Finnish (suomi) is a Finnic language spoken by about 5 million people in Finland, Sweden, Norway, Estonia, Canada and Russia. Finnish is the language spoken by the majority of the population in Finland and by ethnic Finns outside Finland. In Sweden, both standard Finnish and Meänkieli, a Finnish dialect, are spoken. The Kven language, a dialect of Finnish, is spoken in Northern Norway.
Interesting Facts About Finland
- Finland is the 8th largest country in Europe and the most sparsely populated. It became an independent country in 1918, having been previously part of Russia and Sweden.
- Finland includes about 188,000 lakes and 179,000 islands.
- Although hotly contested by the Swedes, Finns lay claim to inventing the sauna. But whether they invented it or not, they certainly love it. There are around 2.2 million saunas in Finland, 1 for every 2.5 people, and visiting the sauna is as normal to a Finn as going to the pub is to a Brit.
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About the Finnish Language
Finnish is a member of the Finnic group of the Uralic family of languages. The Finnic group also includes Estonian and a few minority languages spoken around the Baltic Sea.
Finnish starting to appear in writing during the 16th century. The first piece of Finnish literature was a translation of the New Testament by Michael Agricola which was published in 1548.
Until 1809 Finland was a part of Sweden and Swedish was the official language. From 1863 the Finnish language could be used along with Swedish when dealing with authorities. Civil servants were obliged to use the Finnish language and issue documents in Finnish from 1883. In 1892 Finnish became an official language and gained a status comparable to that of Swedish. Today Finland is officially bilingual in Finnish and Swedish.