Country profile - Societal developments (Finland)
As a consequence of the Second World War, Finland lost nearly 10 % of its area, including the second largest city, and about 10 % of the production capacity. Basically all of the 430 000 inhabitants who had lived in the area which was lost were evacuated. A settlement plan was created aiming to help the evacuees to continue their occupation. They settled mainly in the rural areas.
Another consequence of the war was the huge war indemnities that were imposed on Finland. On the one hand, this was a vast burden to the Finnish industry but on the other hand, it helped to build production capacity.
After World War II, the industrialisation of Finland gained speed. Both GNP and industrial production had grown slowly and roughly doubled during the years 1925–1945. After that, the GNP grew five-fold until 1990, and the growth in industrial production was nearly three-fold.
This development is also reflected in the energy consumption that has grown steadily and is now five-fold compared to 1950. At the same time, the equity ratio of the energy consumption fell from about 60 % in 1960 to 20 % in 1976, and is now around 32 %.
The industrialisation process was one of the developments affecting agriculture and forestry. In 1950, about 800 000 persons were working in agriculture and the number of persons working in forestry was slightly higher. In 1990, the number for agriculture was about 200 000 and now it is below 150 000. The number of persons working in forestry declined even faster to 60 000 in 1980 and to 24 000 in 2007.
The growth in business activity based on the information and communication technology is one of the notable features in Finland. The Finland-based enterprise Nokia can be credited with much of this development.
The driving forces behind the rapid evolution of technology in Finland have been a rather high educational level and prompt reactions to the emerging educational needs, close cooperation between the actors in politics, science and private businesses as well as an up-to-date legislation.
The migration to cities and abroad of the rural population, often living in smallholdings, started to grow in the 1950s and peaked in the beginning of the 1970s. Many of the inhabitants who moved were young which affected the consequences of the depopulation of the rural areas. The migration to urban regions continues.
Sweden has been an important target of emigration from Finland. The emigration was at the highest in 1968-1986 and the total number since 1945 is 540 000 persons. However, at the same time around 300 000 persons have moved from Sweden to Finland thus diminishing considerably the net emigration.
Finland joined the EU in 1995 at the same time as Austria and Sweden, and has been participating in the work of the European Environment Agency since 1993.
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe’s environment.
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