Geography of Finland

The landscape as it emerges today was formed during and just after the last ice age. The height differences are small, but the country has a changing nature with different natural foundations: towards the Bothnia and the Gulf of Finland a fertile lowland with large agricultural areas in the south and southwest, within the coastal country a wooded plateau intersected by watercourses and lakes, and farthest in the north you find tundra.


Finland is between 60th and 70th latitude, and around one third of the country is north of the Arctic Circle.

Northernmost point is the Laplandic city Nuorgam (Northern Sami: Njuorggán) in Utsjoki municipality: 70 ° 5’30” and southernmost point Åland Bogskär in Kökar municipality 59 ° 30′ 10”

The country is 1157 kilometers from north to south, and the greatest latitude is 542 kilometers. The coastline is about 1100 kilometers long, incisions not included. The highest point is Haldefjäll (Finnish: Halti, Northern Sami: Háldičohkka) measuring 1324 meters above sea level. Haldefjäll is really a secondary peak to Ráisduottarháldi which is 1361 meters high and is located on the border between Nordreisa and Kåfjord municipalities in Troms county.

The country’s borders total 2582 kilometers; Of these, 1269 kilometers are towards Russia, 736 kilometers towards Norway and 586 kilometers towards Sweden. The border with Sweden follows the Torne River (Finnish: Tornionjoki, Northern Sami: Duortnoseatnu), the Muonio River (Finnish: Muonionjoki) and the Könkämä River (Finnish: Könkämäeno, Northern Sami: Geaggáneatnu) to Treriksrøysa. Against Norway, the watershed forms Anárjohka (Swedish: Inare river, Finnish: Inarijoki) and Tanaelva (Swedish:Tana River, Finnish: Tenojoki, Northern Sami: Deatnu) a natural boundary all the way to Polmak. In the east the boundary follows partly the water divide and in the southeast partly the ridge Salpausselkä. Over half of Finland’s total area is covered by forests and 33,551 km² of lakes and watercourses. There are around 188,000 lakes in Finland over 500 m².


The whole of Finland belongs to the Fennoscandian bedrock shield. The rocks are old transformed granite, gneiss and crystalline shale. Finland is almost completely missing mountains from a younger age than the Precambrian. The Rapakivigranite is one of the youngest and most well-known rocks. This bedrock rock is particularly prominent in southern Finland. The granite crumbles very lightly and provides a weathered material that does not provide very fertile soil.

The bedrock surface is smooth, but hilly and strongly fractured. The main crack direction in the mountain is northwest-southeast, with transverse stripes in the northeast-southwest direction. Along these zones of weakness, the glaciers of the ice age have dug out recesses, death ice pits in the bedrock, which are now filled with lakes and marshes.

The glacier deposits play a significant role in Finland’s topography, especially the deposits that were made in the sea and in the glaciers. The flat bedrock surface inland is covered by a thin layer of moraine gravel. Fresh forms of erosion are not very important. Due to the smooth surface, the ice has not left any traces in the mountain. There are few scouring strips that indicate the direction of the ice.

In the south, the moraine and river deposits are gathered in heavy parallel ridges of gravel and sand that protrude high in the landscape. Particularly characteristic are the Salpausselkä ridges, which cross Finland to the south of the lakes about 25 kilometers apart. These are endemores formed at the edge of the ice masses. These front deposits correspond to the ra deposits in Norway, which can be followed piecemeal to Ryfylke. The end mothers are not damming backs for the lakes, which are so-called troughs that remained after the glaciers disappeared. Across these randdannelsene winds it up elongate ridges, eskers, often as narrow tangs over the lakes. Boxers are characteristic of Finland; they are deposits from the glaciers that went in tunnels under the glacier in the longitudinal direction of the ice. Otherwise there are a number of smaller moraine ridges, drumlines, especially in the eastern part of Finland.

When the glaciers melted, the land was squeezed by the masses of ice, and the sea covered much of Finland during the latter part of the ice age. In the sea, clay sediments have been deposited which have become dry land after the land has risen again, and these now constitute clay letters in the river valleys and otherwise cracks in the landscape. Especially in the south and southwest, a lot of clay was deposited, and here are the best agricultural areas. The uplift is still ongoing at about 40 centimeters per 100 years in the south, and about one meter on the west coast of Vasa.

Geography of Finland

Natural geographical regions

Finland can be divided into three natural geographical regions: the lake plateau, the coastal country and the highlands of northern Finland.

  1. The lake plateau is located north of Salpausselkä. Of the area, more than 25 percent are lakes, all of which are well-branched and relatively shallow. The usual depth is between 5 and 20 meters, the deepest is Päijännewith 93 meters. The lakes are all located in the north-south or northwest-southeast direction, and also have roughly the same elevation: Saimen(76 meters), Kallavesi (82 meters), Päijänne (78 meters), Näsijärvi (95 meters) and Pielsjärvi (94 meters)). The largest lake in this area is Saimaa (Finnish: Saimaa)) on 4377 km², which is Finland’s largest and Europe’s fourth largest lake, then comes Päijänne on 1081 km², which is Finland’s third largest lake. The shorelines of the lakes are very divided and irregular.

The lake plateau is highest in the northeast with the peaks Naulavaara, 355 meters above sea level, and Koli, 348 meters above sea level. The largest and best-known boxes are Punkaharju and the Emperor’s Cross (Finnish: Keisarinharju). Of the total area in the lake plateau, 5-10 per cent is cultivated land and about 60 per cent productive forest.

  1. The coastal land is a lowland area, about 50–100 kilometers wide, and runs around the entire coast from the border with Russia to the bottom of Bottenvika. It rises from sea ​​levelto about 100 meters above sea level. The coastal land was flooded by the sea at the end of the ice age, and especially in the south and southwest are the best agricultural areas. In Bottenvika there is more sandy soil, especially along the rivers, and there are also large marsh areas, but with good drainage these can also be good agricultural land.

To the south is a distinct archipelago coast with a number of islets and small indents. Finland’s most important rivers flow through the coastal land. Saimen drains to Ladoga through the river Vuoksen (Finnish: Vuoksi, Russian: Vuoksa). At Kotka comes the Kymmene River (Finnish: Kymijoki), which is the drain to Päijänne, and at Pori (Finnish: Pori) comes the Kumo River (Finnish: Kokemäenjoki), which is Näsijärvi’s drain. At Oulu (Finnish: Oulu) comes the Ule River (Finnish:Oulujoki), which is Ule Tresk’s drain. Of the area in the coastal land, 40 per cent in the southwest to 5 per cent in the north are cultivated land, and about 50–60 per cent is productive forest.

  1. The highlands north of lake plateau also plateau character, interrupted by mountain ranges 500-800 meters above sea level in the northwest towards the Norwegian border is Finland’s highest mountain Haldefjäll(Finnish: Halti) 1328 meters above sea level. In the highlands is also Finland’s second largest lake Enare swamp (1102 km²) and the Kemi river, Finland’s longest river (483 kilometers long). Of the area in the north, less than one per cent is cultivated land, 50-60 per cent is productive forest, and the rest are unproductive areas.


Swedish name Finnish name Land area km² Residents (2016)
Nyland Uusimaa 6366 1 838 293
Eastern Uusimaa Itä-Uusimaa 2747 93 490
Real Finland Varsinais-Suomi 10 624 475 543
Satakunta Satakunta 8290 221 740
Real Habitat Kanta-Häme 5204 173 781
Pirkanmaa Pirkanmaa 12 272 509 356
Päijänne-Tavastia Päijät-Häme 5133 201 685
kymenlaakso Kymenlaakso 5106 177 659
Southern Karelia Etelä-Karjala 5618 130 506
Southern Savolax Etelä-Savo 14 137 148 975
Northern Savolax Pohjois-Savo 16 808 247 776
Northern Karelia Pohjois-Karjala 17 782 164 085
Central Finland Keski-Suomi 16 582 276 196
Southern Ostrobothnia Etelä-Pohjanmaa 13 458 191 860
Ostrobothnia Ostrobothnia 7675 181 441
Middle Ostrobothnia Keski-Pohjanmaa 5286 69 027
Northern Ostrobothnia Pohjois-Pohjanmaa 35 290 411 150
Kainuu Kainuu 21 567 74 803
Lapland Lappi 93 004 180 207
Aland Ahvenanmaa 1527 29 214


Finland’s climate has a more continental feel than our Norwegian climate, although the Åland Islands and parts of the south coast have a humid coastal climate. Neither in terms of temperature nor rainfall are major regional contrasts. Especially in the summer, the temperature differences are small. In southern Finland, the average temperature in July is 17–18 ° C, in Lapland 14–15 ° C. In winter, the difference is greater. In the Åland Islands, the average temperature in February is −4 ° C, in Lapland −15 ° C. Winters can be very cold here, with minimum temperatures down to –50 ° C. The Baltic ports freeze for 3–4 months completely in the archipelago even in mild winters.

The climatic contrasts between southern and northern Finland are best expressed in the comparison between certain climatic conditions. The growth period (the number of days when the average temperature is above 5 ° C) is 175 days on the south coast and 120 days in Lapland. The number of days with snow covered ground in the southwest is around 100, while in Lapland it is about 200. The snow depth on the Åland Islands is on average about 20 centimeters, east of Ule swamp more than 80 centimeters. The average annual rainfall in the south is 750 millimeters, compared to only 400-450 millimeters in the westernmost part of Lapland, which comes in the rain shadow of the Scandinavian mountain range. It is even drier on the west coast than inland to the east. The period with the most rainfall is July – August. Spring is rainy, especially along the coast.