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The most sparsely populated country in the European Union, Finland borders Sweden, Norway and Russia. Independent since 1917, Finland is parliamentary democracy with several active parties, a vibrant civil society and a very strong degree of press freedom. The primary childrens rights concerns include the failure to sign the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography as well as issues related to the protection of women and girls from violence and the treatment of child asylum seekers.
Finland is one of the northernmost countries in Europe, bordering Russia, Sweden and Norway. The country comprises 187,888 lakes and 179,584 islands, and more than two thirds of the land is forested. Helsinki is the capital city.
Population and Language
Approximately five and a half million people inhabit Finland. Finnish is spoken by more than 90 per cent of the population – the next most popular language is Swedish (around five per cent). Ethnic groups include Finns, Swedes, Lapps, Sami, Roma, and Tatars.
History and Politics
Finland is a constitutional republic with a mixed presidential/parliamentary system with executive powers divided between the president, who has primary responsibility for national security and foreign affairs, and the prime minister, who has primary responsibility for all other areas.
Finland has a civil law system based on Swedish law.
The country spends heavily on education, training and research, delivering one of the best-educated and trained workforces in the world. This has been key to the development of a modern, competitive economy in which a cutting-edge telecommunications sector has been added to the traditional timber and metals industries.
Media and civil society
Finland's broadcasting sector is diverse. Public YLE, funded by licence fees, operates radio and TV networks, and new stations continue to emerge, including pay TV. According to Finish law, every citizen has the right to publish printed material. Broadband access is a legal right for every citizen. Newspapers are privately owned and reflect a range of political views. Finland came joint first in the 2010 Reporters Without Borders world press freedom index. The country has a free and vibrant civil society.
Human Rights and Children's Rights
Finland ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child on 20 June 1991, the Optional Protocol on the involvement of children in armed conflict on 10 April 2002, but has thus far only signed, not ratified, the Optional Protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. Concerns have been raised regarding the protection of women and girls against violence, and the detention of unaccompanied children seeking asylum. Conscientious objectors to military service are imprisoned.