Portal:Finland

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Location of Finland within Europe

The Republic of Finland (Finnish: Suomen tasavalta Swedish: Republiken Finland) is a Nordic country in northeastern Europe, bordered by the Baltic Sea to the southwest, the Gulf of Finland to the south and the Gulf of Bothnia to the west. Finland has land frontiers with Sweden, Norway and Russia. The Åland Islands, off the southwestern coast, are under Finnish sovereignty while enjoying extensive autonomy. The Finnish name for Finland is Suomi; in Swedish it is Finland.

Finland gained independence from Russia on 6 December 1917. Prior to that, it had been part of the Kingdom of Sweden and an autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland under Imperial Russia. After fighting two wars with the Soviet Union in the mid-20th century, it has grown quickly from a largely agrarian society to one of the world's most developed countries. Finland has a high standard of living, one of the best educational systems in the world, and it has been the birthplace to many technological phenomena such as Nokia, SMS, Linux, Angry Birds and IRC.

Finland has been a member of the European Union since 1995.


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Vårt land - front page.jpg

Our Land, Maamme (Finnish), or Vårt land (Swedish), is the title of Finland's national anthem. Finnish law doesn't state anything about a national anthem so the song has an unofficial status.

The music was composed by the German immigrant Fredrik Pacius, with (original Swedish) words by Johan Ludvig Runeberg, and was performed for the first time on 13 May 1848. The original poem, written in 1846 but not printed until 1848, had 11 stanzas and formed the prologue to the great verse cycle The Tales of Ensign Stål ("Fänrik Ståhls Sägner"), a masterpiece of Romantic nationalism. The current Finnish text is usually attributed to the 1889 translation of Ensign Stål by Paavo Cajander, but in fact originates from the 1867 translation by Julius Krohn.

The Tales of Ensign Stål were much appreciated throughout all of Scandinavia. Up until the time of Finland's independence in 1917–18, when the song began to be recognized as specifically applying to Finland, Pacius's tune and Runeberg's text were often also sung in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. Note that in the original Swedish text there is no reference to Finland (except for in verses 4 and 10, which are rarely sung), only to a country in the north, but the Finnish text explicitly refers to Finland. The poem's theme is, furthermore, remarkably similar to that of the national anthems of Sweden (Du gamla, Du fria) and Norway (Ja, vi elsker dette landet).

Some Finns have proposed that the Finnish national anthem be changed to Finlandia by Jean Sibelius, with lyrics by V.A. Koskenniemi (Finnish) and Joel Rundt (Swedish). It is also said that Pacius composed the tune in a mere fifteen minutes, with no idea that it would become so important to the people of Finland that they would eventually make it their national anthem. There are also those who simply prefer Finlandia as a musical piece, although critics call it difficult to sing.

The tune of Maamme has similarities with the German drinking song Papst und Sultan. Many believe that Fredrik Pacius intentionally or unintentionally copied parts of the tune. Another Finnish patriotic song, Sotilaspoika, composed by Pacius, also includes similarities with Papst und Sultan.

The melody of Maamme is also used for the national anthem of Estonia with a similarly themed text, Mu isamaa, mu õnn ja rõõm, My Fatherland, My Happiness and Joy (1869).

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Photo credit: commons:User:AngMoKio
Mika Häkkinen driving a Mercedes-Benz DTM racing car at Stars and Cars in Stuttgart, Germany.

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Henri Toivonen (August 25, 1956 – May 2, 1986) was a Finnish rally driver born in Jyväskylä, the home of Rally Finland. His father, Pauli Toivonen, was the 1968 European Rally Champion for Porsche and his brother, Harri Toivonen, became a professional circuit racer.

Toivonen's first World Rally Championship victory came with a Talbot Sunbeam Lotus at the 1980 Lombard RAC Rally in Great Britain, just after his 24th birthday. He had the record of being the youngest driver ever to win a world rally until his countryman Jari-Matti Latvala won the 2008 Swedish Rally at the age of 22. Toivonen switched to driving for Lancia before finally signing up for a full WRC programme in 1985. Despite nearly ending up paralysed at a rally in Costa Smeralda early in 1985, he returned to rallying later that year. He won the last event of the season, the RAC Rally, as well as the 1986 season opener, the Monte Carlo Rally, which his father had won exactly 20 years earlier.

Toivonen, driving a Lancia Delta S4, died in an accident on May 2, 1986 while leading the Tour de Corse rally in Corsica. His American co-driver, Sergio Cresto, also died when the Lancia plunged down a ravine and exploded. The fatal accident had no close witnesses and the remains of the car were merely blackened spaceframe, making it impossible to determine the cause of the accident. Within hours of the accident, Jean-Marie Balestre, then President of the FISA, had banned the powerful Group B rally cars from competing the following season, ending rallying's popular supercar era. The annual Race of Champions, originally organised in Toivonen's memory, awards the winning individual driver the Henri Toivonen Memorial Trophy.

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Panoramic photo shot of Helsinki, Finland.

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