1917-1920 1929-1939

Finland 1920-1929

Administration . The presidency was held from 1919 to 1925 by Kaarlo Juho Ståhlberg, from 1925 to 1931 by Lauri Kristian Relander. From 1920 to 1929, Finland saw 13 changes in the office of prime minister; the National Progressive Party contributed PMs on three occasions, the National Coalition Party on three occasions, the Agrarian League on four occasions, the Social Democratic Party on one occasion. The country was governed based on the constitutional act of 1919, capital was Helsinki. Parliamentary elections were held in 1922, 1924, 1927 and 1929.

Foreign Policy . In the Treaty of Tartu 1920, Finland and the RSFSR recognized each other. Finland joined the League of Nations in December 1920. In 1921, the League of Nations, in the case of the Åland Islands, possession of which was disputed by Sweden and Finland, decided in favour of the latter, requiring autonomy for the majority Swedish-speaking population of the islands. Sweden established an embassy in Helsinki in 1921; Finland and the USSR established diplomatic relations in 1923.

Political History The constitutional act of 1919 defined as a parliamentary democracy, with the social democrats being in the opposition for most of the time. Extreme nationalists propagated a Greater Finland, including Finnish speaking peoples in Russia, and were dissatisfied with the Treaty of Tartu (formerly Dorpat, 1920).

The Economy . In 1920, Finland had 4,328 km of railroad track, in 1929 5,040 km (IHS pp.657).
In 1920, Finland produced 6,000 metric tons of wheat, in 1930 24,000; potato production was 0.556 million metric tons in 1920, 0.928 million in 1930 (IHS p.266). If consumer prices for 1929 are set at 100, the price level of 1920 was at 80 (IHS p.848).

Social History . The population of Finland in 1920 was 3.14 million, that of 1929 3.45 million (Lahmeyer). Finland had suffered limited damage from World War I, more extensive damage from the Finnish Civil War; the eastern region of Karelia suffered from being cut off from Petrograd / Leningrad, which under the name of St. Petersburg had been the metropolis which had attracted the produce of, as well as workers from Karelia etc.
In 1922, Pelastakaa Lapset (Save the Children, Finland chapter) was founded, to address the needs of several thousand orphans and a much larger number of children left without caregivers.
Prohibition had been introduced in 1919.
In 1925 the number of unemployed was 2,500, in 1928 1,700 (IHS pp.159, 162).

Cultural History . Finnish athletes participated in the Summer Olympics of Brussels 1920, Paris 1924 and Amsterdam 1928, and in the Winter Olympics of Chamonix 1924 and St. Moritz 1928. Finns took 15 gold in Brussels, 14 in Paris, 8 in Amsterdam, 4 in Chamonix and 2 in St. Moritz. Runner Paavo Nurmi alone took 9 gld in the games of Brussels, Paris and Amsterdam.
Lahti (Finland) hosted the World Nordic Ski Championships in 1926. Finland's national men's ice hockey team played its first game in 1928.
In 1923, the Swedish Lutheran diocese of Borgå was established; the Finnish diocese of Vyborg (Viipuri), residing in Borgå since 1723, was relocated to Tampere and renamed Diocese of Tampere; it remained suffragan to the Archdiocese of Turku. Also in 1923, the Finnish Orthodox Church separated from the Russian Orthodox Church, introduced the Gregorian Calendar, switched her liturgy from Church Slavonic to Finnish and moved her archieiscopal see from Viipuri to Sortavala.
The Finnish-Islamic Organization, members of which exclusively were immigrant Muslim Tatars, was established in 1925.
Areo 0/Y, predecessor of Finnair, was established in 1923.
Prohibition was law in Finland from 1919 to 1932.
Finland in 1921 began issuing registration plates for motor vehicles.

Article History of Finland : Inter-War Era, Treaty of Tartu 1920, Prime Minister of Finland, Elections in Finland, Lapua Movement, Kaarlo Juho Ståhlberg, Lauri Kristian Relander, Lahti, Finnish National Men's Ice Hockey Team, Finnair History, Prohibition : Nordic Countries, Finland at the 1920 Summer Olympics, Finland at the 1924 Summer Olympics, Finland at the 1928 Summer Olympics, Finland at the 1924 Winter Olympics, Finland at the 1928 Winter Olympics, Paavo Nurmi, Political Nordism, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland : History, Finnish Orthodox Church, Islam in Finland, from Wikipedia
Library of Congress, Country Studies : Finland
Early Independence 1917-39, from A Virtual History of Finland, by Pasi KuoppamÄki
Timeline Finnish History 1917-1941, from The Finnish Navy in World War II , click Timeline
History, of Pelastakaa Lapset
History, from Oval Plates
DOCUMENTS List of Finnish Presidents, Prime Ministers etc., from Finland, by Ben Cahoon
Historical Population Statistics : Finland, from Population Statistics (Jan Lahmeyer)
Finnish banknotes, from Ron Wise's World Paper Money
The Åland Agreement in the Council of the League of Nations, 1921, posted by Åland Kulturstiftelsen
REFERENCE IHS : B.R. Mitchell, International Historical Statistics. Europe 1750-1988, NY : Stockton Press 1992 [G]
Article : Finland, in : Statesman's Yearbook 1924 pp.845-854, 1925 pp.856-865, 1926 pp.829-839, 1928 pp.843-853, 1929 pp.832-841 [G]
Article : Finland, in : Americana Annual 1927 pp.341-342, 1928 pp.298-299 [G]
Article : Finland, in : New International Year Book 1920 pp.224-226, 1921 pp.227-228, 1923 pp.236-238, 1925 pp.239-241, 1928 pp.255-257 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on July 6th 2008

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