Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Geography of Finland Day!
If I was in charge of the Circus McGurkus today, April 6, would be Geography of Finland Day. The nice thing about having your own blog is that you can declare it to be Geography of Finland Day and it is!
So, in honour of those who have birthdays on April 6, I will talk a bit about the geography of Finland.
The country of Finland is said to look like a woman, the Finnish maiden (Suomi neito), with one arm raised. You can see her on this box of oatmeal. She had two arms before the Winter War and the treaty of Moscow in 1940 when Russia was granted most of Karelia. You can read more about the eastern border of Finland here.
Finland is the land of lakes. Specifically Finland is the land of 187,888 lakes. A lake is defined as a body of water larger than 500 m2. Finland also has 180,000 islands and is home to Europe's largest archipelago. You can see that Finland might be an ideal place to own a remote vacation home and there are, in fact, 475,000 summer homes (kesämökki) and 1.8 million saunas in Finland for a population of 5.3 million people.
Hang onto the vision of a summer house, but remember that Finland is considered the most northerly European country as it is mostly north of the 60 degrees north latitude.
Geography plays a decisive role in the recent politics of Finland because of the proximity of the former Soviet Union and St. Petersburg, formerly Leningrad. During the Cold War Finland had to maintain a careful posture with regard to the Soviet Union. The West Germans termed this posture "Finlandization". I like this sentence from the Encyclopedia Britannica about Finlandization:
The Finnish satirical cartoonist, Kari Suomalainen, defined it as 'the art of bowing to the East so carefully that it could not be considered mooning the West'.
Today Finland's position as a bridge between East and West makes it a unique country to visit.
Happy Birthday Dad!