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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(self-designation, Suomalaiset), a nation (natsiia, nation in the historical sense) and the indigenous population of Finland. There are more than 4.3 million Finns (1974, estimate). About 500,000 live in the USA, Canada, northern Sweden, and northern Norway and 85,000 live in the USSR (1970 census). The Finns speak Finnish. Believers are Protestants.

The earliest ancestors of the Baltic Finns were tribes of the Pit-Comb Pottery culture, who settled in southern Finland in the third millennium B.C. During the second millennium B.C., Baltic tribes of the Corded Ware and Boat-ax cultures reached Finland, adding their particular characteristics to the southwestern group of Finns; their culture shows the influence of the peoples of Scandinavia and Estonia. The culture of the eastern regions of Finland is related to that of the peoples of the Ladoga, Onega, and Upper Volga regions.

The ancestors of the Finns gradually moved northward, driving back the ancestors of the modern Lapps (Laplanders). The Finnish nationality emerged from the mingling of the tribal groups of the southwest (the Suomi), the central region (the Häme), and the east (the western group of Korela tribes). The eastern group of Korela tribes, which became part of the Novgorod Feudal Republic in the 12th century, formed a separate people, the Karelians. As feudalism was established in the 12th and 13th centuries, the Finns came under Swedish rule. From 1809 to 1917, Finland was part of the Russian empire. The development of capitalism during the second half of the 19th century facilitated the consolidation of the Finns into a nation. The Finns achieved national independence after the October Revolution of 1917 in Russia.

Prolonged Swedish domination left an imprint on Finnish culture that may be traced in agrarian relations, legal procedure, and other aspects of life. The Swedish conquest was accompanied by forced Christianization. During the Reformation, in the 16th century, the Finnish writing system was created. Instruction in primary schools was conducted in Finnish, but the Swedish language long played a major role in the government and culture. Finnish did not become the language of instruction in higher educational institutions until the mid-19th century. The traditional folk culture of the Finns has been preserved, both material (dwellings, clothing, and utensils) and spiritual (family rituals, folklore, and epic songs and runes, most notably Kalevala). For the history, economy, and culture of the Finns, see.


Narody zarubezhnoi Evropy, vol. 2. Moscow, 1965.
Sirelius, U. T. Suomen kansanomaista kultuuria, vols. 1–3. Helsinki, 1919–21.
Talve, I. Suomalaisen kansanelämän historialliset taustatekijät. Helsinki, 1972.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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