Helsinki Finland | Short History

The first Finnish tribes arrived in the 7th century by way of Estonia, with whom they are still linked by a common language. They slowly pushed the native Lapps north, to an area close to the Arctic Circle. The Swedish ing, Erik IX, established trade routes across Finland to the Russian state of Novgorod in the 12th century, and Swedish rule took over, lasting some 700 years. In 1550, Helsinki, a new market town, was founded by King Gustav Vasa of Sweden. Over the years fire, plague and war have all affected the area, greatly reducing the population.

In 1748 the great fortress at Suomenlinna was built to protect the City, later known as the Gibraltar of the North. However, in 1808 the fortress fell without a struggle to Russian forces, and a year later the country became part of the Russian Empire. In 1812 the Czar moved the Finnish capital from Turku to Helsinki. At around this time the neo-classical buildings around Senate Square and the Cathedral were built. During the Russian Revolution of 1917 the Finns declared Independence which was followed by a devastating Civil War. After two years the Red force were beaten by the White army, led by General Mannerheim, and a Republican Government was established with Helsinki as the capital.

Shortly before World War II, Finland was once again at war with Russia, and is proud of the fact that it fought the Soviets to a standstill and retained its independence in the Winter War of 1939-1940. During the Second World War, Finland sided with Germany and in consequence, had to pay heavy war reparations to the Soviet Union in the years following the War. Today Finland is a western parliamentary democracy, a member of the United Nations peace keeping operations and an equal partner in the growing affluence of Scandinavia.

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