In Perspective – A Breif History of Finland

When I talk about Finnish immigrants to the America, many of you will probably notice that many Finns do not come from “Finland”.  As a country, Finland is not even 100 years old.  In fact, Finland has only been autonomous for 104 years.   

From the 12th century until 1809, the land now known as Finland was mostly part of Sweden.  The exceptions were 1714 to 1721, the Greater Wrath, and 1742 to 1743, the Lesser Wrath, when Finland was under control of the Russians.  So from the founding of New Sweden in 1638 until 1809, Swedish-Finns would be immigrating to the Americas (United States, Canada, and the Caribbean).

In 1809 Sweden, along with England and Portugal, were at war with Napoleon.  The Russians would take advantage of a newly formed peace with France to attack Sweden.  At that time Finland would become an autonomous part of Russia, the Grand Dutchy of Finland, under Czar Alexandar I.  Finland would declare independence December 6th 1917.  The Great Migration of Finns, not only to the US and Canada but also now Argentina and Brazil, would occur under Russian rule.

During the founding of New Sweden, it is said that half the settlers were Finnish, roughly 182 in 1655.  Today in the Americas, latest censuses estimate claim there are roughly 700,000 Finns in the US (placing it as the largest concentration outside Finland), 131,000 in Canada (#3), and 90,000 in Brazil (#5).   If you’re interested, Sweden and Russia fill in the respective skipped positions in the top 5.

As I continue writing my articles, I will share my on-line and real-world discoveries of Finnish immigration into the New World.  Sometimes I will focus on individuals.  Sometimes I will focus on entire communities.  I will also be adding lists of sites of Finnish cultural or historical significance as well as a list of events in the Americas.

I hope you enjoy my site.

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