Finnish and Russian Ethnicity

Straddling the Arctic Circle

Discover more about your ethnicity with AncestryDNA. By comparing your genetic signature to the DNA of people from the Finnish and Northwest Russian region, AncestryDNA can give you a clearer picture of your ethnic origins.

People in this DNA ethnicity group may identify as:
Finnish, Northwestern Russian

The story of your ethnicity lives in your DNA.

Finnish and Russian History

Finland is one of the Nordic nations, straddling the Arctic Circle north of continental Europe. Although it shares long borders with the Scandinavian nations of Sweden and Norway, Finland stands apart in both language and ethnic identity. Politically controlled by its neighbors Sweden and Russia through much of its history, Finland today is a strong, independent nation with a unique, ancient heritage.

The People

The Finnish region (Suomi) includes modern-day Finland and northwestern Russia. The majority of the people of the region today speak Finnish, which is completely unrelated to its Germanic and Slavic neighbors. It is more closely related to languages such as Estonian, Hungarian, Sami and Mordvinic (Erzya and Moksha), which are part of a common Uralic language group.

Prehistoric Finland

The Proto-Uralic peoples are thought to have inhabited the central Ural Mountains east of modern Finland, from around 5000 B.C. to 8000 B.C. The Finnic and Ugric tribes that spread west into eastern and northern Europe were descended from the Proto-Uralic people. Linguistic experts believe that one of those tribes, the Sami people, inhabited modern-day Finland before the Finns. Considered the indigenous population of Finland, the Sami were forced farther north as the Finns later expanded into the region from modern-day Estonia.

Your ethnicity reveals the places where your family story began.

The Medieval and Modern Eras

Finland was politically controlled by Sweden from the 12th century and throughout its medieval period. After 1581, the kings of Sweden regularly bestowed the title of “Duke of Finland” upon members of the Swedish royal family. The Finnish War between Sweden and Russia resulted in the Russian Emperor becoming the Duke of the Grand Duchy of Finland, an autonomous part of the Russian Empire from 1809 to 1917. Since December 1917 Finland has been an independent country.

Other Groups in the Finland Area

Extended Swedish rule and immigration along the coast resulted in a significant population of Swedish speakers in the southwestern parts of Finland and intermixing of these ethnic groups. The northwestern corner of Russia bordering Finland is home to a subgroup of ethnic Finns referred to as Karelians. The Karelian language is closely related to the Finnish language and is considered by some to be a Finnish dialect. Others view Karelian as a distinct language.

Modern Finland is mostly homogeneous, ethnically, with the major ethnicity being Finns. The population of Finland in 2012 was 5.4 million.

Interestingly, a DNA study in 2008 showed no significant differences between the Swedish- speakers in the Ostrobothnia region of Finland (where 40% of all Swedish speakers in Finland live) and the adjacent Finnish-speaking populations.

Finland Today

Like the other Nordic countries, Finland has a highly egalitarian society with strong state-run social programs, including a comprehensive welfare system, education and health care. Finland is often rated among the world’s best in education, economy and quality of life. Finland is the only Nordic country to have joined the eurozone, replacing their previous currency, the markka, with the euro.

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