Finland is an overlooked destination by Americans, a land about the size of England and Scotland, but with only 4.5 million people. Most visitors to Finland come from its next-door neighbors, Sweden, Germany and, believe it or not, Russia. The Russians come for three- and four-day junkets, mostly rewards from their government for meeting or exceeding production quotas. In fact, Russia and Finland have very good relations, this in spite of the fact that the two countries were at war twice in this century.

Of the two million visitors to Finland in 1983 only 4 percent were Americans and they usually came as a part of a Scandinavian tour or were in transit to and from the USSR.

Like the rest of the Scandinavians the Finns maintain very high sanitary standards and accommodations. The country has 843 hotels, dozens of lakes, forests, and farmland. The climate resembles that of Minnesota. The Finnish language, unlike the rest of Scandinavia, is not Germanic. Rather it is related to the languages spoken in Hungary, Estonia, and Lapland.

The Scandinavian countries experience what are called the light nights. Being so far north the sun stands at only fifty-seven and one-eighth degrees above the horizon in the summer; in the winter it stands ten degrees above the horizon. Being so low under the northern horizon creates the light nights. Being so far north also is responsible for the fact that daylight varies from a minimum of seven hours in the winter to seventeen hours in the summer. The range is even greater in Northern Norway, Sweden, and Finland.

The northern parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia are home for the Lapps. Mostly they live on reindeer, the only domestic animal which can feed itself on the meager vegetation beyond the Arctic Circle. About the only things the Lapp family needs from the outside world are coffee and salt. They number about eight thousand in Sweden, twenty-thousand in Norway, twenty-five hundred in Finland, and perhaps less than two thousand in the Soviet Union.

FINLAND Photo Gallery

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