Most people have heard of Finland, but when asked what they know about the country, replies seldom go further than we have many long days without sun in the winter, that it is always cold, and that we have a lot of pine trees. However, some are more positive about Finland and will mention that it is the land of the midnight sun and a wonderful place to experience the northern light, or aurora borealis. Some will venture further and state that Finland is part of Scandinavia (which it is), an area of Northern Europe made up of four countries, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and, of course, Finland. However, ask someone to point to Finland on a map, and much head scratching often follows.
As a Finn, I have got used to an “outsider’s” opinion of Finland and, in many ways, we have a good laugh to think that many, many people miss out on so many of the wonderful things that we love about the country.
So, is there a reason why Finland remains such a mysterious country that few know a great deal about? The answer is yes, and the reason is because Finland, like many countries in the north and eastern areas of Europe, is not a holiday “hot spot”. We don’t have the soaring temperatures in the summer, nor beaches that disappear into a warm, inviting sea like the Mediterranean. We have the Gulf of Finland and the Baltic Sea, neither of which are particularly warm. While France and Italy attract many for the warm weather in the summer, Greece and Spain attract tourists in their millions because of the wonderful sandy beaches and virtually guaranteed sunshine.
Finland is a bit of a paradox as, from an economic standpoint, we would love to have more tourists, yet if we became overrun by them as has happens in the south of France and south of Spain in the summer, we would lose the very essence of what makes Finland so very, very special.
Space, clean air and unspoilt nature wherever you look.
Finland may be bigger than you imagine, being the seventh largest country of the 28 which make up the European Union. We are, surprisingly, bigger than Hungary, Romania, Poland and even the UK, yet where the population is concerned, Finland is the least densely populated country in Europe with an average 17.4 persons/km2and a total population of just 5.5 million. Now that’s not many when you consider there are 65 million people in the UK and 37 million in Poland, both of which are smaller than Finland.
Now, about this business of days in the winter when the sun doesn’t rise. Yes, it’s true, for 51 days of the year it doesn’t rise, but the glorious upside is that in the summer, for 78 days, the sun never sets, so there is daylight 24 hours a day. It is an amazing time of the year when Mother Nature works overtime and nature makes up for the shorter days when the sun has gone on holiday.
People are also correct when it comes to Finland and wood. Remarkably, approximately 78% of the land is covered in forest, of which 50% is Scots pine, 30% Norway spruce and the remainder birch and other deciduous trees. There are approximately 80 billion trees in Finland, and what few people realise is that 60% of our forests are in the hands of private individuals, much of which has been handed down through the generations. That is very much the case where our hives are located, so we have total control over the environment surrounding them, which basically means we do nothing and leave all the hard work to nature itself.
If I were to ask you to name a country that was well-known for its beautiful lakes, what would you think of? Switzerland perhaps, with its world-famous Lake Geneva and Lake Lucerne, Lake Zurich and Lake Lugano. Maybe Canada with its Great Lakes of Huron, Michigan, Superior, Ontario and Erie? Interestingly, Canada, which is roughly 30-times larger than Finland is supposed to have the most lakes of any country, yet Finland claims to have the most, with 187,888 lakes and ponds larger than 500 square metres. Even Russia claims to have more, but then Russia is 51-times bigger than Finland! It also depends on your definition of a lake, as in Canada, in the southern part of the country, they say a body of water cannot be classed as a lake if you can hear someone shouting at you from the opposite bank!
Finally, there is the environment, where we are truly blessed. Depending on what, specifically, is being measured, you will usually find Finland either at the top, or very near the top of any list relating to the cleanest countries in the world, especially when it comes to air quality. Finland is often compared with New Zealand, in the southern hemisphere, with regards to cleanliness and air quality. It is perhaps no coincidence then that the two countries are of a similar size and New Zealand actually has only 4.5 million inhabitants.
So, if you were a bee living in Europe, where would you want to live? Were that question asked on any other website, it would seem very bizarre, but on our website, it is very pertinent. You only have to look at our main video that takes you through the woodland and forest where our hives are secretly located to provide the answer to the question. Why wouldn’t a bee want to live in Finland.
The same applies to all of us here at Hikiän, as there is nowhere else in the world that we would rather live either, and if you ever decide to come to Finland to discover what I have been talking about, I can guarantee you would not be disappointed.
However, if we are just a little to far away for you to come and visit, you can still enjoy the benefits of our wonderfully clean and beautiful country with a pot of our exquisite honey where you can almost taste the purity of the environment in which the bees make our honey.