Finland's Centennial 2017: Why You Should Care

09/13/2017 12:19 pm ET Updated Sep 14, 2017

Finland is celebrating the Centennial of its independence in 2017. This may be news to you since Finns are notoriously shy. While they are very proud of their country, saying anything positive about Finland is the cultural equivalent of bragging or exaggeration. In Finland, that is considered uncool.

Why should Americans care? As the world has grown crazier and more dangerous, it is important to learn about countries, such as Finland, that are great friends of the United States and making a positive contribution to the world.

Safest country

One reason to include Finland on your radar screen is it rated the safest country in the world in which to live, work, and visit. Finns are trustworthy. While they are shy about saying what they do, they deserve high marks for doing what they say.

Crazy in a Good Way

If you have visited Finland, you know that Finns do some very weird and crazy things. Jumping from a hot sauna into a hole in a frozen lake is not an activity most Americans desire. Finns love their sauna, and to cool off, they will jump through a hole in the ice or role in the snow. Finland is home to the Wife-carrying World Championships. If you are not married, don’t worry there are a lot of other crazy sports contests in Finland including – Swamp Soccer, Berry Picking, Mobile Phone Throwing, and Air Guitar World Championships.

Education.

Finland has been recognized over several years to have one of the top education systems in the world. Depending on what ranking you read, it is often ranked first. According to a recent ranking, Finland has grown to become the most literate country in the world.

Most stable

Finland had been recognized as the most stable and least fragile country in the world. It is followed closely by its Nordic neighbors Sweden, Denmark, and Norway. If you know people from those countries, it is easy to understand why. They typically stay within a narrow band of emotions and logic that exude stability.

Human Capital Index.

Finland tops the rankings of the Human Capital Index, and stands alone as the only country in the very sustainable and least fragile category.

Innovation and Technology.

According to Bloomberg, Finland ranks highly over all innovation categories. Created and held in Finland, Slush has grown to become one of the world’s leading events for high-technology start-ups. Finland is recognized as a world leader, along with Denmark and Sweden in Cleantech innovation, and often tops the rankings for embracing new Information Technology.

Greenest.

In 2016, Finland is ranked as the greenest country in the world with the least amount of pollution. It often tops the Environmental Performance Index, For those that have visited Finland, the clear skies, clean water, and focus on nature attest to this ranking.

Mobile Games.

Finland has been called the games start-up capital of the world. Rovio, maker of Angry Birds (which has been turned into a successful movie). Supercell, maker of Clash of Clans and Hay Day, are just two of the successful mobile games companies from Finland.

Most socially progressive.

According to the Independent, Finland is the most socially progressive country in the world. Women play a very prominent role in the Government and throughout Finnish society even though there is no Husband-carrying competition yet. Finland also leads the world in per capita coffee and milk consumption, saunas, and heavy metal bands.

Learning from Finland

For a country of 5.5 million people to be leading in so many categories and creating good products that work better, there is much we can learn from Finland. The problem is that we are going to have to take the initiative because too many in Finland still equate marketing with exaggeration.

Finland Centennial

As Finland celebrates its 100th year as an independent nation in 2017, it is a great time to visit the country, study how such a small country has achieved such a high level of success, and learn some good lessons that we can use to help America achieve its potential in education, infrastructure, and other important areas. Sometimes you have to look outward for new ideas to improve things at home. I wish Finland all the best as it continues to celebrate its Centennial year. As I have requested before, I hope my friends there will save me some cake, or better yet, some Finlandia - chilled of course.

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