Lenin crossed the border of the Russian Empire in Tornio on 15 April 1917

Last updated: 11.9.2017 20:48

Lenin, who had been in exile in Switzerland, returned with his family to Russia through Germany, Sweden and Finland in April 1917. He crossed the border of the Empire in Tornio, like many others who returned to Russia after the revolution. What was extraordinary in Lenin’s return was that it would not have been possible […]

Finland – a century of independence

Last updated: 11.9.2017 20:41

During the hundred years of Finnish independence, the biggest changes have been urbanisation, demographic change, rising educational levels, improved standard of living and productivity growth. When Finland became independent, its population had exceeded three million. The birth rate declined sharply in the 1920s and it looked like the population would not reach four million. However, […]

Sibelius, Saarinen, Schjerfbeck – building a nation through arts and culture

Last updated: 11.9.2017 21:37

Building Finland into a modern nation was a project of the Finnish intelligentsia aimed at the Finnish people on the one hand and the international public on the other. Creating nationally important works of architecture, visual arts and music helped increase Finland’s international visibility. Finland did not have a glorious history as a nation. Arts […]

The Finnish Civil War saw two untrained armies fight each other

Last updated: 11.9.2017 20:18

The Finnish Civil War was fought between two quickly recruited armies with mostly untrained fighters. In the early stages of the conflict, the core of the two armies was made up of volunteers who joined the troops in ideological fervour. At the beginning of the war, the White Army consisted mainly of members of the […]

The Diet of Finland and parliament 1863–1919

Last updated: 11.9.2017 14:29

Continuity is the most important feature of Finnish democracy in international comparison. The modern parliamentary system dates back to 1863 when the Diet of Finland with the four Estates started to convene. Democratic legislative procedures and the party system evolved, even though the Russian Emperor ultimately made the decisions autocratically. In 1907, the congress was […]

The Red Finland was led by the People’s Delegation

Last updated: 11.9.2017 14:18

The People’s Delegation led by Kullervo Manner acted as the Revolutionary Government in Finland in 1918. It controlled the largest Finnish cities – Helsinki, Tampere, Turku and Vyborg – and almost a third of the Finnish territory. Officially, the highest decision-making body in the Red Finland was the Workers’ General Council, and the People’s Delegation […]

Finland’s international status from 1917 to 2017

Last updated: 11.9.2017 14:09

In November 1917, Finland broke off from Russia, to which it had belonged as an autonomous Grand Duchy since 1809. The international status and alliances of independent Finland have changed during the past one hundred years, but the country has always remained independent and democratic and has never been occupied. War-torn years 1918–1920 Finland broke […]

When did Finland become independent?

Last updated: 11.9.2017 21:06

When we talk about Finland gaining independence, we must distinguish five separate processes: (1) the de facto severance of the Finnish-Russian state connection; (2) Finland’s declarations of independence; (3) the reorganisation of the powers wielded by the Russian sovereign, i.e. the adoption of the constitution of Finland with regard to the mutual relations of the […]

Popular movements prepared Finns for social activism and self-improvement

Last updated: 11.9.2017 14:50

The growth of popular movements in the late 19th and early 20th century coincides with the rapid transformation of Finnish society. The inhabitants of Finland became aware of their nationality and citizenship. Popular movements or people’s movements refer to social movements created spontaneously by people themselves without guidance or supervision from the authorities or the […]

Olympic “giant” has turned exercising nation

Last updated: 11.9.2017 21:12

Per capita, Finland is still among the most successful Olympic nations. However, the days are long gone when Finland took home bucketloads of medals from the Olympics. Nowadays, we mostly see Finnish motor racers and ice hockey players in the headlines. Finland is also one of the leading countries in the world in general fitness […]

March revolution in Russia forced the Emperor to step down

Last updated: 11.9.2017 12:49

The Russian Emperor and Grand Duke of Finland Nicholas II abdicated on 15 March 1917. His brother Grand Duke Mikhail refused to accept the crown. A committee set up by the Duma started to govern Russia. People began calling the committee the provisional government. The new government was chaired by Prince Georgy Lvov. The change […]

Paper, pulp and timber help Finland recover

Last updated: 11.9.2017 12:36

In the Russian empire, Finland was a special case with its own national economy. Finland and Russia had a customs border, and the Russian government restricted the access of Finnish products to the Russian market by imposing duties on them. Beginning from the 1880s, the Finnish government (the Senate) had favoured the establishment of trade […]

On 26 March 1917, the first socialist-led government in the world started to rule Finland

Last updated: 11.9.2017 11:54

A manifesto issued by the Russian provisional government on 20 March 1917 lifted most of the restrictions placed on Finland’s autonomy. The Russified Senate was replaced by a political multi-party government led by Oskari Tokoi, appointed by the provisional government on 26 March. The Social Democrats found it hard to accept governmental responsibility because, in […]

Finland as a state in 1917

Last updated: 12.9.2017 11:56

The newly-independent Finland was an advanced society when it declared independence on 6 December. It had its own national economy, parliament, education system and cultural life. It did not have its own army, border guard or foreign ministry. The Finnish national economy was based on the fact that the country had its own currency and […]

The Games of the XV Olympiad: Putting Finland back on the map

Last updated: 12.9.2017 12:23

The Finnish Olympic dream came to fruition with the Helsinki Summer Games of 1952. For two weeks, Helsinki offered the Olympics a neutral safe haven from the storms of the Cold War. At the same time, Finland was rewarded for the “lost” 1940 Olympics that never materialised, as the world plunged instead into a second […]

The Republic made peace with Soviet Russia

Last updated: 8.9.2017 14:10

In 1919, a republican form of government regained popularity after the 1918 monarchy escapade. Next year, the country made peace with Soviet Russia. Starting from the autumn of 1918, Red prisoners were gradually released. In 1921, there were some 1,000 of them left in prison. The plans to make Finland a monarchy fell through as […]

The price of the Finnish civil war: sentences, executions, prison camps, deaths

Last updated: 11.9.2017 10:36

The most tragic event in Finland’s history is the civil war that took place between January and May 1918. The war was about defeating a socialist revolution and an armed rebellion. Part of it was a liberation war to expel rebellious Russian troops from the newly independent country. The war and its aftermath cost the […]

Municipal democracy – the glue of society

Last updated: 11.9.2017 21:04

One of the greater miracles in Finland’s survival story is the nation’s quick unification after the disaster of 1918. The single most important factor in the unification was the introduction of municipal democracy the previous year. Starting from December 1918, municipal elections were held in all municipalities. Unlike in national governmental politics, at the municipal […]

The end of grain imports from Russia caused a food shortage in Finland

Last updated: 29.8.2017 16:45

In May 1917, the Finnish parliament passed a food bill prepared by the Senate. The Russian provisional government confirmed the law in early June. The law allowed for rationing and requisitions. It was applied to cereal products, which provided Finns with more than half of their total energy requirement. The Finnish Senate began to enforce […]