Welcome to the Sata-Häme Soi
Accordion Festival in
Ikaalinen, Finland
Home Monday, June 30
2003 Ikaalinen Festival Tuesday, July 1
Welcome to Ikaalinen Wednesday, July 2
Finland at a Glance Thursday, July 3
Golden Accordion Award Friday, July 4
Meet Maria Kalaniemi Saturday, July 6
Festival Faces Sunday, July 7

Your Trip to Finland
There are excellent flight connections to Finland from all over the world. Finnair and other airlines have scheduled flights to Helsinki from most major cities in Europe, as well as from New York, San Francisco, Cairo, Bangkok, Singapore, Beijing and Tokyo.

Vantaa Airport serving Helsinki is a modern and efficient gateway to many parts of Europe and the Far East.

Twenty-two other international airlines offer flights to Helsinki. There are no departure taxes when leaving Finland.

In addition to air transportation, arrival by land and boat from Sweden, Russia and Estonia are common and quite easy. Baltic ferries run from Sweden, Estonia and Germany to Helsinki and Turku.

The ferries are impressive seagoing craft and have been compared to hotels and shopping plazas; they actually make more money from duty-free shops than they do from passenger tickets.


General Tourist Information

Tourist Visas: Most western nationals, including Americans, citizens of EU countries, Australians, Canadians, New Zealanders, Malaysians, Singaporeans and most South Americans do not need a visa for travel into Finland.

Time: GMT/UTC +2

Electricity: 220V, 50Hz

Weights & measures: Metric

Currency: The Finnish currency unit is the Euro. Finland was one of the 12 EU countries that started using euro cash in 2002.

Languages: Finland has two official languages: Finnish and Swedish. In most areas you will find the general population able to converse in English quite well, especially the younger generation. (Finnish, a Finno-Ugric language, is spoken by 91,3% and Swedish by 5,4 % of the population. Sami (Lappish) is the mother tongue of about 1,700 people.)


Baisc History of Finland
  • 1155 The first crusade to Finland by the Swedes. Finland becomes part of the Swedish realm.
  • 1809 Finland is handed over to Russia by Sweden.
  • 1917 Finland's declaration of independence on December 6.
  • 1919 The present constitution is adopted and Finland becomes a republic
  • 1955 Finland joins the United Nations
  • 1995 Finland becomes a member of the European Union

Population Facts and Figures

  • 5.2 million, 17 inhabitants per square kilometre
  • 67% live in towns or urban areas, 33% in rural areas
  • Helsinki (pop. 560,000)
  • Espoo (pop. 221,000)
  • Tampere (pop. 199,000)
  • Vantaa (pop. 182,000)
  • Turku (pop. 174,000)
  • Oulu (pop. 124,000)
  • About one million people live in the Helsinki metropolitan area.
  • Finland has a Sami (Lapp) population of 6,500.


Religion: 85,6% Lutheran and about 1% Orthodox


Other Information:

Whatever time of year you visit Finland, there's something happening. Most museums and galleries are open year-round, and there is as much to do in the depths of winter as there is at the height of summer.

Finland is situated in northern Europe between the 60th and 70th parallels of latitude. A quarter of its total area lies north of the Arctic Circle. Finland's neighbouring countries are Sweden, Norway and Russia, which have land borders with Finland, and Estonia across the Gulf of Finland. Much of the country is a gently undulating plateau of worn bedrock and boreal forests, presenting a striking mixture of wooded hills and waters.

The climate is marked by cold winters and warm summers. The mean annual temperature in the capital, Helsinki, is 5.3 degrees Celsius. The highest daytime temperature in southern Finland during the summer occasionally rises to almost 30 degrees.

During the winter months, particularly in January and February, temperatures of minus 20 Celsius are not uncommon. In the far north, beyond the Arctic Circle, the sun does not set for about 73 days, producing the white nights of summer. In the same region, during the dark winter period, the sun remains below the horizon for 51 days, creating the polar night known in Finnish as kaamos.

No trip to Finland is complete without a visit to the Sauna. Finland is the land of the sauna and the Finns are a nation of sauna-enthusiasts. Finland has a population of 5.1 million and 1.7 million saunas — one for every three inhabitants. The sauna is considered an age-old Finnish feature, although it is not a Finnish invention and certainly not the private property of the Finns. In the late 19th century, sauna-bathing was practiced in the Old World all the way from the Baltic Sea to the Ural Mountains. The sauna was also common among the other Finnic nations in the Baltic region — the Estonians, the Karelians, the Veps and the Livonians. Other traditional sauna-users include many Slavic, Baltic (Latvians, Lithuanians) and eastern Finno-Ugric peoples as well as Turkic Tatars.

The traditional sauna is a wooden building where the bathers sit on benches splashing water on the hot stones of the stove and gently beating themselves with leafy birch whisks. ‘Sauna’, the most commonly borrowed Finnish word, has spread from Finnish to several world languages, although the Finns believe not always in its original sense.

The expression ‘to have a sauna’ covers the whole bathing process and includes several repeated periods of perspiring in the heat and the steam, known as löyly, produced by the water thrown on the stones. Löyly is described as the spirit of the sauna. It is a Finno-Ugric word going back 7,000 years.

For more information on Finland and the wonders that await you in this spectacular country, please visit: