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Finland Old History

 

About 12,000 years ago, the area that today constitutes Finland was almost completely covered by the inland ice. To the east of Kristinestad on the west coast of Finland is the so-called Wolf Cave, which is believed to be the oldest settlement in the Nordic region. The finds in the Wolf Cave consist of stone tools, chips and bone pieces in untouched soil layers that, according to the geologists, are over 120,000 years old.

  • AbbreviationFinder.org: Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Finland, covering history, economy, and social conditions.

The Finnish population migrated from the east and south for millennia before our era. Åland was colonized by Swedes around 500 AD, while the Swedes gained a foothold on the mainland only during the 1100s. According to traditional history writing, King Erik was the saint who Christianized Finland and placed the country under Swedish rule. Bishop Henrik, who participated in the so-called crusades to convert the Finns, later became the patron saint of the diocese of Turku and of all of medieval Finland.

During the ensuing centuries, Finland became increasingly attached to Sweden. Finland also became the scene of many wars between Sweden and Russia. Especially heavy were the emergency years of 1696–1697, when about a third of the population suffered from starvation and disease, and “The Great Victim” 1700–1721 when Finland was occupied by Russian troops.

The deplorable wars caused some leading people to question the Swedish government. The decision came after the Finnish war of 1808–1809 between Sweden and Russia, which resulted in Sweden in 1809 being allowed to leave all of Finland to Russia.

Old History of Finland

Grand principality with increased self-government

Representatives of the Church and Army now saw an opportunity for Finland to find their own path as an autonomous Grand Principality under the Russian czar Alexander I. He promised to respect Finland's laws and during most of the 19th century Finland could develop towards increased internal autonomy, as long as one did not oppose the Russian supremacy.

During the 19th century, Swedish cultural influence in Finland decreased, while the Finnish language and Finnish culture were strengthened. The Finnish-speaking majority gained more and more rights. In addition to Finland getting its own state institutions, the Russian tsar in 1812 decided that Helsinki would become the capital of the Grand Principality of Finland.

The Tsar's position weakened during the Russian revolution of 1905, which led Finland to push through a radical parliamentary reform the following year. One Chamber Day and general voting rights were introduced. Finland now became the first country in Europe where women got the right to vote.

A period of refreshment attempts began in 1908 and Finnish self-government was limited. During the last year of the tsarism, high unemployment and food shortages prevailed, which gave rise to revolutionary moods in Finland as well. After the Russian October Revolution of 1917, both the bourgeois and leftist parties in Finland demanded independence.

"White" defeats "red"

The bourgeoisie formed "white" protective corps to drive out the Russian soldiers, while socialists and other radical groups formed "red gardens". The whites consisted of politicians and leading circles in business and government as well as self-sufficient farmers. The reds were made up of social democrats, workers, crooks and a large rural proletariat as well as radical intellectuals.

During a major strike in November 1917, armed clashes occurred between the red and white guards. The bourgeois-led parliament, or country day as it was called, declared Finland independently on December 6 of that year. The white guards were then given the government's mission to restore law and order, while the red ones sought assistance from the Soviet Union to continue its uprising for social justice in the country.

Both sides fought until January 28, 1918. With the open support of Russia, the Reds formed a revolutionary government in Helsinki, while the whites disarmed the Russian troops in Ostrobothnia. The white troops were led by General Carl Gustaf Mannerheim, who was commissioned to defeat the uprising. This led to open battles, which lasted until May 1918. The Whites won, despite being significantly fewer, thanks to greater military professional skills and support from German troops and voluntary Swedes.

Several thousand people were killed in the fighting during the civil war. Many more also lost their lives after the war, when the whites established prison camps where people from the red side were arched or died of starvation and disease. Over 35,000 people are estimated to have died during or in connection with the war.

Large losses of war

The contradictions of the civil war came to influence politics for a long time. Domestic politics was dominated by bourgeois governments during the 1920s and 1930s. Party political divisions led to frequent changes in government. Right-wing extremist movements, including the anti-Communist Lappa movement, had some successes, while the Communist Party was banned.

After the outbreak of World War II in the fall of 1939, the Soviet Union demanded to lease the port city of Hanko in the southwest and incorporate part of the Karelian nose. The Finnish government said no. On November 30, 1939, the Soviet Union attacked Finland. After three months of fighting during the so-called winter war, the numerically inferior Finnish army had to give up. Swedish volunteers also participated in the fighting. In peace in March 1940, Finland had to abandon certain areas in the north and large parts of Karelia, and leave Hanko to the Soviet Union for 30 years.

Finland saw its chance to get revenge when Germany attacked the Soviet Union in June 1941. Finnish troops joined the German side and in the so-called war of war took back Karelia and conquered the Soviet East Karelia. After the fighting in Stalingrad in 1943, where the Germans were defeated by the Russians, Finland wanted to make a separate peace with the Soviet Union but got no.

In order to free Finland from the pact with Germany, President Risto Ryti resigned in the summer of 1944. Mannerheim, who now holds the title of marshal, was elected under a special law for president and peace negotiations began. In September 1944, Finland entered into an agreement with the Soviet Union where the country pledged to expel the remaining German forces from the country. This happened during devastating battles in Finnish Lapland. Finland lost about 88,000 men during the winter and the continuing wars and about 200,000 soldiers were wounded.

2007

November

Seven children are killed in shooting drama

An 18-year-old boy shoots seven children and a headmaster at a school before shooting himself to death. The violence has sparked the debate on Finland's relatively liberal gun laws.

March

Teal government is formed

Center leader Matti Vanhanen continues as prime minister in a new blue-green government consisting of the Center, the Socialist Party, the Swedish People's Party and the Greens. The party leader Jyrki Katainen becomes finance minister. The Social Democrats are in opposition.

Election success for the bourgeois

In the parliamentary elections, the Liberal Conservative Assembly Party is advancing, from 40 seats in the 2003 elections to 50 seats. Despite a decline, the Center Party remains the center's largest party with 51 seats. The Social Democrats get third with 45 seats, while the Left Association receives 17 seats and the Green League gets 15 seats. The EU and immigration-critical party True Finns wins 5 seats. The turnout is 68 percent.

 
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