As with most European nations, the population in Finland is ageing. Only about 19 per cent of the population is less than 15 years of age, and the middle-aged groups predominate with the average age as 39.4 years old. Nowadays, the average household size is 2.2 people, although it would not have been uncommon to find families with ten children in them around the time of World War II. Of Finnish households, 54 per cent of households live in single-family houses and 43 per cent in apartment blocks, with 77 per cent of the nation being urban dwellers.
The population of Finland is currently just over five million people, giving a density of 17 per sq km. One million people, 22 per cent of the population, live in the greater Helsinki area. Over half the population lives in the three south-western provinces around Helsinki, Turku and Tampere.
Finland has the world’s longest regularly collected population statistics. Regular collection and compilation of population statistics was begun in the kingdom of Sweden-Finland as early as 1749, though regular publication did not start until the 1870s.
Around 6 per cent of the nation is of Swedish stock. There are 6,500 Sami (Laps) who live in the north of Finland, Lapland. The first Romanies (gypsies) arrived in the 16th century during Swedish rule, and they now number around 6,000. They live in the southern half of the country in tribes called cherhas that are divided into extended families. The majority of refugees are Vietnamese, Somalis or Kurds. Finland has the lowest percentage of any European country of resident foreigners, around 200,000.