Great Finnish Emigration

Many Finns and Finnish-Americans may have heard about the Great Migration of Finland. After World War II many Finns of the rural lands of the north started to migrate to the industrial lands of the south.  But there was also a Great Finnish Emigration to the New World  from the 1870 to the start of World War II.  

First I feel the need to start with a vocabulary lesson, or at least how I will look at this topic.  Migration is: the moving from one place to another.  Immigration is: entering one place from another.  Emigration is: leaving one place for another.  Using those terms, the internal movement of Finns in Finland (or the larger Sweden and Russia) I consider “migration”, or Great Migration.  The movement of Finns from Finland for the New World I consider “emigration”, or the Great Emigration.  Now with vocabulary out of the way, let’s look at the Great Finnish Migration and the Great Finnish Emigration.

The Great Migration in Finland was heaviest from the 1950’s to the early-1970’s.  It started with the resettlement Karelia refugees after World War II.  But it continued with a economic sift from rural agricultural society to and industrialized one.  By 1980, 90% of the Finnish populations live’s within the southern most 45% of land.

The Great Emigration from Finland was before World War II.  It went from 1870’s to 1930.  In the 1870’s there were 3,000 migrant Finns living in the United States.  By the end of the 1880’s, even with new US regulations, 36,000 Finns moved to the US.  Emigration moved to Canada after the US passed stricter Immigration Act of 1924, limiting Finnish entry into the US to 500 each year.  Today there are 700,000 Finns in the US, 131,040 in Canada, and 90,000 in Brazil.  That 17% of all the Finns or almost a million Finns in the Americas.

Oppression buy the Russian, marketing by the US, even the Finnish Civil War were just a few of the things that made Finns look at emigration to the New World.  I will look at these in future posts entitled:  “Great Emigration”

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