Demographics of Finland

Last updated
Population densities in Finland, inhabitants per square kilometre Population map of Finland.svg
Population densities in Finland, inhabitants per square kilometre

This article is about the demographic features of the population of Finland , including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population.

Population All the organisms of a given species that live in the specified region

In biology, a population is all the organisms of the same group or species, which live in a particular geographical area, and have the capability of interbreeding. The area of a sexual population is the area where inter-breeding is potentially possible between any pair within the area, and where the probability of interbreeding is greater than the probability of cross-breeding with individuals from other areas.

Finland Republic in Northern Europe

Finland, officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country in Northern Europe bordering the Baltic Sea, Gulf of Bothnia, and Gulf of Finland, between Norway to the north, Sweden to the northwest, and Russia to the east. The capital and largest city is Helsinki. Other major cities are Espoo, Vantaa, Tampere, Oulu and Turku.

Population density A measurement of population numbers per unit area or volume

Population density is a measurement of population per unit area, or exceptionally unit volume; it is a quantity of type number density. It is frequently applied to living organisms, and most of the time to humans. It is a key geographical term. In simple terms population density refers to the number of people living in an area per kilometer square.


Finland numbers some 5.5 million people and has an average population density of 19 inhabitants per square kilometre. There has not been any remarkable growth in the number of population since the inception of modern Finland. This makes it the third most sparsely populated country in Europe, after Iceland and Norway. Population distribution is very uneven: the population is concentrated on the small southwestern coastal plain. About 85% live in towns and cities, with 1.5 million living in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area alone. [1] In Arctic Lapland, on the other hand, there are only 2 people to every square kilometre.

Europe Continent in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere

Europe is a continent located entirely in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Eastern Hemisphere. It is bordered by the Arctic Ocean to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Asia to the east, and the Mediterranean Sea to the south. It comprises the westernmost part of Eurasia.

Iceland Island republic in Northern Europe

Iceland is a Nordic island country in the North Atlantic, with a population of 360,390 and an area of 103,000 km2 (40,000 sq mi), making it the most sparsely populated country in Europe. The capital and largest city is Reykjavík, with Reykjavík and the surrounding areas in the southwest of the country being home to over two-thirds of the population. Iceland is volcanically and geologically active. The interior consists of a plateau characterised by sand and lava fields, mountains, and glaciers, and many glacial rivers flow to the sea through the lowlands. Iceland is warmed by the Gulf Stream and has a temperate climate, despite a high latitude almost entirely outside the Arctic Circle. Its high latitude and marine influence keep summers chilly, with most of the archipelago having a tundra climate.

Norway Country in Northern Europe

Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic country in Northwestern Europe whose territory comprises the western and northernmost portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula; the remote island of Jan Mayen and the archipelago of Svalbard are also part of the Kingdom of Norway. The Antarctic Peter I Island and the sub-Antarctic Bouvet Island are dependent territories and thus not considered part of the kingdom. Norway also lays claim to a section of Antarctica known as Queen Maud Land.

Finland is a relatively ethnically homogeneous country. The dominant ethnicity is the Finnish people but there are also notable historic minorities of Finland-Swedes, Sami and Roma people. As a result of recent immigration there are now also considerable groups of ethnic Russians, Estonians, Iraqis and Somalis in the country. 7.1% of the population is born abroad and 4.7% are foreign citizens. [2] The official languages are Finnish and Swedish, the latter being the native language of about five per cent of the Finnish population. [3] From the 13th to the early 19th century Finland was a part of Sweden.

Swedish-speaking population of Finland Ethnic group of people born in Finland speaking Swedish as their first language

The Swedish-speaking population of Finland is a linguistic minority in Finland. They maintain a strong identity and are seen either as a separate ethnic group, while still being Finns, or as a distinct nationality. They speak Finland Swedish, which encompasses both a standard language and distinct dialects that are mutually intelligible with the dialects spoken in Sweden and, to a lesser extent, other Scandinavian languages.

The Finnish Kale are a group of the Romani people who live primarily in Finland and Sweden.

Russians in Finland or Russian Finns constitute a linguistic and ethnic minority in Finland. About 30,000 people have citizenship of the Russian Federation, and Russian is the mother language of about 70,000 people in Finland, which represents about 1.3% of the population.

With 73 percent of Finns in its congregation, the Lutheran Church is the largest religious group in the country.

Population history

Historical population
Population size prior to 1812 may be affected by changes on administrative divisions.
2019 source [4]

The earliest inhabitants of most of the land area that makes up today's Finland and Scandinavia were in all likehood hunter-gatherers whose closest successors in modern terms would probably be the Sami people (formerly known as the Lapps). There are 4,500 of them living in Finland today and they are recognised as a minority and speak three distinct languages: Northern Sami, Inari Sami and Skolt Sami. They have been living north of the Arctic Circle for more than 7,000 years now, but today are a 5% minority in their native Lapland Province. During the late 19th and 20th century there was significant emigration, particularly from rural areas to Sweden and North America, while most immigrants into Finland itself come from other European countries.

Inari Sami language Uralic, Sami language spoken by the Inari Sami of Finland

Inari Sámi (anarâškielâ) is a Sámi language spoken by the Inari Sámi of Finland. It has approximately 300 speakers, the majority of whom are middle-aged or older and live in the municipality of Inari. According to the Sámi Parliament of Finland, 269 persons used Inari Sámi as their first language. It is the only Sámi language that is spoken exclusively in Finland. The language is classified as being seriously endangered as few children learn it, although more and more children are learning it in language nests.

Skolt Sami language Uralic, Sami language spoken by approximately 400 speakers in Finland

Skolt Sami is a Uralic, Sami language that is spoken by the Skolts, with approximately 300 speakers in Finland, mainly in Sevettijärvi and approximately 20–30 speakers of the Njuõʹttjäuʹrr (Notozero) dialect in an area surrounding Lake Lovozero in Russia. Skolt Sami also used to be spoken in the Neiden area of Norway. It is written using a modified Roman orthography which was made official in 1973.

Arctic Circle Boundary of the Arctic

The Arctic Circle is one of the two polar circles and the most northerly of the five major circles of latitude as shown on maps of Earth. It marks the northernmost point at which the centre of the noon sun is just visible on the December solstice and the southernmost point at which the centre of the midnight sun is just visible on the June solstice. The region north of this circle is known as the Arctic, and the zone just to the south is called the Northern Temperate Zone.

Centre of population

Finland adm location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Center of population, i.e. Weber point in Finland in 2011

The geographical center of population (Weber point) of the Finnish population is currently located in Hauho, in the village of Sappee, now part of the town of Hämeenlinna. The coordinates of this point are 61' 17" N, 25' 07" E. [5]

Center of population

In demographics, the centre of population of a region is a geographical point that describes a centrepoint of the region's population. There are several different ways of defining such a "centre point", leading to different geographical locations; these are often confused.

Hauho Former municipality in Tavastia Proper, Finland

Hauho is a former municipality of Finland. It was situated in the province of Southern Finland and is today a part of the region of Tavastia Proper.

Hämeenlinna City in Tavastia Proper, Finland

Hämeenlinna is a city and municipality of about 68,000 inhabitants in the heart of the historical province of Häme in the south of Finland. Hämeenlinna is the oldest inland city of Finland and was one of the most important Finnish cities until the 19th century. It still remains an important regional center.


The profound demographic and economic changes that occurred in Finland after World War II affected the Finnish family. Families became smaller, dropping from an average of 3.6 persons in 1950 to an average of 2.7 by 1975. Family composition did not change much in that quarter of a century, however, and in 1975 the percentage of families that consisted of a man and a woman was 24.4; of a couple and children, 61.9; of a woman with offspring, 11.8; of a man and offspring, 1.9. These percentages are not markedly different from those of 1950. Change was seen in the number of children per family, which fell from an average of 2.24 in 1950 to an average of 1.7 in the mid-1980s, and large families were rare. Only 2 percent of families had four or more children, while 51 percent had one child; 38 percent, two children; and 9 percent, three children. The number of Finns under the age of 18 dropped from 1.5 million in 1960 to 1.2 million in 1980. [6]

Total Fertility Rate from 1776 to 1899

The total fertility rate is the number of children born per woman. It is based on fairly good data for the entire period. Sources: Our World In Data and Gapminder Foundation. [7]

Years177617771778177917801781178217831784178517861787178817891790 [7]
Total Fertility Rate in Finland5.425.515.825.915.715.175.745.425.795.395.65.464.864.514.88
Total fertility rates of Finland, 1776-2009 Total fertility rate of Finland.svg
Total fertility rates of Finland, 1776-2009
Years1791179217931794179517961797179817991800 [7]
Total Fertility Rate in Finland4.665.435.715.415.
Years1801180218031804180518061807180818091810 [7]
Total Fertility Rate in Finland5.075.234.785.245.214.844.974.163.695.1
Years1811181218131814181518161817181818191820 [7]
Total Fertility Rate in Finland4.664.954.64.724.844.824.844.784.514.55
Years1821182218231824182518261827182818291830 [7]
Total Fertility Rate in Finland5.344.595.214.844.834.894.775.124.984.85
Years1831183218331834183518361837183818391840 [7]
Total Fertility Rate in Finland4.584.473.964.754.574.174.174.324.474.59
Years1841184218431844184518461847184818491850 [7]
Total Fertility Rate in Finland4.564.964.774.644.764.394.464.844.924.78
Years1851185218531854185518561857185818591860 [7]
Total Fertility Rate in Finland5.174.794.85.024.824.864.484.874.744.84
Years1861186218631864186518661867186818691870 [7]
Total Fertility Rate in Finland5.25.034.855.284.794.464.473.44.524.86
Years1871187218731874187518761877187818791880 [7]
Total Fertility Rate in Finland4.954.874.975.124.954.975.194.815.145.01
Years1881188218831884188518861887188818891890 [7]
Total Fertility Rate in Finland4.794.994.965.044.794.985.175.074.894.83
Years189118921893189418951896189718981899 [7]
Total Fertility Rate in Finland5.044.654.434.594.874.84.775.074.96

Vital statistics from 1900

Data according to Statistics Finland, which collects the official statistics for Finland. [8]

Average populationLive birthsDeathsNatural changeCrude birth rate (per 1000)Crude death rate (per 1000)Natural change (per 1000) Total fertility rate [fn 1] [7]
19002 646 00086 33957 91528 42432.621.910.74.83
19012 667 00088 63756 22532 41233.
19022 686 00087 08250 99936 08332.419.013.44.79
19032 706 00085 12049 99235 12831.518.513.04.62
19042 735 00090 25350 22740 02633.018.414.74.85
19052 762 00087 84152 77335 06831.819.112.74.67
19062 788 00091 40150 85740 54432.818.214.54.81
19072 821 00092 45753 02839 42932.818.814.04.76
19082 861 00092 14655 30536 84132.219.312.94.65
19092 899 00095 00550 57744 42832.817.415.34.72
19102 929 00092 98451 00741 97731.717.414.34.60
19112 962 00091 23851 64839 59030.817.413.44.46
19122 998 00092 27551 64540 63030.817.213.54.45
19133 026 00087 25051 87635 37428.817.111.74.15
19143 053 00087 57750 69036 88728.716.612.14.13
19153 083 00083 30652 20531 10127.016.910.13.89
19163 105 00079 65354 57725 07625.717.68.13.69
19173 124 00081 04658 86322 18325.918.87.13.71
19183 125 00079 49495 102-15 60825.430.4-5.03.60
19193 117 00063 89662 93296420.520.20.32.87
19203 133 00084 71453 30431 41027.
19213 170 00082 16547 36134 80425.914.911.03.58
19223 211 00080 14049 18030 96025.
19233 243 00081 96147 55634 40525.314.710.63.44
19243 272 00078 05753 44224 61523.916.37.53.22
19253 304 00078 26047 49330 76723.714.49.33.17
19263 339 00076 87547 52629 34923.
19273 368 00075 61151 72723 88422.515.47.12.92
19283 396 00077 52348 71328 81022.814.38.52.92
19293 424 00076 01154 48921 52222.
19303 449 00075 23648 24026 99621.814.07.82.75
19313 476 00071 86648 96822 89820.714.16.62.59
19323 503 00069 35246 70022 65219.813.36.52.46
19333 526 00065 04747 96017 08718.413.64.82.27
19343 549 00067 71346 31821 39519.
19353 576 00069 94245 37024 57219.612.76.92.37
19363 601 00068 89549 12419 77119.
19373 626 00072 31946 46625 85319.912.87.12.52
19383 656 00076 69546 93029 76521.
19393 686 00078 16452 61425 55021.
19403 698 00065 84971 846-5 997 [9] 17.819.4-1.62.15
19413 702 00089 56573 33416 23124.
19423 708 00061 67256 1415 53116.615.11.52.00
19433 721 00076 11249 63426 47820.513.37.12.46
19443 735 00079 44670 5708 87621.318.92.42.56
19453 758 00095 75849 04646 71225.513.112.43.07
19463 806 000106 07544 74861 32727.911.816.13.41
19473 859 000108 16846 05362 11528.011.916.13.47
19483 912 000107 75943 66864 09127.511.216.43.47
19493 963 000103 51544 50159 01426.
19504 009 00098 06540 68157 38424.510.114.33.16
19514 047 00093 06340 38652 67723.
19524 090 00094 31439 02455 29023.19.513.53.06
19534 139 00090 86639 92550 94122.09.612.32.96
19544 187 00089 84537 98851 85721.
19554 235 00089 74039 57350 16721.29.311.82.93
19564 282 00088 89638 71350 18320.
19574 324 00086 98540 74146 24420.19.410.72.86
19584 360 00081 14838 83342 31518.
19594 395 00083 25338 82744 42618.98.810.12.75
19604 430 00082 12939 79742 33218.
19614 461 00081 99640 61641 38018.
19624 491 00081 45442 88938 56518.
19634 523 00082 25142 01040 24118.
19644 549 00080 42842 51237 91617.
19654 564 00077 88544 47333 41217.
19664 581 00077 69743 54834 14917.
19674 606 00077 28943 79033 49916.
19684 626 00073 65445 01328 64115.
19694 624 00067 45045 96621 48414.
19704 606 00064 55944 11920 44014.
19714 612 00061 06745 87615 19113.
19724 640 00058 86443 95814 90612.
19734 666 00056 78743 41013 37712.
19744 691 00062 47244 67617 79613.
19754 711 00065 71943 82821 89114.
19764 726 00066 84644 78622 06014.
19774 739 00065 65944 06521 59413.
19784 753 00063 98343 69220 29113.
19794 765 00063 42843 73819 69013.
19804 780 00063 06444 39818 66613.
19814 800 00063 46944 40419 06513.
19824 827 00066 10643 40822 69813.
19834 856 00066 89245 38821 50413.
19844 882 00065 07645 09819 97813.
19854 902 00062 79648 19814 59812.
19864 918 00060 63247 13513 49712.
19874 932 00059 82747 94911 87812.
19884 946 00063 31649 06314 25312.
19894 964 00063 34849 11014 23812.
19904 986 00065 54950 02815 52113.
19915 014 00065 39549 29416 10113.
19925 042 00066 73149 84416 88713.
19935 066 00064 82650 98813 83812.810.12.71.81
19945 088 00065 23148 00017 23112.
19955 108 00063 06749 28013 78712.
19965 125 00060 72349 16711 55611.
19975 140 00059 32949 10810 22111.
19985 153 00057 10849 2627 84611.
19995 165 00057 57449 3458 22911.
20005 176 00056 74249 3397 40311.
20015 188 00056 18948 5507 63910.
20025 201 00055 55549 4186 13710.
20035 213 00056 63048 9967 63410.
20045 228 00057 75847 60010 15811.
20055 246 00057 74547 9289 81711.
20065 266 00058 84048 06510 77511.
20075 289 00058 72949 0779 65211.
20085 313 00059 53049 09410 43611.
20095 339 00060 43049 88310 54711.
20105 375 00060 98050 88710 19311.
20115 403 00059 96150 5859 37611.
20125 426 00059 49351 7077 78610.
20135 450 00058 13451 4726 66210.
20145 472 00057 23252 1865 04610.
20155 486 00055 47252 4922 98010.
20165 503 00052 81453 923-1 1099.69.7-0.11.57
20175 509 00050 32153 722-3 4019.19.7-0.61.49
20185 521 00047 57754 527-6 9508.69.8-1.21.40

Current vital statistics


- Number of births from January-September 2018 = Decrease2.svg 36,389

- Number of births from January-September 2019 = Decrease2.svg 34,493

- Number of deaths from January-September 2018 = Increase Negative.svg 40,899

- Number of deaths from January-September 2019 = Decrease Positive.svg 39,880

- Natural increase from January-September 2018 = Decrease2.svg -4,510

- Natural increase from January-September 2019 = Decrease2.svg -5,387

Total fertility rate

The rate of fertility was greater than in neighbour countries all over 20th century. After 2010, it has been dropping dramatically, despite other Nordic countries don't have such trend until now. It's a modern phenomenon that Sweden and Finland are both social oriented countries, having almost the same income, but only Finland is facing with natural population decline (excluding immigration). [11]

Region Fertility rate (2016) [12] Fertility rate (2017) [13]
Uusimaa 1.451.38
Southwest Finland 1.451.42
Satakunta 1.661.61
Kanta-Häme 1.591.61
Pirkanmaa 1.511.42
Päijät-Häme 1.511.49
Kymenlaakso 1.621.45
South Karelia 1.521.49
South Savo 1.581.52
North Savo 1.541.46
North Karelia 1.611.44
Central Finland 1.601.45
South Ostrobothnia 1.911.82
Ostrobothnia 1.841.75
Central Ostrobothnia 2.131.96
North Ostrobothnia 1.911.83
Kainuu 1.791.59
Lapland 1.591.52
Åland 1.791.68

Life expectancy from 1755 to 2015

Sources: Our World In Data and the United Nations.


Years1755176517751785179518051815182518351845185518651875187818791880 [14]
Life expectancy in Finland37.334.939.433.837.131.835.838.434.740.535.132.141.639.244.939.6
Years1881188218831884188518861887188818891890 [14]
Life expectancy in Finland37.640.442.742.841.340.845.545.144.944.6
Years1891189218931894189518961897189818991900 [14]
Life expectancy in Finland42.539.743.345.247.646.548.148.044.341.7
Years1901190219031904190519061907190819091910 [14]
Life expectancy in Finland42.846.246.647.
Years1911191219131914191519161917191819191920 [14]
Life expectancy in Finland48.749.149.049.749.548.046.532.843.147.5
Years1921192219231924192519261927192819291930 [14]
Life expectancy in Finland52.451.952.550.253.453.851.853.751.354.5
Years1931193219331934193519361937193819391940 [14]
Life expectancy in Finland54.955.855.456.054.456.
Years1941194219431944194519461947194819491950 [14]
Life expectancy in Finland46.554.056.348.


PeriodLife expectancy in
PeriodLife expectancy in

Source: UN World Population Prospects [15]


Attitudes toward marriage have changed substantially since World War II. Most obvious was the declining marriage rate, which dropped from 8.5 marriages per 1,000 Finns in 1950 to 5.8, in 1984, a decline great enough to mean a drop also in absolute numbers. In 1950 there were 34,000 marriages, while in 1984 only 28,500 were registered, despite a growth in population of 800,000. An explanation for the decline was that there was an unprecedented number of unmarried couples. Since the late 1960s, the practice of cohabitation had become increasingly common, so much so that by the late 1970s most marriages in urban areas grew out of what Finns called "open unions." In the 1980s, it was estimated that about 8 percent of couples who lived together, approximately 200,000 people, did so without benefit of marriage. Partners of such unions usually married because of the arrival of offspring or the acquisition of property. A result of the frequency of cohabitation was that marriages were postponed, and the average age for marriage, which had been falling, began to rise in the 1970s. By 1982 the average marriage age was 24.8 years for women and 26.8 years for men, several years higher for both sexes than had been true a decade earlier. [16]

The overwhelming majority of Finns did marry, however. About 90 percent of the women had been married by the age of forty, and spinsterhood was rare. A shortage of women in rural regions, however, meant that some farmers were forced into bachelorhood. [16]

While the number of marriages was declining, divorce became more common, increasing 250 percent between 1950 and 1980. In 1952 there were 3,500 divorces. The 1960s saw a steady increase in this rate, which averaged about 5,000 divorces a year. A high of 10,191 was reached in 1979; afterwards the divorce rate stabilized at about 9,500 per year during the first half of the 1980s. [16]

A number of factors caused the increased frequency of divorce. One was that an increasingly secularized society viewed marriage, more often than before, as an arrangement that could be ended if it did not satisfy its partners. Another reason was that a gradually expanding welfare system could manage an ever-greater portion of the family's traditional tasks, and it made couples less dependent on the institution of marriage. Government provisions for parental leave, child allowances, child care programs, and much improved health and pension plans meant that the family was no longer essential for the care of children and aged relatives. A further cause for weakened family and marital ties was seen in the unsettling effects of the Great Migration and in the economic transformation Finland experienced during the 1960s and the 1970s. The rupture of established social patterns brought uncertainty and an increased potential for conflict into personal relationships. [6] [16]

Demographic statistics

Recorded Finland population figures date back to 1750 and have been faithfully updated ever since. They would clearly appear to have been rounded either up or down too and in 1750, it is shown that there were 421,000 people living here. [17]

Ten years later, those numbers had climbed to 490,000 – a rise of just over sixteen per cent and similar increases through the rest of the 1700’s took the population of Finland to 837,000 at the start of the 19th century. [17]

The population of Finland climbed above one million for the first time by 1820 and as the 20th century began, figures within the country had increased to 2,655,900. This pattern of steady increases has continued ever since to the point where the Finland population in 2012 is rapidly approaching 5.5 million. [17]

It is reported that population growth slowed in Finland after World War Two with average family sizes falling from 3.6 in 1950 to 2.7 by 1975. Therefore, while there is still growth here, it is considerably slower than it has been in the past. [17]

Finland is very ethnically homogeneous. Most of the population is ethnic Finnish. The earliest inhabitants of the area were hunter-gatherers, most closely related to the modern-day Sami people of Finland. There are about 4,500 Sami left in Finland who are officially recognized as a minority. The Sami people have been living north of the Arctic Circle for over 7,000 years and account for a 5% minority in the Lapland Province. Finland does not keep official statistics on ethnicity. [17]

Just 3.5% of the population is made up of foreign citizens, which is one of the lowest rates in the European Union. Most foreign citizens are from Estonia, Russia, and Sweden. Children of foreigners born in Finland do not automatically receive Finnish citizenship unless they cannot get citizenship in another nation. [17]

Demographic statistics according to the World Population Review in 2019. [17]

Demographic statistics according to the CIA World Factbook, unless otherwise indicated. [18]

5,537,364 (July 2018 est.)
Age structure
Finnish population pyramid in 2017. Male: left, blue. Female: right, pink. Finlandpop.svg
Finnish population pyramid in 2017. Male: left, blue. Female: right, pink.
0-14 years: 16.44% (male 465,298 /female 445,186)
15-24 years: 11.21% (male 317,500 /female 303,326)
25-54 years: 37.64% (male 1,064,751 /female 1,019,748)
55-64 years: 13.19% (male 359,434 /female 370,993)
65 years and over: 21.51% (male 519,775 /female 671,353) (2018 est.)
0-14 years: 16.43% (male 463,432/female 443,384)
15-24 years: 11.4% (male 321,609/female 307,458)
25-54 years: 37.78% (male 1,064,427/female 1,020,285)
55-64 years: 13.29% (male 360,821/female 372,794)
65 years and over: 21.1% (male 506,342/female 657,819) (2017 est.)
Median age
total: 42.6 years. Country comparison to the world: 27th
male: 41 years
female: 44.3 years (2018 est.)
total: 42.5 years
male: 40.9 years
female: 44.3 years (2017 est.)
Birth rate
Birth and death rates of Finland, 1950-2008 BirthDeath 1950 FI.svg
Birth and death rates of Finland, 1950-2008
10.7 births/1,000 population (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 183rd
Death rate
10.1 deaths/1,000 population (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 35th
10 deaths/1,000 population (2017 est.)
Total fertility rate
1.75 children born/woman (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 160th
Mother's mean age at first birth
28.8 years (2015 est.)
Population growth rate
0.33% (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 167th
0.36% (2017 est.)
Net migration rate
2.8 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2018 est.) Country comparison to the world: 41st
2.9 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2017 est.)
Life expectancy at birth
total population: 81 years. (2017 est.) Country comparison to the world: 31st
male: 78 years
female: 84.1 years
YearMalesFemalesBoth sexes
Infant mortality rate
total: 2.5 deaths/1,000 live births Country comparison to the world: 220th
male: 2.7 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 2.4 deaths/1,000 live births (2017 est.)
Ethnic groups

Finn 93.4%, Swede 5.6%, Russian 0.5%, Estonian 0.3%, Romani 0.1%, Sami 0.1% (2006)


Finnish (official) 87.9%, Swedish (official) 5.2%, Russian 1.4%, other 5.5% (2017 est.)


Lutheran 70.9%, Finnish Orthodox 1.1%, other 1.7%, unspecified 26.3% (2017 est.)

Dependency ratios
urban population: 85.4% of total population (2018)
rate of urbanization: 0.42% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)
total: 19 years
male: 19 years
female: 20 years (2015)
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24
total: 20.1%. Country comparison to the world: 65th
male: 21.8%
female: 18.6% (2016 est.)
Sex ratio
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.76 male(s)/female
total population: 0.97 male(s)/female (2017 est.)

Ethnic minorities and languages

Languages of Finnish municipalities as of 2016. Legend:
unilingually Finnish
bilingual with Finnish as majority language, Swedish as minority language
bilingual with Swedish as majority language, Finnish as minority language
unilingually Swedish
bilingual with Finnish as majority language, Sami as minority language Languages of Finnish municipalities (2016).svg
Languages of Finnish municipalities as of 2016. Legend:
  unilingually Finnish
  bilingual with Finnish as majority language, Swedish as minority language
  bilingual with Swedish as majority language, Finnish as minority language
  unilingually Swedish
  bilingual with Finnish as majority language, Sami as minority language

No official statistics are kept on ethnicities. However, statistics of the Finnish population according to language, citizenship and country of birth are available. According to international census recommendations an ethnic group is defined by the perception of its members of historical and regional or national origin, and data or ethnic status should always be based on a person's own statement. Because the census in Finland is based on registries, Finland can not produce official statistics about ethnic groups. [19]

Finnish and Swedish are defined as languages of the state. Swedish is an official municipal language in municipalities with significant Swedish-speaking populations. [20] The three Sami languages (North Sami, Inari Sami, Skolt Sami) are official in certain municipalities of Lapland. [21]

Finnish people — Finns — speak Finnish, which is the dominant language and is spoken almost everywhere in the country or Swedish which is the second official language and the only official language in Åland.

Population of mainland Finland (excluding Åland) according to language, 1990-2015: [22]

Population of Finland according to mother language 1990–2017
Finnish 4,675,2234,754,7874,788,4974,819,8194,848,761
Swedish 296,738294,664291,657289,675289,052
Russian 3,88415,87228,20539,65377,177
Estonian 1,3948,71010,17615,33649,590
Arabic 1,1382,9014,8927,11726,467
Somali 04,0576,4548,59320,007
English 3,5695,3246,9198,92819,626
Kurdish 1791,3813,1155,12313,327
Chinese 7902,1902,9074,61311,825
Albanian 02,0193,2935,07610,391
Persian 2918031,2053,16512,090
Thai 2448131,4583,0339,403
Vietnamese 1,6432,7853,5884,2029,872
Turkish 8481,8092,4353,5956,766
Spanish 8941,3941,9462,9376,583
German 2,4272,7193,2984,1146,059
Polish 9011,1291,1571,4454,459
French 6701,0621,5852,0713,736
Hungarian 5737321,0891,2062,671
Tagalog 1183755687642,618
Bengali 933735249202,603
Ukrainian 111133376112,436
Italian 4035748331,1772,291
Portuguese 1712974338652,250
Urdu 791793095942,186
Bulgarian 2304004866292,114
Bosnian 0001,1862,071
Sami 1,7341.7261,7341,7521,949
Hindi 1472394287791,740
Dutch 2774086509601,446
Latvian 20761693911,318
Japanese 2743865617981,224
Lithuanian 30941663751,095
Norwegian 402436471540648
Danish 290305397456526
Hebrew 165232263348441

The government only considers the "working language", Finnish or Swedish, of the person, and "bilinguality" has no official standing.


The largest minority group in Finland is the Swedish-speaking Finns, who in 2015 numbered about 290,000 or 5.3% of the total population. [22] Municipalities are classified as either unilingual or bilingual with a majority language. Majority of Swedish-speakers live in unilingual Swedish-speaking or bilingual municipalities. These municipalities are found in coastal areas, from Ostrobothnia to the southern coast, and in the archipelago of Åland. [6]


The Sami are related to the Finns, both speak non-Indo-European languages belonging to the Uralic family of languages. Once present throughout the country, the Sami gradually moved northward under the pressure of the advancing Finns. As they were a nomadic people in a sparsely settled land, the Sami were always able to find new and open territory in which to follow their traditional activities of hunting, fishing, and slash-and-burn agriculture. By the 16th century, most Sami lived in the northern half of the country, and it was during this period that they converted to Christianity. By the 19th century, most of them lived in the parts of Lapland that were still their home in the 1980s. The last major shift in Sami settlement was the migration westward of 600 Skolt Sami from the Petsamo region after it was ceded to the Soviet Union in 1944. A reminder of their eastern origin was their Orthodox faith; the remaining 85 percent of Finland's Sami were Lutheran. [6]

As of 1988, about 90 percent of Finland's 4,400 Sami lived in the municipalities of Enontekiö, Inari, and Utsjoki, and in the reindeer herding-area of Sodankylä. According to Finnish regulations, anyone who spoke one of the Sami languages, or who had a relative who was a Sami, was registered as a Sami in census records. Finnish Sami spoke three distinct Sami languages, but by the late 1980s perhaps only a minority actually had Sami as their first language. Sami children had the right to instruction in Sami, but there were few qualified instructors or textbooks available. One reason for the scarcity of written material in Sami is that the three languages spoken in Finland made agreement about a common orthography difficult. Perhaps these shortcomings explained why a 1979 study found the educational level of Sami to be considerably lower than that of other Finns. [6]

Few Finnish Sami actually led the traditional nomadic life pictured in school geography texts and in travel brochures. Although many Sami living in rural regions of Lapland earned some of their livelihood from reindeer herding, it was estimated that Sami owned no more than one-third of Finland's 200,000 reindeer. Only 5 percent of Finnish Sami had the herds of 250 to 300 reindeer needed to live entirely from this kind of work. Most Sami worked at more routine activities, including farming, construction, and service industries such as tourism. Often a variety of jobs and sources of income supported Sami families, which were, on the average, twice the size of a typical Finnish family. Sami also were aided by old-age pensions and by government welfare, which provided a greater share of their income than it did for Finns as a whole. [6]

There have been many efforts over the years by Finnish authorities to safeguard the Sami' culture and way of life and to ease their entry into modern society. Officials created bodies that dealt with the Sami minority, or formed committees that studied their situation. An early body was the Society for the Promotion of Lapp Culture, formed in 1932. In 1960 the government created the Advisory Commission on Lapp Affairs. The Sami themselves formed the Saami-liitto in 1945 and the Johti Sabmelazzat, a more aggressive organization, in 1968. In 1973 the government arranged for elections every four years to a twenty-member Sami Parliaments that was to advise authorities. On the international level, there was the Nordic Sami Council of 1956, and there has been a regularly occurring regional conference since then that represented—in addition to Finland's Sami—Norway's 20,000 Sami, Sweden's 10,000 Sami, and the 1,000 to 2,000 Sami who remained in the Kola Peninsula in Russia. [6]

Sami languages have an official status in the municipalities of Enontekiö, Inari, and Utsjoki, and in the northern part of Sodankylä since 1992. [21] In 2009, 55% of the 9 350 Sami in Finland lived outside of this area. [23]


Russians in Finland had come from two major waves. About 5,000 originate from a population that immigrated in the 19th and early 20th centuries, when Finland was a grand duchy of Imperial Russia. Another consisted of those who immigrated after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. A significant catalyst was the right of return, based on President Koivisto's initiative that people of Ingrian ancestry would be allowed to immigrate to Finland. [24]

About 30,000 people have citizenship of the Russian Federation (2015) [25] and Russian is the mother language of about 70,000 people in Finland, which represents about 1.3% of the population. [1] [22]


Romani people, also called Kale and Roma, have been present in Finland since the second half of the 16th century. With their unusual dress, unique customs, and specialized trades for earning their livelihood, Roma have stood out, and their stay in the country has not been an easy one. They have suffered periodic harassment from the hands of both private citizens and public officials, and the last of the special laws directed against them was repealed only in 1883. Even in the second half of the 1980s, Finland's 5,000 to 6,000 Romani remained a distinct group, separated from the general population both by their own choice and by the fears and the prejudices many Finns felt toward them. [6]

Finnish Roma, like Roma elsewhere, chose to live apart from the dominant societal groups. A Roma's loyalty was to his or her family and to their people in general. Marriages with non-Roma were uncommon, and the Roma's own language, spoken as a first language only by a few in the 1980s, was used to keep outsiders away. An individual's place within Roma society was largely determined by age and by sex, old males having authority. A highly developed system of values and a code of conduct governed a Roma's behavior, and when Roma sanctions, violent or not, were imposed, for example via "blood feuds," they had far more meaning than any legal or social sanctions of Finnish society. [6]

Unlike the Sami, who lived concentrated in a single region, the Romani lived throughout Finland. While most Sami wore ordinary clothing in their everyday life, Romani could be identified by their dress; the men generally wore high boots and the women almost always dressed in very full, long velvet skirts. Like most Sami, however, Roma also had largely abandoned a nomadic way of life and had permanent residences. Romani men had for centuries worked as horse traders, but they had adapted themselves to postwar Finland by being active as horse breeders and as dealers in cars and scrap metal. Women continued their traditional trades of fortune telling and handicrafts. [6]

Since the 1960s, Finnish authorities have undertaken measures to improve the Romani's standard of life. Generous state financial arrangements have improved their housing. Their low educational level (an estimated 20 percent of adult Romani could not read) was raised, in part, through more vocational training. A permanent Advisory Commission on Gypsy Affairs was set up in 1968, and in 1970 racial discrimination was outlawed through an addition to the penal code. The law punished blatant acts such as barring Romani from restaurants or shops or subjecting them to unusual surveillance by shopkeepers or the police. [6]


There are about 1,300 Jews in Finland, 800 of whom live in Helsinki and most of the remainder live in Turku. During the period of Swedish rule, Jews had been forbidden to live in Finland. Once the country became part of the Russian Empire, however, Jewish veterans of the Tsarist army had the right to settle anywhere they wished within the empire. Although constrained by law to follow certain occupations, mainly those connected with the sale of clothes, the Jewish community in Finland was able to prosper, and by 1890 it numbered around 1,000. Finnish independence brought complete civil rights, and during the interwar period there were some 2,000 Jews in Finland, most of them living in urban areas in the south. During World War II, Finnish authorities refused to deliver Jews to the Third Reich, and the country's Jewish community survived the war virtually intact. By the 1980s, assimilation and emigration had significantly reduced the size of the community, and it was only with some difficulty that it maintained synagogues, schools, libraries, and other pertinent institutions. [6]


The community of Finnish Tatars numbers only about 800. The Tatars first came to Finland from the Russian Volga region near Nizni Novgorod's Tatar villages in the mid-19th century and have remained there ever since, active in commerce. The Tatars in Finland fully integrated into the Finnish society at the same time they preserved their religion, mother tongue and ethnic culture. [26]



Many Finnish natives have emigrated abroad, sometimes running away of war, eg. to Sweden, sometimes for economical reasons, eg. to US and Canada. Current numbers of emigration are not very well discussed in public, but lowering standard of living in Finland has forced many persons and families to look for living.

245,864 Finnish citizens emigrated abroad between 1990 and 2017. The most popular destinations are Sweden (76,269), United Kingdom (21,939), United States (18,943), Norway (16,971), Germany (16,694), Spain (14,209) and Denmark (9,626). [27]

External migration

Finland residency by country of birth.png

Demographic movement in Finland did not end with the appearance of immigrants from Sweden in the Middle Ages. Finns who left to work in Swedish mines in the 16th century began a national tradition, which continued up through the 1970s, of settling in their neighboring country. During the period of tsarist rule, some 100,000 Finns went to Russia, mainly to the St. Petersburg area. Emigration on a large scale began in the second half of the 19th century when Finns, along with millions of other Europeans, set out for the United States and Canada. By 1980 Finland had lost an estimated 400,000 of its citizens to these two countries. [6]

A great number of Finns emigrated to Sweden after World War II, drawn by that country's prosperity and proximity. Emigration began slowly, but, during the 1960s and the second half of the 1970s, tens of thousands left each year for their western neighbor. The peak emigration year was 1970, when 41,000 Finns settled in Sweden, which caused Finland's population actually to fall that year. Because many of the migrants later returned to Finland, definite figures cannot be calculated, but all told, an estimated 250,000 to 300,000 Finns became permanent residents of Sweden in the postwar period. The overall youthfulness of these emigrants meant that the quality of the work force available to Finnish employers was diminished and that the national birth rate slowed. At one point, every eighth Finnish child was born in Sweden. Finland's Swedish-speaking minority was hard hit by this westward migration; its numbers dropped from 350,000 to about 300,000 between 1950 and 1980. By the 1980s, a strong Finnish economy had brought an end to large-scale migration to Sweden. In fact, the overall population flow was reversed because each year several thousand more Finns returned from Sweden than left for it. [6]

Internal migration

However significant the long-term effects of external migration on Finnish society may have been, migration within the country had a greater impact—especially the migration which took place between the end of World War II and the mid-1970s, when half the population moved from one part of the country to another. Before World War II, internal migration had first been a centuries-long process of forming settlements ever farther to the north. Later, however, beginning in the second half of the 19th century with the coming of Finland's tardy industrialization, there was a slow movement from rural regions toward areas in the south where employment could be found. [6]

Postwar internal migration began with the resettlement within Finland of virtually all the inhabitants of the parts of Karelia ceded to the Soviet Union. Somewhat more than 400,000 persons, more than 10 percent of the nation's population, found new homes elsewhere in Finland, often in the less settled regions of the east and the north. In these regions, new land, which they cleared for farming, was provided for the refugees; in more populated areas, property was requisitioned. The sudden influx of these settlers was successfully dealt with in just a few years. One of the effects of rural resettlement was an increase in the number of farms during the postwar years, a unique occurrence for industrialized nations of this period. [6]

It was, however, the postwar economic transformation that caused an even larger movement of people within Finland, a movement known to Finns as the Great Migration. It was a massive population shift from rural areas, especially those of eastern and northeastern Finland, to the urban, industrialized south. People left rural regions because the mechanization of agriculture and the forestry industry had eliminated jobs. The displaced work force went to areas where employment in the expanding industrial and service sectors was available. This movement began in the 1950s, but it was most intense during the 1960s and the first half of the 1970s, assuming proportions that in relative terms were unprecedented for a country outside the Third World. The Great Migration left behind rural areas of abandoned farms with reduced and aging populations, and it allowed the creation of a densely populated postindustrial society in the country's south. [6]

The extent of the demographic shift to the south can be shown by the following figures. Between 1951 and 1975, the population registered an increase of 655,000. During this period, the small province of Uusimaa increased its population by 412,000, growing from 670,000 to 1,092,000; three-quarters of this growth was caused by settlers from other provinces. The population increase experienced by four other southern provinces, the Aland Islands, Turku ja Pori, Hame, and Kymi, taken together with that of Uusimaa amounted to 97 percent of the country's total population increase for these years. The population increase of the central and the northern provinces accounted for the remaining 3 percent. Provinces that experienced an actual population loss during these years were in the east and the northeast-Pohjois-Karjala, Mikkeli, and Kuopio. [6]

One way of visualizing the shift to the south would be to draw a line, bowing slightly to the north, between the port cities of Kotka on the Gulf of Finland and Kaskinen on the Gulf of Bothnia. In 1975 the territory to the south of this line would have contained half of Finland's population. Ten years earlier, such a line, drawn farther to the north to mark off perhaps 20 percent more area, would have encompassed half the population. One hundred years earlier, half the population would have been distributed throughout more than twice as much territory. Another indication of the extent to which Finns were located in the south was that by 1980, approximately 90 percent of them lived in the southernmost 41 percent of Finland. [6]



In 2018, there were 387,215 foreign-born residents in Finland, corresponding to 7.1% of the total population. Of these, 261,508 (4.8%) were born outside the EU and 125,707 (2.3%) were born in another EU Member State. [28] The largest groups were:

  1. Flag of Russia.svg Russia (71,694)
  2. Flag of Estonia.svg Estonia (45,801)
  3. Flag of Sweden.svg Sweden (32,603)
  4. Flag of Iraq.svg Iraq (17,691)
  5. Flag of Somalia.svg Somalia (11,776)
  6. Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg China (11,267)
  7. Flag of Thailand.svg Thailand (10,830)
  8. Flag of Serbia.svg Serbia (8,737)
  9. Flag of Vietnam.svg Vietnam (8,445)
  10. Flag of Turkey.svg Turkey (7,455)
  11. Flag of Iran.svg Iran (7,402)
  12. Flag of Afghanistan.svg Afghanistan (6,830)
  13. Flag of India.svg India (6,708)
  14. Flag of Germany.svg Germany (6,654)
  15. Flag of the United Kingdom.svg United Kingdom (6,290)
  16. Flag of Syria.svg Syria (6,055)
  17. Flag of the United States.svg United States (5,283)
  18. Flag of Poland.svg Poland (4,860)
  19. Flag of the Philippines.svg Philippines (4,740)
  20. Flag of Romania.svg Romania (3,717)
  21. Flag of Nepal.svg Nepal (3,496)
  22. Flag of Pakistan.svg Pakistan (3,053)
  23. Flag of Spain.svg Spain (2,971)
  24. Flag of Italy.svg Italy (2,941)
  25. Flag of Bangladesh.svg Bangladesh (2,890)
Immigrant populations by continent 2017 [29]
Europe 218,6563.98
Asia 107,3191.95
Africa 48,7490.89
Americas 14,0990.26
Oceania 1,4390.0


Evangelical Lutheran church is the largest church in Finland, 69.8% of population were its members in the end of year 2018. Christian Orthodox are the second largest registered group, 1.1% were members of the Finnish Orthodox Church. The number of Lutherans has decreased gradually from 98% in year 1900, 95% in year 1950 and 85% in year 2000. In end of 2018, 1.7% of population was in other religious groups, and 27.4% in census register or of unknown religious status. [30]

Pentecostalism has approximately 50,000 members in Finland. Traditionally, it has acted as societies and is thus not visible in statistics of churches. [31] [32]

Estimated number of Muslims in 2018 was 102.000 [33]


Defined as proportion of people in age 15 and over can read and write, the literacy of total population is 100% (2000 est.). [34]

In a study published in March 2016, Finland ranked the world’s most literate nation among 61 countries, where enough data was available. The research considered among other things literacy achievement tests, numbers of libraries and newspapers, years of schooling and computer availability. [35]

In 2010 Yle reported that 85-90% of Somali immigrants are illiterate when they arrive. [36]

See also


  1. In fertility rates, 2.1 and above is a stable population and have been marked blue, 2 and below leads an aging population and the result is that the population reduces.

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