Written By! Muhammad Akram Khan Faridi
Finland falls into three main geographical zones. In the south and west is a low-lying coastal strip (20–80 mi/30–130 km wide) that includes most of the country's major cities and much of its arable land. The coastal strip rises slightly to a vast forested interior plateau (average elevation: 300–600 ft/90–180 m) that includes about 60,000 lakes, many of which are linked by short rivers, sounds, or canals to form busy commercial waterways. The largest lakes are Saimaa, Inari, and Päijänne. The Kemijoki and Oulujoki are the longest rivers of the region and, with the Torniojoki, are important logging waterways. The country's third zone lies north of the Arctic Circle and is part of Lapland (Finnish, Lappi). The region is thinly wooded or barren and has an average elevation of about 1,100 ft (340 m); it is somewhat higher in the northwest, where Haltiatunturi (4,344 ft/1,324 m), Finland's loftiest point, is located. Altogether, Finland is made up of about three-quarters forest and woodland, and around 10% each water surface and arable land.In addition to Helsinki, other important cities include Espoo, Hämeenlinna, Joensuu, Jyväskylä, Kemi, Kotka, Kuopio, Lahti, Lappeenranta, Oulu, Pori, Tampere, Turku, Vaasa, and Vantaa. Finnish and Swedish are both official languages, and about 6% of the population speaks Swedish as a first language. In addition, there are about 3,000 Lapps living in Finnish Lapland. About 90% of Finland's inhabitants belong to the established Evangelical Lutheran Church. Finland, traditionally an agricultural country, Finland accelerated the pace of its industrialization after World War II. By the end of the 20th cent., manufacturing, services, and trade and transportation were the largest segments of the economy, while agriculture (plus forestry and fishing) accounted for less than 10% of employment and GDP.In agriculture, livestock production is predominant, and dairy products are important. Large numbers of poultry, cattle, hogs, reindeer, and sheep are raised. Leading agricultural commodities include hay, oats, barley, wheat, rye, sugar beets, and potatoes. Though Finland's mining output is small, it includes a number of important minerals such as iron ore, copper, zinc, nickel, cobalt, titanium, vanadium, mercury, silver, and gold. The Finnish lumbering industry is one of the largest in Europe, producing a variety of wood and paper products.Among the country's chief manufactures are iron, steel, ships, petroleum products, machinery, chemicals, processed food, metal products, transportation and agricultural equipment, electrical and electronic equipment (especially cellular phones), textiles, and clothing. Finland is also known for its design of glass, ceramics, and stainless-steel cutlery. Its tourism industry is based mostly on winter sports and fishing. About one quarter of the country's electricity is generated by hydroelectric plants; additional electricity and fossil fuels must be imported.The chief imports are food, mineral fuels, chemicals, transportation equipment, crude materials, textiles, and iron and steel. The leading exports are forest products (which account for about 50% of exports), machinery, transportation equipment, ships, clothing, and foodstuffs. The principal trade partners are Germany, Great Britain, Sweden, the United States, Russia, and Japan. Finland became an associate member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) in 1961 and a full member in 1985, but left EFTA for membership in the European Union in 1995.Under the 1919 constitution as amended, Finland's head of state is the president, who is elected by popular vote to a six-year term. The president is commander in chief of the armed forces, plays an important role in foreign affairs, and can have considerable influence over legislative matters. Legislation is handled by the unicameral parliament (Eduskunta), whose 200 members are elected to four-year terms by a system of proportional representation. All Finns who are at least 18 years old may vote. The country's main administrative body is the cabinet (headed by a prime minister), which is responsible to parliament. The country is divided into 6 provinces. The Culture of Finland combines indigenous heritage, as represented for example by the country's rare Finno-Ugric national language Finnish and the sauna, with common Nordic and European culture. Because of its history and geographic location Finland has been influenced by the adjacent areas' various Finnic, Baltic and Germanic peoples as well as the former dominant powers Sweden and Russia. Finnish culture may be seen to build upon the relatively ascetic environmental realities, traditional livelihoods and a heritage of egalitarianism, and the traditionally widespread ideal of self-sufficiency are still cultural differences between Finland's regions, especially minor differences in accents and vocabulary. Minorities, some of which enjoy a status recognized by the state, such as the Sami, Swedish-speaking Finns, Romani, Jews, and Tatar, maintain their own cultural characteristics. Many Finns are emotionally connected to the countryside and nature, as large scale urbanization is a relatively recent phenomenon.
The key words in Finnish education policy are quality, efficiency, equity and internationalization. Education is a factor for competitiveness. The current priorities in educational development are to raise the level of education and upgrade competencies among the population and the work force, to improve the efficiency of the education system, to prevent exclusion among children and young people, and to enlarge adult learning opportunities. Special attention is also paid to quality enhancement and impact in education, training and research and to internationalisation. The Ministry of Education Finland is the highest education authority in Finland, supervising publicly subsidised education and training provision, from primary and secondary general education and vocational training to polytechnic, university and adult education. The Ministry of Education and the National Board of Education are responsible for implementing education policy and for administering the education system at the central government level. However, many matters are decided by the education and training providers themselves, that is, local authorities and their consortia. Pre-primary and basic education and upper secondary general and vocational education are governed by objectives set in legislation and by national core curricula. General education and vocational training are co-financed by the government and the local authorities. Finland has 20 universities, which work on the principles of academic freedom and autonomy. They are very independent in their decision-making. All universities are state-run, the government providing some 70% of their budgets.
There are 28 polytechnics in the Ministry of Education sector, which are run either by local authorities or by private foundations. They are co-financed by the government and local authorities.
Adult education and training is available at all levels and largely financed by the government of Finland. Finland is known for its comprehensive library network, high user and lending rates and effective use of technology and information networks in libraries.Municipal libraries, research libraries, specialist libraries and libraries at educational institutions form part of the national and international information service network. Both municipal and research libraries are open to all. Students use public and research libraries side by side.In Finland the guiding principle in public libraries is to offer free access to cultural and information sources for everyone irrespective of their place of residence and financial standing. No fee is charged for either borrowing or the use of library collections at the library.In Finland, sporting life is largely based on volunteer activities. Local authorities provide sports facilities. The Education Ministry's role is to create favorable conditions for sports and physical activity.The Ministry leads, develops and coordinates sports policy and finances sports in order to promote health-enhancing, competitive and performance sports and related civic activities with a view to advancing well-being and health and supporting children's and young people's growth through sports.The government co-finances sports provision, supporting the activities of 130 federations with some 30 million euros annually.There are 7,800 sports clubs in Finland. Annually 350,000 children and young people and 500,000 adults use the services of sports clubs and federations. The most popular sports among adults are walking, including Nordic walking, and cycling. Children's and young people's favorite sport is football.Under the Finnish Constitution, everyone living in Finland has freedom of religion and conscience. The state is neutral with regard to religions and churches.Religious communities are the Evangelical Lutheran Church and the Orthodox Church, which are public corporations under law, and registered associations, which can be founded subject to certain statutory conditions.About 80,6 % of Finns belong to the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, some 1,1% to the Orthodox Church and 1,3% to registered religious communities, such as the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Evangelical Free Church of Finland, the Catholic Church in Finland and the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Finland.The Ministry of Education and Culture administers matters relating to the Churches and other religious communities in Finland and drafts legislation relating to them.In its international cooperation, Finland endeavours to exert an effective impact on decisions influencing international relations and, in cooperation with others, to promote human welfare and prevent the eruption of crises.Finland also tries to contribute to the strengthening of international institutions' operational capacity and their regional and global cooperation. The promotion of cooperation helps prevent and combat new security threats.
Finland is celebrating its Independence Day quite impressively this yearon 6th December 2010. In addition to the traditional Independence Day receptions at the Finnish Embassies, many other kinds of events, parties, lectures and concerts are being organized all over the world to honor the 93-year-old independent Finland. Particularly the Finnish expatriates have an important role to play. Finnish societies, congregations and friendship associations have organized parties of their own, and particularly Finns residing abroad, from schoolchildren to war veterans, have been among the guests of honors. In Pakistan, the 93rd anniversary of Finnish independence will be a highly visible celebration. Ambassador of Finland at Pakistan Mr. Osmo Lipponen, Ms Katja Kalamäki, Deputy Head of Mission, and their all team will organize their own party. Here I appreciate the concern of Mr Osmo Lipponen Ambassador and Ms Katja Kalamäki, Deputy Head of Mission, regarding Positive efforts for bilateral relations between Finland and Pakistan but unfortunately Pakistan neither opened its Embassy nor appointed any trade representative in Finland."According to Mr. Osmo Lipponen( Ambassador of Finland in Pakistan), Finland could not portray its true economic potential and proper image in Pakistan mainly because of lack of marketing skills due to which perception of Finland in Pakistan was not correct. Pakistan also neither opened its Embassy nor appointed any trade representative in Finland due to which bilateral trade and economic relations could not develop up to potential of both countries. Finland was one of the richest countries of Europe with a GDP of US$ 180 billion, exports of US$ 90 billion and imports US$ 78-billion. Finland was leader in the world in many modern technologies as its economy had grown from an agrarian to a highly industrialized one and Pakistan could take advantage of Finland's experience to promote its industry by developing close relations.The main industries of Finland were timber, engineering, technology & manufacturing, metal products, shipbuilding, pulp and paper, copper refining, foodstuffs, chemicals, textiles & clothing and businessmen of both countries should explore possibilities of cooperation in these areas. About 400 Finish companies were operating in China and India while many were also interested to enter Pakistani market, but Government of Pakistan should improve infrastructure and logistics to lure Finish investors. Presently only three Finland companies including Nokia & Nokia Siemens were recognized in Pakistan. Actually law & order situation in Pakistan was another discouraging factor for Finish businessmen to venture in this country."
At the end of this article, I wish to express to the Government especially to Ambassador of Finland at Pakistan Mr. Osmo Lipponen, Ms Katja Kalamäki, Deputy Head of Mission, and their all team of Finland my warm congratulations and best wishes regarding Independence Day of great Finland
Muhammad Akram Khan Faridi, 36-Mujahid Nagar, Jandiala Road, Sheikhupura City ,Pakistan.
PH: +92 302 4500098
Rizwan Ahmed Sagar