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Finland

Basic Information

Area: 338,145 km²

Calling code: +358

Population: 5,318,196

Official Language: Finnish, Swedish

Time zone: EET (UTC+2), Local time: 11:29

Overview

The Republic of Finland is located in Northern Europe, bordering the countries of Sweden, Norway and Russia. Its territory covers 338,145km2, with a population of 5.2 million people, making it one of the most densely populated areas in Europe. The countries main economical centre is the capital city of Helsinki, which is strategically located on the southern coast, allowing for easy access to European markets. Other major cities include Espoo, Tampere, Vanta, Turku and Oulu.

Finland became a full member state of the European Union in 1995, and in 1999 it adopted the euro (EUR) as its currency, which replaced the old Finnish markka (FIM). It is the only European country neighbouring Russia that is not a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (NATO).

Economy

Finland's economy is based around the service sector, which generates 66% of the total GDP of 182.6 billion. The metropolitan region of Helsinki, is the prime economic centre, and is home to a third of all companies in the country, including the headquarters of Nokia - the largest company in Finland. Other large employers include Stora Enso (forestry), Neste Oil, UPM (forestry), Kesko (trade), SOK (trade) and Outokumpu (mining).

Industry accounts for a third of the GDP, and is the largest sector with regards to foreign trade. In 2009 Finland exported $57.88 billion worth of goods, mostly machinery, electronic equipment, timber and chemicals to Russia, Sweden, Germany, the US, the UK and the Netherlands. Minerals and timber related products are manufactured from raw materials found in the country, while Finland relies on imports for components used in other manufactured goods from the countries of Russia, Sweden and Germany.

Infrastructure

There are 148 airports serving the country, the largest being the Helsniki-Vantaa airport, which is situated 17km north of the city centre. It operates frequent flights to international destinations, while Easyjet, Blue1 and Finnair offer flights to London, which take approximately 2hours and 45 minutes. There is also a separate cargo terminal, where 9 cargo airlines transport goods to Tallinn, Hong Kong, Luxembourg and Copenhagen.

Finland has a dense network of roadways which are well maintained, partly thanks to the EUR 1 billion which is invested into the road system annually. There is an extensive railway system which spans the country and in operated by the Finnish owned VR Group. Transportation to neighbouring countries using the railway network is also possible, with connecting trains to Russia (St.Petersburg, Moscow), Sweden and Germany. Finland has a total of 98 merchant marine, which dock at one of the countries main ports of Hamina, Helsinki, Kokkola, Kotka, Naantali, Pori, Raahe, Rauma and Turku.

The country has a high energy consumption, partly due to the large industrial and construction sectors. Most of its energy needs are generated by imported fossil fuels such as oil and gas. There are also four privately owned nuclear power plants, which generate a combined total of 18% of the countries entire energy needs. Finland is not as environmentally friendly as other Nordic countries such as Iceland and Sweden, with increasing carbon dioxide emissions, however the government are working on developing more sustainable energy sources.

Workforce

Finland has a labourforce of 2.68 million, 32% of which work in public services, 18% in agriculture, 15% in industry, 14% in finance and 6% in construction. The primary language of Finnish is spoken by 93% of the population, while Swedish is also an official language of the country and spoken by 5% of the population. Learning a foreign language is encouraged from an early age, thus many Finns are bi-lingual and speak English along with their first language. Only 2.5% of the countries population are foreign nationals, which is one of the lowest figures in Europe; most ethnic minorities come from Estonia, Russia and Sweden.

Finland boasts a highly educated workforce, thanks to a heavily invested education infrastructure which is ranked the best in the world, by the World Economic Forum (WEF). Attendance of primary and secondary schooling is mandatory for all citizens between the ages of 7 and 16. There are a total of 20 universities and 30 polytechnic universities in the country, most of which offer internationally accredited degree programmes. Finland also has strong research facilities, particularly in scientific fields, with 30% of all graduates majoring in a science related programmes.

Business Costs

Finland's corporate tax rate is equal to the average rate of all European Union member countries, at 26% of gross annual profits. Personal tax rates are low, and they underwent a reform in 2009, when all tax brackets were reduced by 1%. Personal taxes work on a progressive scale, ranging from 7% - 30.5%, with an additional municipal and church tax which varies depending on the area the individual resides in. There are three value added tax rates in operation in the country: 8% for all books and public transportation services, 17% for foodstuffs and a standard 22% rate for most other goods and services.

There is no unified minimum wage pact, however the trade unions ensure that employees are allocated at least a minimum wage for the sector they work in. Wage rates are based on two factors - the location of the business and its corresponding sector, for example minimum wage rates for those working in the construction industry range from €8.95 to €14.64 per hour, while the average wage for an employee in the private sector is €25 per hour. Working hours are based on an 8 hour day, or 40 hours a week, and any work after these hours are are classed as 'overtime' and require a higher rate of pay.

Lease rates for office spaces are relatively low, according to the Cushman and Wakefield 2010 report, the Helsinki CBD has an average rental cost of $39.92 per square foot per annum, which puts costs in Helsinki on par with cities such as Auckland and Buenos Aires. Lease prices in smaller cities such as Espoo and Tempere are much lower.
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