10 facts about Finland that sound totally made up
There are many fantastic things about Finland to report, and you can find thousands of articles devoted to them. But there's also many weird and wonderful Finnish facts that don't enjoy such wide coverage. So, here at Very Finnish Problems, we're counting down ten of our favourites.
1. Finland is the prison escape capital of Europe
Finland has a low crime rate, but is also Europe's prison escape capital. Of course, Finland isn't filled with newly-freed hardened criminals looking for their next victim. It's the light, harmless or just plain goofy criminals who escape on a regular basis, as they often get sent to one of eleven open prisons Finland has to offer. Open jails allow inmates to integrate freely in the community during certain hours, and many inmates even study and hold down a day job during their sentences.
They seem to work very well, too, as open prisons enjoy low reoffending rates and cost taxpayers less than traditional prisons. But escaping from a minimum-security prison is comically easy, which enabled a whopping one in ten Finnish prisoners to run to freedom in 2013. Thanks to these itchy-feet convicts, prison escape rates in Finland now double those in Belgium, home of Europe's second-highest prison escape rate. Out of every 10,000 prison inmates in Finland, there's a whopping 1,084 who managed to flee. We know Finns are famous for loving the outdoors, but this is ridiculous!
2. Finland's sea level is falling, not rising
Rising sea levels are a worrying problem for most nations. Some even estimate that by 2050, high tides could permanently rise above land occupied by over 150 million people. However, this does not apply to Finland, where land levels rise faster than sea levels.
It’s thanks to a phenomenon called the post-glacial uplift which began at the end of the last glacial period when glacier pressure eased. The process has been ongoing ever since, resulting in Finland's landmass rising by about 0.5 inches per year. The rise may seem small, but In a nation with 188,000 lakes, a bit more land goes a long way!
3. A golf ball hit into Finland from Sweden stays in the air for over an hour
Apparently, those living in the Finnish town of Tornio aren't aware of their nation's growing landmass, as they've built part of an 18-hole golf course on Swedish soil. Located by the Torne River in northern Finland, the course spans over two nations and two time zones.
Because Sweden and Finland have a time difference of one hour, the Tornio Golf / Meri-Lapin Golf Club course is the only place on earth where players can hit the world's longest hole-in-one. So If you hit the ball over the time zone line, it’ll fly for over an hour. And if that isn't enough to make you question the concept of time, the city's famous light nights surely will.
4. Finns are the world's biggest milk drinkers with one of Europe's biggest lactose-free product markets
Finns are massive milk drinkers, with every one Finn gulping down a whopping 34 gallons of the stuff every year. The country even leads the world in dairy research.
Still, a surprising 17% of Finland's population of over 5.5 million can't stomach dairy. Not that this is a problem, as Finnish supermarkets are packed with low-lactose or lactose-free products. Ironically, the nation's high level of dairy consumption has funded innovations which make it possible for the dairy industry to offer a huge range of lactose-free products to milk loathers and lovers alike.
5. The Finnish Air Force Headquarters badge contained the swastika until 2020
When the Finnish Air Force was founded in 1918, a Swedish nobleman named Count Eric von Rosen gifted the nation a plane with a blue swastika painted on it. But this had nothing to do with right-wing politics. The swastika has been used as a good luck symbol for thousands of years, and Finland is one of many nations to feature it on military vehicles.
For obvious reasons, the Finnish Air Force stopped painting swastikas on planes in 1945. But it was only dropped from The Finnish Air Force Headquarters badge in 2020. The symbol still remains on some air force flags and decorations.
6. One of America's most famous landmarks is actually Finnish
Weighing 17,246 tons, the Gateway Arch stands at an awe-inspiring height of 630 feet and has dominated the St. Louis skyline since 1965. Now, over fifty years after its completion, America's tallest human-made monument draws in over 2.5 million visitors a year. But the structure, which pays tribute to American heroes like Thomas Jefferson, Lewis & Clark and the St. Louis suffragette Virginia Minor, wasn't even designed by an American. In fact, it was created by the famous Finnish architect Eero Saarinen, who entered his design in the 1947 competition for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.
True to his Finnish spirit, Saarinen carefully studied the landmark's surroundings to design an arch that rose majestically from the forest.
7. One speeding ticket can cost over €100,000
Finland doesn't make it easy for the rich and powerful to buy their way out of legal trouble. Even when it comes to minor traffic laws, the Finnish government maintains equality by issuing fines proportionate to the offender's income. Because of this, many wealthy Finns have paid more for a single speeding ticket than most of us paid for our first car.
In 2002, a fast and furious Finn called Anssi Vanjoki, who at the time was the director of the Finnish telecommunications company, Nokia, was fined a whopping 116,000 euros for driving 75 km/h in a 50 km/h zone. That's one expensive journey!
8. It's illegal for Finnish taxi drivers to listen to the radio
Finland is defined by music. It's the birthplace of globally acclaimed composers such as Jean Sibelius, and has more heavy metal bands than any other nation on earth, with 53 metal bands for every 100,000 people. But, thanks to a 2002 law, you won't hear any of them in the back of a taxi.
In Finland, playing music in a taxi is considered a public performance, and is, therefore, subject to copyright. Obviously, driving around all day in silence gets rather boring, so most Finnish taxi drivers pay about 14 euros a year to the Finnish Composers Copyright Society so they can rock on without getting into trouble.
9. Finland drinks more coffee than any other nation
If you're crazy for coffee, then Finland is the place for you. Finns drink more coffee per capita than any other nation, consuming over 26 pounds per person every year. Take that, Italy! Finns even have different words for many situations where coffee is consumed. Morning coffee is aamukahvi, daytime coffee is päiväkahvi, and evening coffee is iltakahvi. There's even a name for coffee Finns drink after voting in an election - vaalikahvit.
The large scale coffee consumption in Finland is probably due to the darkness Finns have to put up with in winter. In a land where some areas don't see sunlight for fifty days, a delicious stimulant like coffee must seem like a godsend.
10. Finland doesn't even exist
There's a growing theory, supposedly backed by a wealth of "evidence," that the nation of Finland doesn't exist. As I'm writing this post in an office located on a bustling Helsinki street, I have to say; I don't think this one is true.
Still, life is about respecting various viewpoints, so let's get into this. As all theories that deepen humans' understanding of science and the world do, the fake Finland theory became popular on Reddit - a place where all the level-headed people hang out. According to these loveable nut bags, Finland was an idea dreamed up by the Japanese and Soviets to keep great fishing points in the Baltic sea to themselves.
Apparently — and this did come as a surprise — there is no landmass between Russia and Sweden. It's just one big ocean populated by some pretty delicious fish! So, in the interest of not getting my laptop wet, I should bring this post to a quick conclusion with a question to the reader:
What's your favourite fact about Finland? Let us know in the comments.