The Finns are a Nordic people. Finland straddles the Arctic Circle north of continental Europe. Although today Finland is strongly associated with Scandinavia, the people have a completely different ethnic origin. The linguistic difference with the Finnish language was until recently the primary evidence of the ethnic origin of the Finns. Linguistic assessments are useful and one of the few sources of possible historic ethnic information before DNA methods were developed. But because language is a cultural and not a ethnic artifact, this can be misleading. Today with DNA studies we have a much better understanding. The Scandinavians originated with the North German tribes of antiquity. The Finns and Sami (Lapps) originated with the Uralic peoples, Arctic hunting people inhabiting the central Ural mountains (8,000-5,000 BC). The original inhabitants were the Sami (Lapp) people which were pushed north by the Northern Germans in the West and the Finns in the East. The population of Finland is largely homogeneous and dominated by the Finnish people, but the origins are more diverse than once believed. There are small minority groups, but until recently 95 percent of the population is Finnish. Even today the country is still about 90 percent Finnish. The minorities, especially the Swedes have had an important cultural impact, but are not a large part of the population.
What is known as the Finnish region (Suomi) includes what is modern-day Finland and northwestern Russia.
The origins of the Finnish people are not known with any certainty. he prevalent theory on the origins of the population have been formed with archaeological, linguistic and more recently biological (DNA) research. Finns and Sami (Lapps) appeared to have descended from a Proto-Finno-Sami (Uralic) people migrating west from the east and south-east. While there is no historical data, these migrations west were often caused by interactions between the Chinese and Mongolian Steppe tribes. The Proto-Uralic peoples are believed to have originated in the central Ural Mountains east of modern Finland (about 8,000-5000 BC). They are believed to have been an Arctic hunting people, perhaps evolving unto a herding people. One of these tribes, the Sami people migrated into what is now Finland and Scandinavia before the Finns and North German tribes. They were the indigenous population
This initial Finnish population settled in southern areas of Finland during the Neolithic Period (4,200 - 1,500 BC). They introduced the Comb-Ceramic culture. Over time Balts, especially from the area of modern Estonia also arrived in southern Finland as well as Swedes (a Scandinavian Germanic people). More Germans arrived during the early Middle ages. The modern Finnish language although Uralic in origin has been strongly influenced by Swedish and to a lesser extent Baltic. The impact of these non-Finnish peoples is such that linguists today describe Finnish as a indo-europeanised Finno-Ugrian language. These different people in the south tended to merge. Thus the agricultural peoples of the south were increasingly different than the nomadic people of the north--the Sami or Lapplanders who were ethnically more related to the origiinal proto-Finnish-Sami migrants. And the language of the Sami is less influenced by Indo-European elements. Before the development of modern DNA studies, ethnic relations were largely traced by linquistics and archeological artifacts. This was useful, but potentially misleading as language is a cultural artifact and not a direct measure of ethnicity. DNA studies have found that the migrations of Swedes, Germans, and Estonians were more significant than earlier believed. DNA tests suggest that only about 25 percent of Finland's genetic stock is of Uralic origins. Some 75 percent is Indo-European. Thus it is probably correct to describe the Finns as Finnicised Indo-Europeans, meaning an ethnically Indo-European people who have adopted the language and important cultural elements of the local Proto-Finno-Sami people. This is an important example of how research on pre-history based on language and culture can be misleading. Finnish folk costume is strongly influenced by the Laps, a nomadic people also found in northern Sweden. Important areas of Finland were seized by the Soviet Union during World War II, especially Karelia.
The Uralic language group includes among others Estonian, Hungarian, Sami and Mordvinic (Erzya and Moksha). Before the development of DNA studies, ethnic origins were primarily inferred from linguistic and archeological evidence (such as pottery). Today DNA gives us direct evidence. Demographic data show that until recently, some 95 percent of Finns were born in Finland to Finnish parents. This has declined to 90 percent.
While Finland is largely surrounded by people with unrelated ethnic and linguistic origins. There are ethnically related people, most importantly the Sami (Lapps), Estonians , and Hungarians. Most Finns live in Finland. Some emigrated to America, but not nearly as many as in Scandinavian. The northwestern corner of Russia around St. Petersburg bordering Finland has a population of ethnic Finns -- the Karelians. Karelia was split during the Finnish War for Independence. The Soviets seized the rest of it during World War II. The Karelian language is Finnish dialect. The Russians seeking to obscure its seizure of Finnish territory claim it is a distinct language.
The largest minority in Finland is Swedish speakers. Sweden governed Finland for centuries and during this period, Swedish was the official language. Many Finns of Swedish origins are integrated in Finnish society and speak Finnish. The father of Finnish music, who composed the beautiful symphonic poem "Finlandia", was Johan Julius Christian ("Jean") Sibelius. He was born in Finland of Swedish-speaking parents. He belonged to the large ethnic Swedish minority, but he obviously loved his country, Finland. Lapplanders or Sami are a minority in the north. Estimates suggest there are about 2,500 Sami. There are also small numbers of Romani (Gypseys). Finland's Gypseys used the term Romani. There are about 8,000 Gypseys in Finland. They first reached Finland in the 16th century. There is a small Jewish community. Retired Tsarist Army veterans were the first Jews to settle in Finland. The NAZIs during World War II demanded the Finns turn over their Jews as part of the Holocaust. The Finns although dependent on the Germans for war supplies, refused to do so. Finnish Jews served with the Finnish Army alongside the Germans during the War. tHe major groups besides the Swedes are Russians, Estonians, and various Middle Eastern groups. All three of these groups have only arrived recently, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the rising militancy and violence in the Middle East (Taliban, Arab Spring, ISIS, etc.).
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