Finland :officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.
Around 5.4 million people reside in Finland, with the majority concentrated in the southern region. It is the eighth largest country in Europe in terms of area and the most sparsely populated country in the European Union. Finland is a parliamentary republic with a central government based in Helsinki and local governments in 336 municipalities, and an autonomous region of the Åland Islands. About one million residents live in the Greater Helsinki area, which consists of Helsinki, Espoo, Kauniainen and Vantaa, and a third of the country's GDP is produced there. Other larger cities include Tampere, Turku, Oulu, Jyväskylä, Lahti and Kuopio.
Finland was a part of Sweden from the 12th to 19th century, and from 1809 to 1917 was an autonomous Grand Duchy within the Russian Empire. The Finnish Declaration of Independence from Russia in 1917 was followed by a civil war in which the red side was defeated with German support. Finland fought World War II as essentially three separate conflicts: the Winter War (1939–40), the Continuation War (1941–44), and the Lapland War (1944–45). Finland joined the United Nations in 1955, the OECD in 1969, the European Union in 1995, and the eurozone at its inception in 1999.
Finland was a relative latecomer to industrialisation, remaining a largely agrarian country until the 1950s. Thereafter, economic development was rapid. Finland is one of the world's wealthiest nations with per capita income of $49,349. It built an extensive welfare state and balanced between the East and the West in global economics and politics. With the best educational system in Europe according to some measures, Finland has recently been ranked as one of the world's most