100 years of Finnish independence celebrated in Sweden

As Sweden’s neighbour to the east – Finland – celebrates 100 years of independence this year, Radio Sweden spoke to Finns about how they see the two countries’ complex relationship.

This year, it is 100 years ago that Finland broke off from Russian rule and declared its independence, a fact that is celebrated in Finland, but also in Sweden. Besides being neighbors, Sweden and Finland have a special bond, because for several hundred years, they belonged to the same country.

Recently, people flocked to Stockholm’s Sergels Torg for a festival to honour the centennial. Many Finns and Finnish Swedes that Radio Sweden interviewed mentioned a kind of sibling rivalry between the two countries.

Asymmetrical relationship

“Maybe it is because of the history, but we Finns are always trying to prove that we are as good as Swedes on different things,” said Jussi Isotalo, who had come to Stockholm with a group of friends to visit a friend who is studying in Sweden.

“It is in the heritage and the attitudes, but I think it is changing with the younger generation,” said Jussi’s friend Aleksi Lehmus.

Johan Strang, professor of Nordic Studies at Helsinki University, described a kind of asymmetrical relationship between the two countries.

“Finnish politicians and Finns in general know much more about Sweden, than Swedes and Swedish politicians know about Finland,” he said.

Listen to Radio Sweden’s report:

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Poirier’s Revenge – The map of Canada has the wrong Arctic boundaries. No, really., blog by Heather Exner-Pirot

Finland: Russia, Finland leaders talk defence, environment and possible US sanctions, Yle News

Norway: ‘Time for new buildings’: Norway border police faces rise in traffic from Russia, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Putin signs law easing cross-border cooperation with Norway and Finland, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Dozens of asylum seekers march from Lapland into Sweden border town, Yle News

United States: With Trump ending DACA program, uncertainty looms for Alaska’s few ‘dreamers’, Alaska Dispatch News

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