Situated in the far north of Europe, Finland is an economically, socially and politically advanced country. Helsinki, the capital, is an ultra-modern city with striking contemporary architecture and exclusive stores but still retains much of its Old World charm.
The Finnish people revere the natural beauty of their land and celebrate it in all aspects of the visual arts. They are vigilant in its protection and take full advantage of its recreational opportunities.
Finland is a constitutional republic, with political power divided between the unicameral, 200-member Eduskunta, or Parliament, and the president. The president is elected for a six-year term. In the past, the president held more power; however, a constitutional rewrite completed in 2000 limited the position somewhat. He appoints the Prime Minister and the Council of State, or cabinet, has primary responsibility for national security and foreign affairs, may initiate legislation and may call extraordinary sessions of Parliament. The Prime Minister has executive responsibility in all other areas.
The Prime Minister must have the confidence of the Eduskunta, the unicameral parliament that is the supreme authority in Finland. The Eduskunta (also known as the Riksdag in Swedish) may initiate legislation, amend the constitution, and override presidential legislative vetoes. Legislation can also be initiated by the Council of State.
There are 200 seats in the Eduskunta, held by members of eight different parties. The largest of these parties include the Centre Party, which represents rural interests; the National Coalition Party, a center-right party popular among business interests; and the Social Democratic Party, which gains support from the urban working class.
Finland became a full member the EU (European Union) in 1995. Finland is the only Nordic state as yet to adopt the euro (€) as its national currency. Finland's political system features a remarkably low level of corruption, and international organizations consistently rank its government among the most transparent in the world.
Finland has a dynamic market economy, based on private ownership and driven by capital investment and telecommunications. The country invests heavily in social programs, education, and training, and, as a result, has one of the best educated and trained worked forces in the world.
Finnish-designed products such as glass and ceramic ware, cutlery, clothing and footwear, furniture and jewelry are world-famous for beauty and quality.
Helsinki is considered a good base for companies who wish to gain access to the huge Russian market. St. Petersburg, Russia, is only a 40-minute flight or three-hour drive away.