| Finland is surrounded
in the south, southwest and west by the Baltic Sea,
the Gulf of Finland and the Gulf of Bothnia.
The coastline is highly indented and its total length is 4600km
(2760 miles) and around the coast is a vast archipelago
of thousands of islands.
The coast and archipelago are largely composed of granite rocks,
either grey or red and these are generally low-lying. In many places
there are long unspoiled beautiful sandy beaches. There are no tides
to speak of, so the appearance of the seashore does not alter much
from the lakeshores. In addition, the seawater is not very salty
as very little water of high salt content passes through the Danish
straits, and the many rivers, as well as the rainfall,
contribute more water to the Baltic than is lost
A special feature of the Baltic is that the land is constantly rising
from the sea, by as much as 9mm a year in the narrow part of the
Gulf of Bothnia - a long-term result of the end
of the Ice Age. The archipelago
can be explored by cruises from many of the local coastal towns.
Southwest Finland and the Åland
Islands are the warmest part of the country and more deciduous
trees grow here than anywhere else in the Finland. Fruit and vegetables
are cultivated extensively and twenty per cent of the country’s
fields are located here.
For historical reasons, a large proportion of the Swedish-speaking
population of Finland lives throughout this region and is concentrated
in the Åland Islands, the Turku Archipelago
and on the south coast. The region is often spoken
of as the cradle of Finnish civilisation and the area has a larger
concentration of granite churches and manors than in the country.
Main towns and Resorts
Hämeenlinna, Hanko, Hamina, Hyvinkää, Kouvola, Kotka,
Kuusankoski, Lohja, Mariehamn and Åland Islands, Naantali,
Parainen, Pori, Porvoo, Rauma, Riihimäki, Tammisaari, Turku