In 2010, the popular American magazine, Newsweek, ranked Finland as the best place in the world to live. After independence from Russian rule, Finland sought to create a strong national identity and national unity. The northernmost country in Europe, nearly one quarter of Finland lies north of the Arctic Circle. Parts of the country are close enough to the North Pole that the sun does not set for over 70 days in the summer. Midnight sun means twice as much time to sight-see and visit with the friendly people living in the world's best country.
One of Finland's 20 regions, Lapland, is the most northern and least densely populated area in the country. Although few people call Lapland home, Santa Claus resides in its capital city, Rovaniemi. Minutes outside Rovaniemi lies Santa Claus Village where visitors can talk with Santa in his office and mail letters with a unique Arctic Circle postmark from his post office. Experience a true Christmas fantasy in the unspoiled, snow-covered scenery Lapland has to offer.
The Northern Lights, with their spectacular neon colors and swirling patterns are a sight to behold anywhere in the world, but the Finnish Lapland provides them a breathtaking frame. During the dark winter, when the sun rarely rises, the Northern Lights frequently amaze bewildered spectators.
Finland's capital and largest city, Helsinki, is spread across a number of bays and peninsulas and over a number of islands. Helsinki's bold and diverse architecture is an incomparable collection. The city center was solely planned by elected architect, Carl Ludvig Engel, and numerous Art Nouveau buildings were designed and erected in the early 1900s. Helsinki boasts a handful of museums and three major theaters.
A region of Finland, Åland is an archipelago consisting of over 6,000 islands in the Baltic Sea. Most of Åland's 30,000 residents work in the shipping industry. Mariehamn, Åland's only city, houses several maritime exhibitions, including a 1903 sailing vessel that has been turned into a museum. Uniquely red bedrock, worn smooth by glacier ice, scatters the islands coastlines and provides great shores to walk along.