The study of emigration holds a strong position in the activities of the Migration Institute of Finland. Our research covers both the historic and present-day situation.
For a long time, Finland was a fairly poor and agricultural region and there were no extensive international migration flows. In Finnish history, there have been two periods of great emigration that coincided with the general urbanisation and industrialisation of the country.
At the turn of the 20th century, over 300,000 Finns moved to North America and, in the period ranging from the 1950s to the 1970s, 400,000 Finns moved to Sweden. As the result of these, the largest expatriate Finn communities were formed.
In addition to these great migration flows, there are on one hand smaller migration flows to different parts of the world and on the other hand a continuous stream of international moving, though the number of people is not very significant. There are Finns living in almost every corner of the world.
The emigration of Finns has been fairly steady in the 21st century. Annually, on average 14,000 people of mostly Finnish origin have emigrated. The figure has increased slightly especially due to the emigration of the foreign population that has settled to the country.
Many of the people moving today are fairly well educated and many of them return to Finland after a few years.
There are roughly 300,000 Finnish citizens living abroad and it is estimated that approximately 1.5 million people abroad have Finnish origin.