Provinces of Finland

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Between 1634 and 2009, Finland was administered as several provinces (Finnish : Suomen läänit, Swedish : Finlands län). Finland had always been a unitary state: the provincial authorities were part of the central government's executive branch and apart from the Åland Islands, the provinces had little autonomy. There were never any elected provincial parliaments in continental Finland. The system was initially created in 1634. Its makeup was changed drastically in 1997, when the number of the provinces was reduced from twelve to six. This effectively made them purely administrative units, as linguistic and cultural boundaries no longer followed the borders of the provinces. The provinces were eventually abolished at the end of 2009. Consequently, different ministries may subdivide their areal organization differently. Besides the former provinces, the municipalities of Finland form the fundamental subdivisions of the country. In current use are the regions of Finland, a smaller subdivision where some pre-1997 läänis are split into multiple regions. Åland islands retain their special autonomous status and their own regional parliament.

Contents

Duties

Each province was led by a governor (Finnish maaherra, Swedish landshövding) appointed by the president on the recommendation of the cabinet. The governor was the head of the State Provincial Office (Finnish lääninhallitus, Swedish länsstyrelse), which acted as the joint regional authority for seven ministries in the following domains:

The official administrative subentities under the Provincial Office authorities were the Registry Offices (Finnish maistraatti, Swedish magistrat). Formerly there was also a division to state local districts (Finnish kihlakunta, Swedish härad), which were districts for police, prosecution, and bailiff services, but there was reorganization such that 24 police districts were founded. These usually encompass multiple municipalities.

Provinces governed only state offices, such as the police. Most services, such as healthcare and maintenance of local streets, were and remain today the responsibility of municipalities of Finland. Many municipalities are too small for a hospital and some other services, so they cooperate in municipality groups, e.g. health care districts, using borders that vary depending on the type of service. Often Swedish-language municipalities cooperate even if they do not share a border.

List of all provinces that ever existed

In 1634, administratives provinces were formed in Sweden, and therefore in Finland, which was a part of Sweden until 1809. Five of the provinces covered what is now Finland; some of these also covered parts of what are now Russia. The exact division of the country into provinces has fluctuated over time.

The boundaries of the old provinces partly survive in telephone area codes and electoral districts. The exception is Helsinki: there is a telephone numbering area that comprises Greater Helsinki (code 09), while only the city of Helsinki proper comprises the electoral district of Helsinki, the rest of Greater Helsinki belonging to the Uusimaa electoral district.

Map numberEnglish nameFinnish nameSwedish nameResidence cityDates of existenceNotes
1 Province of Turku and Pori Turun ja Porin lääniÅbo och Björneborgs län Turku 16341997• one of the original provinces formed in 1634, though parts were split off since then
• merged into the Province of Western Finland
14 Province of Nyland and Tavastehus Uudenmaan ja Hämeen lääniNylands och Tavastehus län Helsinki / Hämeenlinna 16341831• one of the original provinces formed in 1634
18 Province of Ostrobothnia Pohjanmaan lääniÖsterbottens län Oulu / Vaasa 16341775• one of the original provinces formed in 1634
20 Province of Viborg and Nyslott Viipurin ja Savonlinnan lääniViborgs och Nyslotts län Vyborg 16341721• one of the original provinces formed in 1634
21 Province of Kexholm Käkisalmen lääniKexholms län Kexholm 16341721• one of the original provinces formed in 1634
19 Province of Kymmenegård and Nyslott Savonlinnan ja Kymenkartanon lääniKymmenegårds och Nyslotts län Lappeenranta 17211747• former Province of Viborg and Nyslott
17 Province of Savolax and Kymmenegård Kymenkartanon ja Savon lääniSavolax och Kymmenegårds län Loviisa 17471775• former Province of Kymmenegård and Nyslott
4 Province of Vaasa Vaasan lääniVasa län Vaasa 17751997• split off from the Province of Ostrobothnia
• merged into the Province of Western Finland
10 Province of Oulu Oulun lääniUleåborgs län Oulu 17752009• split off from the Province of Ostrobothnia
15 Province of Kymmenegård Kymenkartanon lääniKymmenegårds län Heinola 17751831• split off from the Province of Savolax and Kymmenegård
16 Province of Savolax and Karelia Savon ja Karjalan lääniSavolax och Karelens län Kuopio 17751831• split off from the Province of Savolax and Kymmenegård
13 Province of Viipuri Viipurin lääniViborgs län Vyborg 18121947• Russian Vyborg Governorate 1744–1812; transferred as Province of Viipuri to autonomic Grand Duchy of Finland in 1812
• most of its area was lost to the Soviet Union in World War II, and the remainder became the Province of Kymi
2 Province of Uusimaa Uudenmaan lääniNylands län Helsinki 18311997• produced by splitting the Province of Nyland and Tavastehus
• merged into the Province of Southern Finland
3 Province of Häme Hämeen lääniTavastehus län Hämeenlinna 18311997• produced by splitting the Province of Nyland and Tavastehus
• merged into the Provinces of Southern Finland and Western Finland
6 Province of Mikkeli Mikkelin lääniSt. Michels län Mikkeli 18311997• former Province of Kymmenegård
• merged into the Provinces of Eastern Finland and Southern Finland
8 Province of Kuopio Kuopion lääniKuopio län Kuopio 18311997• former Province of Savolax and Karelia
• merged into the Province of Eastern Finland
12 Province of Åland Ahvenanmaan lääniÅlands län Mariehamn 19182009• had a special status: even though the province was discontinued at the end of 2009 along with the others, there was (and still is) a coextensive "maakunta" (a translation of "province" with a slightly different meaning from the usual) that is semi-autonomous and demilitarized by international treaties
25 Province of Petsamo Petsamon lääniPetsamo län Pechenga 19211921• gained from Soviet Russia
• merged into the Province of Oulu
• the entire area of the former Province of Pechenga was lost to the Soviet Union in World War II
11 Province of Lapland Lapin lääniLapplands län Rovaniemi 19382009• split off from the Province of Oulu
5 Province of Kymi Kymen lääniKymmene län Kouvola 19451997• formed from the part of the Province of Viipuri that remained on the Finnish side of the border with Russia
• merged into the Province of Southern Finland
7 Province of Central Finland Keski-Suomen lääniMellersta Finlands län Jyväskylä 19601997• split off from the Provinces of Vaasa, Häme, Mikkeli and Kuopio
• merged into the Province of Western Finland
9 Province of North Karelia Pohjois-Karjalan lääniNorra Karelens län Joensuu 19601997• split off from the Province of Kuopio
• merged into the Province of Eastern Finland
22 Province of Southern Finland Etelä-Suomen lääniSödra Finlands län Hämeenlinna 19972009• merged from Provinces of Uusimaa, Kymi, Häme (part) and Mikkeli (part)
23 Province of Western Finland Länsi-Suomen lääniVästra Finlands län Turku 19972009• merged from Provinces of Turku and Pori, Vaasa, Central Finland and Häme (part)
24 Province of Eastern Finland Itä-Suomen lääniÖstra Finlands län Mikkeli 19972009• merged from Provinces of Kuopio, North Karelia and Mikkeli (part)

Geographical evolution of provincial administration

Provinces of Finland 1634: 1: Turku and Pori, 14: Nyland and Tavastehus, 18: Ostrobothnia, 20: Viborg and Nyslott, 21: Kexholm Finnish counties 1635.jpg
Provinces of Finland 1634: 1: Turku and Pori, 14: Nyland and Tavastehus, 18: Ostrobothnia, 20: Viborg and Nyslott, 21: Kexholm
Provinces of Finland 1721: 1: Turku and Pori, 14: Nyland and Tavastehus, 18: Ostrobothnia, 19: Kymmenegard and Nyslott Finnish counties 1721.jpg
Provinces of Finland 1721: 1: Turku and Pori, 14: Nyland and Tavastehus, 18: Ostrobothnia, 19: Kymmenegård and Nyslott
Provinces of Finland 1747: 1: Turku and Pori, 14: Nyland and Tavastehus, 17: Savolax and Kymmenegard, 18: Ostrobothnia Finnish counties 1747.jpg
Provinces of Finland 1747: 1: Turku and Pori, 14: Nyland and Tavastehus, 17: Savolax and Kymmenegård, 18: Ostrobothnia
Provinces of Finland 1776: 1: Turku and Pori, 4: Vaasa, 10: Oulu, 14: Nyland and Tavastehus, 15: Kymmenegard, 16: Savolax and Karelia Finnish counties 1776.jpg
Provinces of Finland 1776: 1: Turku and Pori, 4: Vaasa, 10: Oulu, 14: Nyland and Tavastehus, 15: Kymmenegård, 16: Savolax and Karelia
Provinces of Finland 1812:1: Turku and Pori, 4: Vaasa, 10: Oulu, 13: Viipuri, 14: Nyland and Tavastehus, 15: Kymmenegard, 16: Savolax and Karelia Finnish counties 1812.jpg
Provinces of Finland 1812:1: Turku and Pori, 4: Vaasa, 10: Oulu, 13: Viipuri, 14: Nyland and Tavastehus, 15: Kymmenegård, 16: Savolax and Karelia
Provinces of Finland 1831: 1: Turku and Pori, 2: Uusimaa, 3: Hame, 4: Vaasa, 6: Mikkeli, 8: Kuopio, 10: Oulu, 13: Viipuri Finnish counties 1831.jpg
Provinces of Finland 1831: 1: Turku and Pori, 2: Uusimaa, 3: Häme, 4: Vaasa, 6: Mikkeli, 8: Kuopio, 10: Oulu, 13: Viipuri
Provinces of Finland 1921: 1: Turku and Pori, 2: Uusimaa, 3: Hame, 4: Vaasa, 6: Mikkeli, 8: Kuopio, 10: Oulu, 12: Aland, 13: Viipuri, 25: Petsamo Finnish counties 1921.jpg
Provinces of Finland 1921: 1: Turku and Pori, 2: Uusimaa, 3: Häme, 4: Vaasa, 6: Mikkeli, 8: Kuopio, 10: Oulu, 12: Åland, 13: Viipuri, 25: Petsamo
Provinces of Finland 1938: 1: Turku and Pori, 2: Uusimaa, 3: Hame, 4: Vaasa, 6: Mikkeli, 8: Kuopio, 10: Oulu, 11: Lapland, 12: Aland, 13: Viipuri Finnish counties 1938.jpg
Provinces of Finland 1938: 1: Turku and Pori, 2: Uusimaa, 3: Häme, 4: Vaasa, 6: Mikkeli, 8: Kuopio, 10: Oulu, 11: Lapland, 12: Åland, 13: Viipuri
Provinces of Finland 1945: 1: Turku and Pori, 2: Uusimaa, 3: Hame, 4: Vaasa, 5: Kymi, 6: Mikkeli, 8: Kuopio, 10: Oulu, 11: Lapland, 12: Aland Finnish counties 1945.jpg
Provinces of Finland 1945: 1: Turku and Pori, 2: Uusimaa, 3: Häme, 4: Vaasa, 5: Kymi, 6: Mikkeli, 8: Kuopio, 10: Oulu, 11: Lapland, 12: Åland
Provinces of Finland 1960: 1: Turku and Pori, 2: Uusimaa, 3: Hame, 4: Vaasa, 5: Kymi, 6: Mikkeli, 7: Central Finland, 8: Kuopio, 9: North Karelia, 10: Oulu, 11: Lapland, 12: Aland Finnish counties 1960.jpg
Provinces of Finland 1960: 1: Turku and Pori, 2: Uusimaa, 3: Häme, 4: Vaasa, 5: Kymi, 6: Mikkeli, 7: Central Finland, 8: Kuopio, 9: North Karelia, 10: Oulu, 11: Lapland, 12: Åland
Provinces of Finland 1996: 1: Turku and Pori, 2: Uusimaa, 3: Hame, 4: Vaasa, 5: Kymi, 6: Mikkeli, 7: Central Finland, 8: Kuopio, 9: North Karelia, 10: Oulu, 11: Lapland, 12: Aland Finnish counties 1996.jpg
Provinces of Finland 1996: 1: Turku and Pori, 2: Uusimaa, 3: Häme, 4: Vaasa, 5: Kymi, 6: Mikkeli, 7: Central Finland, 8: Kuopio, 9: North Karelia, 10: Oulu, 11: Lapland, 12: Åland
Provinces of Finland 1997: 10: Oulu, 11: Lapland, 12: Aland, 22: Southern Finland, 23: Western Finland, 24: Eastern Finland Finnish counties 1997.jpg
Provinces of Finland 1997: 10: Oulu, 11: Lapland, 12: Åland, 22: Southern Finland, 23: Western Finland, 24: Eastern Finland

Provinces of Finland at abolition

No.Coats of armsProvincesFinnish and
Swedish names
Residence cityLargest cityPopulation (2003)Area (km2)Merged Provinces (1997)Map
1.
Etela-Suomen laanin vaakuna.svg
Southern Finland Etelä-Suomen lääni
Södra Finlands län
Hämeenlinna
Tavastehus
Helsinki 2,116,91434,378 Uusimaa, Kymi, Häme FI-provinces-numbered.svg
2.
Lansi-Suomen laanin vaakuna.svg
Western Finland Länsi-Suomen lääni
Västra Finlands län
Turku
Åbo
Tampere 1,848,26974,185 Vaasa, Turku-Pori, Central Finland, Häme
3.
Ita-Suomen laanin vaakuna.svg
Eastern Finland Itä-Suomen lääni
Östra Finlands län
Mikkeli
S:t Michel
Kuopio 582,78148,726 Kuopio, North Karelia, Mikkeli
4.
Oulun laanin vaakuna.svg
Oulu Oulun lääni
Uleåborgs län
Oulu
Uleåborg
Oulu458,50457,000No changes
5.
Lapin laani.vaakuna.1997.svg
Lapland Lapin lääni
Lapplands län
Rovaniemi
Rovaniemi
Rovaniemi186,91798,946No changes
6.
Coat of arms of Aland.svg
Åland [a] Ahvenanmaan lääni
Ålands län [b]
Mariehamn [b]
Maarianhamina
Mariehamn26,0006,784No changes

a. ^ Some duties, which in Mainland Finland are handled by the provinces, are on the Åland Islands transferred to the autonomous Government of Åland.
b. ^ The Åland Islands are unilingually Swedish.

After abolition

The provinces were abolished altogether effective 1 January 2010. Since then, the regional administration of the Finnish state has two parallel top-level organs in the hierarchy: the Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment on the one hand, and the Regional State Administrative Agencies on the other.

Five Regional State Administrative Agencies (aluehallintovirasto, regionförvaltningsverk, abbr. avi) in addition to the State Department of Åland are primarily responsible for law enforcement. Among these, South-Western Finland and Western and Central Finland cover the former province of Western Finland, and the former province of Oulu was revamped as Northern Finland; other old provincial boundaries remain much the same in the new disposition.

In parallel, there are 15 Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (Finnish: elinkeino-, liikenne- ja ympäristökeskus, usually abbreviated ely-keskus), which are responsible for other state administration: employment, road and transport infrastructure, and environmental monitoring. They are each responsible for one or more of regions of Finland, and include offices of the Ministries of Employment and the Economy, Transport and Communications and Environment.

See also

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