Was Finland part of Russia?

Answered by James Kissner

Finland was indeed part of Russia for a significant period of time. Following its declaration of independence from Sweden in 1809, Finland became a Grand Duchy under the Russian Empire. This occurred as a result of the Finnish War between Sweden and Russia, which ended with the signing of the Treaty of Fredrikshamn. This treaty ceded Finland to Russia, marking the beginning of its 108-year period as a Russian territory.

During its time as a Grand Duchy, Finland had a considerable degree of autonomy within the Russian Empire. The Finnish people were allowed to maintain their own legal system, administrative structures, and even their own currency. The Russian Emperor held the title of Grand Duke of Finland, but the Finnish people had their own government and institutions, such as the Finnish Parliament (known as the Diet) and the Senate.

However, despite this relative autonomy, Finland was still ultimately under Russian control. The Russian Emperor had the power to veto Finnish legislation, and the Finnish military was integrated into the Russian army. Russian influence was also evident in the Finnish economy, with Russian officials overseeing trade and economic policies.

The relationship between Finland and Russia was complex during this period. While some Finns embraced the opportunities that came with being part of a larger empire, others resented Russian rule and longed for independence. Finnish nationalism grew during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, fueled by cultural, linguistic, and political movements.

The Russian Revolution in 1917 had a profound impact on Finland. As the Russian Empire collapsed and entered a period of political turmoil, the Finns saw an opportunity to assert their independence. On December 6, 1917, the Finnish Parliament declared Finland’s independence from Russia, establishing the Republic of Finland.

The road to independence was not without challenges, however. The Finnish Civil War broke out in early 1918, pitting the “Reds” (socialists) against the “Whites” (conservatives and nationalists). The Whites emerged victorious, securing Finland’s independence and establishing a democratic republic.

Finland was part of Russia as a Grand Duchy from 1809 to 1917. During this time, Finland had a certain level of autonomy within the Russian Empire but was ultimately under Russian control. The period of Russian rule shaped Finland’s history and national identity, leading to its eventual declaration of independence in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution.