Finland Table of Contents
View of Tapiola, a planned community outside of Helsinki
Courtesy Embassy of Finland, Washington
By the 1980s, Finland enjoyed one of the highest living standards in the world. It ranked eighth in the world with regard to per capita GDP, just behind the Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) and slightly ahead of Canada. When measured against other countries, it almost invariably ranked among the world's best, whether economic, social, medical, educational, or political criteria were being applied. Finns were as surprised as they were pleased by this excellence, because for much of its history Finland had been poor and backward. Evidence of this could be found in the national anthem, which declared that Finland would always be poor.
However wealthy Finland had become since the 1960s, observers noted some shortcomings. In addition to the problem of relatively high mortality and the need for a more comprehensive child-care system, Finland faced serious environmental issues. Another longstanding problem was the standard of housing. Although improvements had occurred since the 1950s, thirty years later Finns were still not so well housed as their Nordic neighbors.
Data as of December 1988