Finland is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of northern Europe. It borders Sweden on the west, Russia on the east, and Norway on the north, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland. The capital city is Helsinki.
Around 5.3 million people reside in Finland, with the majority concentrated in the southern part of the country. It is the eighth largest country in Europe in terms of area and the most sparsely populated country in the European Union. The native language for most of the population is Finnish, a member of the Finno-Ugric language family most closely related to Estonian, and is one of only four official EU languages not of Indo-European origin. The second official language of Finland, Swedish, is the mother tongue of 5.5 percent of the population. Finland is a democratic, parliamentary republic with a mostly Helsinki-based central government and local governments in 348 municipalities. A total of a million residents live in Greater Helsinki area (including Helsinki, Espoo, Kauniainen and Vantaa) and a third of the country's GDP is produced there. Other major cities include Tampere, Turku, Oulu, Jyväskylä, Kuopio and Lahti.
Finland was historically a part of Sweden and from 1809 an autonomous Grand Duchy within the Russian Empire. Finland's declaration of independence from Russia in 1917 was followed by a civil war, wars against the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, and a period of official neutrality during the Cold War. Finland joined the United Nations in 1955, the OECD in 1969, and the European Union in 1995 and participates in the Eurozone. Finland has been ranked the second most stable country in the world, in a survey based on social, economic, political, and military indicators.
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