Since we started traveling around with Fotostrasse, we visited a lot of places. From Nepal to the Philippines, from the Faroe Islands to Chile… We loved most of the areas we had the pleasure of visiting, but our heart has a particular space reserved for a country that doesn’t receive much love from people in general. Of course, the country we are speaking of is Finland, and we love Finland.
We love this northern country so much we decided to create this list of reasons to love Finland. Some of those might be familiar to some people, but we bet you that might be some surprises here and there.
Below we start our list of reasons to Love Finland
But first, remember that Finland doesn’t exist
But the first reason to love Finland is a little bit odd since it’s a global conspiracy that says that Finland doesn’t exist. Yeah, you read this right. There is no Helsinki, Porvoo, Turku or any of those cities. The country is a lie perpetrated by the Russians and the Japanese for fish. Vice Magazine even wrote an article about it a couple of years ago trying to understand the reasoning behind this.
The weirdest part of this conspiracy theory is that the people from Finland believe that they are Finnish but, in reality, they are from parts of northern Estonia, Western Russia and the Eastern Part of Sweden. We visited all of these three places, and we like to believe that Finland was there as well but… It doesn’t make any sense.
Visiting Santa Claus in Finland
Everybody knows that Santa Claus lives in the North Pole but, since the North Pole is on top of the water, it might be a little complicated to build a house there even if the water there is frozen most of the year. Due to this logistical problem, Santa Claus lives in Finland, and it’s the only place where you can meet the real Santa Claus.
Initially, Santa Claus lived in Korvatunturi, but he moved to Rovaniemi some time ago. It’s in this city in Lapland where he greets his visitors all year around. But, if you don’t feel like going all the way north to see him, you can do like we did and visited his summer cottage in Espoo! We did this a couple of years ago, and you should do this as well!
If you love Finland, you love Metal
Since we are both metalheads, of course, the first thing we knew about Finland was the heavy metal scene. Finland has 630 metal bands per million people and leads Europe and the World by a lot as you can see on the map here. Bands like Amorphis, Beherit, Nightwish, Impaled Nazarene, Satanic Warmaster, Lordi and Children of Bodom are famous worldwide. We even visited the infamous place that gave its name to Children of Bodom.
But, our favorite metal band from Finland is not any of those we mentioned above. Our favorite metal band from Finland is made of dinosaurs and is called Hevisaurus! We even had the pleasure of meeting the lead singer, Herra Hevisaurus, in Helsinki back in 2015. On the video below, you can see it’s easy to love Finland since they are the only country we know of where there is a heavy metal band for kids!
There is a term in Finnish that goes like this Jokamiehen Oikeus, and it means Everyman’s Right. With this in mind, everyone in Finland has the right to its constitution to walk freely in nature, anywhere you might want to go. We did this when we explored the archipelagos around Porvoo and in Åland, and we can easily say that it’s a fantastic privilege to be able to enjoy such a beautiful country by doing this.
In Finland, the forests offer you berries and mushrooms, and they belong to everybody. Also, it means that you can pitch a tent and enjoy the lakes for free and without any worry. Which is something unusual to have.
Jokamiehen Oikeus is the right for every man to roam
Lakes and Forests all around Finland
Finland is known around the world as the Land of a Thousand Lakes which is not true since it has 188.000 lakes. Finland has so many lakes that its water about land mass is the largest of all countries in the world.
But the thing that surprised us the most about Finland is how green the country is. In all of our travels through the country, we saw how beautiful their forest are and how the people enjoy walking around and exploring them. This beautiful forest covers over 70% of Finland. More than any other European country and this area is more extensive than Italy! Another reason to love Finland. Sidewalk safari is showing a few of the greenest places in Finland here, like the Siikalahti Nature Reserve, Parikkala Sculpture Park, and more.
Finland is also the World leader when it comes to quality of education!
The country has held the first place at OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment for several years, and it’s for free. Everything changed around 40 years ago when a vast education reform defined the rules that are still being followed today.
In Finland, children don’t start school until they’re seven years old and they rarely take exams or have homework until they are Weill into their teens. Also, they are not graded or measured in any way during its first six years in school. This results in 93% of them graduate from high school and 66% of the students going to college, which is the highest rate in Europe!
If you think about coffee, remember Finland
The first time we went to Finland in the winter time, we understood why it seems like the country is always leading in coffee consumption worldwide. Every meal we had was followed by a few cups of coffee. It was also used to keep our bodies and hands warm while we learned everything about Herrankukkaro.
In average, Finland consumes up to 12kg of coffee per person every year. Almost three kilos more than the second place, Norway. According to a blog about coffee culture in the Northern European countries, 14% of men and 6% of women reported consuming more than 10 cups of coffee per day! Too bad the coffee they drink there is not as strong as the ones we are used to. Maybe, this is why they drink so much of them!
Crazy Sports? Finland!
Finland is also home to some of the craziest sports ever. From the air guitar competition that happens every summer in Oulu to the Wife-Carrying World Championship that it’s already on its 22nd edition!
One of our travel dreams is to go to Oulu in the summer and see the air guitar championship with our own eyes. Maybe it will happen soon enough but, right now, you have to look at the video below to understand why this is the place to be.
From Angry Birds to Nokia, Finland is the land of the future
When you think about technology, Finland probably doesn’t cross your mind. But it should since they have been working online since the early 90s. Finland is the country that invented the first Internet browser with a graphical user interface! This first browser was called Erwise, and it was released to the public in April 1992 as the combined master’s project of four Finnish students of the Helsinki University of Technology.
But this is not it. Another Finnish born invention is the Molotov cocktail, Angry Birds, the heart-rate monitor, Linux OS and, of course, the sauna. Which is the word that most people use when they think about Finland! But people should think about skate as well since Alvar Aalto, one of the leaders in Finnish design, can be traced as the source for the project that created the skate bowl. This is for real!
Finland has the best design
At least for us, one of the first things that cross our minds when we think about Finland is design. When we think about Finland, we think about the beauty and function of the Finnish Design. For us, Finland is home to one of the most significant design cultures of the world.
When we went to Finland for the first time back in September 2014, we knew we had to try to see where Finnish design is made. On our last day in Helsinki, we managed to visit the Arabia Factory and everyone interested in Finnish design should do the same. We even wrote an article about it!
We love Finland but we’re not sure about Finnish as a language
One reason that most people don’t love Finland for is their language. It’s one of the weirdest languages we ever heard, and this is why we love it so much. It doesn’t follow any of the most popular European languages like French, English or Spanish. Finnish follows the Finnic languages family tree and together with Estonian are the most popular languages in this branch.
What we love the most about the Finnish language are the weird looking words like saavuttamattomasta that almost looks like a cat walked over a keyboard but means inaccessible. This is Finnish, and it’s the main reason why we will never live in Helsinki. But we love Finland either way and we hope you love it a little bit more now.