Dec 8, 2015

Finland history in 9 pictures

By on Tuesday, December 08, 2015

This is the Finnish flag. I'm showing it to you and telling the history of the 98-year-old country, because today is Finland's Independence day.

This is what the flag stands for. In the winter it's even more blue and white.

Finland was a part of Sweden for centuries. Then the Russians snatched Finland from Sweden in the 18th century. First the Russians were really nice to the Finns and let them be pretty free and autonomous. In the 19th century Russians decided that they should try to deny Finns their right to be Finnish. Finns said "nah, we don't feel like becoming Russian", and they became more aware of their own way of speaking, being and doing stuff. Someone shot a Russian dude called Bobrikov to show that it's not ok what Russia is doing, and the idea of independence got more and more popular thorugh the years.

In this painting the Russian eagle is trying to fuck Finland's shit up, while she isn't taking none of that.
In 1917 the Russians got tired of Russia's shit too, and they had a revolution. The same year, on the 6th of December, Finns decided that it might be a good idea to become an independent nation. Some days later the bolsheviks agreed to that, and (in the picture) signed a paper that said it's fine.

But Finns didn't agree about a lot of things with each other, and the fresh nation was in a civil war already in 1918. The blue area in the map belonged to the "whites" and the red area to the "reds" (communists). It was all about who should run the nation and in which way. There was a lot of hatred, a lot of people died - neighbors killed neighbors, brothers killed brothers. In the end the whites won, and after that people just avoided the topic until the 1990s.

The division of 1918 was still alive under the surface, even though it was generally considered a bad idea to bring that shit up in public. In 1939 it happened that the whole world went to war again, and the Soviet Union changed its mind about Finland being independent, and waged war against the small nation. There were a couple of wars between the two countries in 1939-1945, and it all went A LOT better than expected for Finland. Soviets got what they wanted, I guess, and Finland kept its independence - even though parts of the country were lost. The division of the civil war was finally forgotten in the face of a common enemy - so some good came out of all the bad things that happened.

If you don't know the guy in the picture, you have missed all the 75 000 reposts about him on Imgur, you sorry bastard.
Some years after the wars, Finland got a president called Urho Kekkonen (the one with the glasses). He took care of the complicated situation during the Cold War, where Finland tried to balance between the East and the West. Kekkonen got drunk with the Soviet leaders, and hunted, fished and went to sauna with them. The Soviets saw that it was good, and everything went a lot better than expected - again. Kekkonen was a very well liked president in Finland. He was the president for like 20 years or something, and now enjoys the status of a legend in Finland.

Finland is originally a hunter-gatherer country, but by the time it got its independence, agriculture was the main occupation. That changed through 1960s and 1970s, when a lot of people moved to towns and started producing stuff and services. During those decades the welfare-system in Finland was refined, just like all over the Northern countries, and Finland is a welfare-state still today.

In the picture you can see a lunch-break in the fields. Neigboring households used to work together ("talkoot"), and the women came to the fields with food and coffee when it was time for a break. Getting that agriculture-stuff to run around takes a lot more effort than people in the south might imagine.
Today Finland is a lot like any other North-European country. Modern and somewhat rich. Finland became a part of EU in 1995, and the currency has been Euro since 2002.  In the summer it's hot, in the winter it's cold. People might not say a lot, but you can trust them and you should be able to find a good party in any bigger town on the weekends. You should pre-order a time for a liver transplant already before going to Finland, because you'll probably end up drinking, and in Finland you're not drunk enough before your eye-balls are yellow.


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