The earliest inhabitants of Finland possibly arrived there by way of the Volga River in southern Russia. The Finnish people benefited from relationships with Vikings from Sweden who traded with them. Swedish influence rooted itself deeply into Finnish culture and, in the mid-1100s, Sweden completed total conquest of Finland.
Sweden held onto Finland until 1809 when Finland became a grand duchy of Russia. However, when World War I and a subsequent revolution distracted the Russian government, Finns took advantage and declared independence in 1917. The emerging Soviet government in Russia had no choice but to recognize Finnish independence
In World War II, Finland declared neutrality but was forced to defend itself from the Soviet Union. After the war, Finland was forced to pay reparations. It dealt with the presence of communism along its borders and rebuilt its industries through the decades after WWII. Today, Finland has a democratic parliament.
Pentecostalism came to Finland in the 1910s. The Finnish Pentecostal Movement was called Helluntaiheratys (Pentecostal Revival). However, it was not centrally organized until recently. In the 1970s, a great revival occurred in Helsinki, the capital. Fida International, the largest Pentecostal missionary-sending organization, represents the Movement abroad. Fida International welcomed Global University (previously called International Correspondence Institute) into the Iso Kirja Bible College in 1994. Since then, Global University has been using its courses to train believers to be pastors and missionaries. The Assemblies of God sent its first missionary to Finland in 2000 and has continued to work closely with the movement.
The Movement Today
A majority of Finns belong to the Evangelical Lutheran church (85 percent). Greek Orthodox and Pentecostals form one percent of the population. Almost 12 percent of Finns claim to have no religion at all. The Assemblies of God reports the following statistics for Finland in 2003: 230 Pentecostal Churches (Finnish speaking) with 45,417 members, as well as 33 Swedish-speaking Pentecostal churches with 2,435 members. Fida International has sent over 412 Pentecostal missionaries to 45 countries.
Additional Facts About Finland
- Capital: Helsinki
- Area: 130,596 square miles
- Population: 5.5 million
- Urbanization: 58 percent
- Ethnic Groups: Finnish (93 percent) and Swedish (6 percent)
- Currency: Euro
- Economy: Industry, mining, agriculture and strong service sector
- Industry: Fishing, mineral and metal mining, paper products, woodworking, ship building, heavy machinery, glass, ceramics, textiles and chemicals