Last weekend’s X-Factor saw the Finnish singer, Saara Aalto, wow the judges, so I thought I’d give you ten things you need to know about her (and my) native Finland.
- Finland is a land of thousand lakes. At last count there were 187,888 of them – more lakes in relation to a country’s size than any other. Indeed, with a population of about five million, Finland has one lake for every 26 people.
- Sauna is a Finnish invention and is enjoyed by Finns at least once per week. There are almost as many saunas in the country as there are people. I wrote an article about how important the sauna is for the Finnish psyche for the Co-Scan magazine a few months ago. You can read it here.
- Next year Finland will celebrate its 100th year of Independence, which we gained from Soviet Union in 1917. During World War II Finland, together with Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, was the subject of a secret pact between Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, and as a consequence, Soviet Russia attacked Finland. Against all odds Finland won the ensuing Winter War. Although Finland lost other battles with Russia, we managed to keep our independence, even during the Cold War, which we are pretty proud about.
- The Angry Birds game (and the movie) is developed by a Finnish firm called Rovio. We like inventing loveable cartoon characters, because …
- The author of the Moomin books, Tove Janson, is also from Finland. These whale-like characters were first brought to the UK as a cartoon strip in the London Standard. Last year the first ever Moomin film, Moomins on the Riviera, was co-directed by a good friend of mine, Hanna Hemila.
- Finns have a national characteristic called sisu which is something between courage, foolhardiness and stubbornness. They say it was sisu that helped Finnish soldiers win the Winter War.
- In the late 1990s, Nokia, the Finnish telecommunications firm, was the world’s largest manufacturer of mobile handsets.
- Last year was the 150th anniversary of the birth of the great Finnish composer, Jean Sibelius.
- Finns are good at any sport that involves a bit of danger, like rally driving or ski jumping. It’s that sisu again!
- Finns are the biggest coffee drinkers in the world, consuming 12 kilos per person per year. Now, that’s a serious caffeine habit!
So there you have it – now you can impress your friends with trivia about Finland.
And here’s Saara’s wonderful audition for the X-Factor, in case you didn’t see it on Saturday. Enjoy!