History of Finland

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The land area that now makes up Finland was settled immediately after the Ice Age, beginning from around 8500 BCE. Most of the region was part of the Kingdom of Sweden from the 13th century to 1809, when it was ceded to the Russian Empire, becoming the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland. The catastrophic Finnish famine of 1866–1868 was followed by eased economic regulation and political development.

In 1917, Finland declared independence. A civil war between the Finnish Red Guards and the White Guard ensued a few months later with the "Whites" gaining the upper hand. After the internal affairs stabilized, the still mainly agrarian economy grew relatively fast. Relations with the West, especially Sweden and the United Kingdom, were strong but the pre-World War II relations with the socialist Soviet Union remained weaker[citation needed]. During the Second World War, Finland fought twice against the Soviet Union, and had to cede most of Karelia to the USSR, but remained an independent democracy. During the Cold War an Agreement of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance existed between the Soviet Union and Finland and such phenomena as finlandization and radical socialism such as "taistolaisuus" were part of internal affairs. President Urho Kekkonen's tenure lasted 25 years, from 1956 until 1981.

Throughout its independent history, Finland has maintained a capitalist economy. Its GDP per capita has been among the world's highest since the 1970s. Between 1970 and 1990, the number of public sector employees and the tax burden increased more than nearly any other Western country. In 1992 Finland simultaneously faced economic overheating and depressed Western, Soviet and local markets. The country joined the European Union in 1995. According to a 2005 poll, most Finns are reluctant to join NATO.[1]


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