a republic which became independent in 1917. The head of state is the
president. Ultimate political power is vested in the 200-member unicameral
parliament. The semiautonomous province of the Åland Islands occupies
a special position because it has been declared a demilitarize area under
The population of Finland today is a little over 5 million. Finland is
rightly known as a land of forests: they cover roughly three quarters
of the country's surface area of 338,000 sq. km.
Other outstanding features of Finland's scenery are its myriad lakes and
islands. Lakes and other bodies of water cover 10% of the national territory.
The principal archipelago lies off the southwest coast while the main
lake district, centered on Lake Saimaa, is in the east.