Finland Sweden

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Location of Finnish monolingual and bilingual municipalities (2016). monolingual Finnish bilingual with Finnish as the majority language bilingual with Swedish as the majority language monolingual Swedish bilingual, Finnish and Sami

As Finland Sweden refers to the members of the Swedish-speaking minority in Finland . The form of language they speak is called Finland Swedish . Swedish is one of Finland's two national languages ​​and is officially the same as Finnish. The Finnish Swedes are a national minority in Finland and mainly inhabit the Åland Islands along the coast along the Österbottens and the southern coast, including the Swedish-speaking islands in some Finnish-speaking cities. The minority of Finland's Swedes comprises around a quarter of a million people, or between 5 and 6 percent of the Finnish population. The percentage of Swedish speakers in Finland has been falling for centuries.


Finland Sweden (Swedish: finlandssvenskar ), in the singular "Finland Swede" (Swedish: finlandssvensk ), is a late name for the Swedish-speaking population of Finland. In Imperial Swedish , the term finne, finnar ("Finne (n)") only refers to the Finnish-speaking citizens of Finland, while the term finländare (" Finnländer ") in the broader sense is a collective term (hyperonym) for the citizens of Finland, regardless of the language group they belong (Finns, Swedes, Sami or Roma). In the narrower sense, however, the Finnish-Swedes of the Finnish mainland are mainly referred to as Finns - in contrast to the Ålanders , i. H. the Finland Swedes living on the Åland Islands.

Origin and history

The Swedish-speaking minority comes from Finland's affiliation to Sweden from the 12th century until 1809 . It arose on the one hand through immigration from the Swedish mother country and later also from Central Europe - most Central European immigrants preferred to use the Swedish and not the Finnish language - and on the other hand through assimilation , especially of the upper classes of the Finnish population. The switch from Finnish to Swedish was attractive because until the 19th century Swedish (besides Latin ) was the only cultural and administrative language in the country and the language of the upper class, while Finnish was practically only used in the everyday life of the rural population. In the Middle Ages, Finland's Swedes made up an estimated 25% of the population of today's Finland, but it has been declining for centuries. The Finland-Swedes now comprise around 290,000 people and thus 5.3% of the total population of Finland (as of 2015).

Settlement areas

The Swedish-speaking settlement area consists of three spatially separate areas: In the south, the coast of Nyland (Finnish Uusimaa ) between Pyttis ( Pyhtää ) and Hangö ( Hanko ) is largely Swedish-speaking. The southern part of the archipelago off the coast of Egentliga Finland ( Varsinais-Suomi ) in the south-west of the country , known as Åboland ( Turunmaa ), also belongs to the Finnish-Swedish settlement area . In addition, there is a coastal strip on the west coast in the Österbotten ( Pohjanmaa ) landscape , which extends from Kristinestad ( Kristiinankaupunki ) to Karleby ( Kokkola ). The autonomous province of Åland , whose inhabitants have a special position, is often no longer part of the settlement area of ​​the Finnish Swedes in the true sense.


The Swedish language variant that has been spoken since the beginning of the 20th century is commonly referred to as Finland Swedish. This language variant is also known as the Finnish Swedish standard language (finlandssvenska riksspråket). In addition, there are still a lot of Swedish dialects in the country , especially in Österbotten and on the offshore islands (skärgården), in south-west Finland and in Nyland. These dialects belong to East Swedish. In Finland, the archaic dialects are often better preserved than in Sweden, as they contributed to the Finnish-Swedish finding of identity within the other-language environment.

Speech situation

There are different surveys of how many Finland-Swedes have emigrated from Finland to Sweden. One source says that between 1945 and 1976 around 400,000 Finnish citizens emigrated to Sweden, of which around 200,000 remained permanently. From the migration flows it was calculated that a third of them were Finland-Swedes. In 2004, Eric De Geer of Uppsala University carried out extensive statistics on Finnish speakers in Sweden. He found that around 20 percent (around 60,000 people) of the immigrants were from the Finnish-Swedish language group in Finland. Even in Sweden, these immigrants consider themselves Finland-Swedes or even Swedes- Finland- Swedes (Swedish: sverigefinlandssvenskar ) and have established Finnish-Swedish associations in Bergslagens mining and steel communities and other parts of Sweden where they have settled on a larger scale, as did Finnish-speaking immigrants . Furthermore, the number of Finland-Swedes who emigrated to the USA and Canada was very high. It is estimated that there were around 73,000 people between 1871 and 1929. The two terms “minority” and “language” were first coined by Rolf Pipping in 1912; before that one usually spoke of "Amerikaschweden" (Swedish: amerikasvenskar ). In 2006 there were approximately 291,000 native speakers of Swedish in Finland, 25,000 of whom lived in Åland and 266,000 in the rest of Finland. Taken together, about 5.4 percent of the total population have Swedish as their first language, 5 percent if you exclude Åland. The proportion of Finns living in monolingual Swedish areas is around 0.8 percent. However, the proportion of Finns who speak and understand Swedish more or less well is much higher, especially since both languages ​​are compulsory subjects in schools. Swedish has always played an important role as a basic language in public and in cultural life in Finnish society.


According to the constitution , Finland is a bilingual country. This means that the Swedish-speaking minority has the right to communicate with the state authorities in Swedish. A Finnish community is considered to be bilingual if more than 8% of the population or more than 3000 people speak the respective minority language (Finnish or Swedish). In bilingual municipalities, all civil servants must have a satisfactory command of both languages. Furthermore, all place-name signs must be bilingual (the majority language at the top). After an educational reform in the 1970s, both Swedish and Finnish became compulsory subjects in all schools. However, in view of the continuous decline in the percentage of the Finnish-Swedish population, there is also a discussion in Finland about whether Swedish should continue to be a compulsory subject in Finnish schools. In a vote on March 6, 2015, the Finnish Parliament voted in favor with a large majority of 134 against 48. The Finns , among others, had voted against this.


Although the Finnish Swedes have their own sense of togetherness and different traditions of their own, today they normally see themselves neither as Swedes nor as a separate ethnic group, but as Swedish-speaking Finns . The Swedish-speaking element is usually considered an integral part of Finnish culture for both Swedish-speaking and Finnish-speaking residents of Finland. The Swedish-speaking part of the population played a significant role in the development of Finnish national consciousness and an independent Finnish high culture in the 19th century through people such as Johan Vilhelm Snellman , Johan Ludvig Runeberg or Akseli Gallen-Kallela . The proportion of Finland-Swedes in the various social classes does not deviate significantly from that in the total population. In Finland, Swedish is still regarded as the language of the classical upper class, which is also due to the fact that Swedish is more widespread among traditionally rich families, such as the only 6000 Finnish aristocrats.

Proportion of Swedish
speakers in
Finland's population
year number percent
1900 349,700 12.9%
1950 348,300 08.6%
1960 330,500 07.4%
1970 303,400 06.6%
1980 300,482 06.3%
1990 296,738 05.9%
2000 291,657 05.6%
2010 291.153 05.4%
2015 290.161 05.3%

In 2005, Svenska Finlands folkting , the official interest group of Finland-Swedes, initiated an investigation into the identity of Finland-Swedes. 82% of the respondents stated that being Finnish-Swedish means “belonging to one's own culture, but also being Finnish among all other Finns”. Only 17% chose the option “Belonging to a culture that is different from Finnish”. When asked about their attitudes towards Sweden and the local culture, a minority of 31% said it was “an important part of [their] life”, while 59% of the respondents said it was “interesting but remote”, and a further 9% as “ completely uninteresting ”felt.

The most important exception are the residents of the autonomous province of Åland , who speak Åland, a dialect that is more closely related to Imperial Swedish and who hardly feel connected to Finland. They are often not counted among the Finnish Swedes in the strict sense, nor are Swedish immigrants who have only recently come to Finland.

Abroad, the special position of the Finland-Swedes is generally little known, and in foreign statistics they are often listed as a separate ethnic group, different from the Finns, or simply as Swedes. For example, the 2008 Fischer World Almanac stated that 92.4% of Finland's population are Finns and 5.6% Finland-Swedes. The CIA World Factbook (2008) speaks of 93.4% Finns and 5.6% Swedes. The Finnish Statistical Office classifies the population of Finland into “persons with a Finnish background” and “persons with a foreign background”. The Finland Swedes are counted among the former. Historically, the proportion of Finland-Swedes in Finland's total population has been steadily decreasing for at least 200 years. Since the 1940s this decrease has not only been a relative, ie percentage, but also the absolute number of Swedish speakers. Today the Swedish-speaking community is only a small minority. The official Finnish side emphasizes, however, that the Swedish language, along with Finnish, is an integral part of the Finnish culture.


The interests of the Swedish-speaking Finns are represented by Svenska Finlands folkting , a parliament-like, legally recognized people's assembly. Among the parties in the Finnish Parliament , the Swedish People's Party is particularly committed to the interests of the Finnish-Swedes. The largest Swedish-language newspaper in Finland is Hufvudstadsbladet .

Famous Finland Swedes

Famous Finland Swedes are u. a .:

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Finland Swede  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ”TT-språket”. Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå. Read March 29, 2011 (Swedish).
  2. Willi Stegner (ed.): Pocket Atlas Völker und Sprachen. Klett-Perthes, Gotha / Stuttgart 2006, p. 41.
  3. a b Appendix table 2. Population according to language 1980 - 2015. Finnish Statistics Office, accessed on October 28, 2017 (English).
  4. a b c Marika Tandefelt, Fjalar Finnäs: Language and demography: historical development . In: International Journal of the Sociology of Language . tape 187 , 2007, ISSN  1613-3668 , pp. 35–54 , doi : 10.1515 / IJSL.2007.049 (English, online [PDF]).
  5. Olof Mustelin: ”Finlandssvensk” - kring ett begrepps historia. Skrifter utgivna av Svenska Litteratursällskapet, vol. 511, 1983.
  6. Genös i östra Nyland. Från dialektutjämning till dialektmarkör (2010) by Caroline Sandström. PhD handling. Helsingfors universitet, Institutions för finska, finskugriska och nordiska språk. Volym nr 20 i series of publications Nordica Helsingiensia (page last checked on January 11, 2011)
  7. ^ Charlotta Hedberg: The Finland-Swedish Wheel of Migration. PhD thesis. Institutions for cultural geography, Uppsala University, 2005.
  8. Eric de Geer: Den finska närvaron i Mälarregionen, 2004 (Swedish). Read March 29, 2011.
  9. Anders Myhrman: Finlandssvenskar i America.
  10. Rolf Pipping: Språk och stil. Finsk tidskrift 10, 1938, pp. 202-214, 267-276, especially p. 272.
  11. Finlands befolkning Stats Centralen
  12. Mirja Saari: Swedish as the second national language of Finland: Sociolinguistic aspects . In: Linguistics Online . tape 7 , no. 3 , 2000, ISSN  1615-3014 , doi : 10.13092 / lo.7.986 ( [accessed on April 13, 2020]).
  13. ^ Swedish remains obligatory in Finnish schools., March 6, 2015, accessed October 28, 2017 .
  14. Quoting from the website of the Swedish People's Party : The Swedish speaking Finns generally don't label themselves as an ethnic minority. With regards to identity, the Swedish speaking element is usually considered as an integral part of Finnish culture, although expressed in another language than Finnish. online ( Memento of July 5, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Access date May 17, 2008.
  15. Identitet och framtid - Folktingets undersökning om finlandssvenskarnas identitet / Suomenruotsalainen identiteetti - Folktingetin kyselytutkimus ( Memento of June 14, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF, 925 KB, Swedish, Finnish), pp. 23/53, 33/63. Retrieved October 2, 2015.
  16. ^ Fischer Weltalmanach 2008, ISBN 978-3-596-72008-8 .
  17. CIA World Factbook: Finland (English) Accessed May 17, 2008.
  18. Population: Population structure December 31. Finnish Statistical Office, accessed on October 28, 2017 (English).