Finland is well known for its icy beauty, remarkable forest land, and competitive spirit. However, there are some unusual facts that make this country all the more unique. This article will describe just a few of these facts.
1. Swimming in frozen waters is a sport
Ice swimming is thought to be excellent for the health: it improves circulation, can help ease symptoms of arthritis, and leave you feeling happy and content. But in Finland, the thrill of the competition is just as important as the related health benefits. Throughout the year, in different parts of the country, men and women between the ages of 20 and 60 years old swim a freezing 25 meter track (complete with spectators, journalists, and umpires), all for the glory of having dipped into the icy depths of the sea and surviving to tell the story.
2. Finland rocks
When considering the music of Finland, you may automatically think of folk and classical styles. Although the country has excelled in these genres, they also have a rich and colorful contemporary scene that encompasses jazz, metal, and even dance music. In fact, music has become so important to the culture, that there are numerous festivals such as the Finnish Metal Expo, Ilosaarirock, and Ruisrock.
3. Steam is a lifestyle
It is a well known fact that saunas are an important part of the Finnish culture; in fact, they are so important that saunas were set up and frequently used by Finnish soldiers — even during wartime.
4. Faith and freedom
Although religion plays a large in the Finnish lifestyle, it is estimated that only fifty percent of Finns attend church services once a year; in fact, the many architecturally stunning churches are only full during the Christmas season. This is due to the fact that religious freedoms have become a part of life in Finland. In Finnish law every person is allowed the right to any (or no) religion that they see fit, and are given religious instruction in accordance to their own beliefs.
5. Dancing in the streets
When the seasons change and the day becomes brighter, Helsinki celebrates. This two day celebration called Vappu consists of elaborate plays, sparkling wine, and a massive picnic — all of which lasts into the wee hours of the morning.
6. Ahead of the game
Finland is widely thought to be one of the most competitive countries around. This fact has been proven, as the 2005 the World Economic Forum ranked Finland at the top of the growth, and a close second in the business indexes.
7. Flying high
Due to the dense forest population, Finland is an excellent country for bird watching. The Whooper swan (Finland’s national bird), Cranes and Golden Eagle can easily be spotted at any time; however, for the best view, you might want to hang around in late May or September during the mass migration seasons.
8. The fundamentals
In a 2003 study, Finnish students topped the list on rigorous educational standards. This is due to the fact that the country places an emphasis on the fundamentals as well as higher education, expects a fluency in at least two languages, and focuses on a less stressful work environment for students.
9. Into the future
Finland is one of the leading countries in Europe when it comes to technology; in fact, it is the home of Linux, Nokia, and other phone-related items.
10. Living in style
Finnish architecture not only influences other countries (most notably the United States), but takes it’s influences from around the world. For instance, some of the capital buildings in the heart of Helsinki were brought to life by a German architect who brought designs straight from St. Petersburg.