Finland is officially divided into 19 regions that are governed by regional councils, which serve as forums of cooperation for the municipalities situated inside that region. Rather than listing all of them here, we have decided to divide them into five separate geographical areas as follows.
Lapland in the largest and northernmost region of Finland and it consists of 21 municipalities. Topography varies from vast mires and forests of the South to fells in the North. The Arctic Circle crosses Lapland, so polar phenomena such as the Midnight Sun and Polar night can be witnessed here. Lapland region has developed its infrastructure for year-round tourism and for example 2019 on snow-free period tourism increased more than during the winter season. Rovaniemi airport is the third busiest in the whole country but besides tourism, other important sectors are trade, manufacturing and construction.
Central parts, located in the middle of the country in north to south direction, consist of the regions of Northern Ostrobothnia and Kainuu. Northern parts of these regions are in some contexts considered as parts of “southern Lapland” and the climate and natural phenomena are pretty much the same as in Lapland. This area borders the Russian Republic of Karelia in the east and the Baltic Sea in the west. Boreal forest makes up most of the biome and the forests mostly consists of birches, pines and spruces and the typical regional geography and landscape consist of lakes, hills and vast uninhabited forest areas. Brown bears, wolves and wolverines roam in large numbers in the eastern parts of these wild regions.
Eastern parts include the regions of North Karelia, South Karelia, Northern Savonia and Southern Savonia. Lapland has been the number one tourist attraction in Finland for decades, but actually the rapids of Imatrankoski and their surroundings became the first actual tourist attraction in Finland when Russian upper classes and civil servants came to marvel at the wild foams of the rapids. These south eastern regions have grown more popular within the past ten years or so due to their nature with dense forests and high hills, the Finnish Lake district, waterways, cultural heritage and history as being border regions between the east and west influence. Koli National Park, Lake Saimaa, Olavinlinna castle and the ancient rock art in Ristiina could be mentioned as a few highlights of the attractions.
Western parts of the country include the regions of Ostrobothnia, Central Ostrobothnia, Southern Ostrobothnia, Central Finland, Pirkanmaa, Satakunta, Päijäthäme, Kanta-Häme, Southwest Finland and Åland Islands. Geographically these areas have little topographical relief, because it is mostly former seafloor brought to surface by post-glacial rebound and the accumulation of alluvial sediment. Other visible sign of the last Ice Age is the large quantity of rocks that have been brought here by the glacial transport. Rivers are another prominent part of the landscape and the major rivers that discharge into the Gulf of Bothnia in Ostrobothnia are the rivers of Kyrönjoki, Lapuanjoki and Ähtävänjoki. In this area are also located the two Finnish regions with a Swedish-speaking majority; Ostrobothnia and Åland Islands (constitutionally monolingual province). In general this is an area with big contrasts; landscapes vary from the flat lowlands inland to the roaring coasts and the vast archipelago in the west.
Capital Region – Southern Finland
The deep south of Finland consists of two major regions located on the coast of the Gulf of Finland; Kymenlaakso and Uusimaa. Greater Helsinki is the metropolitan area surrounding Helsinki, the capital city of Finland and it includes the smaller Capital Region urban area. The smaller Capital Region consists of the central cities of Helsinki, Vantaa, Espoo, and Kauniainen and has a population of approximately 1.19 million. The Greater Helsinki region is the largest urbanized area in the country with 1,520,058 inhabitants and is by far the most important economic, cultural, and scientific region of Finland. Five out of Finland’s 14 universities and most of the headquarters of notable companies and governmental institutions are located in Greater Helsinki, as is Finland’s main airline hub and airport, Helsinki Airport, which is located in Vantaa. Helsinki could be considered as the only true European metropolis in whole Finland with a very international vibe to it, yet still there is a very unique characteristic to it compared to any other capital city in the world; wild nature is very easy to reach as areas like the Sipoonkorpi and Nuuksio National Parks are not that far from the city centre and can be reached by public transport.