Finland was presumably first settled during the last ice age (approx. 9000 BC).
Until the Swedish conquest, the Finns lived a relatively peaceful existence, but from the 14th century onwards were christianised increasingly. Despite being a Swedish protectorate, the Finns were able to maintain their own parliament until the start of the Russian occupation in the 18th century.
At the beginning of the 19th century, however, Finland was completely annexed by Russia and did not gain its independence until 1917. The declaration of independence resulted in a civil war instigated by the Communists, which was only won by the Finns after 4 months’ fighting.
There remained a few more conflicts and cessions of territory between the two countries. However, all disputes were settled upon Finland’s entry into the UN. In 1995, Finland also joined the EU.
Tarja Halonen has been head of state since 2000 with Matti Vanhanen as prime minister.