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Chapter 1 History The History of Finland Finlands traces of human settlements date back to the thaw of the last Ice Age some 10000 years ago The Finns ancestors seem to have dominated half of northern Russia before arriving on the north of the Baltic coast well before the Christian era By the end of the Viking Age Swedish traders and chieftains had extended their interests throughout the Baltic region Finlands position sandwiched between East and West has given the Finnish way of life and culture a distinctive flavour all of their own For five years Finland was part of Sweden then for a hundred years of Russia there still are traces of this 11The Swedish period Until the middle of the 12th century the geographical area that is now Finland was a political vacuum Both its neighbours Sweden and the Catholic Church on one side and its eastern neighbour Russia and its Greek Orthodox Church at the other side were interested Sweden became the most of the country at the peace treat of 1323 was signed between Sweden and Russia Russia became only the eastern part of Finland The western and southern parts were tied to Sweden The western and southern parts of Finland had become the Western European cultural sphere but the eastern part and Karelia became part of the Russo-Byzantine world As a consequence of Swedish domination the Swedish legal and social systems took root in Finland The Finnish peasants were never serfs they always retained their personal freedom The Reformation started by Luther in the early 16 century also reached Sweden and Finland and the Catholic Church consequently lost out to the Lutheran faith The King of Sweden founded Helsinki Gustavus Vasa in 1550 to compete with Tallinn in Estonia for trade in the Baltic region It moved to the present site in the 17 century but although a new town
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