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Ethnic groups and minorities in Finland - Permanent Mission of Finland, Geneva : About Finland : Ethnic groups

PERMANENT MISSION OF FINLAND, Geneva

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Ethnic groups and minorities in Finland

The number of people born outside the country is one of the lowest in Europe, with just under 250,000 in 2010, but the situation is gradually changing. There are some ethnic minorities with a long history in Finland.

Ethnic groups and minorities in Finland

The number of people born outside the country is one of the lowest in Europe, with just under 250,000 in 2010, but the situation is gradually changing. There are some ethnic minorities with a long history in Finland.

More than 20,000 foreigners arrive in Finland each year. Most of them are from Europe and Asia. Refugees are accepted to a limited extent, mostly through agreed quotas and the granting of asylum.

Minorities are represented by the National Advisory Board for Ethnic Relations, ETNO.

The Sámi - indigenous people in Northern Finland

The Sámi are the only indigenous people in the European Union area. There are about

Sámi handicraft.The Sámi are known for their handicrafts.

9,000 Sámi in Finland and they have the right to maintain and develop their own language, culture and traditional livelihoods. Reindeer farming is one of the Sámi’s main livelihoods. The Sámi Homeland is legally defined and covers the four northernmost municipalities of Finland.

Russians in Finland

Russians constitute the second largest minority in Finland, after the Swedish-speaking Finns. In 2010 there were approximately 29,000 Russians living in Finland.

The Russian population of Finland is often said to consist of ‘Old Russians’ and ‘New Russians’.

The first Russians in Finland were relocated from the Province of Karelia, which had come under Russian rule in the 18th century. The second wave of Russians settled in Finland during the period of the autonomous grand duchy (1908-1917). They were merchants, tsarist civil servants, Orthodox clergy and members of the military. The third wave consisted of Russians who fled the Russian Revolution in 1917. Over time they have largely been assimilated into the Finnish-speaking majority or, to a lesser extent, into the Swedish-speaking minority.

People who immigrated to Finland from the Soviet Union and then from Russia and other countries belonging to the Commonwealth of Independent States are referred to as New Russians.

The Roma in Finland

Finland’s Roma are a linguistic and cultural minority who have lived in the country for over 500 years. There are an estimated 10,000 Roma in Finland. The majority of Roma live in the cities of southern and western Finland, though there are Roma communities throughout the country.

The Roma are Finnish citizens and enjoy full civil rights and are subject to the civic duties these entail. They have a strong cultural identity of their own but also emphatically regard themselves as Finns. Despite their equal legal status, the Roma have yet to achieve full equality in Finland. They continue to experience discrimination in their everyday lives.

Jewry in Finland

Finnish Jews are Jews who are citizens of Finland. Currently, Finland is home to approximately 1,300 Jews, who mostly live in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. The Jews are well integrated into Finnish society.

In the 18th century, the first Jews in the Sweden-Finnish kingdom were allowed to reside in the Swedish parts of the kingdom, but not in the Finnish part.

During Finland’s period as an autonomous grand duchy in the Russian Empire (1809-1917) Jews established themselves in Finland as tradesmen and craftsmen or retired Tsarist army officers. In 1918, a year after Finnish independence, Jews were granted full rights as Finnish citizens.

The Tatars in Finland

The Tatars of Finland are a Turkic people who espouse the Muslim faith. At the moment there are approximately 800 Tatars living in Finland. Most Finnish Tatars live in Helsinki and its surroundings. The Tatars are fully integrated into Finnish society and they are active members of Finnish economic and cultural life. The Tatars are the oldest Muslim minority in Finland and throughout the Nordic countries.

The ancestors of the Tatars came to Finland during the Finland’s period as an autonomous grand duchy in the Russian Empire. Most of them settled in the Helsinki area as merchants. Some Tatars settled in the city of Viipuri in Karelia. When Karelia was ceded by Finland to the Soviet Union in 1944 as part of a peace agreement, many resettled in Tampere.

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Updated 1/31/2014


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