Collier's New Encyclopedia (1921)/Finland, Republic of
FINLAND, REPUBLIC OF, (called by the natives, Soumen-maa, “land of marshes”), a country of northern Europe, having N. Russian Lapland; E. the provinces of Archangel and Olonetz; S. Lake Ladoga, the province of St. Petersburg, and the Gulf of Finland; and W. Sweden and the Gulf of Bothnia; length, 600 miles; average breadth, about 240 miles; area, 125,689 square miles; pop. (1918) 3,329,146; chiefly Finns and Lapps; capital, Helsingfors (1918) 187,544.
Topography.—Finland, which is divided into 8 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 N., however, the Manselka Mountains have an average height of between 3,000 to 4,000 feet. The coasts, particularly on the S., 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. But the chief natural feature of Finland is its myriads of lakes, which spread like a network over a large proportion of its surface; some of them being of very considerable size. The greater number of these are on the S. and E.; they have frequent communications with each other, and generally abound with islands. There are numerous rivers, but none of much importance.
Climate.—The climate is rigorous. Even in the S. the winter lasts from 6 to 7 months, and in the N. from 8 to 9 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 N. the sun is absent during December and January; but during the short summer, while that luminary is almost perpetually above the horizon, the heat is often very great; and near Uleaborg, in about lat. 65°, the corn is sown and reaped within 6 or 7 weeks. Crops in all parts of the land 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.
Soil.—The principal geological formations are granite, which very easily disintegrates, hard limestone, and slate. Soil for the most part stony and poor.
Production and Industry.—Finland is chiefly an agricultural country, although the cultivated area covers less than 10 per cent. of the land. There are about 300,000 farms. In 1919 the production of the principal agricultural crops was as follows, in bushels: rye, 11,030,560; barley, 5,634,560; oats, 22,659,000; potatoes, 22,569,480; flax and hemp, 1,222 tons; hay, 2,012,200 tons. The production of butter is an important industry. Over half of the country is covered with pine and spruce forests. These form the chief natural wealth of the country. The main industry is lumbering.
The chief mineral products are copper, pyrite, iron pyrite, magnetite, galenite, and molibdonite. Iron exists in considerable quantities in Lapland, but has not been developed. A small amount of gold is also mined. On account of the war and the high cost of labor, the mineral production in recent years has been small. In 1918 about 2,000 tons of copper, about 3,000 tons of magnetite, about 800 tons of pyrite and about 1,000 tons of iron pyrite were mined. The production of iron ore was about 8,000 tons.
There were in 1916 4,693 manufacturing establishments employing an aggregate of 109,900 workers, and yielding a product valued at 1,458,993,100 marks. The most important industries are the nanufacture of paper, iron and mechanical products, textiles, lumber, leather, tobacco, chemicals, and liquors.
Commerce.—The imports in 1919 amounted to £94,956,000, and the exports to £31,717,000. The largest quantity of imports was received from Sweden and Norway followed by Germany and Russia. The chief exports were to Germany, Russia, Sweden and Norway. The chief articles of export were paper, paper mass and cardboard, timber, butter, tar, iron and iron goods, textiles, leather, hides, pitch, and fish. The chief imports were cereals, coffee, and chicory, sugar, fish, iron and iron ware, cotton, machinery, chemicals, and leather ware.
Fisheries.—Fishing is an important industry. Over 7,000 families are engaged in it, employing over 10,000 boats. The chief fish taken is Baltic herring. The catch in 1918 amounted to 9,000 tons.
Transportation.—For inland communication Finland has a remarkably developed system of lakes, which are connected with each other and with the Gulf of Finland by canal. Over 60,000 vessels pass along the canal yearly. There are about 2,600 miles of railway, practically all of which belong to the State.
Banking and Finances.—There were in 1917 437 savings banks with 462,771 depositors, with deposits of nearly £25,000,000. In addition to the State Bank, there were in 1919 22 banks and 7 land mortgage banks. The deposits of all private banks amount to about 3,000,000,000 marks. The mark has a normal value of about 20 cents.
Finances.—The estimated revenue for 1920 was £52,443,026, and the estimated expenditure £55,843,563. The consolidated debt on Jan. 1, 1919, amounted to 662,196,837 marks, of which the foreign debt comprised 329,217,278 marks.
Education.—The system of education is well developed. There is a university at Helsingfors and another at Abo, which, however, is entirely Swedish. This was opened in 1919. There are 70 lyceums, 37 elementary schools for boys and girls, 25 girls' schools, 35 preliminary schools, and 46 popular high schools. In the country there are 3,391 primary schools of higher grade, with 157,215 pupils. In the primary schools of lower grade are 75,332 pupils. There are primary schools in 38 towns, with 43,357 pupils. In addition there are a large number of special schools, including commercial schools, navigation schools, trade schools, technical schools, agricultural schools, etc. The school age in the primary schools is from 7 to 15 years. There were in 1919-1920 in all schools 215,995 pupils, with about 6,000 teachers.
Army.—The army is based on conscription and is formed in accordance with a law enacted in February, 1919. It consists of three divisions and one independent brigade. Subordinate to the army command are also heavy artillery, flying, automobile, and intelligence troops. The coastal defense consists chiefly of three artillery coast regiments. There is practically no fleet. In addition to the regular army there is an organization of Civic Safety Corps, in which about 100,000 men are enlisted. The regular army includes about 36,600 men and the volunteer about 105,000 men.
Government.—On Dec. 6, 1917, Finland was proclaimed an independent and sovereign state by the House of Representatives. It was recognized by most of the leading powers. The National Parliament consists of one chamber of 200 members, chosen by direct and proportional election, in which all who are entitled to vote have an equal vote. The suffrage is possessed by all Finnish men and women who have reached their twenty-fourth year. Every citizen entitled to vote is eligible to the House of Representatives. The Diet exists for three years, unless sooner dissolved. The president is elected for six years by the vote of the citizens.
History.—The origin of the Finns is to a large extent unknown. They are thought to have been driven northward from the Volga at the beginning of the 8th century. In the 12th century began the long struggle with the Swedes which lasted over 100 years and ended in the subjection of the Finnish people to Swedish sovereignty. Finland remained for over 500 years as a part of Sweden. The people enjoyed a practical self-government and developed an intelligent civilization. Finland was frequently a battle ground in the war between Russia and Sweden. As the Finnish frontier is only 33 miles from Petrograd. Russia desired to possess the country in order to complete its defenses. This wish was realized in 1809, when Sweden ceded to Russia the Grand Duchy with the Aland Islands. Finland was guaranteed the preservation of its laws, constitution, and religion. This pledge was kept until 1897, when the Russian Government began a series of systematic attacks culminating in 1899 in an edict which removed from the Finnish Diet all matters affecting the Grand Duchy, in common with Russia proper. An attempt to Russianize the country was carried on in the following years with great severity. The people resisted, and in 1905 revolutionary agitation in Russia was supported in Finland. The Czar granted the Diet its old privileges and this was followed by a period of quiet. Women were given the suffrage and other radical changes in the government were made. The government of Russia, however, continued hostile to the self-rule of Finland, and in 1910 a law was passed stipulating that the Russian Duma and the Imperial Council had sole power in matters affecting Russia and Finland together. This practically deprived Finland of home rule. On July 20, 1917, the Diet declared the independence of the country. The Russian Provisional Government in August of the same year ordered the dissolution of the Diet and the summoning of a new one to meet on November 1. Shortly after the meeting of the Diet the Kerensky government fell and on Dec. 9, 1917, the country was proclaimed an independent republic. There followed a period of civil war between the Red Guards (Bolsheviki) and the White Guards (pro-Germans). The Finnish authorities seized the Red Guards and executed many of them. Disturbances continued until the signing of the Brest-Litovsk Treaty between Germany and the Bolshevik Government. Four days later Germany signed a treaty with Finland and German troops were sent into Finland. There was a strong attempt to establish a monarchy, but this was opposed by the people. The country remained under the practical domination of Germany during 1918. General Mannerheim, the organizer of the Finnish White Guard became Regent in December of that year. He used severe measures in ridding the country of Bolshevists and conditions gradually turned to a liberal policy. Professor Staahlberg was elected president of the republic, defeating General Mannerheim on July 5, 1919. A constitution was formulated and the republic was established on a firm basis. In 1920 and 1921 a controversy was carried on between Sweden and Finland as to the disposition of the Aland Islands. A plebiscite was held according to the conditions set down by the Peace Conference and it was maintained by Sweden that this indicated an overwhelming majority in favor of Swedish sovereignty. Finland declared, however, that the islands had been administered as a part of the Finnish province for more than a century and that the majority of them lay nearer the Finnish coast than to the Swedish coast. A commission was appointed by the Council of the League of Nations to make inquiries and submit recommendations as a basis for peaceful settlement.