in the woods at night Salvina Felice

Salvina Felice

Finland has often been called one of the countries ‘that gets everything write’. One writer said he would be happy if ‘Finns ran the world!’ It’s (like most of Scandinavia) one of the happiest countries on earth, despite living in the cold and dark most of the year (the reason likely why Finns drink more coffee than anyone on earth – 4 cups a day on average, usually served black or with oat milk, which is the ‘national milk’ of these Nordic neighbours. Oats are used to make everything in Finland (cream, yoghurt and even  meat! Inspiration for transfarmation projects which trains struggling farmers to join the profitable oat milk market, to let animals live out lives in peace. Finns also drink their coffee with cinnamon buns called (‘slapped ears!’)

Bordered by many countries and situated on the Baltic Sea, the main cities are Helsinki, Tampere (stunning architecture and lakes) and Espoo (95 nearby lakes and 165 Baltic Sea islands). The language is notoriously difficult (unrelated to any language bar Hungarian):

Lentokonesuihkuturbiinimoottoriapumekaanikkoaliupseerioppilas

is the longest word in Finnish with 61 letters and means ‘airpplane jet turbine engine auxiliary mechanic non-commissioned officer student’.

Finns are very happy (despite the cold and dark)

Finns are consistently voted the happiest people on earth, but one official says that they are naturally miserable and he’d ‘hate to see what the other nations looked like’. Finns don’t smile at you like a goon,  they just enjoy peace, quiet and nature. Like in The Netherlands, children have better education rates, despite shorter school days and little homework. Nearly everyone takies off during summer to log cabins with no TV, and all homes have in-built saunas (even communal ones for flats). Although not for pregnancy or some medical conditions, saunas offer less risk of stroke and dementia.

Finns don’t do small talk, nor screaming nor awkward silences. It’s said that a shy Finn will look at their shoes when talking to you. But an extrovert Finn will look at your shoes!

Finns look after their forests

75% of Finland is covered in pine forests (here, only a campaign by 38 Degrees stopped Cameron’s government from selling remaining forests to private hands). Uneducated voices talk of grey squirrels causing issues for red squirrels, but it’s mostly due to logging pine forests (red squirrels thrive in Northumberland/Scotland where pine trees are abundant). Helsinki has both red squirrels and grey squirrels. Read more on how to help both red & grey squirrels.

Finnish air is the cleanest on earth

Not least because there are so many trees that give out oxygen. In some areas during dry weather, you can see mountains of Finland, Sweden and Norway. Finns even have a word for getting fresh air happihyppely (‘oxygen hopping’).

Finland is heading for zero homelessness

Nonprofit landlord Y-Säätiö is why (along with Denmark), Finland has almost zero homelessness, working with councils to build affordable green homes to those who need them.

There’s no road rage in Finland and no tolls

Road repairs are state-funded and speeding fines based on income – one millionaire was recently fined over £100,000). Finns use snow ploughs (not toxic rock salt) to clear roads and public services run smoothly. In a lost wallet experiment, 192 wallets were dropped in 16 cities around the world. In Helsinki, 11 out of 12 were returned to owners. Yet wallets dropped at The Vatican and two anti-corruption bureaus were never seen again.

There is no celebrity culture

One of Finland’s richest men strolls the local tram station and no-one bats an eyelid (could you imagine if David Beckham did that here?) There are 20 Green MPs (mostly women) and the leader spent a year in a homeless shelter (elections are PR based). And rather than begging bowls, churches pay tax so don’t get money if they don’t use it for good purposes.

Finns are completely in tune with nature

There are thousands of Åland islands (with over 30 hiking trails in the sunniest place in the Nordic world). A bit like our Isle of Man, it has its own parliament and stamps, and people are so in tune with nature that if asked for directions, most people use the points of a compass! You are allowed to camp anywhere, and sometimes you may be greeted by the sight of a swimming moose, as they like island-hopping to find food!

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