Friday, August 12, 2005

Fun Finland Facts

A couple of months ago, Michael Higgins wrote an article called "What Finland can teach us" on why applying policies successfully used in an ethnically homogenous country like Finland to diverse countries like India may not produce the same results. Yesterday, thanks to the vagaries of the TTLB Ecosystem, a hundred Finns read his blog. Bemused, Michael wrote another article, "One Hundred Finns" about the phenomenon. This, of course, attracted even more Finnish readership. Many of these Finnish readers were (slightly) miffed about all the misconceptions and prejudices surrounding their country. So, the swell guy that I am, I have decided to compile some facts about Finns and Finland for the six-billion or so of us who are not Finns. So here it is, the Finland Factbook (or What Finns do when they aren't making Mobile Phones and Racing Cars):
  • Finland is not as ethnically homogenous as we believe. A commenter on Finland for thought writes:
    I am (tired of the blond, ethnically homogenous Finn line) , especially as this is a load of crap. Sure, most Finns speak some dialect of Finnish, but the dialects are in fact so diverse that people from different parts of the country sometimes have difficulties understanding each other. If you think you understand Finnish, do pick up a copy of Raumlaissi jaarituksi. Being born in Helsinki and having lived here all my life, I don’t understand half of it.

    Also, the differences between rural and urban cultures are tremendous. This stereotype of silent Finns tends to be less true with e.g. Carelians, who (stereotypically) couldn’t shut up to save their lives. I would say that as an IT consultant in Helsinki, I would have more in common with any colleague in any major European city than, for instance, a small time farmer in Ostrobothnia.

  • In 1940, the Finnish Army defeated an invasion of their country by the Soviet Red Army, a feat not to be repeated untill 1989. They then fought the Soviets again for four years, and then fought with German troops in Lapland.
  • Finns make some really good music. If you haven't heard Finnish bands like Ensiferum and Children of Bodom, you should.
  • Jacques Chirac once said that "after Finland, Britain has the worst food." Soon after, Mr. Chirac was sent a bomb hidden in a cellphone. No arrests have been made as yet. (WARNING: Only the first line in this point is true. DO NOT take the rest of it seriously.)
  • Finland plays host to the world Mosquito Swatting Championships. Apparently (and I have trouble believing this) they are better at this than us Indians.
  • Finland has two million guns in a country of around five million people (There is, incredibly, an article on Gun Politics in Finland on Wikipedia). Despite this, Finns have prudently refrained from killing each other in large numbers since 1920, when 20,000 people died in a bloody Civil War.
  • Finland is the least corrupt nation in the world, according to Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index. It is also the most Globally Competitive Country, according t the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Index..
  • Finalnd is home to New Age guru/eccentric Ior Bock, who, according to Wikipedia has a fan following among "New Age minded people from Goa" (?!). I'm a Goan, however, and I have never heard of him. Maybe it's because I'm Old Age minded.
  • Armi Kuusela won the first ever Miss Universe contest as Miss Finland.
  • The only Finnish contribution to the spoken English language is "sauna". The Finns are very fond of saunas, and have even started a Finnish Sauna Society.
  • Finalnd's most popular cocktail, the Salmiakki Koskenkorva, was, according to Wikipedia, invented after the Simpson's episode Flaming Moe's was broadcast in Finland. Apparently, the Finns saw Moe Szyslak make a cocktail with cough syrup, and were inspired to promptly make a version of their own with ammonium chloride based candy.
  • Finns are either a very interesting people, or there are a lot of Finnish pranksters on Wikipedia.
  • Update 1: Reader Ravikiran Rao points out that Finland has been hosting the Wife Carrying Championships since 1992. Much to the dissappointment of the hardy wife-carrying Finns, this sport has come to be dominated by Estonians.
This, sadly is all I could find on Finland on short notice. If you have a fact that you think should be included. Please keep comments clean. Abusive comments in English will be deleted. Comments in Suomi will be deleted if they contain the words "Perkele" or "Vittu", as these are the only Suomi swear words I know.

24 Comments:

Anonymous Aadisht Khanna said...

Linus Torvalds is a Finn, and his wife is a former Finland karate champion.

12:51 PM  
Blogger Kunal said...

Yes, but many people already know that. I'm writing about lesser known Finland facts.

2:39 PM  
Blogger Patrix said...

Twilight Fairy, a Desi Blogger from Delhi is currently in Finland and maintains an excellent Finland-oriented blog, Finn Times. You should check it out sometime.

4:56 PM  
Blogger Michael Higgins said...

Kunal
This is excellent. It would be nice if bloggers in Finland and India could compare notes on their respective societies to see what makes these countries so different.

Thanks for linking to my post.

8:35 PM  
Anonymous Ravikiran said...

Hey you missed one out - Finland hosts the annual wife carrying championship

1:08 AM  
Blogger Twilight Fairy said...

Hey thanks Patrix for making me aware of other blogs about Finland.. it's good to see others' perspective :)

About Finland having homogeneous ethnicity..that's so not true! Apart from the mix of Swedish and Finnish population, and some Russians thrown in, ppl here themselves distinguish amongst themselves even within local circles! One real estate agent once told me how she was so different from the general Helsinki population because she wasn't from Helsinki and how a person from Helsinki was so different in terms of language, traditions *and* behaviour.. apart from that the population of Lapland is considered to be a totally different thing altogether..

5:53 AM  
Blogger Kunal said...

Patrix, Twilight Fairy: Thanks, its' good to see an Indian's perspective on Finland.

Ravikiran: Thanks for that contribution, have put it up in the post.

12:33 PM  
Blogger Ravages said...

(POsting it on Blogger's comments too: Sorry for the repetition)

Finland has been hosing the Wife Carrying Championships

What, the Finns don't like the Wife Carrying competition? Why would they want to hose it?

But neat list

7:48 PM  
Blogger Nikhil K said...

Hilarious.
Intersting to see how a bunch of tongue-in-cheek comments can so convey the ethos of a people.

9:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess we are a bit obscure nation, but we did invent something that is still in use - the Molotov's coctail. It was named after the Russian minister, this cocktail was our gift to him. You got to appreciate the humor :)

But because we are not likely (or most of us at least) to shout our 'achievements' from the rooftops of the world, there are even many (younger) finns who haven't heard about this. Or is it just the poor PR-skills? Everybody knows dynamite is Swedish invention.

9:44 AM  
Blogger Kunal said...

Yes good one, that. I'm sure old Vyacheslav Mikhailovich appreciated it. Your countrymen are to be congratulated for their sense of humour :-).

2:30 PM  
Anonymous Jane said...

Oh, I forgot to say that we were in the middle of war when the Molotov's coctail was invented and named. Maybe you figured it out anyway.

What I wanted to say, is that Finns don't (usually) just take random people and make the world know that they are better off dead ;)

Ps. The previous posting was my first ever blog-thing; hope I didn't broke all the delicate ettiquette codes. And this time I'm going to make my name to be published too, might need some luck with that :o

3:28 PM  
Blogger jorn52ofdf said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:14 PM  
Blogger Kunal said...

Jane: Yeah, I mentioned the Winter War. I didn't take you to mean that Finns generally defame foreign leaders for no reason. And, no, you didn't break any rules, blogging etiquette ain't that delicate ;-). Keep visiting!

3:24 AM  
Blogger winterborne said...

This was hilarious.From the two Finns I know,they are really nice people.It must be mentioned that they both claim that other Finns are quite standoffish.Sense of humour ,err?
Biggest industry - Paper
2nd biggest - Mika Hakkinen

Another useless fact is that some(or most) Finnish ppl have a small pause right in the middle of their names.While saying it that is....Jenni is more like Jen(small pause)ni...Quite fascinating...
Dhananjay

7:46 PM  
Blogger Kunal said...

Hey, thanks, Dhananjay!

>>"It must be mentioned that they both claim that other Finns are quite standoffish"

Well, either I was wrong, or they're very modest.

>>"Another useless fact is that some(or most) Finnish ppl have a small pause right in the middle of their names.While saying it that is....Jenni is more like Jen(small pause)ni."

Must be peculiarity of Suomi. Maybe they would call me Kun(pause)al.

2:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The small pause you are talking about happens with all double consonants. It's meant to lengthen the sound so that you can differentiate.

For example, if your name was Annika, There would be a pause between the n's. An(pause)nika. If your name was anika, there wouldn't be a pause at all.

Anoher interesting fact is that the Finnish language has i think 16 different basic conjugations.

3:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

dont forget that in finland donald duck had been banned cause he doesnt wear pants

10:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

J. R. R. Tolkien's Elvish was based on Finnish!

8:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

About Finns in sauna, they whip themselfes with fresh branches of birch which are called Vasta or Vihta in finnish.

6:01 AM  
Blogger Miss Coldielocks, Missy, Hey you said...

Alot of people know the Finns as the blonde haired, blue eyed, fair skinned people, but most have darker skin, dirty blond, or light brown hair, and green or hazel eyes. The finns are a lot like the Japanese, too. They have been good friends for a long time. and something about them too... some mystery between the finns and the japanese, but i can't remember. lol

11:01 AM  
Anonymous Saranna said...

Just one small point, we (the finns) had no war in 1989, you're probably thinking of WW2 when we fought 2 wars against Soviet and one in Lappland against German troops.

Otherwise a really nice, and funny, "article" about us :D

4:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is dud fuck you

2:59 PM  
Anonymous Rumah minimalis said...

So Funny

2:10 PM  

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