Finland is one of the Nordic countries in northern Europe.
The country has comfortable small towns and cities, as well as vast areas of unspoiled nature. About 10% of the area is made up by 188,000 lakes, with a similar number of islands. Finland extends into the Arctic, where the Northern Lights and the Midnight Sun can be seen. The mythical mountain of Korvatunturi is said to be the home of Santa Claus, and there is a Santaland in Rovaniemi. While Finland is a high-technology welfare state, Finns love to head to their summer cottages in the warmer months to enjoy all manner of relaxing pastimes including sauna, swimming, fishing and barbecuing during the short but bright summer. Finland has a distinctive language and culture that sets it apart from the rest of Nordic Europe. Notably lacking in craggy mountains or crenellated fjords, Finland is not the adrenalin-laden winter sports paradise you might expect: the traditional Finnish pastime is cross-country skiing through more or less flat terrain. If you're looking for downhill skiing, snowboarding etc., you'll need to head up to Lapland and resorts like Levi and Saariselkä. (Picture © Credits to istock/bruev)