Finland, one of the world’s northernmost countries, is sometimes called the “Land of Ten Thousand Lakes”. This isn’t exactly true. There are actually about 55,000 lakes in Finland, with almost 10 percent of the country’s area covered by water. Boating is popular here during the short summer (depending on the latitude, summer lasts from 2 to 4 months in Finland).
The Sara Hildén Museum houses the collection of Sara Hildén, a businesswoman and art collector of Tampere, a city in southwestern Finland. The collection now numbers more than 3000 works, many of which are by modern Finnish artists, although important non-Finns are represented as well, such as Picasso, Miró and Tanguy.
Turku, west of Helsinki, is Finland’s oldest city and served as the nation’s capital until 1812. It is a bilingual city and is the home to two universities, the Åbo Akademi for Swedish-speakers (Åbo is the city’s Swedish name) and the University of Turku for Finnish-speakers. An important cultural center, Turku contains many art galleries and museums.
Music has always played a prominent part in Finnish culture (Jean Sibelius (1865-1957), one of the world’s great composers, was a Finn); many Finnish cities host musical festivals during the year, especially during the summer. The new National Opera House was completed in 1993, and overlooks Töölönlahti Bay and is the venue for opera and ballet performances.
Helsinki is Finland’s largest city as well as the seat of government. Finland has been a constitutional republic since July 17, 1917; the 200 members of its one-chamber parliament (the Eduskunta) are elected for four-year terms. The president, elected for a six-year term, shares power with the cabinet, or Council of State.