Finland has been ranked the happiest country in the world for the past six years.
The country benefits from high social trust and strong connections with nature.
However, Finns also have some unusual traditions and social norms.
Finland is known as the happiest country in the world, but there’s a lot more to the Nordic country than just the annual rankings.
This sparsely populated country has a land area similar to New Mexico, but has a population of just over 5 million people, about 3 million fewer than New York City.
Finns can be a little pessimistic because they endure harsh winters and drink a lot of coffee. Finland is also known for its saunas and strong welfare state, and has some unusual traditions and social norms.
Here are five of the most surprising things about this country.
1. Speeding tickets are determined by income.
In Finland, speeding fines are based on the resident’s income and driving speed.
The country has a “one-day fine” system, which is calculated based on the offender’s daily disposable income and how much they exceed the speed limit.
This system resulted in dizzying fines. Earlier this year, a Finnish billionaire was fined 121,000 euros ($129,400) for exceeding the speed limit.
2. About half of the sauna per person
Tourism site Visit Finland estimates that there are 3 million saunas in Finland. This equates to just over half of the saunas per Finnish person.
Sauna culture is an important part of Finnish daily life and cultural heritage, and saunas can be found in apartments, houses, restaurants, and even government buildings.
3. Finnish government gives every new family a “baby box”
The Finnish maternity package (known as äitiyspakkaus or “baby box”) is a kit sent by the government to parents of a newborn baby.
The box contains essentials such as clothing, bibs, diapers, and bath supplies. The box itself contains a small mattress and sheets, so it can also serve as a safe place for your newborn to sleep.
This box has proven popular in other countries as well, including the United States. However, unlike in Finland, parents in the US have to pay for the box.
4. There is a sport in this country called “wife carrying”
Wife-carrying is now an international sport, and world championships are still held in Sonkajärvi, Finland.
The sport traditionally involves a male partner completing an obstacle course carrying his wife on his back. The rules have evolved slightly over the years, and contestants are not required to bring their real-life spouses.
However, the “wife” must be at least 17 years old and weigh at least 49 kg. If her female partner is light, her staff will weigh her down with a backpack.
5. Finns have a word for drinking alcohol in their underwear.
“Kalsarikännit” means drinking alcohol at home alone in your underwear.
Other untranslatable Finnish words include “vahingoniro,” which means to take pleasure in someone else’s misfortune, and “sis,” which means a kind of stoic determination or tenacity of purpose.
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