The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Finland, Grand Duchy of

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The Encyclopedia Americana
Finland, Grand Duchy of
Edition of 1920. See also Grand Duchy of Finland on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

FINLAND, Grand Duchy of (called by the natives, Suomen-maa, “land of marshes”), a country of northern Europe, including, with the exception of part of Lapland, a territory on the northwest of Russia. It is bounded on the north by Russian Lapland; east by the province of Archangel and Olonetz; south by Lake Ladoga, the province of Petrograd, and the Gulf of Finland; and west by Sweden and the Gulf of Bothnia; length, 600 miles; average breadth, about 240 miles; area, 144,255 square miles.

Topography. — Finland, which was formerly divided into eight provinces, consists principally of a tableland from 400 to 600 feet above the level of the sea and interspersed with hills of no great elevation. In the north, however, the Manselka Mountains have an average height of between 3,000 and 4,000 feet. The coasts, particularly on the south, are surrounded by a vast number of rocky islets, separated from the mainland and from each other by intricate and narrow channels, rendering the shores of the country easy of defense in case of hostile attack by sea. The chief natural feature of Finland is its many lakes, which extend like a network over a large proportion of its surface; some of them being of very considerable size. The greater number of these are in the south and east; several of them have intercommunication and they generally abound with islands. There are numerous rivers, but none of much importance.

Climate. — The climate is rigorous. Even in the south the winter lasts from six to seven months, and in the north from eight to nine months. Dense fogs are very frequent; heavy rains take place in autumn, and in May and June the thaws put a stop to nearly all traveling. In the north the sun is absent during December and January; but during the short summer, while the sun is almost constantly above the horizon, the heat is often very great; and near Uleaborg, in about latitude 65º, the corn is sown and reaped within six or seven weeks. Crops in all parts of the duchy are exposed to the double danger of being destroyed by sudden frosts, and by the ravages of a variety of caterpillar called turila by the natives.

Various. — The principal geological formations are granite, which very easily disintegrates, hard limestone and slate. The soil for the most part is stony and poor. Iron, copper, marble and sulphur are the chief minerals. Rye, oats and barley are grown. The most important products are timber, potash, pitch, tar and resin, which are extensively exported. Next to agriculture, stock breeding and fishing form the leading occupations of the inhabitants. The chief imports are salt, grain and articles of clothing. Finland's imports in 1914 amounted to $76,032,800 and exports to $57,036,000.

History. — The Finns were pagans and most aggressive. They frequently attacked the neighboring countries, but especially Sweden. They continued to live under their own independent kings till the 12th century, about the middle of which the country was conquered by the Swedes, whose king followed up the physical conquest by sending to the Finns the English-born bishop of Upsala, to preach Christianity to the people. The province of Wiborg was conquered and annexed to Russia by Peter the Great in 1721; the remainder of the country became part of the Russian dominions (also by conquest) in 1809. The Russian government endeavored, by conciliating the Finnish party and promoting objects of national importance, to attach the bulk of the population to its interests; but in this it is said not to have been eminently successful, and since 1897 a repressive policy, aiming at the thorough Russification of the grand duchy, has been pursued. The natural result has been resistance — sometimes violent, at other times taking the form of pacifically organized protest, but always determined and resolute. Witness the assassination of Governor-General Bobrikoff, 16 June 1904. Again witness the public demonstrations a year or so later, converging simply informal demands for the restoration of ancient rights or privileges. The results have been far indeed from measuring up to the desires of the Finns. Such as they are, they are indicated in the following paragraph.

Government and Education. — The basis of the constitution is that established in 1772 under Swedish domination, although this, reformed in 1789, slightly modified in 1869 and 1882, was again substantially or radically reformed in 1906. Before that time the National Parliament or Diet consisted of the four estates, the nobles, clergy, burghers and peasants; at present there is but one Chamber of 200 members chosen by direct vote. Every Finnish citizen (man or woman) 24 years of age or over and not disqualified by pauperism, etc., has the right or privilege of suffrage. Both sexes are eligible to the Diet. The grand duchy is divided into 16 electoral districts and each district is subdivided into voting circuits. The Diet lasts for three years unless sooner dissolved and each session for about 90 days.

The educational system is well planned and has good results. According to statistics for 1915 the number of students at the university was 3,435, including 799 women, and the technical high school had 516 students, including 27 women. There are in the capital 2 commercial high schools, 72 lyceums, 16 continuation classes for boys and girls, 22 elementary schools for boys and girls, 25 girls' schools, 40 preliminary schools; in the country 3,179 primary schools (of higher grade) with 149,026 pupils, and schools of lower grade with 73,335 pupils. There are also training colleges for teachers, navigation schools, commercial, technical, horticultural and forestry schools, etc.

Language and Literature. — The language of the Finns (Finnish or Chudic) belongs to the northern division of the Ural-Altaic family of languages and is most nearly allied to the languages of the Esths, Lapps, Mordvins, Voguls and Hungarians. It possesses all the German vowels, a, e, i, o, u, ä, ö, ü, which again give eight double vowels and 12 diphthongs. Like the other Altaic languages it adheres to the “law of harmonic sequence of vowels,” according to which the vowels are divided into classes, heavy (a, o, u) and light (e, i, etc.), and only vowels of the same class can occur in the same word. The language is remarkably rich in declensional forms, there being as many as 15 different cases expressing such relations as are expressed in English by near, to, by, on, in, with, without, along, etc. By this means these cases are made to express the relations of space, time, cause, etc. There is no distinction of gender in Finnish nouns. The possessive pronoun is indicated by suffixes. The verb resembles the noun in its capability of taking on different shades of meaning by corresponding modifications and is in this respect a remarkable philological phenomenon. The Finnish proper is divided into three principal dialects, the Karelian or eastern; the Savo in central Finland; and the Tavastian in the west. This latter was used in the original translation of the Bible and thus became the parent of the literary Finnish.

Finnish literature is valuable chiefly for its rich stores of national poetry, which has been collected only in modern times. Longfellow's ‘Hiawatha’ is, in style, an imitation of the Finnish epic. The old and popular poetry of the Finns, as it appears in the various runor or ballads, is governed by rules of “quantity” as in that of the Greeks and Romans, not by accent; rhyme occurs only rarely; alliteration is employed as a rule. These poems, which had been preserved by oral tradition, were collected by Lönnrot, and in 1835 he published them, under the title of ‘Kalevala,’ with a second enlarged edition in 1849. He also published in 1840 ‘Kanteletar,’ a collection of 592 ancient lyric poems and 50 old ballads; the ‘Suomen kansan sanalaskuja’ (1842), a treasury of 7,077 popular proverbs; and ‘Suomen kansan arwoituksia’ (1844), a collection of 2,188 riddles. Another work that deserves notice is Eero Salmelainen's collection of legends and stories in prose, ‘Suomen kansan satuja ja tarinoita’ (4 vols., 1854-62). The first book in the Finnish language was printed at Abo in 1544, its author being Michael Agricola, afterward bishop of Abo, who also translated the New Testament and part of the Old into Finnish. A complete Finnish Bible appeared in 1642. Lönnrot's Finnish-Swedish dictionary has been published by the Finnish Literary Society and Dr. Donner has a dictionary of the Finno-Ugric languages in German. Finnish is becoming more and more the vehicle for imparting instruction. There are many establishments for the higher education of both sexes in which the Finnish tongue is used, and about half of the students at Helsingfors University speak Finnish. Works on science and history, as well as poetry, have been written in Finnish in recent times, and there are now a considerable number of Finnish newspapers. Population (estimate by the Russian Central Statistical Committee 1 Jan. 1914), 3,241,000. Pop. of Helsingfors, the capital (with Sveaborg), 167,083.

Bibliography. — Consult Caspar, J. J., ‘La Résistance Légale en Finlande’ (Paris 1913); Chalhoub, M., ‘La Finlande’ (Paris 1910); Feodorov, Y., ‘The Finnish Revolution in Preparation 1889-1905’ (Petrograd 1911); Pouvreau, Y., ‘La Question Finlandaise’ (Rev. Internat. de Sociologie, Year 23, Paris 1915); Reade, A., ‘Finland and the Finns’ (New York 1915); Renwick, G., ‘Finland To-day’ (London 1911): Travers, R., ‘Letters from Finland’ (London 1911); Vallaux, C, ‘Le Pays et le Peuple de Finlande’ (Revue du Mois, Tome XV, Paris 1913); Young, E., ‘Finland: the Land of a Thousand Lakes’ (London 1912).