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Living and working conditions

Finland

Source: EURES The European Job Mobility Portal. For up-to-date information visit the Living and Working Conditions section about Finland on the EURES Portal.

How to find a job

TE Services

The public employment and business services [Työ- ja elinkeinohallinto, TE Services] website contains information about jobs, the services offered by TE Offices, registration, and various work-related opportunities. You can search for jobs in the TE services database https://paikat.te-palvelut.fi/tpt/ Unfortunately, the database is only in Finnish and Swedish. This database will be replaced in the next 12 months with the Job Marketplace, and there will be a version of this in English. The beta version of the Job Marketplace can be found at https://kokeile.tyomarkkinatori.fi/Etusivu#

Because there is a labour shortage in many sectors in Finland, the Jobs in Finland website has been created to attract people with knowledge and skills from abroad. https://jobs.workinfinland.fi/ This website has job advertisements which specifically state a requirement for employees who know English.

The TE Services’ national telephone service also gives advice on how to find work. The TE customer service centre provides service in Finnish, Swedish, English and Russian.

EURES

Information on living and working in Finland can be found at EURES - the European Job Mobility Portal. The Portal has a section on the labour market situation in the country and the details of job vacancies in Finland. Jobseekers can upload their CVs to the portal’s online CV service, which employers can use to find suitable candidates to fill job vacancies. You can also find help with writing a CV, as well as tips and links for job searches.

The portal also has a link to the European Online Job Days portal. Eures Suomi usually organises three to four job fairs every year.

Other websites

There is a list of private personnel placement services at, for example, the Private Employment Agencies Association website at: https://hpl.fi/jasenpalvelut/lista-jasenyrityksista/ Academic jobseekers should investigate the Aarresaari portal at: https://www.aarresaari.net/

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How to apply for a job

CV

Your CV should be kept up-to-date and reflect the needs of the Finnish job market. Your CV should mention your most recent job first, then your education, with the oldest details last. Your CV should be no more than two sheets of A4. If you wish, you may add a photograph, but that is not absolutely necessary. Nevertheless, it is quite common these days to include a photograph with a CV. The CV should include the name of two people who can provide a reference, or at least a note to say that references are available if requested. The CV should not be signed.

The Europass is a harmonised CV that can be used throughout the EU and can also be used when applying for a job in Finland. A Europass may be created in the EURES-portalor on the Europass homepage.

Application letter

In addition to your CV, you will need to write a covering letter explaining why you are applying for the job and why you are the right candidate for the job. The application letter should not be more than one page long. The letter should only be accompanied by copies of your certificates if this is stated in the job advertisement. However, you should take your certificates along to an interview. The application letter should be signed.

Electronic application

More and more employers are using job application forms for recruitment. It is also possible to upload an open application to the websites of many employers. 

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Finding accommodation

Nearly two-thirds of Finnish people live in privately-owned property. The availability of rented accommodation varies from one place to another. It may be difficult to find a suitable home at a reasonable price in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area and in other large towns. The level of rent in Helsinki is considerably higher than in the rest of Finland, particularly in the city centre. If you already have a job when you move to Finland, or if you have been offered a job, you can ask your employer to help you find somewhere to live. You can obtain further information about the various types of housing support from the Social Insurance Institution (Kela).

Private landlords advertise rental accommodation in newspapers. Rental accommodation can also be found through estate agents, on the internet, or in the ‘property to rent wanted’ classified advertisements placed in newspapers. Newspapers also publish estate agent addresses.

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Recognition of diplomas and qualifications

The importance of transparency and mutual recognition of diplomas as a crucial complement to the free movement of workers

The possibility of obtaining recognition of one’s qualifications and competences can play a vital role in the decision to take up work in another EU country. It is therefore necessary to develop a European system that will guarantee the mutual acceptance of professional competences in different Member States. Only such a system will ensure that a lack of recognition of professional qualifications will become an obstacle to workers’ mobility within the EU.

Main principles for the recognition of professional qualifications in the EU

As a basic principle, any EU citizen should be able to freely practice their profession in any Member State. Unfortunately the practical implementation of this principle is often hindered by national requirements for access to certain professions in the host country.

For the purpose of overcoming these differences, the EU has set up a system for the recognition of professional qualifications. Within the terms of this system, a distinction is made between regulated professions (professions for which certain qualifications are legally required) and professions that are not legally regulated in the host Member State.

Steps towards a transparency of qualifications in Europe

The European Union has taken important steps towards the objective of achieving transparency of qualifications in Europe:
- An increased co-operation in vocational education and training, with the intention to combine all instruments for transparency of certificates and diplomas, in one single, user-friendly tool. This includes, for example, the European CV or Europass Trainings.
- The development of concrete actions in the field of recognition and quality in vocational education and training.

Going beyond the differences in education and training systems throughout the EU

Education and training systems in the EU Member States still show substantial differences. The last enlargements of the EU, with different educational traditions, have further increased this diversity. This calls for a need to set up common rules to guarantee recognition of competences.

In order to overcome this diversity of national qualification standards, educational methods and training structures, the European Commission has put forward a series of instruments, aimed at ensuring better transparency and recognition of qualifications both for academic and professional purposes.

  1. The European Qualifications Framework

The European Qualifications Framework is a key priority for the European Commission in the process of recognition of professional competences. The main objective of the framework is to create links between the different national qualification systems and guarantee a smooth transfer and recognition of diplomas.

  1. The National Academic Recognition Information Centres (NARICs)

A network of National Academic Recognition Information Centres was established in 1984 at the initiative of the European Commission. The NARICs provide advice on the academic recognition of periods of study abroad. Located in all EU Member States as well as in the countries of the European Economic Area, NARICs play a vital role the process of recognition of qualifications in the EU.

  1. The European Credit Transfer System (ECTS)

The European Credit Transfer System aims at facilitating the recognition of periods of study abroad. Introduced in 1989, it functions by describing an education programme and attaching credits to its components. It is a key complement to the highly acclaimed student mobility programme Erasmus.

  1. Europass

Europass is an instrument for ensuring the transparency of professional skills. It is composed of five standardised documents

  • a CV (Curriculum Vitae),
  • a language passport,
  • certificate supplements,
  • diploma supplements, and
  • a Europass-Mobility document.

The Europass system makes skills and qualifications clearly and easily understood in the different parts of Europe. In every country of the European Union and the European Economic Area, national Europass centres have been established as the primary contact points for people seeking for information about the Europass system.

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Kinds of employment

Young people over the age of 15 who have finished compulsory education may obtain a permanent job. Short-term temporary work may also be done during the school holidays or with a guardian’s permission by young people who reach the age of 14 during the same calendar year.

Most employment relationships are permanent, although fixed-term contracts are becoming common. Part-time work, however, is not as common in Finland as it is elsewhere in Europe. Because of family leave and the day-care system, women participate actively in working life and commonly work on a full-time basis.

There are plenty of businesses in Finland offering private job-finding services. Businesses in the personnel services sector and other private recruitment agencies may not charge any fees to employees; rather, charges are paid by the businesses using their services.

In addition to more conventional types of employment, the past decade has seen the introduction of ‘light entrepreneurship’. In practice, this means that someone works as an entrepreneur, although they do not have a company as such. The financial management is based on a billing service. This effectively means that the person might receive payment for work they do as a ‘salary’, but the person is considered an entrepreneur by the law on employment and social insurance. More information is available on the tax authority’s website.

In Finland we do not have an actual definition of Seasonal work. Our Seasonal work law relies on the definition from the Seasonal work directive. According to it: 

Art 3 1 c: “activity dependent on the passing of the seasons’ means an activity that is tied to a certain time of the year by a recurring event or pattern of events linked to seasonal conditions during which required labour levels are significantly above those necessary for usually ongoing operations”.

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Employment contracts

An employment contract is signed at the start of the employment relationship. In it, the employee agrees to do a specified amount of work for the employer in return for an agreed salary and other benefits. According to the Employment Contracts Act, an employment contract may be agreed in oral, written or electronic form. It is, however, recommended that employment contracts are agreed in writing, for example if there is a written contract both parties know what has been agreed, and they can prove it if need be. Even if an employment contract is not agreed in writing, the employer is still required to provide the conditions of the employment relationship to the employee in writing.

The conditions of the employment relationship are based on the needs of the employer and of the employee, and also on the Employment Contracts Act, the Working Hours Act, the Annual Holidays Act and the collective agreement in force for the relevant sector. Collective agreements, negotiated by trade unions and employer unions, play an important role in defining the minimum conditions for employees, and they cover nearly all wage earners. The collective agreements contain provisions relating to wages, working hours and annual leave, among other things. It is a good idea to check the working conditions set out in the employment contract carefully. The employment contract will remain in force until further notice, unless there are justified reasons for making it valid for a fixed term.

A probationary period may be agreed at the start of the employment relationship. During the probationary period, either party can terminate the employment contract without notice. According to current law, the probationary period may be at most six months. However, in some sectors, collective agreements may still stipulate that probationary periods may not exceed four months.

The employer may only terminate an employment contract for appropriate, compelling reasons. These reasons may include financial difficulties that the business might be experiencing, or serious failure of the employee to fulfil their obligations. Fixed-term employment contracts will end without termination once the fixed term has come to an end.

A written employment contract or explanation should contain at least the following information:

  • The domicile or place of business of the employer and the employee.
  • The job start date.
  • The duration, in the case of a fixed-term contract, and grounds for a fixed-term contract.
  • The duration of the probationary period (if any such period is agreed).
  • The place where the work is to be done; if there is no main place of work, an explanation of the terms according to which the employee will work in different places.
  • The employee’s main work duties.
  • The collective agreement to be applied to the work.
  • Grounds for determining the salary, and when the salary is paid.
  • Usual working hours.
  • Annual leave rules.
  • Notice period, or rules on notice periods.
  • If the job involves working abroad for at least one month, the duration of such work, the currency in which the salary will be paid, any remuneration to be paid abroad, benefits in kind, and terms of the employee’s repatriation.

Further information can be obtained from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Information on its website is in several languages.

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Working time

According to the Working Hours Act, the standard working hours in Finland are a maximum of eight hours a day and 40 hours a week. The usual working hours may be departed from as established by law, either by means of a collective agreement or by agreement between the employer and the employee. In such cases, however, normal working hours must be spread so that they come to no more than eight hours a day and 40 hours a week on average.

Overtime may only be worked if the employee consents to it each time. Since the start of 2020, workplaces have switched from the monitoring of overtime to the monitoring of overall working time. An employee’s overall working time, including overtime, may not exceed an average of 48 hours a week over a period of four months. Wages at an increased rate of remuneration added must be paid to the employee for overtime.

The employer must keep records of hours worked, showing clearly how many hours have been worked and how much has been paid for them.

Further information can be obtained from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Information on its website is in several languages.

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Leave (annual leave, parental leave, etc.)

Annual leave

Rules concerning annual leave may be found in the Annual Holidays Act and in collective agreements. The Annual Holidays Act applies to work done both in employment and in public-service employment relationships, with certain restrictions. It regulates annual leave entitlements, including the length of annual leave, holiday pay, days off in lieu, and granting annual leave. The Annual Holidays Act is mainly based on the earning principle whereby leave is earned by working to the 14-day or 35-hour rule, in a leave year. The leave year falls between 1 April and 31 March. The employee has the right to paid leave of either two or two and a half working days for each month that count towards annual leave, depending on the employment relationship.

Sick leave

When an employee falls ill, they must notify the workplace immediately. A doctor’s note is usually required within a maximum of three days’ of absence, although it is needed from the very first day of absence in some sectors.

The Employment Contracts Act requires employers to pay a wage for the sickness allowance deferral period (the day on which the illness commenced and nine subsequent days) if the employment relationship has lasted at least a month. The sector-specific collective agreements may contain an obligation to pay wages for longer than this. It may also contain rules about the length of time for which such wages must be paid, and amount of the wage. When an employer’s obligation to pay sickness wages ends, the employee starts to receive a sickness allowance from the sickness insurance policy managed by the Social Insurance Institute (Kela). The allowance is approximately 70 % of the salary.

A Kela card issued by the Social Insurance Institute is required for dealing with the Kela office or pharmacies. Kela can give you more information about reimbursements for medicines and doctors’ fees, as well as sickness allowance. The employer must arrange occupational healthcare for employees so as to prevent any harm to their health as a result of their work. In many workplaces, this healthcare is more extensive than the mandatory occupational healthcare and it also includes health services and medical treatment.

Family leave

Working parents in Finland have several opportunities for taking leave to care for young children. There are many kinds of family leave. These include maternity leave, special maternity leave, paternity leave and parental leave, care-giving leave, and partial and temporary care-giving leave. Once the family leave has ended, the employee has the right to return to work as before or return to work as a secondary role on equivalent contractual terms to the old job.

Maternity and paternity leave is for a total of 263 working days. The length of leave only for mothers is 105 days. The parents then decide together how to use the next part of the parental leave. Paternity leave is a maximum of 54 working days or around 9 weeks. The father can choose to take 1-18 working days of his paternity leave in the same period in which the mother receives maternity or parental allowance. The father can keep the rest of the paternity leave until after the parental allowance has expired. The Social Insurance Institute (Kela) pays an allowance for family leave, which is linked to the employee’s income. Some collective agreements stipulate that part of the maternity leave must be on full pay.

Kela can give you additional information about the opportunities for family leave and other social benefits.

Study leave

The aim of the study-leave system is to improve the opportunities for the working population to undertake training and to study. The study in question does not need to be related to the employer’s activities; instead, employees are free to choose their subject of study. Employees, civil servants and holders of public office are all entitled to study leave. People are entitled to study leave if they have at least one year’s continuous or interrupted service with the same employer as their main job.

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Remuneration

There is no separate law concerning minimum wages in Finland. In most sectors, collective agreements determine the minimum level for salaries and other working conditions. Many collective agreements are also ‘generally binding’, which means that they are adhered to in the sector covered by the agreement, irrespective of whether or not the employer is bound by the collective agreement. Employers may not agree poorer conditions with employees than the level set out in a generally binding collective agreement. The wage levels set out in the agreements must be agreed in the same way for both Finnish and non-national employees. Even if a given sector does not have a collective agreement that the employer must abide by, a normal, proportionate wage must be paid for the work nonetheless.

You can obtain detailed information about generally binding collective agreements from your own employer union or trade union, or from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

When employers pay wages, they must give the employee a statement showing the size of the wages and the grounds on which they have been determined. The wage statement is a crucial instrument for clarifying any possible calculation errors or other mistakes that may have occurred when calculating wages.

The Finnish Tax Administration website contains guidelines for paying taxes and social security charges, including in Swedish and English. As a general rule, employers pay these charges out of the employee’s salary.

Further information can be obtained from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Information on its website is in several languages.

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Ending employment

A fixed-term employment contract is terminated at the end of the agreed term, or at the end of the work, without any separate notice or notice period.

A permanent contract is terminated by giving notice, in compliance with the Employment Contracts Act and the notice period set out in the collective agreement or the employment contract. The employee does not have to provide any particular reason for wishing to resign. However, the employee must respect the notice period; otherwise they will have to pay the employer an amount equivalent to the salary they would have earned during that part of the notice period that they did not work.

A collective agreement may agree on a probationary period of no more than six months in normal cases, during which the contract may be terminated immediately by either party. During the probationary period, however, the employment contract may not be cancelled on discriminatory grounds or on any other grounds that are inappropriate to the purpose of the probationary period.

The employer may terminate the employment relationship if there are appropriate, compelling reasons for doing so. This requirement applies to termination owing to either reasons relating to the employee or reasons resulting from changes in the employer’s operating conditions. When an employer dismisses an employee, the notice periods vary depending on the length of the employment relationship, ranging from 14 days to six months. When an employee resigns, the notice period is 14 days if the employment relationship was for less than five years, and one month if it was for more than five years.

The employment contract may only be cancelled if there are extremely compelling reasons for doing so. Such reasons could be such a serious breach of obligations or act of negligence by one party that the other party cannot be expected to continue the employment relationship, even for the length of the notice period. In the event of such cancellation, the employment relationship shall end immediately, without any notice period.

The employee has the right to obtain a work certificate once the employment relationship has ended. The work certificate shall show the duration of the employment relationship and the quality of the work done. If the employee so desires, the certificate can add the reason for ending the employment relationship and an assessment of the employee’s work skills and practices.

Further information can be obtained from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Information on its website is in several languages.

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Health systems

In Finland, both the public and the private sector offer high-quality healthcare services. In the public sector, basic hospital care is provided by municipally maintained health centres. Nearly every municipality has at least one health centre. Public-sector specialist care is the responsibility of municipally owned or state-owned hospitals.

Public sector health care services may be used by those with a registered municipality of residence in Finland. The municipality of residence is registered at the Digital and Population Data Services Agency. In Finland, a person with health insurance receives a ‘Kela’ card from the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela).

Nationals of other EU Member States and Switzerland who are temporarily resident in Finland are entitled to use public healthcare services if they have a European health insurance card. The card must be applied for from the health authority of the home country before leaving. When seeking treatment, your personal ID card must be presented as well as your health insurance card. The European health insurance card entitles the bearer to use public healthcare services in Finland at the same price as for Finns. The aim of the card is to offer medical treatment to non-nationals living in Finland, for example if they suffer acute illness or in cases where an existing chronic illness requires immediate treatment. If, however, the primary purpose of residence in Finland is to obtain treatment in Finland, the card will not cover the treatment costs.

Further details on health insurance may be requested from Kela's Centre for International Affairs or viewed on its website at https://www.eu-terveydenhoito.fi/.

Health centre charges vary from one municipality to another. Once this limit is reached, no more appointment charges are levied for that calendar year.

The private sector offers healthcare services and hospital care in the largest municipalities. The Social Insurance Institute will reimburse part of the fees charged by private doctors if the customer has a Kela card or a European health insurance card. Application for reimbursements must be made to the Social Insurance Institute within six months.

Medicines are only sold in pharmacies.

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Income and taxation

Wage earners in Finland earned on average EUR 3 529 per month in 2019.

Finland has a fairly high tax level in comparison with other European countries. Tax revenue is used to pay for services that are at an internationally high level, such as healthcare, education and care for children and the elderly.

People must pay tax in Finland if they live there permanently, in other words for more than six months.

If non-national employees stay in Finland for no more than six months, their employers may withhold 35 % of their salary as tax at source. Before tax is collected, EUR 17 per day is deducted from the salary. This tax at source is a final tax, and the employee does not submit a tax return in Finland. The employee may also ask to be taxed progressively, whereby the tax is paid in the same way as for stays of longer than six months.

If non-nationals work in Finland for longer than six months, they are taxed in the same way as Finns. Immigrants should start by contacting the Digital and Population Data Services Agency, which will issue a Finnish personal identification number. The tax office will then issue a tax card, and the employer will withhold tax from the salary accordingly. Tax is paid on all income, whether earned in Finland or in another country.

Tax on earnings is paid to both the state and the municipality. Earnings are taxed progressively. The amount of tax to be paid to the state is determined according to the national income tax scale. Every municipality sets its own tax rate every year. In 2020, the municipal tax rate varies between 17.00% and 23.50%. The average municipal tax rate is 19.97%. Members of Evangelical Lutheran and Orthodox congregations also pay church tax. Each congregation sets its own church tax rate every year. In 2020, the church tax rate varies between 1.00% and 2.00%. Pension and unemployment insurance payments were also deducted from employees’ net salaries in 2020, at an average rate of 8.40%, and 1.18% for health insurance payments. These are included in the pre-payment rate that is withheld by virtue of the tax card. Your personal tax rate may be calculated using the tax percentage calculator on the Tax Administration’s website.

Capital revenue (such as share dividends, interest earned, rental income and other capital gains) are taxed at a fixed rate of 30-34% (in 2020).

Value-added tax is usually 24 %. VAT on food is 14% and VAT on items such as books, train and bus tickets and haircuts is 10% (in 2020)

Road tax is collected through basic road tax and propulsion tax. Propulsion tax is levied on vehicles that use other types of power or fuel than petrol. Further information is available from the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency (TRAFICOM).

Tax offices provide guidance for immigrants on all matters relating to taxation. Advice is available by calling the tax administration customer service number.

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Educational systems

The Finnish educational system is grouped into stages. The education system consists of basic education, that provides a general education, secondary education, that follows basic education, and tertiary education. Adult education is available at all levels of education. Most basic education is provided by municipal primary schools. Finland has approximately 40 private general schools. Private schools include Steiner schools, faith schools and some schools in non-national languages.

Education in Finland is generally free of charge at all levels leading to qualifications, for Finns and nationals of EU/EEA Member States. Costs may, however, be incurred for workshops, travel, accommodation, learning materials, healthcare and student association membership fees. Since 1 August 2017, all those commencing studies in Finland from outside the EU/EEA are charged education fees.

Education is compulsory for all children living permanently in Finland. Compulsory education starts in the year the child turns seven, and ends when basic education has been completed or when ten years have passed since the start of compulsory education. Basic education is usually completed within nine years. The year before compulsory education begins, children may participate in free pre-school education. There are some basic schools and general upper secondary schools in Finland using foreign languages either as one of the languages of instruction or as the only language of instruction.

Secondary education is provided by general upper secondary schools and vocational colleges. General upper secondary education (in Finnish ‘lukio’) is 2-4 years long, and provides a general education culminating in a matriculation exam. Vocational training usually lasts for three years. Vocational training can be undertaken at education establishments, or in the form of an apprenticeship. An apprenticeship is based on an employment contract (apprenticeship contract) between the student and the employer, and it is confirmed by the training organiser. Basic vocational training may also be undertaken as a skills-based qualification. Both the matriculation exam and basic vocational training are gateways to higher education.

In Finland, higher education is provided by universities of applied sciences and by traditional universities. Universities of applied sciences focus on working life, and traditional universities focus on scientific research. There are 22 universities of applied sciences. Åland has its own university of applied sciences, and there is a Police College in Tampere. Courses at universities of applied sciences last from three to four years and confer basic degrees. After acquiring at least three years’ work experience in the sector, people who have completed a lower vocational degree may apply for a higher degree. This takes between 12 and 18 months, in close collaboration with business.

There are 13 traditional universities in Finland: ten multidisciplinary universities, one technical university, one school of economics, and one university of art. The university network covers different parts of the country and offers places for nearly one-third of the people in the relevant age group. In addition to this, advanced study in the military sector can be undertaken at the National Defence University. University study has a two-tier structure: in many areas, students first undertake a lower (bachelor’s) degree and then continue to a higher (master’s) degree. It is possible to complete a bachelor’s degree in three years, and a master’s degree usually takes two years. After a master’s degree, university students can continue their studies to do a licentiate degree (equivalent to MPhil) or a PhD.

A total of 73% of Finns over the age of 15 have completed post-compulsory education (in 2018). In 2018, 28% of men and 36% of women had a higher education qualification.

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Culture and social life

Finland has a rich, international cultural life, particularly in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. There are over 1 000 museums in Finland, as well as dozens of theatres and concert halls. Finnish music has traditionally gained a global reputation through the compositions of Sibelius and Merikanto. In recent years, bands such as Sunrise Avenue and Nightwish, the composer Kaija Saariaho and the conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen have achieved success abroad.

In the summertime, Finns enjoy staying in summer cottages, and the range of cultural activities on offer then is even more diverse, outside the cities too. Young people head off in summer to music festivals to hear their favourite bands, and fans of dance music go to open-air dances.

In addition to cultural pursuits, Finns usually meet each other through sports activities. The four distinct seasons in Finland offer great opportunities for enjoying the great outdoors, from skiing to hiking and Nordic walking. Rambling and camping are very easy in Finland, since public access rights mean that people can roam the countryside quite freely. There are also good opportunities for indoor exercise in Finland; particularly popular are ball games and sports, such as ice hockey and floorball, as well as swimming.

There is also vibrant nightlife in Finland. In addition to bars and restaurants, spending leisure time in cafés is popular at the moment.

An essential part of Finnish culture is the sauna. Most Finnish homes have one. Finland is also known as the home of the Angry Birds game, and an important cornerstone of the Finnish identity is Father Christmas, who lives in Lapland!

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