Finland has about 5.5 million inhabitants, which equals 18 inhabitants per square kilometre. Most, 67%, of the population lives in cities or urban areas and 33% in rural areas. The capital of Finland is Helsinki, with a population of 600 000 people. The Helsinki metropolitan area also includes the cities of Espoo and Vantaa and has a total population of about one million people.
Other major cities in Finland are Turku, Tampere and in the north of the country Oulu. Finland has two official languages: Finnish and Swedish. Finnish is the mother tongue of 89.3% of the population and the equivalent number for Swedish speakers is 5.3%. The head of state is the President of the Republic. The President is elected for a six-year term by direct popular vote. The Finnish parliament consists of one chamber with 200 members. The members are elected for a four-year term by direct popular vote under a system of proportional representation.
The Finnish currency unit is the euro. Finland was one of the 12 EU countries that started using the euro in 2002. There are three almost equally important export sectors in the Finnish economy: electronics and electro-technical goods, metal and engineering products, and forest industry products. The Finnish industry is particularly dependent on imports of raw materials, machinery, and components, which it needs for manufacturing products for both domestic and export markets. The current corporate tax rate is 20 %. Finland does not have any exchange controls. There are no restrictions on transferring investment capital or profits abroad in freely convertible currencies at a legal market rate. There is no limit on dividend distributions, as long as they correspond to a company’s official earnings records.
Payments to or from Finland must, however, be made through authorized banks in Finland.
Finland has a well-developed infrastructure. Finland’s transportation system is based on an efficient rail and road network, supported by a wide network of freight forwarders and trucking companies. Finland’s domestic distribution system for goods and services is efficient. Finland’s role as a gateway to and from Russia has been growing in recent times, because of a well-functioning transportation system and the fact that Finland’s rail gauge is the same as Russia’s. Finland has over 50 merchant shipping ports, of which more than 10 are located on inland waterways connected to the Baltic Sea by the Saimaa Canal. Some twenty seaports are open year-round. Finnish ports, more than 10 of which deal with transit traffic through Finland, can handle a wide range of cargo. Ports are secure and automated; loading and unloading operations are consistently quick and trouble-free.
The most convenient way for business travelers to get around Finland is invariably by train. The train network connects all major cities and is operated by VR, a government owned railway company. Finland also has 24 airports and air travel is worth considering on trips to northern destinations, which might take a lot of time to reach by other means. In addition, all the major cities have a well-functioning public transportation system, which is convenient to use if one does not wish to drive themselves.
Apart from Nordic (Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland) citizens, citizens of EU countries and citizens of Switzerland, San Marino and Liechtenstein, foreigners entering Finland must have a valid
passport. A tourist or business visa is not required for stays of up to three months. For non-EU citizens, a visa is needed for stays exceeding 90 days.