Summer in Finland is a golden season full of optimism, when the towns are alive with good cheer and festivals and the gentle warmth of the sun makes the national parks and tranquil lakes most accessible. Yet much of Finland remains remote and the harsh, icy winters loom just as large in the national consciousness. The Sami reindeer herders in Lapland find peace in the wasteland and this spiritual affinity for the wild is shared by many Finns.
Finnish towns, however, remain compact, dynamic and modern. The contorted glacial coast makes for some spectacular natural harbours and cities such as Helsinki manage to be hip and stylish without feeling rushed. The towns are also notable for their saunas – the country has 1.6 million of them and they have become something of a cultural icon.
The Failed States index makes Finland the second most stable country in the world and its export-oriented economy is based on a strong and sustainable manufacturing base. The reliance on foreign trade however has made Finland vulnerable to global economic developments and the 2008 financial crisis hit the country worse than many other OECD nations.
Finns are an extremely efficient people to whom business is business and not much else. Extensive relationships are not required for deals and they are happy to communicate over distance, by phone, email or other. Blunt speaking is the norm and professional differences are not viewed as personal attacks.
Most international flights go to Helsinki; some regional routes go to Tampere, Turku, Oulu, Vaasa and Rovaniemi. Baltic ferries from other Scandinavian countries and northern Europe are comfortable and frequent. The European bus and train network provides connections across the continent.
Trains are best for long distance routes, though there is an extensive (but expensive) domestic air network. Buses are good for regional travel. To really explore, however, you’ll probably need a car. Car rental is expensive but driving is hassle-free.
Language(s): Finnish, Swedish
Climate: Continental. Warm summers, cold winters, moderate rainfall throughout year. Temperature: Max 22°C (July), Min -10°C (February). Rainfall: Max 70mm (October), Min 35mm (March)
Business etiquette: Greet with a handshake and repeat your full name while doing so. Wear dark coloured suits. There is little small talk in meetings but you may be invited to a restaurant or sauna after hours. Send short biographies of your team before the first meeting. Verbal agreements should be honoured or you risk damaging your reputation.
Tipping: Tips are not expected.
Duty free: 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco; 2l alcohol below 22 percent or 1l alcohol above 22 prcent; 2l sparkling wine; 16l beer; 50g perfume; 250ml eau de toilette; 100g tea; 500g coffee
Safety: Incidence of crime is low.
Laws: Zero tolerance for drink-driving. Possession of even small amounts of drugs may incur heavy fines or imprisonment.
Healthcare: Vaccination for tetanus required. Excellent medical facilities available, European citizens get free healthcare with an EHIC card. Non-EU may be charged and should have health insurance.
Socket type: Type C