How big is Finland?

Think of Finland and what comes to mind? Lakes and saunas probably – and yes, Finland does have some 180,000 lakes, plus more saunas than people.  

But what do you really know about Finland? How big is it? What’s Finland’s geography like and how big is Finland’s population?

Read on to find out the answers to all the important questions you may have about Finland.

How big is Finland, and what is the population?

How large is Finland?

Almost as big as Germany, Finland is the 7th largest country in Europe, and it covers some 130,128 square miles.

Amongst its Scandinavian neighbours, it’s smaller than Sweden, but larger than continental Norway (though Norway beats it for size if you include the island of Svalbard).

How big is Finland compared to the US?

The US covers around 3,717,792 square miles, which makes it some 29 times larger than Finland.

But that’s such a large figure to compute, it may be a more helpful comparison to look at how big Finland is compared to a US state. 

So, how big is Finland is compared to Texas? Well, at 268,596 square miles, Texas is around twice the size of Finland. 

Finland is Europe's 7th largest country.
Ninara (CC)

And how big is Finland compared to California? Still smaller! But at 163,696 square miles, California is much closer in size to Finland.

In fact, Finland is around 80 percent as big as California.

So, which US state is the closest in size to Finland?

Two US states come pretty close to being a similar size as Finland.

At 147,042 square miles, Montana is just slightly larger than Finland, while New Mexico (at 121,589 square miles) is a little smaller. 

Which countries does Finland border?

High up in Europe’s northern reaches, between latitudes 60°N and 70°N, Finland shares a border with two of its fellow Scandinavian countries – Sweden and Norway.

Finland's coastline is 2760 miles long.
LuidmilaKot (CC)

Sweden lies on Finland’s western boundary, while Norway lies to the north. Finland’s longest frontier, however, at around 830 miles, is its eastern border with Russia.

Finland’s coastline lies on the Baltic Sea, with the Gulf of Finland separating it from Estonia in the south, and the Gulf of Bosnia lying between Finland and Sweden to the west.

The coastline of Finland is 777 miles long, but this stretches to a mind-boggling 2,760 miles long, if you include all the country’s islands, archipelagos and inlets.

What is the geography of Finland like?

For a country of its size, Finland’s geography is relatively homogenous. It’s generally low-lying with few mountains, but plenty of lakes, swamps and forests.

Known as the land of a thousand lakes, it actually has almost 200 times more than that number, and they comprise about ten percent of the country. 

In addition, a whopping 65 percent of the country is covered in forest – the highest percentage of any country in Europe.

Helsinki is Europe's northernmost capital city
Helsinki / Ninara (CC)

Nearly a third of the country’s landmass lies within the Arctic Circle, and Finland is home to Europe’s northernmost capital city, Helsinki.

How big is Finland’s population?

Finland has a population of 5.5 million people, which gives it a population density of 39 people per square mile.

To put this in some kind of perspective, the UK has a population density of 727 people per square mile! 

In fact, Finland is one the most sparsely populated countries in Europe and ranks at the 216th in the world, making it one of the world’s least populous countries by density.

Add to this the fact that much of its population is concentrated in and around Helsinki and on the small southwestern coastal plain, and you can see that Finns have no problem getting away from the crowds.

How big is Finland’s economy?

Finland’s economy is based largely upon services and manufacturing. Its main industries are electronics, engineering and forestry.

Unsurprisingly considering that so much of the country is covered in forest, Finland is one of the world’s leading wood producers.

Helsinki has one of Europe's lowest population densities.
mtorrazzina (CC)

Finland’s GDP averages around US$270 million a year, giving it a per capita GDP of about US$49,000.

In 2020, Finland was ranked as having the 21st highest per capita GDP in the world – not bad for a country with a relatively small population.

How big is Finland’s military?

Since Finland’s longest border is with Russia, defence is an important issue for the country.

The Finnish Defence Forces consist of the army, navy and air force, while the Finnish Border Guard is its own independent military unit. The country spends around two percent of its GDP on defence.

Finland has compulsory military service for all males aged between 18 and 30, though it is voluntary for women. Military service lasts for a minimum of 165 days, after which Finns are conscripted into the reserves.

This means they can be called up for a maximum of 80 days of refresher training any time up until the age of 50. Alternatively, Finns can opt for a longer period of non-military service.

Finland’s serving military numbers around 21,000 personnel, but in times of war it can call on up to 2 million reservists.

How big is Finland’s tourism industry?

Finland may not be an obvious choice for tourism, but its travel and holiday sector has been increasing in recent years.

Attracted by wild, pristine landscapes, virgin forests, unspoilt lakes, excellent northern lights viewing opportunities and more islands than any other country on earth – 190,000 at the last count – tourists have been gradually discovering Finland’s natural charms.

Finland's tourist activities include husky rides, snowmobiles trips and visits to Father Christmas
pasja1000 (CC)

Not only that, but as the “official” home of Father Christmas, the town of Rovaniemi on the Arctic Circle draws in around half a million visitors a year for its fun festive activities and winter sports, including snowmobile, husky tours and ice-fishing trips.

In 2021, tourism contributed three percent to the country’s GDP, and is projected to bring some 24 billion euros into the Finnish economy by 2028.

See also:
Finland’s best winter tours
The weather and when to visit Finland
Ten cool places to stay in Finland

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