In Brief

Finland celebrates 100 years of independence: ten fast facts

Buildings around the world will be lit up to celebrate the Northern European nation’s anniversary

Finland celebrates its 100th birthday today, having declared independence from Russia on 6 December 1917, during the Bolshevik Revolution.

Countries around the world will also mark a century of Finnish independence, with light displays in blue and white - Finland’s national colours - at landmarks including Rome’s Colosseum, Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer and Canada’s Niagara Falls.

Here are ten fun facts about the Northern European nation:

1. It has the most saunas per capita - including at hockey games

Few will be surprised to hear that the Finns have the most saunas per capita, reports German newspaper Deutsche Welt. But did you know that Finns even enjoy a sauna while watching hockey? Skybox 408 in the Hartwall Arena, in the capital Helsinki, is a sauna with a bar, a food menu and a window to view the action. Up to 70 people at a time can watch hockey in the nude behind the one-way window. 

2. Finns have had a long love affair with the tango 

The tango took Finland by storm in the 1920s and 1930s. Finns still love the dance so much that they host a five-day festival every year on Tangokatu (Tango Street) in Seinajoki, a small town about a three-hour train ride north of Helsinki. The five-day festival attracts more than 100,000 tango-mad Finns, according to the BBC.

3. Helsinki was founded in 1550

The ancient capital, founded by Swedish King Gustav I, is home to a million of the country’s total 5.5 million residents - who could easily fit into a New York suburb (if they didn’t have their saunas with them).

4. Most heavy metal bands per capita

Finland has the most heavy metal bands per capita in the world - 54 bands per 100,000 people - according to Decibel Magazine. That means, as Buzzfeed says: “A metal band in every village!” Even former US president Barack Obama has paid tribute to Finland’s music scene.

5. Santa Claus may actually live in Lapland

Some people think Santa Claus, or Father Christmas, lives in the North Pole, but Finns are convinced that he chills out in Lapland, where temperatures can plummet to -50C (-58F). In 1927, a Finnish radio host boasted about Santa’s hometown of Korvatunturi, a mountainous region in Lapland shaped like rabbit ears, according to Smithsonian magazine.

6. Midnight Sun

Venture north of the Arctic Circle during summer months and you’ll discover that the sun does not set at all for two months. Further south, the sun can be seen for almost 24 hours a day in June and July.

7. Finns love coffee

While the total average coffee consumption worldwide is about 1.3 kg per person, the average Finnish person consumes 12 kg of coffee per year, The Daily Telegraph reports.

8. Finland has 187,888 lakes

Finland tops Yale’s Environmental Performance Index and is one of the greenest country in the world, with low levels of pollution. It also has 187,888 lakes that cover a total of about 10% of the country.

9. Finland celebrates an annual Day for Failure 

The Day for Failure, on 13 October, celebrates bad news and ill-fortune as a way of learning. As Robert F. Kennedy said: “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” 

10. Finland hosts the annual Wife Carrying World Championships

Finland hosts the Wife Carrying World Championship - an extreme obstacle course navigated by couples every July - along with the world championships for mosquito hunting, mobile phone throwing, swamp football, rubber boot throwing and the Air Guitar World Championship.


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