Long an agricultural country, Finland accelerated the pace of its industrialization after World War II. By the end of the 20th cent., manufacturing, services, and trade and transportation were the largest segments of the economy, while agriculture (plus forestry and fishing) accounted for less than 5% of employment and GDP.
In agriculture, livestock production is predominant, and dairy products are important. Large numbers of poultry, cattle, hogs, reindeer, and sheep are raised. Leading agricultural commodities include barley, wheat, hay, oats, rye, sugar beets, and potatoes. Though Finland's mining output is small, it includes a number of important minerals such as iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, chromite, nickel, gold, and silver. The Finnish lumbering industry is one of the largest in Europe, producing a variety of wood and paper products.
Among the country's chief industries are food processing and the manufacture of iron, steel, electrical and electronic equipment (especially cellular phones), machinery, scientific instruments, ships, pulp and paper, chemicals, textiles, and clothing. Finland is also known for its design of glass, ceramics, and stainless-steel cutlery. Its tourism industry is based mostly on winter sports and fishing. About 20% of the country's electricity is generated by hydroelectric plants and 30% by nuclear power; additional electricity and fossil fuels must be imported.
The leading exports are forest products (which account for about 50% of exports), machinery and equipment, metals, ships, clothing, and processed foods. The chief imports are foodstuffs, petroleum and petroleum products, chemicals, transportation equipment, iron and steel, machinery, textiles, and grains. The principal trade partners are Germany, Russia, Sweden, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.