The physical characteristics of the Finns

The Finns genetic make-up is 75 per cent the same as the Swedes. However, the Finnish people are not a homogeneous race. They are the descendants of no less than five different ethnic groups, these being the Hame people, the Karelians, Savo people, Ostro Bothnians and the Laps ( Sami).

The physical characteristics of the Finns

These people came to Finland by different routes after the last Ice Age. They journeyed from the east, south and west, over a process lasting for several thousand years. These Finno-Ugrians were nomadic tribes people who inhabited much of northern Russia. Recent research, however, has demonstrated that much of the original populations came from the south, moving northwards as the ice retreated. A substantial Indo European influence over the years has affected the population of Finland also. As Finland was owned by the Swedes for 600 years, many Finns, especially in the south-western part of Finland, now look very Swedish.

The light colouring of the Finns reflects their long history of inhabiting northern Europe. North Europeans are the lightest coloured people of the world because they have lived in northern latitudes the longest. Therefore, natural selection has had the longest time to produce the light skin colour adapted to low levels of ultraviolet radiation. The Finns could be said to be the «darkest» of the Nordic races. Some Finns are descended from the Swedes, and tend to be taller, slimmer, fairer, blonde-haired with pale blue or grey eyes.

Other Finns are descended from the eastern Europeans and tend to be shorter, stockier, dark-haired and brown-eyed. Mix these two very difference races together and you get multiple variations on the two themes. There have been few refugees and immigrants, so Finnish stock has been little diluted by other influences since the «original mix».

There definitely is a typical Finnish look, which impossible to describe. There are strong themes in their physical make up which can be recognised, but more probably because you know someone that resembles the stranger you are currently looking at. A national trait it is that the Finns have extremely baby-fine hair (apparently this is very difficult for hairdressers from other parts of the world to cut) so many Finns wear their hair short.

They have finely pronounced cheekbones, may be heavy browed and a tendency for small eyes, generally blue or slate-grey in colour. They have pale, fine skin. On the whole, the Finns are either slim or of medium build. It is very rare to see anyone who is obese and only a few are overweight. Heart disease is reckoned to be a problem in Finland, especially in the eastern region called Karelia, where a lot of their traditional food contains cream, butter or milk. Even there, obesity is a rare sight.