Demographics of Finland

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This article is about the demographic features of the population of Finland, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population.

Finland numbers some 5.3 million and has an average population density of 17 inhabitants per square kilometre. This makes it, after Norway and Iceland, the most sparsely populated country in Europe. Population distribution is very uneven: the population is concentrated on small southwestern coastal plain. About 64 % live in towns and cities, with one million living in Helsinki Metropolitan Area alone. In Arctic Lapland, on the other hand, there are only 2 people to every square kilometre.

The country is ethnically homogeneous, the dominant ethnicity being Finnish people. The official languages are Finnish and Swedish, the latter being the native language of about five per cent of the Finnish population.[1] There is a historical and a political explanation for the status of Swedish as an official language. From the 13th to the early 19th century Finland was a part of the Kingdom of Sweden. The status of the language has remained to these days as the Swedish speaking minority had a relatively high degree of power in Finland compared to its size. The Swedish-speakers are known as Swedish-speaking Finns (finlandssvenskar in Swedish, suomenruotsalaiset in Finnish).

With 79 percent of Finns in its congregation, the Lutheran Church is the largest in the country.

The earliest inhabitants of most of the land area that makes up today's Finland and Scandinavia were in all likehood hunter-gatherers whose closest successors in modern terms would probably be the Sami people (formerly known as the Lapps). There are 4,500 of them living in Finland today and they are recognised as a minority and speak three distinct languages: Northern Sami, Inari Sami and Skolt Sami. They have been living north of the Arctic Circle for more than 7,000 years now, but today are a 5% minority in their native Lapland Province. During the late 19th and 20th century there was significant emigration, particularly from rural areas to Sweden and North America, while most immigrants into Finland itself come from other European countries.

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