Country Snapshot: Finland

Marc Jarrett
The Republic of Finland, situated in the Scandinavian portion of Northern Europe, was recently rated the best country to live in by Reader's Digest.

Bordered by Sweden, Russia and Norway, Finland has a population of about 5.3 million people, and yet covers an area of some 130,000 square miles; making it the least densely populated country in the European Union.

The Finns were way ahead of the curve in Internet adoption when the web first took off about a decade ago. Hardly surprising, when you consider the long, dark and cold winters they have to endure!

One area in which Finland has established itself as a world-class player is in the mobile space: has anyone not heard of Nokia? What you might not know is that that the seeds for this leading global brand were sown in a small Finnish town bearing the same name.

According to the company's own estimates there are already two billion mobile phone owners in the world, and that every third mobile phone sold in the world is a Nokia.

This has made some native shareholders very rich indeed – creating a small army of "Nokia millionaires," thus revealing a key characteristic of the Finnish character: Reserve. The Finns regard the flagrant flouting of wealth as somewhat vulgar, no brashness or showing-off here.

Finland has also been a swift developer and adopter of mobile technologies such as pay-by-phone for vending machines and SMS ticketing for public transport.

It was also amongst one of the world's first countries to adopt domestic premium rate billing, for which our program pays you $3.60 every time a Finnish surfer buys a password with his or her Nokia or regular phone to view your (or our) web content.

It's not the largest of countries, but is certainly one of the more tech-savvy ones.

According to the World Audit Democracy profile, Finland is the freest nation in the world in terms of civil liberties, freedom of the press and low corruption levels.

It's just a pity about the weather...