Suomi: The Land Of A Thousand Lakes. No other European country is as influenced by the interplay of both water and land as Finland. The impressive beauty of its unspoiled scenery is plain to see and yet most of Finland, despite each wonderful aspect of its natural landscape, is still sparsely populated. Its endless forests truly make Finland one of Europe's last great wildernesses. Only in Finland's modern capital of Helsinki does the population exceed more than a hundred inhabitants per square kilometre. The city's cathedral has become one of the most famous landmarks in Helsinki that, along with the general ground plan of the entire city, can be traced back to a Prussian. Carl Ludwig Engel was the man responsible for the building and design of the Old Town and Classical Helsinki was born. Due to their strategic location the islands of Suomenlinna just outside Helsinki played a central role in the country's defences and were transformed into a huge fortress. Finland particularly lives up to its reputation as 'The Land Of A Thousand Lakes', in Karelia, where huge forests have created a prosperous paper-making industry. Saimaa Lake is the fourth largest lake in Europe and covers an area of four thousand three hundred square kilometres and together with several adjoining lakes it is the largest body of lakeland in Europe. In the 1920's the local media spread the word that Santa Claus did not live at the North Pole but in the extreme north of Finland. Since then the Santa Claus Village has become a huge commercial success. The Santa Claus Post Office is open throughout the entire year to both young and old alike and several shops offer a large range of souvenirs. With around a hundred and twenty thousand inhabitants, Oulu is the sixth largest city in Finland. Unlike the solitude of Lapland the popular shopping centre of Rotuaari has all the atmosphere of a major city. The extreme north of Europe is one of the last great natural habit
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