Finland; Swedish: Finland [ˈfɪnland]), officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden to the west, Norway to the north, Russia to the east and Estonia to the south over the Gulf of Finland.
As of 2013, Finland's population, of which 90% are Finnish speaking Finns, was around 5.5 million, with the majority concentrated in its southern regions. In terms of area, it is the eighth largest country in Europe and the most sparsely populated country in the European Union. Finland is a parliamentary republic with a central government based in the capital of Helsinki, local governments in 336 municipalities and an autonomous region, the Åland Islands. About one million residents live in the Greater Helsinki area (consisting of Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen), which also produces a third of the country's GDP. Other large cities include Tampere, Turku, Oulu, Jyväskylä, Lahti, and Kuopio.
The main factor influencing Finland's climate is the country's geographical position between the 60th and 70th northern parallels in the Eurasian continent's coastal zone. In the Köppen climate classification, the whole of Finland lies in the boreal zone characterized by warm summers and freezing winters. Within the country, the temperateness varies considerably between the southern coastal regions and the extreme north, showing characteristics of both a maritime and a continental climate. Finland is near enough to the Atlantic Ocean to be continuously warmed by the Gulf Stream. The Gulf Stream combines with the moderating effects of the Baltic Sea and numerous inland lakes to explain the unusually warm climate compared with other regions that share the same latitude, such as Alaska, Siberia and southern Greenland.
The extensive road system is utilized by most internal cargo and passenger traffic. The annual state operated road network expenditure of around 1 billion euro is paid with vehicle and fuel taxes which amount to around 1.5 billion euro and 1 billion euro.
Icebreakers enable shipping even during severe winters.
The state-owned VR Group operates a railway network serving all major cities.
The main international passenger gateway is Helsinki-Vantaa Airport with almost 15 million passengers in 2011. Oulu Airport is the second largest and around 25 airports have scheduled passenger services. The Helsinki-Vantaa based Finnair, Blue1 and Flybe Nordic sell air services both domestically and internationally. Helsinki has an optimal location for great circle (i.e. the shortest and most efficient) routes between Western Europe and the Far East.