Finland (/ (
[ˈfɪnland]), officially the Republic of Finland (
Finnish: Suomen tasavalta,
Swedish: Republiken Finland)
 is a
sovereign state in
Northern Europe. The country has land borders with
Sweden to the northwest,
Norway to the north, and
Russia to the east. To the south is the
Gulf of Finland with
Estonia on the opposite side. Finland is a
Nordic country and, together with
Scandinavia, is situated in the geographical region of
Finland's population is 5.5 million (2016), and the majority of the population is concentrated in the southern region.
 88.7% of the population is
Finnish and speaks
Uralic language unrelated to the Scandinavian languages; next come the
Finland-Swedes (5.3%). Finland is the
eighth-largest country in Europe and the most
sparsely populated country in the
European Union. It is a
parliamentary republic with a central government based in the capital city of
Helsinki, local governments in 311
 and one
autonomous region, the
Åland Islands. Over 1.4 million people live in the
Greater Helsinki metropolitan area, which produces one third of the country's
Finland was inhabited when the last
ice age ended, approximately 9000 BCE.
 The first settlers left behind artifacts that present characteristics shared with those found in Estonia, Russia, and Norway.
 The earliest people were
hunter-gatherers, using stone tools.
 The first pottery appeared in 5200 BCE, when the
Comb Ceramic culture was introduced.
 The arrival of the
Corded Ware culture in southern coastal Finland between 3000 and 2500 BCE may have coincided with the start of agriculture.
Bronze Age and
Iron Age were characterised by extensive contacts with other cultures in the Fennoscandian and
Baltic regions and the sedentary farming inhabitation increased towards the end of
Iron Age. At the time Finland had three main cultural areas,
Karelia, as reflected in contemporary jewellery.
From the late 13th century, Finland gradually became an integral part of Sweden through the
crusades and the Swedish part-colonisation of coastal Finland, a legacy reflected in the prevalence of the Swedish language and its official status. In 1809, Finland was incorporated into the
Russian Empire as the autonomous
Grand Duchy of Finland. In 1906, Finland became the first European state to grant all adult citizens the right to vote, and the first in the world to give all adult citizens the right to run for public office.
Following the 1917
Russian Revolution, Finland declared itself independent. In 1918, the fledgling state was divided by
civil war, with the Bolshevik-leaning
Red Guard supported by the equally new
Soviet Russia, fighting the
White Guard, supported by the
German Empire. After a brief attempt to
establish a kingdom, the country became a republic. During
World War II, the Soviet Union sought repeatedly to occupy Finland, with Finland losing parts of
Petsamo and some islands, but retaining independence.
Finland joined the
United Nations in 1955 and established an official policy of neutrality. The
Finno-Soviet Treaty of 1948 gave the Soviet Union some leverage in Finnish domestic politics during the
Cold War era. Finland joined the
OECD in 1969, the
NATO Partnership for Peace in 1994,
European Union in 1995, the
Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council in 1997,
 and finally the
Eurozone at its inception, in 1999.
Finland was a relative latecomer to industrialisation, remaining a largely
agrarian country until the 1950s. After
World War II, the Soviet Union demanded war reparations from Finland not only in money but also in material, such as ships and machinery. This forced Finland to industrialise. It rapidly developed an advanced economy while building an extensive
welfare state based on the
Nordic model, resulting in widespread prosperity and one of the highest
per capita incomes in the world.
 Finland is a top performer in numerous metrics of national performance, including education, economic competitiveness, civil liberties, quality of life, and human development.
 In 2015, Finland was ranked first in the World Human Capital
 and the
Press Freedom Index and as the most stable country in the world during 2011–2016 in the
Fragile States Index,
 and second in the
Global Gender Gap Report.
 A large majority of Finns are members of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church,
 and freedom of religion is guaranteed under the