FINLAND (Suomi) is the sixth largest country in Europe, extending over 130, 159 square miles (337, 113 square kilometers) and exceeded in size only by France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, and European Russia. It is nearly 9,000 square miles greater than the combined area of the United Kingdom and Eire. Of this vast territory 69 per cent is covered by forests, more than 9 per cent by inland waters, and only 7?; per cent constitutes agricultural land.
The main body of Finland may conveniently be divided into three separate geographical areas - in the south and west, a coastal plain; in the centre, a great lake plateau; and the extensive and densely forested uplands of the north. The southern coastal plain is the most populous area of Finland, as well as the most intensely cultivated and here, also, is situated the capital Helsinki, together with many other, smaller, centers of population. The great Salpaussalka ridge, running from east to west, separates it from the lake plateau to the north. The western coastland of Ostrobothnia rises more gradually towards the east, and is characterized by extensive areas of flat meadows and plough land. It is intersected by numerous rivers and streams flowing into the Gulf of Bothnia.
The central plateau has given Finland the appellation of 'the land of ten thousand lakes'. Quite literally this is a true description, and the chains of interlinked lakes, forged by the inland ice of a bygone age, stretch out for hundreds of miles in intricate but exceedingly important systems of natural waterways. They also constitute an invaluable source of energy, and it is not surprising to find Finland's main centers of industry such as Tampere (Tammerfors), located in this area.
Though, in fact, most of the country is covered by forests, it is in the north that the great, unbroken belts of pine and spruce are to be found. Here, too, the land becomes more rugged, with ranges of high hills rising to the east; while to the north-west on the Norwegian border, particularly at the end of the Enontekio salient, it even assumes a mountainous appearance. Lakes are fewer than further south, at the same time as rivers are longer and more powerful, and rapids more frequent. On higher ground the forest gives way to great wastes of heather and lichen, the monotony of which is broken only by the sparse and solitary appearance of the study northern dwarf-birch.
Natural resources such as lakes and abounded forest an almost equally complete lack of other natural resources essential to heavy industry, would appear amply to justify such a verdict. The advent of the machine-saw and electric power, however, have at least in part modified, if not invalidated, the poet's judgment. Both contributed in making large-scale exploitation of the country's only major resource -the 'green gold' of the forests - an outstanding success. The forests cover 83,784 square miles (21,700,000 hectares). At one time during the inter-war period Finland rose to the first position in the world as an exporter of sawn timber.
Second in importance of Finland's natural assets are her great reserves of potential hydro-electrical power. Much of this is situated in the north-eastern parts of the country, particularly in the great rivers of the north. Total generating capacity, at present, is rather more than 1 million kw., produced by some 600 different plants. Nearly one-half of contemporary output, however, is derived from thermal and pressure-operated plants, but an ambitious program of new hydro-electrical construction, expected to be completed by 1952, is in progress which will decisively tip the balance in favor of current from this source. ...