehamn[b]
Maarianhamina
Mariehamn 26,000 6,784 No changes

a. ^ Some duties, which in Mainland Finland are handled by the provinces, are on the Åland Islands transferred to the autonomous Government of Åland.
b. ^ The Åland Islands are unilingually Swedish.

Historic maps[edit]

Provinces of Finland 1634: 1: Turku and Pori, 14: Nyland and Tavastehus, 18: Ostrobothnia, 20: Viborg and Nyslott, 21: Kexholm
Provinces of Finland 1721: 1: Turku and Pori, 14: Nyland and Tavastehus, 18: Ostrobothnia, 19: Kymmenegård and Nyslott
Provinces of Finland 1747: 1: Turku and Pori, 14: Nyland and Tavastehus, 17: Savolax and Kymmenegård, 18: Ostrobothnia
Provinces of Finland 1776: 1: Turku and Pori, 4: Vaasa, 10: Oulu, 14: Nyland and Tavastehus, 15: Kymmenegård, 16: Savolax and Karelia
Provinces of Finland 1812:1: Turku and Pori, 4: Vaasa, 10: Oulu, 13: Viipuri, 14: Nyland and Tavastehus, 15: Kymmenegård, 16: Savolax and Karelia
Provinces of Finland 1831: 1: Turku and Pori, 2: Uusimaa, 3: Häme, 4: Vaasa, 6: Mikkeli, 8: Kuopio, 10: Oulu, 13: Viipuri
Provinces of Finland 1921: 1: Turku and Pori, 2: Uusimaa, 3: Häme, 4: Vaasa, 6: Mikkeli, 8: Kuopio, 10: Oulu, 12: Åland, 13: Viipuri, 25: Petsamo
Provinces of Finland 1938: 1: Turku and Pori, 2: Uusimaa, 3: Häme, 4: Vaasa, 6: Mikkeli, 8: Kuopio, 10: Oulu, 11: Lapland, 12: Åland, 13: Viipuri
Provinces of Finland 1945: 1: Turku and Pori, 2: Uusimaa, 3: Häme, 4: Vaasa, 5: Kymi, 6: Mikkeli, 8: Kuopio, 10: Oulu, 11: Lapland, 12: Åland
Provinces of Finland 1960: 1: Turku and Pori, 2: Uusimaa, 3: Häme, 4: Vaasa, 5: Kymi, 6: Mikkeli, 7: Central Finland, 8: Kuopio, 9: Northern Karelia, 10: Oulu, 11: Lapland, 12: Åland
Provinces of Finland 1996: 1: Turku and Pori, 2: Uusimaa, 3: Häme, 4: Vaasa, 5: Kymi, 6: Mikkeli, 7: Central Finland, 8: Kuopio, 9: Northern Karelia, 10: Oulu, 11: Lapland, 12: Åland
Provinces of Finland 1997: 10: Oulu, 11: Lapland, 12: Åland, 22: Southern Finland, 23: Western Finland, 24: Eastern Finland

Provinces of Finland, 1634-2009[edit]

Map number English name Finnish name Swedish name Residence city Dates of existence Notes
1 Province of Turku and Pori Turun ja Porin lääni Åbo och Björneborgs län Turku 1634–1997 • one of the original provinces formed in 1634, though parts were split off since then
• merged into the Province of Western Finland
14 Province of Nyland and Tavastehus Uudenmaan ja Hämeen lääni Nylands och Tavastehus län Helsinki / Hämeenlinna 1634–1831 • one of the original provinces formed in 1634
18 Province of Ostrobothnia Pohjanmaan lääni Österbottens län Oulu / Vaasa 1634–1775 • one of the original provinces formed in 1634
20 Province of Viborg and Nyslott Viipurin ja Savonlinnan lääni Viborgs och Nyslotts län Vyborg 1634–1721 • one of the original provinces formed in 1634
21 Province of Kexholm Käkisalmen lääni Kexholms län Kexholm 1634–1721 • one of the original provinces formed in 1634
19 Province of Kymmenegård and Nyslott Savonlinnan ja Kymenkartanon lääni Kymmenegårds och Nyslotts län Lappeenranta 1721–1747 • former Province of Viborg and Nyslott
17 Province of Savolax and Kymmenegård Kymenkartanon ja Savon lääni Savolax och Kymmenegårds län Loviisa 1747–1775 • former Province of Kymmenegård and Nyslott
4 Province of Vaasa Vaasan lääni Vasa län Vaasa 1775–1997 • split off from the Province of Ostrobothnia
• merged into the Province of Western Finland
10 Province of Oulu Oulun lääni Uleåborgs län Oulu 1775–2009 • split off from the Province of Ostrobothnia
15 Province of Kymmenegård Kymenkartanon lääni Kymmenegårds län Heinola 1775–1831 • split off from the Province of Savolax and Kymmenegård
16 Province of Savolax and Karelia Savon ja Karjalan lääni Savolax och Karelens län Kuopio 1775–1831 • split off from the Province of Savolax and Kymmenegård
13 Province of Viipuri Viipurin lääni Viborgs län Vyborg 1812–1947 • Russian Vyborg Governorate 1744-1812; transferred as Province of Viipuri to autonomic Grand Duchy of Finland in 1812
• most of its area was lost to the Soviet Union in World War II, and the remainder became the Province of Kymi
2 Province of Uusimaa Uudenmaan lääni Nylands län Helsinki 1831–1997 • produced by splitting the Province of Nyland and Tavastehus
• merged into the Province of Southern Finland
3 Province of Häme Hämeen lääni Tavastehus län Hämeenlinna 1831–1997 • produced by splitting the Province of Nyland and Tavastehus
• merged into the Provinces of Southern Finland and Western Finland
6 Province of Mikkeli Mikkelin lääni St. Michels län Mikkeli 1831–1997 • former Province of Kymmenegård
• merged into the Provinces of Eastern Finland and Southern Finland
8 Province of Kuopio Kuopion lääni Kuopio län Kuopio 1831–1997 • former Province of Savolax and Karelia
• merged into the Province of Eastern Finland
12 Province of Åland Ahvenanmaan lääni Ålands län Mariehamn 1918–2009 • had a special status: even though the province was discontinued at the end of 2009 along with the others, there was (and still is) a coextensive "maakunta" (a translation of "province" with a slightly different meaning from the usual) that is semi-autonomous and demilitarized by international treaties
25 Province of Petsamo Petsamon lääni Petsamo län Pechenga 1921–1921 • gained from Soviet Russia
• merged into the Province of Oulu
• the entire area of the former Province of Pechenga was lost to the Soviet Union in World War II
11 Province of Lapland Lapin lääni Lapplands län Rovaniemi 1938–2009 • split off from the Province of Oulu
5 Province of Kymi Kymen lääni Kymmene län Kouvola 1945–1997 • formed from the part of the Province of Viipuri that remained on the Finnish side of the border with Russia
• merged into the Province of Southern Finland
7 Province of Central Finland Keski-Suomen lääni Mellersta Finlands län Jyväskylä 1960–1997 • split off from the Provinces of Vaasa, Häme, Mikkeli and Kuopio
• merged into the Province of Western Finland
9 Province of Northern Karelia Pohjois-Karjalan lääni Norra Karelens län Joensuu 1960–1997 • split off from the Province of Kuopio
• merged into the Province of Eastern Finland
22 Province of Southern Finland Etelä-Suomen lääni Södra Finlands län Hämeenlinna 1997–2009 • merged from Provinces of Uusimaa, Kymi, Häme (part) and Mikkeli (part)
23 Province of Western Finland Länsi-Suomen lääni Västra Finlands län Turku 1997–2009 • merged from Provinces of Turku and Pori, Vaasa, Central Finland and Häme (part)
24 Province of Eastern Finland Itä-Suomen lääni Östra Finlands län Mikkeli 1997–2009 • merged from Provinces of Kuopio, Northern Karelia and Mikkeli (part)

In 1634, administratives provinces were formed in Sweden, and therefore in Finland, which was a part of Sweden until 1809. Five of the provinces covered what is now Finland; some of these also covered parts of what are now Russia. The exact division of the country into provinces has fluctuated over time.

The boundaries of the old provinces partly survive in telephone area codes and electoral districts. The exception is Helsinki: there is a telephone numbering area that comprises Greater Helsinki (code 09), while only the city of Helsinki proper comprises the electoral district of Helsinki, the rest of Greater Helsinki belonging to the Uusimaa electoral district.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]