FINLAND, A FULL MEMBER of the European Union since 1995, is a North European Republic bordered by the Gulf of Finland, the Baltic Sea, the Scandinavian peninsula, and Russia. It is geographically larger than the United Kingdom or Italy, and slightly smaller than Germany, but has less than one tenth of their populations or, 5.2 million people. Finland was part of the Kingdom of Sweden for 560 years until 1809, when it was lost to Russia. Under Russian rule, Finland became a grand duchy, and enjoyed semi-independent status in the empire, with its own Senate, government offices, teachers, troops, stamps, currency, and, importantly, language. In 1917, when revolution led to the formation of the Soviet Union, Finland broke away from Russia and declared its independence, which it successfully defended during subsequent wars.
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