Finland has two official languages: Finnish and Swedish. Swedish speaking Finns make up approximately 5,5% of the population. Finnish schools put great emphasis on language studies: in addition to Finnish and Swedish, all students must learn at least one additional language. Most usually they choose English.

Finnish youth was evaluated as the most able by PISA’s (Programme for International Student Assessment) most recent report on 15-year olds. Education in Finland at all levels – including higher and adult education – is free, while all Finnish primary and secondary schools serve a free daily lunch.

According to the 2011-2012 Global Competitiveness Report published by World Economy Forum, Finland has the fourth most competitive economy in the world. The annual Corruption Perception Index published by Transparency International shows Finland as the country with the next least level of corruption.

In 1906 Finland became the first country in Europe to grant women the vote, and the first country in the world to give women the right to stand for election. Therefore, Finnish women were the first in the world to use their vote, and to stand as candidates in a national election. Of all the member countries in the European Union, Finnish society is aging at the greatest rate. On a worldwide basis Finland is exceeded only by Japan in the growth of its older population.

Finnish researchers are at the forefront of several areas within the realm of inventiveness, such as forestry development, use of new materials, the environment, low-temperature physics,  brain research, bio-technology, genetics and communication.

In music, Finland has a good reputation with a number of well-known conductors, composers and opera singers. Nevertheless, the real passion of the Finns is the tango!

In summer, when nights are light, Finland has many unusual and exciting festivals. One of the country’s ultimate sports events is the annual World Championship in wife-carrying, held in the small town of Sonkajärvi in central Finland. Other interesting events include World Championships in  swamp football, in air guitar, and the rubber-boot throwing festival.

If you would like to know more about Finland and Finnish cultural activities, you can visit This is Finland.

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