Population: 5,352,000 inhabitants (2009)
Density: 16 inhabitants per sq. km
The five largest cities are:
- Helsinki 574700
- Espoo 224400
- Tampere 199200
- Vantaa 186000
- Turku 176600
Finnish legislation guarantees the basic economic, social and education rights of every resident of Finland. Public administration – the State and local government – must ensure that these basic rights are achieved. From the perspective of social policy, the right to comprehensive social protection is among the most fundamental basic rights. Social protection encompasses pension and other income security, and social welfare.
All members of society have a statutory right to social welfare in accordance with need. The principle of universality is an essential aspect of determined striving to maintain and to increase equality in society. Inclusion of all citizens within the sphere of services and social income transfers is, in addition, an economically sustainable solution.
The State plays a relatively strong role with regard to steering in setting the core principles of social welfare and to monitoring the implementation of these. However, organization of social welfare takes place mainly at the local level in municipalities. Indeed, the social welfare provided by municipalities is a key element of the social protection system in the Nordic welfare model. The sector is financed primarily out of the taxes collected by the State and by local government.
In Finland, the basic right to education and culture is recorded in the Constitution of Finland. Public authorities must secure equal opportunities for every resident in Finland to get education also after compulsory education and to develop themselves, irrespective of their financial standing.
Legislation provides for compulsory education and the right to free pre-primary and basic education. Most other qualifying education is also free of charges for the students, including postgraduate education at universities.
Finland is a country with both eastern and western influences. The right to worship freely is guaranteed by Article 8 and Article 9 of the Constitution of 1919 and by the Freedom of Religion Act that went into effect in 1923.
In the 1980s, there were about thirty registered religions in the country, all of which met the minimum requirement of having at least thirty followers. Despite this wealth of religions, the country's religious life was dominated by one of its two state churches, the Lutheran Church of Finland, which had nearly 90 percent of the population as members. The other state church, the Orthodox Church of Finland, had a membership of about 1 percent of the population.
The remaining churches or religions had 2 percent of the people in their congregations. Followers of the smaller churches included Jews, Muslims, and Roman Catholics, a variety of Protestants, Mormons, Christian Scientists, and converts to eastern religions. Seven percent belonged to no church.