Language of Finland

finland flag

The Republic of Finland is a country belonging to Europe, a member of the European Union, whose capital is Helsinki. It is the 111th most populous country (5.5 million) and the 65th largest (338,145 km 2). Its human development index is very high (22nd) and its official currency is the euro. But what language is spoken in Finland?

What language do they speak in Finland?

Finland has two official languages:

  • Finnish (or Finnish), which is the native language of 89% of the population.
  • Swedish , which is spoken natively by 5.3% of the population.

In northern Finland, in Lapland, there is an indigenous people: the Sami. With a population of 7,000 inhabitants, only a quarter of them speak Sami languages ​​as their native language. Even so, this language is official in Finnish Lapland.

The most widely spoken immigrant languages ​​are Russian (1.4%), Estonian (0.9%), Arabic (0.4%), Somali (0.3%) and English (0.3%).

Map of official languages ​​in Finland

Although bilingualism is highly widespread among the Finnish population (>60% speak English, 44% speak Swedish, ~15% speak German), bilingualism is not so evident in officialdom. To understand the extent of this issue, we must analyze the following map of official languages ​​by municipalities.

map of official languages ​​in finland by municipalities

Legend: monolingual (Finnish), monolingual (Swedish), bilingual (Finnish majority, Swedish minority), bilingual (Swedish majority, Finnish minority) and bilingual (Finnish majority, Sami minority).

Only coastal municipalities in the south and west have Finnish and Swedish as official languages; small towns. Most of the country remains monolingual, except for the northern part, where the Sami languages ​​also have official status, as this is where the Lappish people live.

Finnish language

Finnish (Suomi) is spoken by the majority of the population, some 5.4 million people (89% of the country). It is one of the four official languages ​​of the European Union that are not of Indo-European origin. It is a Finno-Baltic language, quite close to Estonian.

Swedish language

Swedish (svenska) has a native population in the Finnish country of 5.5%. However, 44% of Finns speak Swedish as a second language (at the beginning of the 20th century it was 14%). It was the language of administration until the end of the 19th century. Today it has the same position as Finnish in most legislation.

The four communities with the most Swedish speakers in absolute numbers are Helsinki, Espoo, Porvoo and Vaasa, where they constitute significant minorities. If we stick to relative numbers, in the autonomous province of Åland they are 92.4%.

Along with Finnish, Swedish is a compulsory subject in school, with the exception of children with a third language as their native language.

The Sami languages

The Sami languages ​​(Saami) are a group of Uralic languages ​​spoken by the Lappish people in northern Scandinavia. They are distant languages ​​in relation to Finnish. The three Sami languages ​​spoken in Finland are Northern, Inari and Skolt, with a combined native speakers of 1,800 people.

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