Visitors head to Finland to enjoy its beautiful natural landscapes. Vast forests and a unique glacier environment of thousands of lakes creates something special and magical in this northerly tip of Europe.
One of the things that makes Finland so special that although it consists of a population of over five million people it is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world.
Finland is the seventh largest country in Europe after Russia, Ukraine, France, Spain, Sweden and Germany.
A must see attraction is the World's Biggest Snow Castle. It was first made in Kemi in 1996 and has been recreated every winter hacked out of huge chunks of ice. There is an ice restaurant and bar with ice tables covered with reindeer fur. There are ice sculptures and even a hotel where you can stay in rooms made out of ice.
Located between Sweden and Russia, with whom it shares borders, Finland also touches Norway's arctic region. The Gulf of Finland separates southern Finland from Estonia. The Finnish landscape is mostly flat with few hills. Forests cover about 75 per cent of the land mass, an arctic zone one third. Glacial lakes are a massive part of the landscape - 187,888 lakes and 179,584 islands. Water covers about ten per cent of the country. Most of the islands are found in the south west and along the southern coast.
Finland is one of the few countries in the world that is still growing. Due to what is known as the post glacial rebound taking place since the last ice age the surface area of the country expands by about 2.7 square miles a year.
Fins have the highest rate of mobile phones ownership in the world. Geographical remoteness and electronic savvy are thought to be the main reasons behind Finland's mobile phone boom. The staggering success of Finnish firm Nokia, the world leader in mobile phone technology and design, has also contributed.
Finland enjoys some of the most extensive and unspoilt natural environment in Europe.
It is sometimes referred to as the land of the thousand lakes. The maze of inland waterways, bays, headlands and islands offers seemingly endless natural attractions. From June to August swimming and boating are popular, while a network of lake steamer routes, linking many of the larger towns, provides a option for touring the country. In winter, the frozen lakes are transformed into giant ice rinks for skiers and skaters.
During the months of the midnight sun, coastal regions are a sailing and fishing paradise. But while hikers and nature lovers flock to the unspoilt wilderness in the south, the capital Helsinki is a refreshing alternative. This is a paradise for lovers of art and architecture. Each Finnish region has its distinct character from the capital, to the wilds of Lapland to the lakes of the east and to the archipelagos of the south west.
Expect sub zero cold in winter. No surprise here but it is worth knowing the south west coast offers slightly milder temperatures in winter to the rest of the country. Summers are very sunny and warm reaching 20C plus. Rain is mild in summer. Expect sleet and snow in winter.
Most visitors to Finland arrive at Helsinki-Vantaa International Airport. Land crossings into Finland from Sweden and Norway are also easy via road with good bus and train services. Baltic ferries run from Sweden, Estonia and Germany to Helsinki and Turku. Finland has an excellent internal rail, bus and air network. In most towns bicycles can be hired and are recommended during the summer. Lake and river ferries operate over the summer.
One of the great things about Finland is the high level of accommodation, with a range that extends from five star luxury hotels in the heart of Helsinki to cosy and remote lakeside log cabins.
Helsinki is one of Europe's most advanced and culturally progressive cities but with a history stretching back over 450 years. It is a bustling, colourful place with market squares and halls, outdoor concerts and sports, seaside parks, cafes and restaurants for every taste as well as fine museums and galleries. It is also easy to get around.
Attractions include the island fortress of Suomenlinna, the Open Air Museum of traditional buildings on the island of Seurasaari, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the unique Church in the Rock.
Lapland extends from the shores of the Baltic and remains home to the indigenous Lapps or Same. There is a museum of their culture at Inari. This area of astounding beauty includes spectacular rolling fells which are covered with plains of snow in winter. Winding rivers also form the spectacular setting for the natural phenomena known as the Northern Lights.