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Finland Geography

Geography

During the last Ice Age, Finland was covered by a thick layer of ice. When that ice sheet retreated (or melted) about 10,000 years ago, it gouged the surface of the land and left in its wake innumerable islands, rivers and streams, as well as an estimated 188,000 lakes. Note that near 60,000 of those lakes measure more than 200 meters wide.

Finland is a mostly flat land, with more than 70% of it covered by thick forest. In the southern areas, water seems a more common sight than land as countless clear water lakes are everywhere.

To the north of the Arctic Circle, the terrain rises into the hills and low mountains of Lapland. The country's highest point, Haltiatunturi, at 1,328 meters, stands on the edge of its border with Norway.

The Aland Islands (archipelago) sits in the middle of the Gulf of Bothnia between Finland and Sweden. It contains almost three hundred islands (80 inhabited), and over 6,000 small (tiny) rocky islands.

Directly east, in the Archipelago Sea and merging with the Aland Islands and Finland's southwestern coastline stand literally tens of thousands of islands, mostly small, with some of the larger ones inhabited.

In this land of lakes, the largest include Nasijarv, Oulujarvi, Paijanne, Pielinen and Finland's largest, Lake Saimaa. With a few exceptions, the balance of Finland's lakes are on the small side.

Finland's most significant rivers include the Kemi, Luiro, Muonio, Oulu, Teno and Torne.

Numerous canals flow lake to lake in the south. The largest, the Saimaa Canal, connects Lake Saimaa with the Gulf of Finland.


Geography Finland
Location: Northern Europe, bordering the Baltic Sea, Gulf of Bothnia, and Gulf of Finland, between Sweden and Russia

Geographic coordinates:

64 00 N, 26 00 E

Map references:

Europe

Area:

total: 338,145 sq km
land: 304,473 sq km
water: 33,672 sq km

Area - comparative:

slightly smaller than Montana

Land boundaries:

total: 2,681 km
border countries: Norway 727 km, Sweden 614 km, Russia 1,340 km

Coastline:

1,250 km

Maritime claims:

territorial sea: 12 nm (in the Gulf of Finland - 3 nm)
continental shelf: 200-m depth or to the depth of exploitation
exclusive fishing zone: 12 nm; extends to continental shelf boundary with Sweden

Climate:

cold temperate; potentially subarctic but comparatively mild because of moderating influence of the North Atlantic Current, Baltic Sea, and more than 60,000 lakes

Terrain:

mostly low, flat to rolling plains interspersed with lakes and low hills

Elevation extremes:

lowest point: Baltic Sea 0 m
highest point: Haltiatunturi 1,328 m

Natural resources:

timber, iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, chromite, nickel, gold, silver, limestone

Land use:

arable land: 7.19%
permanent crops: 0.03%
other: 92.78% (2001)

Irrigated land:

640 sq km (1998 est.)

Natural hazards:

NA

Environment - current issues:

air pollution from manufacturing and power plants contributing to acid rain; water pollution from industrial wastes, agricultural chemicals; habitat loss threatens wildlife populations

Environment - international agreements:

party to: Air Pollution, Air Pollution-Nitrogen Oxides, Air Pollution-Persistent Organic Pollutants, Air Pollution-Sulfur 85, Air Pollution-Sulfur 94, Air Pollution-Volatile Organic Compounds, Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Marine Life Conservation, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements

Geography - note:

long boundary with Russia; Helsinki is northernmost national capital on European continent; population concentrated on small southwestern coastal plain

Note: The information tabled directly above was researched by and provided by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency

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finland landscape

Finland is known as the "land of lakes"

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This page was last modified on August 12, 2015.