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Country Information

In spite of its relatively small population, Finland has been a trendsetter in many fields since independence in 1917.

It scores consistently well on international ratings for stability, freedom, public safety and social progress

Its parliament was the first to adopt full gender equality, granting men and women the right not only to vote but also to stand for election in 1906.

Finland declared independence from Russia in 1917 but following defeat by the Soviet Union in World War Two, it had to tolerate strong influence from Moscow until the end of the Cold War.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022 saw a sea-change in Finland’s foreign policy, and it is now a member of Nato.

  • Capital: Helsinki
  • Area: 338,455 sq km
  • Population: 5.6 million
  • Languages: Finnish, Swedish plus Sami, Karelian, Finnish Kalo

Some key dates in Findland’s history:

12th-13th Centuries – Series of crusades by Danes and Swedes to subjugate Finns and convert them to Christianity.

13th Century onwards – Finland comes under Swedish rule

1695-97 – The Great Famine, a catastrophic famine affecting Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Norway and Sweden, kills about a third of Finland’s population.

1700-21 – Great Northern War: Russian troops occupy Finland and Sweden cedes Finnish territory to Russia. Finland is hit by a severe plague which is carried along trade routes and by invading armies.

1742-43 – Russo-Swedish War: Russian troops again occupy Finland, and Sweden again cedes Finnish territory to Russia.

1808 – Russian invasion of Sweden supported by Napoleon.

1809 – Finland is ceded to Russia by the Swedes. Finland becomes an autonomous Grand Duchy in the Russian Empire and retains a considerable amount of autonomy. Finns keep their own legal system, religion, and are exempt from Russian military service.

1899 onwards – Attempt at Russification of Finland, including conscription of Finnish men into the Russian army and the imposition of Russian as an official language. Campaign of civil disobedience begins.

1906 – Parliament Act establishes universal suffrage, including the right for women to stand for elected office, for the first time in Europe.

1917 – The Russian Revolution allows Finland to declare its independence.

1918 – Civil war: a rebellion by left-wing Red Guards is put down by General Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim.

1939 – Winter War: despite fierce resistance to invading Soviet troops, the Finns are forced to concede 10% of their territory.

1941-44 – The Continuation War: conflict between Finland and the Soviet Union during World War Two, ends in an armistice and Finland having to pay reparations.

1948 – Finland signs friendship treaty with the Soviet Union, and throughout Cold War pursues a policy of friendly neutrality towards Moscow.

1955 – Finland joins United Nations and Nordic Council.

1992 – Friendship treaty with Soviet Union of 1948 declared null and void following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Finland turns increasingly towards the west.

1995 – Finland joins the European Union.

2000 – Tarja Halonen elected as Finland’s first female president.

2002 – Euro replaces the Finnish mark.

2010 – Finland becomes world’s first country to give its citizens a legal right to broadband internet.

2016 – Finland signs an agreement on closer defence collaboration with the United States amid growing concern over Russian military activities in the Baltic Sea region.

2022 – In response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Finland and Sweden apply for Nato membership.

2023 – Finland becomes a member of Nato.


Currency & banking

Current exchange rate: $1USD = 0.94 Euro.

The Euro has coins going all the way up to €2; notes start from €5 and go up to €500.

Finland uses the Euro Despite being a relatively late joiner of the EU (it joined in 1995), it was actually one of the first countries to become part of the Eurozone — having joined in 1999.

Nowadays, you will pay for almost everything in Finland using Euros.

Cash is no longer king in Finland, and almost all establishments now accept electronic payment by card or phone.

Debit and credit cards are accepted almost everywhere, and many places also accept payment by phone, like Google Pay and Apple Pay. But it is still a good idea to have a bit of cash on you for small purchases. Foreign currency is rarely accepted, so you need Norwegian currency to get by.

You will find cash machines in towns and cities, and in most rural areas there will be at least one place where you can withdraw money, such as at a kiosk, grocery shop, or petrol station.

Just be wary of the charges you might incur for using your credit card overseas. These can include:

  • International transaction fees
  • High exchange rate margins
  • ATM fees
  • Potential ‘cash advance fees if you use an ATM


For the most part tipping is not common in Finland, with the exception of bars and restaurants where the locals tip when they are happy with the service or food.

There is no fixed rule of thumb for how much to tip, but tips tend to stay within 5-15% of the total amount of the bill. But remember that tipping is entirely up to you – there will be no hard feelings in any case.

Getting around

Driving in Norway
The road system in Norway is incredible and most of the roads are in excellent condition. Luckily, the Norwegians are not too crazy when it comes to driving! We travelled for two weeks around the country in a rental car with no issues whatsoever.

The highways are the quickest way to get around. They have some sections that are dual carriage way, but mostly they are single carriage way with some sections for overtaking. Speeds vary and there are speed cameras in places, but you get plenty of warning.

Some of the highways have tolls. There are no toll booths along the way and everything is done by automatic license plate recognition. You will get charged back through your rental car company or you can register with Epass24 and get invoiced directly for road tolls in Norway and Sweden.

The weather can impact the roads, especially in the winter, which may mean some roads will be closed, especially in the mountainous areas. This can be due to snow or potentially rock fall dangers when it rains hard.

If you are driving in the west of the country around the fjords beware that you will have to cross plenty of bridges and pass through tunnels. These tunnels can be very long – up to many kilometres. The world’s longest road tunnel, Lærdalstunnelen, at 24;5km is found here. There are others nearly as long!


There are two main bus operators in Singapore: SBS Transit Ltd and SMRT Buses Ltd. There are thousands of buses on this island to help get you from Point A to Point B. The services run through the day and both operators have special Night buses. Find out about fares and timetables on the official websites:

SBS Transit Buses
SMRT Buses

Getting around in the cities

We visited three of Norway’s largest cities; Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim. In each the public transport was excellent, we mostly took buses and walked everywhere. In Oslo, there is a metro system, which is clean and efficient. As well as buying individual tickets all the cities have transport cards available as apps for Apple and Android mobile phones. We used the Oslo Pass when staying there which gave us free use of the transport system and free entry to many of the city’s attractions. Similar cards are available in Trondheim and Bergen, but we didn’t use those as they didn’t fit our plans.

Food, Drink & Cuisine Advice

Food hygiene is generally good, particularly now that most individual street stalls have been closed down in favour of hawker centres. As always it’s safer to avoid raw vegetables, shellfish and reheated foods, and to wash fruit that has not been peeled. The tap water is safe to drink. Hepatitis A infection is not unknown, although rare, and vaccination may be considered.

Health advice

The US Center For Disease Control maintains an updated list of medical advice for those travelling to FInland

The CDC recommends being up to date with all your regular shots. These vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot

They also suggest being vaccinated for hepatitis A. There is also some advice about protection for hepatitis B and rabies – but this depends to some degree on where you are heading and what you are doing.


The healthcare system in Finland is of very high quality, generally regarded as one of the best in the world; life expectancy is high and infant mortality is low.

Costs of medical care for those who are not local or from an EU country, such as tourists, can be very high. It is therefore important to take out appropriate travel insurance, which should include repatriation to your home country in the event of an emergency.

As always when you travel you should take out the necessary travel insurance coverage. We always use World Nomads but there are plenty of other insurance companies that offer travel insurance


Finland is generally a safe country to visit. There’s a small risk of petty theft, particularly at airports and railway stations in and around Helsinki.

Useful emergency numbers

  • 112 – Police, Fire department & Ambulance


The best time to visit Finland

The best time to visit Finland is from June to mid-August in the summer. Warm temperatures, usually in the range of 17.8°C to 22.2°C, are comfortable for outdoor activities. A few days register in the hot zone of 27.8°C to 32.2°C. Lapland occasionally has cold nights. June is cooler and drier than July, and temperatures begin to decline in the second half of August. Summer has long days and experiences the popular white nights in the south and midnight sun in the north. The least cloudy days occur in the warm season, although the sunshine is moderate.


The worst time to visit Finland

The worst time to visit Finland is generally from November to March, including the icy winter. The days are short, and the sunlight is poor. Christmas is mostly white, and the northern regions do not see the sun for days together. Tourists experience the Aurora Borealis or the northern lights during the peak of the cold season in the north. The south is frigid from December to February. Snow lovers like March, which sees an improvement in daylight amid plenty of snow on the ground. Snowfall is abundant in all regions and highest in the north.


Spring Weather in Finland

The Finnish spring season is relatively short and chilly, starting when the snow melts by the end of April. As the ice and snow thaw, the landscape becomes prone to floods, making travel slightly challenging. Despite these conditions, spring marks the transition from the harsh cold of the winter to the more temperate summer. The temperatures during this period gradually increase, and the days become longer, signalling the onset of the much-anticipated summer.


Summer Weather in Finland

Summers in Finland are warm yet short everywhere except on the southern coast, where they are slightly longer. During this period, the sun does not set for 73 days in the extreme north, a phenomenon known as the “midnight sun.” Temperatures usually range from 20°C to 30°C throughout most of the country, though nights in Lapland can remain below 10°C. This brief summer season witnesses a rapid growth in vegetation.


Autumn Weather in Finland

Autumn in Finland is characterized by cold and wet conditions, especially in September. It is a transitional period from the warm summer to the long winter. The temperatures start to fall, and the rainfall increases, adding a chill to the air. Despite this, the season brings an array of colours to the Finnish landscape, making it a visual treat for those who appreciate nature’s beauty.


Winter Weather in Finland

Winter is the longest season in Finland, lasting from October to mid-May in the extreme north. During this period, polar nights last for 51 days north of the Arctic Circle, when the sun does not rise above the horizon. Temperatures can plummet below -20°C, particularly in the northern and eastern regions. The coldest recorded temperature is -51.5°C, set in Kittila, Lapland, on January 28, 1999. Lakes regularly freeze over, and occasionally, even the seas solidify at the peak of winter. Despite the harsh conditions, winter in Finland has its charm, with snow covering the landscape and offering a magical white scenery.

Visa information

What is Schengen?

Schengen refers to the EU passport-free zone that covers most of the European countries. It’s the largest free travel area in the world.

What is a Schengen Visa
A Schengen visa is a short-stay visa that allows a person to travel to any members of the Schengen Area, per stays up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes.

The Schengen visa is the most common visa for Europe. It enables its holder to enter, freely travel within, and leave the Schengen zone from any of the Schengen member countries. There are no border controls within the Schengen Zone.

However, if you are planning to study, work, or live in one of the Schengen countries for more than 90 days, then you must apply for a national visa of that European country and not a Schengen Visa.

The 26 Schengen countries are:

Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.

From 2024 visitors to a Schengen country that currently does not require a visa to enter will be required to obtain an ETIAS. ETIAS stands for European Travel Information and Authorization System. It is a completely electronic system that allows and keeps track of visitors from countries who do not need a visa to enter the Schengen Zone. It is similar to the US ESTA programme. The ETIAS will cost only €7 for each application and will last for 3 years.

Citizens of Which Countries Need a Schengen Visa to go to Europe?
The countries whose citizens are required to obtain a Schengen visa in order to enter any member country of the Schengen Area are:

AngolaGhanaPapua New Guinea
ArmeniaGuineaPalestinian Authority
BelizeIndonesiaSao Tome And Principe
BeninIranSaudi Arabia
BoliviaJamaicaSierra Leone
Burkina FasoKazakhstanSouth Africa
Burma/MyanmarKenyaSouth Sudan
BurundiKosovoSri Lanka
Cape VerdeLaosSwaziland
Central African RepublicLebanonSyria
Cote D’ivoireMalawiTogo
Dem. Rep. Of CongoMaliTunisia
Dominican RepublicMongoliaTurkmenistan
Equatorial GuineaNamibiaVietnam
North Korea

Northern Mariana’s



Which power plugs and sockets in Europe?

In Europe, the power plugs and sockets are of type F. The standard voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. Check out the following pictures.

Type F: also known as “Schuko”. This socket also works with plug C and plug E.

Power plugs and sockets type F are used in Spain
Type F: This socket also works with plug C and E
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