Few countries in Europe have undergone such rapid social, political and economic changes as Finland has during the last fifty years. David Kirby here sets out the fascinating history of this northern country, for centuries on the east-west divide of Europe, a country not blessed by nature, most of whose inhabitants still earned a living from farming fifty years ago, but which today is one of the most prosperous members of the European Union. He shows how this small country was able not only to survive in peace and war but also to preserve and develop its own highly distinctive identity, neither Scandinavian nor Eastern European. He traces the evolution of the idea of a Finnish national state, from the long centuries as part of the Swedish realm, through self-government within the Russian Empire, and into the stormy and tragic birth of the independent state in the twentieth century.
David Kirby is Professor of Modern History at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London. His previous publications include The Baltic World 1772-1993. Europe's Northern Periphery in an Age of Change (1995) and The Baltic and North Seas (with Merja-Liisa Hinkkanen, 2000).
Preface; 1. A medieval marchland; 2. The Swedish legacy; 3. From Stockholm to St Petersburg, 1780-1860; 4. The embryonic state, 1860-1907; 5. The independent state, 1907-1937; 6. War and peace, 1939-1956; 7. The Kekkonen era, 1956-1981; 8. From nation-state to Eurostate; Key dates; Presidents of Finland; Elections and governments; Guide to further reading.