Finland is bordered by Norway on the north, Russia on the east, Sweden on the northwest, and by the Baltic Sea on the south and west. This Scandinavian country extends between 60° and 70°N. Consequently, it has a severe winter climate resembling that of Alaska or the Yukon. By contrast the summers can be surprisingly warm, particularly in the south of the country. In the north, beyond the Arctic Circle, the long duration of sunshine in midsummer compensates, to some extent, for the northerly latitude.
The south and centre of the country are low-lying. It is a land of pine forests and innumerable lakes of varying sizes. The north, or Finnish Lapland, is higher, but only along the northwestern border with Norway do hills rise above 1,300 m/4,300 ft. Off the southwest coast there are innumerable tiny islands, and this is the mildest part of the country in winter, since the more open waters of the Baltic do not freeze as often as the Gulfs of Bothnia and Finland.
In the south and centre of the country the summers are as warm as those of Denmark and south Sweden (see the tables for Helsinki on the coast and Tampere inland). The winters are long and cold, with snow lying for an average of 90-120 days. Summer precipitation is nowhere very heavy and in winter it is mostly snow.
In the north of the country the snow cover lasts from mid-October until late April or mid-May. Here, in the brief Arctic summer, daytime temperatures may rise almost as high as in the south and sunshine may average as much as nine to ten hours a day (see the table for Inari). The weather is changeable from day to day at all seasons, however, for Finland is influenced to some extent by weather disturbances originating over the Atlantic. The longest spells of settled weather are most frequent in winter.
Warm clothing is essential in the winter months and in severe weather there is a danger of frostbite, particularly in Arctic Finland, if suitable clothing is not worn. One irritant, an indirect result of the summer climate, is the swarms of mosquitoes and gnats which appear during the warm weather. These are particularly troublesome in the north of the country.
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