Finland is a low-lying country in Northern Europe that has gone from occupation by Sweden in the 12th Century to Russian occupation under Czar Alexander I. Finland was under Russian control until 1917, when it declared its independence following the Bolshevist Revolution. Though the country has tried to remain neutral during world conflicts, WWII had Finland being occupied by Germany and fighting the Russians twice before the end of the war. Since the end of the Cold War, Finland has moved toward greater cooperation with Western nations, including the United States. The Finns have experienced severe financial issues internally, but this has not stopped them from taking steps to open trade relations with the West, as well as take precautionary steps to make sure their economy is not negatively affected in the future. On October 10, 2008, Finnish Prime Minister Martti Ahtisaari won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to build peace from Africa and Asia to Europe and the Middle East.
Lay of the Land: In northern Europe, Finland is a low-lying country with a vast number of lakes. Its greatest resource is its evergreen forests, which cover nearly three fourths of the land. The northern third of the country lies within the Arctic Circle.
Finland was settled by a race of people who came from west-central Siberia immediately after the Ice Age (around 8500 BC). They arrived in Finland several thousand years ago, pushing the indigenous Lapps into the northerly regions of the country.
The earliest Finns in the US came as part of the New Sweden colony in the 17th century, but eventually were assimilated into the dominant English and Dutch communities there. Finns also played a role in Russian fur trading in Alaska in the 19th Century and moved south to places like Seattle and San Francisco when Russia sold Alaska to the US in 1867.
Relations between Finland the United States are cooperative. The United States has an educational exchange program in Finland. It is financed in part from a trust fund established in 1976 from Finland's final repayment of a US loan made in the aftermath of World War I.
From 2005 to 2009, the largest American imports from Finland included petroleum products, up from $345.9 million to $578.6 million; generators, transformers, and accessories increasing from $106.6 million to $205.9 million; nickel on the rise from $44.7 million to $82.9 million; photo chemicals, print inks, and paint, increasing from $72.8 million to $81.7 million ;fuel oil, increasing from $0 to $22.3 million; tobacco, waxes, and non-food oils, moving up from $16.6 million to $34.3 million.
According to the State Department “human rights problems included violence against women, trafficking in persons, and societal discrimination against foreign-born residents and Roma (Gypsies), according to the State Department. There were reports of societal discrimination against foreign-born residents, including refugees and asylum seekers.”The State Department noted “as of October 1,2007, a total of 599 cases of rape were reported to the police. Justice Ministry officials estimated that the actual number of rape cases was higher, noting that as many as 75% of unreported rapes each year were committed by a known assailant.”
Alexander R. Magruder
The Nordic nation of Finland, where more than 60% of the population speaks at least some English, has sent its first female ambassador to the United States. Ritva Koukku-Ronde, a former journalist with experience in global development issues, took over on September 1, 2011, and presented her credentials to President Barack Obama eight days later.
Heir to the Oreck vacuum-cleaning fortune, Bruce Oreck was sworn in as U.S. ambassador to Finland August 12, 2009. His experiences have run the gamut from tax attorney to body building to major player in Democratic Party politics. Having contributed thousands of dollars of his own money to campaigns, Oreck also has helped raise even more cash from others for candidates, including President Barack Obama.