History and culture

A woman in a traditional costume making soap in a cauldron.Finnish history and culture are inseparable from Finnish nature. This is especially true for the indigenous Sámi people of Lapland who for millennia have been closely tied to the land. Through reindeer husbandry, fishing, hunting, and traditional handicrafts, their livelihoods are still often dependent on this deep relationship with nature.

Today in modern, high-tech Finland with its excellent infrastructure and high standard of living, it’s easy to forget that only 100 years ago the majority of Finns were directly or indirectly involved in agriculture. Now it’s just a few percent. But all those centuries of working on the land and in the forests have left their mark. Finns still have an exceptionally close connection to nature that is unique in the western world. Most are still drawn to the great outdoors to exercise or relax in spite of the season or weather and in spite of where they live. Even in the urban centres of Finland, there’s always a quick and easy way to escape to a park, forest, or wilderness and harmonize with nature.

Fortunately many of these historical and cultural sites have been preserved for current and future generations to explore, experience, and enjoy. Historical sites reveal how Finland became what it is today. They are filled with stories about the heroic efforts of individuals and their involvement in the great turning points of Finnish history and its struggle for independence.

You, too, can develop a feeling for the past by spending a night in an open wilderness hut that used to be home to gold prospectors, reindeer herders, or forest rangers. Or by volunteering at a historical site, you can re-enact a lost way of life or help maintain an old slash and burn farm. In Finland’s national parks you can marvel at the same national landscapes that inspired artists and writers who helped shape Finnish history and culture over the centuries.