Chronography of Finland

Page last modified 18 August 2023


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

Demography of Finland


Aaland islands � see Appendix 1


4 April 2023, Finland became the 31st member of NATO, to the consternation of Russia. This move was promted by security concerns over Russia�s invasion of south eastern Ukraine.

2002, Finland adopted the Euro.

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

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

28 March 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.

26 May 1979, In Finland, after elections on 18-19 March, Social Democrat Mauno Koivisto became Prime Minister, succeeding Kalevi Sorsa. Sorsa had headed a 5-Party coalition since May 1977.

1977, Finland signed a trade agreement with the USSR.

1973, Finland signed a trade treaty with the EEC.

5 August 1968, Finland reopened the Saimaa Canal, between Saimaa Lake and the Gulf of Finland, which had been closed since the 1939-40 war with Russia.

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

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

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

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

3 April 1952, Miina Sillanpaa, Finnish politician, died.

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

6 April 1948, 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 February 1947. The USSR concluded a peace treaty with Finland.

Continuation War

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

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

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

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


The Winter War, 1939 - 40

14 March 1940, 470,000 Finns evacuated the territories Finland had ceded to Russia.

12 March 1940. Finland signed a peace treaty with the USSR, surrendering large areas of territory on the Karelia Peninsula. See 30 November 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 June 1941.

3 March 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 March 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 February 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 February 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 February 1940. Soviet troops pierced the Mannerheim Line of the Finnish defences at Summa.

5 February 1940, Britain and France considered sending an expeditionary force to help Finland, even landing it in northern Norway and so violating Norwegian neutrality.

4 February 1940, Heavy Russian air raids on Helsinki killed 14 and injured 179.

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

29 January 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 January 1940, Finnish troops gained ground against the Russians at Kuhmo.

15 January 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.

Russia starts to gain the upper hand


Early stages of war; Finnish successes against Russia

13 January 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.

11 January 1940, During the Winter War, Finland, Russian Brigade Commander Alexei Vinogradov was shot by firing squad after a court martial because of the heavy losses he had incurred against the Finns.

7 January 1940, General Semyon Timoshenko took command of the Soviet forces attacking Finland.

5 January 1940, Finnish forces began a successful counterattack against the Soviet 44th motorised division at Suomussalmi. 27,500 Russian troops were killed by Finnish fire or froze to death.

3 January 1940, Finland claimed to have destroyed 400 Russian tanks and 150 Russian planes.

2 January 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 December 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 December 1939, Finland defeated Russia in the battles of Kelja and Taipale.

22 December 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.

20 December 1939, A fundraising rally in aid of Finland was held in Madison Square Gardens, New York city, USA.

16 December 1939, The Battle of Summa, Finland, began.

9 December 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 December 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.

6 December 1939, Finnish forces had the advantage of trained elite ski soldiers who could attack a Soviet column then lemt away into the forest. The Soviet troops were unoreoared for the marchy forested land f Finlkand and were restricted to the few roads and logging trails. Finnish forces used the �motti� (stick) tactic, breaking up a long and thinly spread out Soviet column into �mottis�, then annihilating each one, starting with the weakest, as the morale and supplies of the stronger dwindled.

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

4 December 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 December 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 December 1939, Russia established a pro-Soviet Finnish Government at Terijoki led by Otto Kuusinen.

30 November 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 March 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.

26 November 1939, Soviet artillery bombarded one of their own outposts near the Finnish border village of Mainila, and thenaccused Finland of the act, providing a pretext for declaring war. Russia believed it could overrun Finland in just 12 days.

The Winter War. 1939-40

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

22 October 1939, Finland commenced new peace talks with Moscow.

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

11 November 1930, Finland enacted repressive legislation against Communists.

14 October 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.


Finnish-Russian War

14 October 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 June 1919, The Finnish Republic was officially inaugurated.

6 June 1919. Finland declared war on Russia.


Finnish independence from Russia

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

29 April 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 April 1918, In Finland, German General Goltz captured Helsinki from the Communists. The Germans were allied with Mannerheim.

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

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

28 January 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 January 1918, Russia recognised Finnish independence.

See Russia for events of 1917 Revolution

6 December 1917. Finland declared complete independence from Russia.

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


30 June 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

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

November 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.

April 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 September 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.

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

29 June 1901, Tsar Nicholas confirmed a law incorporating residents of the Grand Duchy of Finland into the Russian Army.

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

14 February 1900, Czar Nicholas II of Russia ordered total Russian control over Finland. He rejected a petition signed by 800 international figures asking Russia to give Finland its liberty. Russia had ruled Finland since 1809.

15 February 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 June 1867, Carl Mannerheim, Finnish soldier and politician, President, was born in Vilnas.

1863, Finnish became an official language, alongside Swedish.

30 March 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 August 1814, Gustaf Mauritz Armfelt, Governor General of the Grand Duchy of Finland, died in Tsarskoe Selo (born 31 March 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 September 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 March 1856.

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

17 June 1808, Czar Alexander I of Russia restored priveliged to Finland. He suspected France of intentions to attack him and wanted to secure Finnish loyalty.

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

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

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

7 August 1743, As a consequence of the peace negotiations between Sweden and Russia (began 23 January 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.

25 November 1596, A Peasant�s revolt broke out in Finland. The peasants in Finland resented Swedish troops being billeted on them, and took up cudgels and clubs to fight them; the so-called Club War. The urprisiing was brutally repressed.

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.


Appendix 1 � Aaland Islands

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

15 March 1940, Following the Finno-Soviet peace treaty, the Aaland islands were again demilitarised

3 June 1939, The Aaland Islands presented a petition to the League of Nations, rejecting remilitarisation. Sweden withdrew its support for the idea. However Finland went ahead.

8 January 1939, As the treat of European war grew, Sweden and Finland agreed to a limited remilitarisation of the Aaland islands. However the islanders themselves strongly objected to this, see 3 June 1939.

20 October 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. The islands were to remain demilitariused, under the London Convention.


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