Chronography of Finland

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Click Here for map of historical changes in Finland. Covers railway development and border changes with USSR.


2002, Finland adopted the Euro.

1994, Martti Ahtisaari (Social Democratic Party) became Prime Minister.

16/4/1994, In a referendum in Finland, voters decided to join the European Union (joined 1995).

28/3/1992, The Government of Finland began an application to join the European Union.

1991, Centrist gains in generalelections.

1989, The Soviet Union recognised Finnish neutrality.

1985, The deepwater harbour at Pori was opened.

1982, Mauno Koivisto elected President.

1977, Finland signed a trade agreement with the USSR.

1973, Finland signed a trade treaty with the EEC.

1956, Urho Kekkonen was elected President. He also won in 1962, 1968 and 1978.

4/11/1955, Matti Vanhanen, Prime Minister of Finland 2003-2010, was born in Jyvaskyla.

9/3/1954, Gains for the Centre and Right in Finnish elections.

18/9/1952, Finland paid its final war reparations to the USSR.

3/4/1952, Miina Sillanpaa, Finnish politician, died.

27/1/1951, Carl Mannerheim, Finnish soldier and politician, who as President secured his country�s independence from Russia, died aged 83.

6/41948, Finland signed a Treaty of Friendship with the USSR, promising to resist any attack on the USSR made through Finland by Germany or its allies.

10/2/1947. The USSR concluded a peace treaty with Finland.

9/1945, The Aaland Island Assembly unsucesfully tried to join Sweden.

Continuation War

26/2/1944, The Finnish capital, Helsinki, was devastated in a 12-hour air raid by 600 Soviet bombers.

24/2/1944, Finnish Prime Minister, Risto Ryti, made peace approaches to the USSR.

3/12/1941, Russia evacuated its naval base at Hanko, Finland, west of Helsinki.

2/12/1941, The Battle of Hanko ended in Finnish victory.


The Winter War, 1939 - 40

12/3/1940. Finland signed a peace treaty with the USSR, surrendering large areas of territory on the Karelia Peninsula. See 30/11/1939.The Finns had lost over 20% of their fighting force in 3 months.Finland surrendered over 10,000 square miles of territory to the USSR. The border was returned to roughly where it had been drawn by Peter the Great in 1720.In the hope of recovering these lands, Finland sided with Germany when Hitler attacked the USSR on 22/6/1941.

3/3/1940, Soviet General Timoshenko sent a battalion across the frozen Gulf of Finland to attack and occupy the Finnish town of Vilajoki. This opened the road to Helsinki itself for the Soviet Army.

2/3/1940, Hungarians volunteering to fight in the Winter War arrived in Finland after three weeks of travel. They began training with the Finnish Army but did not complete their training before the end of Winter War.

27/2/1940, Soviet forces launched a pincer movement aimed at the city of Viipuri (Vyborg). Norway and Sweden refused to allow British and French troops to cross through their territory to aid Finland

23/2/1940, The USSR presented terms of surrender to Finland. Finland was to cede considerable territory in the Karelia and Lake Ladoga regions, and Finland must protect the Russian border in the NW.

16/2/1940. Soviet troops pierced the Mannerheim Line of the Finnish defences at Summa.

1/2/1940. The Soviet army launched an attack in Karelia, against the Finnish Mannerheim Line. Finnish lines were pounded with 300,000 artillery shells.

29/1/1940, Faced with continuing stubborn Finnish resistance, the Soviets opened secret negotiations in Sweden. The war was no longer about installing a Soviet Government in Helsinki but about protecting the Soviet Baltic, Karelia and the Arctic coastline. The Soviets moved the Finnish border westwards to achieve this protection,

28/1/1940, Finnish troops gained ground against the Russians at Kuhmo.

15/1/1940, In order to reverse earlier Soviet losses in the war against Finland, Stalin appointed General Semyon Timoshenko as commander, and brought in heavy siege artillery to demolish the Mannerheim Line. Finnish troops got no rest, day or night, as their gunposts were destroyed, and gave in due to exhaustion.

13/1/1940, Despite Soviet protests, Sweden decided to allow volunteers to cross its territory to assist the Finns, so long as they travelled unarmed and not in uniform. Meanwhile Russia change dtactics and began heavy bombing of Finnish roads and rail junctions.

2/1/1940, A further Soviet offensive in Karelia against Finland ended in failure.

For main European events of World War Two see France-Germany World War Two

See also Russia for more events of Finland-Russia conflict 1939-40

29/12/1939, The Soviet 163rd Division was surrounded at Suomissalmi. It broke up and fled, leaving 11 tanks, 25 guns, and 150 lorries to the victorious Finns. Soviet forces were fighting in temperatures of -35 C, but without winter uniforms. Soviet General Vinogradov was subsequently executed for this failure. After the Finns recaptured Suossalmi, they crossed into Soviet Karelia, inflicting some 27,000 casualties on the Russian forces.

27/12/1939, Finland defeated Russia in the battles of Kelja and Taipale.

22/12/1939, The Russian attack on the Mannerheim Line, SE Finland, from the Gulf of Finland to the River Vukosi, petered out on the face of impregnable Finnish resistance. The Soviets totally lacked ski troops, whereas the Finnish Army was well trained in their use.Soviet troops found themselves cut off from supplies, and in some cases their units were surrounded and annihilated.

9/12/1939, Amphibious assaults and air raids in Helsinki ceased as winter set in, giving the Finnish defenders a tactical advantage over the Russians. However in NE Finland, Russians captured the town of Suomussalmi, where Finnish troops were more thinly spread.

7/12/1939, Britain announced it was to sell 30 fighter aircraft to Finland. There was considerable international sympathy for Finland and anger at the Soviet invasion, France gave large amounts of armaments to Finland, and many British, French and Italians travelled to Helsinki to volunteer for the fight against Russia.

5/12/1939, Russian troops invading Finland reached the Mannerheim Line, and were held there.

4/12/1939, The USSR rejected League of Nations intervention over its invasion of Finland, claiming it was merely �supporting the new Finnish People�s Government�, as led by Otto Kuusinen.

2/12/1939, The Red Army took Petsamo. The Molotov Cocktail was invented when the Finns, resistimng a Soviet invasion against overwhelming odds, deployed extremely mobile units moving by ski or bicycle on nsarrow forest paths. They threw bottles full of petrol, with a lighted rag oin the neck, into the turrets of advancing Soviet tanks, with devastating effectrs.

1/12/1939, Russia established a pro-Soviet Finnish Government at Terijoki led by Otto Kuusinen.

30/11/1939. The USSR attacked Finland. Finland had earlier refused Soviet demands to use bases on its territory against Germany. Helsinki was heavily bombed. See 12/3/1940. Finland looked likely to fall quiclly, with 9 Finnish Divisioins, 130,000 men, facing 26 Soviet Divisions, 465,000 men. Meanwhile 1,000 Soviet aircraft attacked the Finnish air force, which had just 150 aircraft, none of them modern. In fact the Soviets were so confident of a quick victory that their troops still wore summer uniform, despite winter being imminent. Helsinki was heavily bombed, killing 61 Finns and overwhelming the hospitals. This raid on their capital greatly stiffened Finnish determination to resist.

The Winter War. 1939-40

28/11/1939. Stalin renounced the Finno-Soviet non-aggression pact. On 30/11/1939 the USSR bombed Helsinki and Vipuri, as it invaded Finland.

3/3/1932, In Finland the suppression of the Mantasala Rising, a pro-Facsist Lapua Movement who had gathered at Mantsala, was completed.

11/11/1930, Finland enacted repressive legislation against Communists.

14/10/1930, An attempted Fascist coup in Finland.

1929, The Lapua Movement began in Finland. It was a quasi-Fascist organisation, named after the town of Lapua where it began. It succeeded, through pressure and acts of violence, in having the Communist Party�s front organisations banned in Finland in 1930, but was itself banned in 1932 after an attempted failed armed coup against the Finnish Government.

1921, Finland gained possession of the Aaland Islands. This was in retribution for Sweden�s supplying Germany during World War One, whilst remaining nominally neutral.


Finnish-Russian War

14/10/1920. Russia recognised the independence of Finland by the Treaty of Tartu.Russia ceded the port of Petsamo to Finland, giving Finland access to the Arctic Ocean.

6//1920, Desultory fighting between Finland and Russia for control of western Karelia.

1919, The Finnish Communist Party was formed. It was illegal in Finland.

17/6/1919, The Finnish Republic was officially inaugurated.

6/6/1919. Finland declared war on Russia.


Finnish independence from Russia

8/12/1918, The National Progressive Party of Finland was established.

29/4/1918, At the Battle of Vyborg the White Army, with German forces, forced a mass surrender of Red Communists. 12.000 were taken prisoner. A short �reign of terror� now began in Finland , as thousands of suspected Communists were killed.

14/4/1918, In Finland, German General Goltz captured Helsinki from the Communists. The Germans were allied with Mannerheim.

6/4/1918. In Finland, the German General Mannerheim captured Tampere from the Communists.

23/2/1918, Battle of Rautu, Finland. Finnish Red Guards were forced to retreat from Rautu, and were encircled on three sides by Finnish White Guards days later, with the only escape route leading back to Petrograd. The Red Guards dug trenches and began holding off White Guard attacks for several weeks.

15/2/1918, Invasion of Aland. Sweden landed forces at Eckero on the Aland Islands to safeguard Swedish-held territory from the White Guards.

28/1/1918, The Finnish coalition Government, headed by Pehr Svinhufud (1861-1944) was overthrown by Bolshevik-backed Finnish radicals, starting a civil war. The north of Finland was controlled by the Whites under Baron Mannerheim (1867-1951), who opposed Bolshevism; the south was controlled by Red Guards, who helf the capital, Helsinki.

4/1/1918, Russia recognised Finnish independence.

See Russia for events of 1917 Revolution

6/12/1917. Finland declared complete independence from Russia.

29/7/1917, Taking advantage of Revolutionary chaos, the Finns announced the would declare their independence from Russia.


30/6/1910, Tsar Nicholas II of Russia signed legislation bringing the Grand Duchy of Finland under Russian rule.

1908-10, Russia again attempted to reassert its authority over Finland, and curtail the power of the Finnish Diet.

1906, Finland introduced universal suffrage. Also there were other liberal reforms such as reaffirmed frredom of the Press, association and free speech

End of Russification Period

11/1905, In response to the Russian crackdown, the Finnish people organised a National Strike. It was well supported, with everything except food shops closed down.

7/11/1905, Russia gave in to the Finnish General Strike, and restored consitions to as pre-1899.

4/1903, The Russian Governor of Finland, General Bobrikov, was granted effectively dictatorial powers. Finland was filled with spies and Russian police. Arbitrary arrests and the suppression of newspapers followed.

22/9/1902. Czar Nicholas II abolished the nominal independence of Finland and appointed a Russian Governor-General.

1901, Many Finns emigrated, due to the Russians, From Hanko port, 12,000 Finns left this year alone, mostly bound for the USA and Canada.

7/1901, The Finnish Army ceased to exist as a separate entity, its units being absorbed into the Russian Army.

1900, Russian began to replace Finnish as the official language.

15/2/1899, Czar Nicholas II began a process of Russification of Finland. The Finnish Diet was stripped of power.

Russification Period

1879, Finland passed a conscription law, so starting to create a Finnish Army.

4/6/1867, Carl Mannerheim, Finnish soldier and politician, President, was born in Vilnas.

1863, Finnish became an official language, alongside Swedish.

30/3/1856. The Treaty of Paris ended the Crimean War. Russia agreed to demilitarise the Black Sea, demolishing its naval bases at Sevastopol and three other locations. It also renounced its claim to protect the Holy Places in Palestine.Russia ceded a part of Bessarabia, forcing it back from the Danube River. The Treaty also stipulated that the Aland Islands should not be fortified, by the army or navy. This allayed British fears over threats to its trade in the Baltic, see Russia-1854.

1848, Severe famine in Finland, with entire villages starving.

11/1827, Much of Abo burned down in agreat fire. The University and its large library were destroyed.

19/8/1814, Gustaf Mauritz Armfelt, Governor General of the Grand Duchy of Finland, died in Tsarskoe Selo (born 31/3/1757 in Finland).

1811, The province of Viborg was formally reunited with Finland.

1809, The Diet of Porvoo (Borga). Following the Russian invasion of Finland (formerly part of the Swedish Empire), Tsar Alexander I guaranteed the Finns the rights they had enjoyed under Swedish rule. This meant Finland enjoyed considerable autonomy within the Russian Empire, and effectively marked the start of the modern State of Finland.

17/9/1809, In February 1808 Tsar Alexander invaded Finland, then part of Sweden, without a declaration of war.On this day the Treaty of Fredrikshamn ended the war; Sweden ceded the whole of Finland and the Aland Islands to Russia. Sweden was unable to secure an undertaking by Russia not to fortify the Aland Islands, which were close to Stockholm, but see 30/3/1856.

Abo (Turku) was nominated the capital of Finland, but was replaced by Helsingfors (Helsinki) as capital in 1819.

21/2/1808. Russia occupied Finland, which was formerly under Swedish domination.

21/6/1788, King Gustavus III of Sweden invaded Russian Finland, without declaring war first.

31/3/1757, Gustaf Mauritz Armfelt, Governor General of the Grand Duchy of Finland, was born in Finland (died 19/8/1814 in Tsarskoe Selo).

7/8/1743, As a consequence of the peace negotiations between Sweden and Russia (began 23/1/1743) Sweden ceded control of south-east Finland, east of the River Kymi (Kymmene) to Russia.

1741, Sweden attempted to recover the lost province of Viborg, which Russia had gained in 1721. However their campaign was badly managed, and failed. They capitulated in 8/1742..

1721, Peace of Nystad. Sweden ceded the province of Viborg to Russia. Most of Finland was badly damaged in the Russo-Swedish war.

1716, Russia now controlled all of Finland.

1710, Peter the Great of Russia began to take Finland from Sweden. This year he gained control of Kexholm and Villmanstrand.

1696, Major famine in Finland.

1581, Finland became a Grand Duchy, under the Swedish Crown.

1556, John III of Sweden became ruler of Finland.

1550, Helsingfors (Helsinki), Finland, was founded by Gustavus I of Sweden.

1323, Finland became part of the Kingdom of Sweden, under the Treaty of Pahkinasaari. The River Rajajoki was fixed as the Russia-Sweden border.

1293, Torkel Knutson conquered Karelian Finland, and built the fortress of Viborg (now in Russia)

1258, Abo Cathedral was constructed; it was rebuilt after the great fire of 1827.

1249, Birger Jarl did much conversion work amongst the Tavastians.

1209, Thomas, English Bishop, arrived to continue the missionary work in Finland. The country had already begun to return to paganism after the conversions of 1157.

1157, King Eric IX of Sweden conquered Finland, and forced the Finns to be baptised as Christians.

800, Early Finland had no central government; rather it was a collection of towns and villages, independent from each other.


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