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Sweden Finns
Total population
estimated c. 470,000 (c. 5.1 per cent of the population of Sweden)
Regions with significant populations
Stockholm 46,927 [1]
Gothenburg 20,372
Eskilstuna 12,072
Västerås 11,592
Södertälje 10,722
Borås 9,821
Uppsala 8,838
Botkyrka 8,408
Huddinge 7,729
Haninge 7,015
Languages

Finnish, Meänkieli

Religion

Protestant, Orthodox

Related ethnic groups

Finns, Swedes, Sami

Sweden Finns (ruotsinsuomalaiset in Finnish, sverigefinnar in Swedish) are a Finnish speaking minority in Sweden. The Finnish-speaking Swedes are not to be confused with the Swedish speaking Finland-Swedes in Finland (and Sweden). In year 2008 there were over 675 000 people in Sweden who was either born in Finland or have at least one parent or grandparent who was born in Finland. [1].

In the 1940s, 70,000 young Finnish children were evacuated from Finland to Sweden during the Winter War and the Continuation War. 15,000 are believed to have stayed and an unknown number to have returned as adults.

In the 1950s and 1960s the migration from Finland to Sweden was considerable, chiefly due to Finland's misfortune and Sweden's fortune in World War II. The emigration caused some alarm in Finland with most of the emigrants in their most productive age — although many of them returned to Finland in the following decades. Many of the Finns who have moved to Sweden have been Finland-Swedes (i.e. from the Swedish-speaking areas of Finland): In the 1950s they made up around 50 % of the Finns moving to Sweden, and from the 1960s and onward around 20-30 %. (Thus, the fact that a person in Sweden has a Finnish background does not automatically mean he or she has a Finnish-speaking background.)

The city of Eskilstuna, Södermanland, is one of the most heavily populated Sweden Finnish cities of Sweden, due to migration from Finland, during the 1950s until the 1970s, due to Eskilstuna's large number of industries. In Eskilstuna, the Finnish speaking minority have both a private school (the only one in the city of Eskilstuna, there is no public school or teachers in Finnish at the public schools. Only the lower level is in Finnish, upper level is in Swedish) and only one magazine in Finnish. Some of the municipal administration is also available in Finnish.

The unofficial flag
Areas with Finnish speaking population in per cent, in southern Sweden, 2005

In the Finnish mindset, the term "Sweden Finns" (ruotsinsuomalaiset) is first and foremost directed at these immigrants and their offspring, who at the end of the 20th century numbered at almost 200,000 first-generation immigrants, and about 250,000 second-generation immigrants. Of these some 250,000 are estimated to use Finnish in their daily lives, and 100,000 remain citizens of Finland. This usage isn't quite embraced in Sweden. According to the latest research by Radio of Sweden (Sveriges Radio), there are almost 470,000 people who speak or understand Finnish or Meänkieli, which is about 5.2% of the population of Sweden.

In the Swedish mindset, the term "Sweden Finns" historically denominated primarily the (previously) un-assimilated indigenous minority of ethnic Finns who ended up on the "right" side of the border when Sweden was partitioned in 1809, after the Finnish War, and the Russian Grand Duchy of Finland was created. These Finnish-speaking Swedes are chiefly categorized as either Tornedalians originating at the Finnish–Swedish border in the far north, or skogsfinnar ("forest Finns") along the Norwegian–Swedish border in Central Sweden.

Contents

History

Communities of Finns in Sweden can be traced back to the Reformation when the Finnish Church in Stockholm was founded in 1533, although earlier migration, and migration to other cities in present-day Sweden, remain undisputed. (Strictly speaking this was not a case of emigration/immigration but of "internal migration" within pre-1808 Sweden, a.k.a. Sweden-Finland.)

In the 16th and the 17th century large groups of Savonians moved from Finland to Dalecarlia, Bergslagen and other provinces where their slash and burn cultivation was suitable. This was part of an effort of the Swedish king Gustav Vasa, and his successors, to expand agriculture to these uninhabited parts of the country which were later on known as "Finn woods" (Finnskogar).

Cultural imperialism in combination with a fear of Russia led to efforts by Sweden's government aiming at assimilation and Swedification of the Finnish speaking population. Similar attempts were already initiated in the late 17th century, but peaked in 1850–1950. Finnish speakers remain only along the border with Finland in the far North, and as domestic migrants due to unemployment in the North. Depending on definition they are reported to number to 30,000–90,000 — that is up to 1% of Sweden's population, but the proportion of active Finnish-speakers among them has declined drastically in the last generations, and Finnish is hardly spoken among the youngsters today. Since the 1970s largely unsuccessful efforts have been made to reverse some of the effects of Swedification, notably education and public broadcasts in Finnish, to raise the status of Finnish. As a result a written standard of the local dialect Meänkieli has been established and taught, which has given reason to critical remarks from Finland, along the line that standard Finnish would be of more use for the students.

Today

Today, Finns are the largest immigrant group in Sweden, and Finnish is an official minority language of Sweden.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Ruotsinsuomalaiset
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