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Finland, officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country in Northern Europe bordered by Sweden to the west, Norway to the north and Russia to the east; Estonia lies to the south across the Gulf of Finland.
In 2013, Finland's population was around 5.5 million, with the majority living in its southern regions. In terms of area, it is the eighth largest country in Europe and the most sparsely populated country in the European Union. Finland is a parliamentary republic with a central government based in the capital Helsinki, local governments in 336 municipalities and an autonomous region, the Åland Islands. Over 1.4 million people live in the Greater Helsinki metropolitan area which produces a third of the country's GDP. Other large cities include Tampere, Turku, Oulu, Jyväskylä, Lahti, and Kuopio.
From the late 12th century until 1809, Finland was part of Sweden, a legacy reflected in the prevalence of the Swedish language and its official status. It then became the Grand Duchy of Finland, an autonomous duchy within the Russian Empire, until the Russian Revolution which prompted the Finnish Declaration of Independence. This was followed by the Finnish Civil War in which the pro-Bolshevik Finnish Socialist Workers' Republic was defeated by the pro-conservative "Whites" with support from the German Empire. After a brief attempt to establish a Kingdom of Finland, the country became a republic. In World War II, Finnish forces fought in three separate conflicts: the Winter War (1939–1940) and Continuation War (1941–1944) against the Soviet Union and the Lapland War (1944–1945) against Nazi Germany. Finland joined the United Nations in 1955 and established an official policy of neutrality. It joined the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in 1969, the European Union in 1995, and the Eurozone at its inception in 1999.
In 1906, Finland became the first nation in the world to give full suffrage (the right to vote and to run for office) to all adult citizens, including women.


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