The Finnish population is quite homogenous and there are few national minorities. The largest minorities are the Sâmi (Lapps) living in Lapland, of whom there are around 6000, and the Romanies (Gypsies) of whom there are 6500. Many such groups have their own languages, but they also speak Finnish. They are Finnish citizens.
Finland has two main official languages: Finnish and Swedish. The majority of Finns speak Finnish as their mother tongue. Swedish speakers account for 289 951 which is 5,4 % of the population. They mainly inhabit the South of Finland and the West Coast. In these areas, e.g., doctors, shop assistants and post office workers are required to have a command of both languages. Pupils can also study at school in both languages. In the Sâmi areas, the Sâmi (Lappish) language is the official language (31.12.2008 statistics).
Finnish belongs to a different group of languages than most European languages. Other Finno-Ugric languages include Hungarian and Estonian. Many people regard Finnish as a difficult language. For example, the words can be very long and there is a large number of grammatical cases. Most Finns have some or good command of English. However, it is difficult to get by without some knowledge of Finnish or Swedish. If an immigrant cannot speak at least one of Finland’s official languages, he or she will be virtually unable to find work. It is very important to begin language studies immediately.
Online Finnish Language Courses and Summer Courses
It is always worth learning a new language. If you would like to come to Finland during the summer and learn Finnish, there is a possibility to join CIMO Summer Language Courses for all levels. Please consult following web pages for more information about CIMO Summer Language Courses and where to study Finnish outside of Finland.
Source: Finnish Statistics and Ministery of Interior
Photo: Heidi Kyllönen, 2010