500 years ago, Finland and Sweden were one nation and that lasted until 1809 when Russia decided to take over Finland’s land before giving the Finns back their long-awaited independence in 1918.
Readers should understand that the history of Finland began around 9,000 BC during the end of the last glacial period. Stone Age cultures were Kunda, Comb Ceramic, Corded Ware, Kiukainen, and Pöljä cultures, and the Finnish Bronze Age started in approximately 1,500 BC and the Iron Age started in 500 BC and lasted until 1,300 AD.
The earliest written sources mentioning Finland start to appear from the 12th century onwards when the Catholic Church started to gain a foothold in Southwest Finland. Due to the Northern Crusades and Swedish colonisation of some Finnish coastal areas, most of the region became a part of the Kingdom of Sweden and the realm of the Catholic Church from the 13th century onwards. After the Finnish War in 1809, Finland was ceded to the Russian Empire, making this area the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland.
Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine has shown the whole world that he is a man whose word can never be trusted. This is understood well in Sweden and Finland whose political leadership have now decided that joining NATO is an important way to defend our territory and our people.
Both countries have enjoyed intense trading, social, and cultural relationships for centuries – most Finns speak or understand Swedish, and companies from both countries are closely intertwined.
Even though these relationships are strong and long-lasting, some in Sweden have regarded themselves to be the big brother of Finland given that Sweden has a higher GDP per capita and that it has once been the ruler over the whole region.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has profoundly changed this relationship and introduced this restarting. Swedes now see Finland as an equal and not as some junior neighbour. Finland was the first to propose joining NATO to protect its sovereignty and the Swedes followed their example. They were surprised to see that the Finns already have an impressive defense organization that has been nurtured systematically for decades. The Swedes still produce some fearsome weapons, but their military strength has been weakened by far too many budget cuts.
Now we are entering a new era together with our NATO partners to defend our boundaries and keep us safe from the maniac next door!
NATO membership has focused our common interests, and this has led to intense political discussions between the two countries the likes of which have not been seen in living memory. These discussions have effectively restarted the political relationships between our two countries that we are so accustomed to see at the social and commercial level. Their results can only provide mutual benefits for these two small, but smart and wealthy nations.