01 February 2013

Fun finn facts #1: general factoids

i thought that since we are in yet another new culture here, id try to post a few sprinklings of factoids every so often. im thinking i will theme them, but for this one, just some general stuff about finland...

- english speakers call it finland, the finns call it suomi in their language
- it is the 7th largest european country, by area (717 miles tall, 336 miles wide)
- helsinki is the second northernmost national capital in the world
- there are 5+ million people in finland
- there are over 187,888 lakes in finland and thousands of islands
- it was one of the first nations in the world to give women the vote (year: 1863)

- national languages: finnish, swedish (my amateur take on this is to equate the swedish speaking finns with french-canadians. there are two national languages, yes. students have to learn both in school, technically. but the swedish speaking finns are only about 5% of the population and kinda form their own clique)
- national flower: lily of valley
- national animal: brown bear

- nordic vs scandinavian...if you want to split hairs (and/or act like you know what you are talking about), the nordic countries are: finland, sweden, norway, denmark, and iceland. the scandinavian countries are technically only sweden, norway, and denmark. this naming issue is similar to our region in canada ("atlantic canada" is comprised of new brunswick, prince edward island, nova scotia, and newfoundland/labrador...while "maritime canada" is only new brunswick, prince edward island, and nova scotia).

- sisu. the cornerstone of finnish life/culture, the word is said to lack true translation. if you want to try though, you could say it means "true grit", sustained courage, strength of will, perseverance, tenacity, endurance, determination, acting rationally in the face of adversity, and some might add stubbornness. you can see how having sisu would be an asset in this climate.

- finnish language. this is what ive read about it, since i have taken no classes yet. the language has: no articles or genders, no silent letters, all letter "r"s are rolled, nouns have as many as 15 different endings, and nearly all verbs have 128 different conjugations and personal forms. there is a joke i guess that finnish is the language spoken in heaven, because it takes you a lifetime to master it...just in time for you to die and use it to speak to your loved ones in heaven. also, you would think the language would be closely related to its neighboring countries (sweden, russia, etc). nope. its almost entirely alone in the world, loosely related to estonian and hungarian.

- famous. there are a few things that finland is well known for around the world. you can click here for a nice summary article, or ive listed here the things that stood out to me:

*the sauna (there are something like 2 million saunas in country; theres a saying: "first you build the sauna, then the house")
*fiskar scissors
*angry birds (apparently during mating/nesting season the birds can actually get a bit "angry" here)
*arabia and *iittala dishware

1 comment:

Julie Watt said...

Interesting!! I wish Americans (especially certain Detroit high schoolers) valued sisu.