Photo: Heli Sorjonen, Mavi, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry

Finland has reinvented itself in just one short century. Our national character and Northern heritage have boosted us to the top of all kinds of country rankings. This would never have happened without a core Finnish value: equality. Key elements in the country’s success include a strong commitment to equality, high-quality basic education for all, a practical and problem- solving mindset and consensus-based political decision making, even in times of crisis. With limited natural resources, Finland has always depended on its human resources: smart, knowledgeable, innovative people striving to do more with less.

From poor relation
to thriving neighbour

By the early 20th century, Finland was still one of the poorest and most agrarian countries in Europe. Growing into one of the 21st century’s wealthiest and most modern nations forms the great story of our country.

So where does Finland’s core value of equality stem from? A widely accepted explanation points to a combination of two factors: a harsh climate that has required everybody’s cooperation and input in order to help the community survive and the influence of other Nordic countries with a similar development and values. Before its century as an autonomous part of Russia, Finland had been part of Sweden for more than 600 years.

Due to these strong cultural, political and economic Nordic ties, Finland’s free, universal education system, which was separated from the church, began to develop even in the mid 19th century (1866), long before Finnish independence in 1917. Since 1921, every Finnish child has had access and been required to attend top quality, free-for-all basic education, which is now the heart and soul of Finnish society.

Finland was also the first country in the world to grant women full political rights in 1906, making them active forces in society and crucial shapers of the nation.

There has been nothing random about this process and no gimmicks – just careful and thorough social planning, a healthy climate for compromise and consensus, a well-functioning political system and a common belief in the empowerment of education and research.


  • Finland has a high-class education system
  • Everyone is important, the ethos of “no one is left behind” still thrives
  • Equality, low levels of hierarchy, co-operation
  • Smart use of resources
  • Open society, low levels of corruption
  • Freedom of speech and a free press
  • Competitiveness
  • Gender equality
  • Cleanliness, close relationship with nature
  • Functionality
  • Investments in R&D, a strong innovation culture, a high number of patents per capita
  • Very strong rule of law
  • Original and highly versatile cultural life
Photo: Sakari Piippo, Prime Minister’s Office


See below for just some of the ways in which Finland scores well in international comparisons.

The Good Country Index
The Good Country Index measures what each country contributes to the common good, and what it takes away. Finland is ranked sixth as a contributor of positive things.

The most stable country in the world
Finland is the most stable and least vulnerable to collapse or conflict of the 178 nations listed in this index.

Finland tops the 2016 press freedom index
Finland has topped the World Press Freedom index for the seventh year running. Compiled by Reporters Without Borders, this index indicates that press freedom in Finland is based on strong legal foundations supported by a genuine culture of individual liberty.

Finland ranks second for transparency
In terms of public sector graft, Finland is one of the least corrupt countries in the world. That’s according to Transparency International’s 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), which ranked Finland second behind Denmark.

Second in gender equality
Finland ranked second in the world, again behind Iceland, in the World Economic Forum’s annual Global Gender Gap report 2015.

EU Social Justice Index 2015, Finland ranks third 
Social Justice in the EU – a cross-national comparison places Finland third right after Sweden and Denmark.

Second most innovative country 
Finland emerges as the second most innovative country in the world. The Global Competitiveness Report 2015–2016 evaluates 140 of the world’s economies on various measures of innovation.

Greenest country in the world
According to the Environmental Performance Index, Finland is the greenest country in the world. Finland’s top ranking is mostly based on country’s societal commitment to achieve carbon-neutral society that does not exceed nature’s carrying capacity by 2050.

An innovator in Cleantech
Finland ranked second in the Global Cleantech Innovation Index by WWF and Cleantech Group. Some 40 countries were evaluated based on 15 indicators related to the creation, commercialisation and growth of cleantech start-ups.

A good place for mothers
Finland is in second place in the Save the Children annual State of the World’s Mothers report.

Finland second best country in the EU for quality of life
Finland is amongst the top three European Union countries in terms of quality of life. Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, ranks Finland as the second best country for quality of life after Denmark. The top two are followed by Sweden, Luxembourg, Netherlands and Austria.

Finland in international rankings and comparisons