Finland turns 100 years old the 6th of December 2017. Finns, of course, existed before that as a nation too but we have been invaded and governed by both Sweden and Russia. The Finnish cultural spirit has been here for centuries, known for its sisu and a keen interest in sauna. Many foreigners also know Finland for its Northern Lights, Moomin, Santa Claus and many world-class design companies and recently as one of the most interesting – and safest – travel destinations in the world.

Visit-finlandKallavesi / Photo by Visit Finland Juha Määttä (Vastavalo)

Those hundred years made me think about all the things that have happened since Finland became independent as a country. I asked a few friends of mine what they also thought to be the most memorable things or milestones for Finland since 1917 and this is what we came up with…

1926. YLE, Yleisradio, The Finnish Broadcasting Company for radio was founded.

1944. Child and maternity health care law came into force;  by 1949 every municipality needed to have their own child and maternity health care center.

The late 1940s – 1950s. Rebuilding Finland after the Second World. Before 1940 Finland was a poor agrarian nation of urban and rural workers and independent farmers. There was a small middle class, employed mainly as civil servants and as workers in small local businesses. As late as 1950 half of the workers worked in agriculture and only a third lived in urban towns. New jobs in manufacturing, services and trade quickly attracted people to the towns and cities. First steps were taken in Finland to build the current wellfare system.

1949. Maternity support started to cover all mothers by law in Finland. Since 1937, maternity support was first given to financially poor mothers. The maternity support has always included product and baby items, a so-called baby box, to support new mothers. Nowadays Finland is known worldwide for its “baby box”, given to mothers.


1952. The Summer Olympics in Helsinki were the first and so far have been the only Olympic Games that Finland has hosted. It has been said to be one of the most notable events that Finland has ever organised.

Visit-finland-Olympic-StadiumThe Olympic Stadium / Photo by Visit Finland

1956-1982. President Urho Kekkonen, the longest in power president of Finland. President Kekkonen has stayed in Finnish people’s minds as one of the most important leaders that Finland has had so far. He played a significant role in Finland’s foreign politics in the years after World War 2.

1958. YLE, Yleisradio, The Finnish Broadcasting Company for television broadcasting was founded.

1967. The Sibelius Monument was unveiled in Helsinki. Nowadays, this monument is one of the most popular sights in Helsinki. Jean Sibelius (1865-1957) is one of the most appreciated and known Finnish composers as he is often credited with having helped Finland to develop a national identity during its struggle for independence from Russia.

Sibelius Monument / Photo by Visit Finland

1972. Lasse Virén, one the Flying Finns, a long-distance runner, wins four gold medals in the 1972 and 1976 Summer Olympics. Lasse Virén quickly became an idol for both the young and adults in Finland. Still today, he is one of the most respected Finnish Olympic runners in Finnish people’s minds.

1973. A so-called daycare law is created. This law handles a child’s right to have early childhood education. This law has been the foundation for the general daycare right, as a part of the idea of a welfare state, which was developed strongly in the 1970s.

1975. Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe (CSCE) was held in Helsinki, and this can be seen as a starting point for The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) is the world's largest security-oriented intergovernmental organization.

1990-2010. The most notable years of Nokia, world-wide known mobiles phones and mobile networks equipment manufacturer and in many ways, the pioneer in the mobile communications industry.

1991. The first GMS mobile phone call was made in Finland.

1995. Finland becomes a member state of the EU.

1999. Finland adopts EURO as a currency.

2000. The Millennium 2000 with all its changes (to data systems etc.) and celebrations.

2000-2012. Finland’s first female president, Tarja Halonen, is nominated.

The 2000s. Finland ranks well in the PISA evaluations. The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is an internationally standardised assessment which produces information within an international frame of reference about education, learning outcomes and informal learning. PISA assesses the learning outcome of students aged 15 in mathematics, science and reading literacy. 

2013. Slush, a world-known startup and investor event held yearly in Helsinki. First Slush was held in 2013. The name of the event comes from slush, the wet snow we often (unfortunately) get in November.

2017. The same-sex marriage becomes legal in Finland. With this legislation, Finland has joined some other western countries in ensuring a more equal human rights situation to everyone in Finland.

Visit-finlandPhoto by Visit Finland

It will be interesting to see what the forthcoming years will bring long in Finland!

Cover Photo Credit: Finland 100 / the Prime Minister’s Office

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Monika Luukkonen
Monika Luukkonen is a Finnish lifestyle expert and she writes books about the Finnish way of life for the Asian market.