Finland (Finnish: Suomi), officially the Republic of Finland (Finnish: Suomen tasavalta), is one of the Nordic countries. It is situated in Northern Europe, bounded by the Baltic Sea with the Gulf of Finland to the south and the Gulf of Bothnia to the west. Finland has land frontiers with Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east. The Åland Islands, off the south-western coast, are under Finnish sovereignty while enjoying extensive autonomy.
Finland has a population of five million people spread over more than 330,000 km² (127,000 sq. mi) making it one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world (see list of countries by population density).
Finland is ranked thirteenth on the 2005 United Nations Human Development Index.
Along with Estonian and Hungarian, Finnish is one of the few official languages in Europe that is not of Indo-European origin.
Finland is a country of thousands of lakes and islands; 187,888 lakes (larger than 500 m²) and 179,584 islands to be precise. One of these lakes, Saimaa, is the 5th largest in Europe. The Finnish landscape is mostly flat with few hills and its highest point, the Haltitunturi at 1,328 metres (4,357 ft), is found in the extreme north of Lapland. Besides the many lakes the landscape is dominated by extensive boreal forests (about 68 per cent of land area) and little arable land. The greater part of the islands are found in south-west, part of the archipelago of the Åland Islands, and along the southern coast in the Gulf of Finland. Finland is one of the few countries in the world that is still growing. Owing to the isostatic uplift that has been taking place since the last ice age, the surface area of the country is growing by about 7 square kilometres (2.7 sq mi) a year.
The climate in Southern Finland is a northern temperate climate. In Northern Finland, particularly in the Province of Lapland, a subarctic climate dominates, characterised by cold, occasionally severe, winters and relatively warm summers. Finland is near enough to the Atlantic to be continuously warmed by the Gulf stream, which explains the unusually warm climate considering the absolute latitude.
A quarter of Finland's territory lies above the Arctic Circle, and as a consequence the midnight sun can be experienced — for more and more days, the further up north one comes. At Finland's northernmost point, the sun does not set for 73 days during summer, and does not rise at all for 51 days in winter.
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