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100 years of Finnish independence celebrated in Sweden

Published tisdag 5 september 2017 kl 10.32
Finn in Sweden: Swedish people don't know much about Finland
(6:44 min)
Girls in white uniform carrying Finnish flags
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Närpes Majorettes performing in Stockholm's Sergel's Torg. Credit: Ulla Engberg/Sveriges Radio
Fyra unga män med armarna om varandra.
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Jussi Isotalo, Oula Mikkola, Juho Seppänen and Aleksi Lehmus from Finland are visiting Stockholm and their friend Aarne, who studies here. Credit: Ulla Engberg/Sveriges Radio
Girls with uniforms and flags
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Närpes Majorettes on stage as Finland's 100th anniversary is celebrated in Stockholm. Credit: Ulla Engberg/Sveriges Radio
Two ladies with a Finnish flag.
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Eila Korhonen and Ulla Kallio have lived in Sweden for many years. They think Swedish people don't know much about Finland. Credit: Ulla Engberg/Sveriges Radio

As Sweden's neighbour to the east - Finland - celebrates 100 years of independence this year, Radio Sweden spoke to Finns about how they see the two countries' complex relationship.

This year, it is 100 years ago that Finland broke off from Russian rule and declared its independence, a fact that is celebrated in Finland, but also in Sweden. Besides being neighbors, Sweden and Finland have a special bond, because for several hundred years, they belonged to the same country.

Recently, people flocked to Stockholm's Sergels Torg for a festival to honour the centennial. Many Finns and Finnish Swedes that Radio Sweden interviewed mentioned a kind of sibling rivalry between the two countries.

"Maybe it is because of the history, but we Finns are always trying to prove that we are as good as Swedes on different things," said Jussi Isotalo, who had come to Stockholm with a group of friends to visit a friend who is studying in Sweden.

"It is in the heritage and the attitudes, but I think it is changing with the younger generation," said Jussi's friend Aleksi Lehmus.

Johan Strang, professor of Nordic Studies at Helsinki University, described a kind of asymmetrical relationship between the two countries.

"Finnish politicians and Finns in general know much more about Sweden, than Swedes and Swedish politicians know about Finland," he said.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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