Tucked away in the north-eastern corner of Europe between Sweden and Russia, Finland is often forgotten about and neglected in favour of some of its most more Nordic neighbours.
However, things are beginning to change. Finland is rapidly becoming a popular destination among British travellers, who now make up the third-largest cohort of visitors to Finland in the world, with almost 600,000 visiting in 2019. You too might be discovering a newfound interest in this cold and culturally unique country. If so, here are five mind-blowing facts about Finland that you probably didn’t know.
1. Finns are the Happiest People in the World
Despite the fact that Finland is one of the coldest places on Earth, with some of the lowest levels of sunlight in the world, that doesn’t keep people down. Finland has come out on top of the UN’s World Happiness Rankings for several years in a row, with Finns reporting the highest amount of life satisfaction and daily mood levels. Some attribute this to the country’s close connection to nature, with Finns never being more than a few minutes away from a park, forest, or lake.
2. There is a Sauna for Everyone
Finland is, by all measures, a nation of sauna fanatics. While Finland has a population of 5.3 million people, the country has a staggering 2 million saunas according to Finland.fi, meaning that there is almost one sauna for every two people. Taking a sauna is a tradition that is embedded deeply in Finnish culture and something that friends, family, and even coworkers do together on an almost daily basis. There are few things more Finnish than a 100-degree sauna session followed by a dip in a frozen lake.
3. Finns are Among the Biggest Gambling Enthusiasts in the World
Perhaps surprisingly, Finns are some of the biggest fans of poker, slots, and blackjack out of anywhere in the world, with the majority of adults in the country gambling on a regular basis. Part of this is due to the country’s unique history, with gambling being heavily promoted by the state decades ago as a way to raise funds via taxation to provide for social welfare. Today, Finland’s gambling scene is certainly more high tech, with online platforms such as Suomibetting providing real-money online betting opportunities throughout the country and beyond, and the populace eagerly turning to such digital avenues.
4. Finland has the World’s Best Pizza
While some might think that the accolade of ‘the world’s greatest pizza’ belongs to Italy, this is not quite the case. A local specialty pizza topped with smoked reindeer was criticised by former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi in 2008 for being “inferior” to Italian parma ham. Never a country to take an insult lying down, the Finnish chain Kotipizza entered the dish into a global competition for the world’s best pizza, promptly taking first prize. Today, this pizza is widely available throughout Finland, and has been renamed the ‘Berlusconi Pizza’.
Hopefully, these mind-blowing Finland facts inspired you to add the Scandinavian country to your future travel bucket list.