Finnish municipalities and regions

Small municipalities

Finland has 311 municipalities (2017). They tend to be small, more than half of the municipalities have fewer than 6,000 residents. The smallest municipality, the Swedish-speaking town of Sottunga, has no more than a hundred residents (2015), whereas the number of residents in Finland’s capital Helsinki is some 630,000 (2015). The largest municipality by area is Inari in Northern Finland (15.055 km2) and the smallest is Kauniainen in the Helsinki metropolitan area (5.9 km2). The small municipalities account for about half of the land area, but only for 15 per cent of the population and for about 10 per cent of all jobs. The smallest municipalities in the Finnish archipelago have fewer than 200 residents.

Finland has nine cities with a population exceeding 100,000: Helsinki, Espoo, Jyväskylä, Tampere, Vantaa, Turku, Oulu, Lahti and Kuopio. They account for one per cent of Finland's area, but for 30 per cent of the country's population and for as much as 40 per cent of all jobs.

Finland has 19 regions, 18 on mainland and the autonomous province of Åland Islands off the country's southwest coast. Every region has a regional council, which is the region's statutory joint municipal authority. Every municipality must be a member of a regional council.

The national languages of Finland are Finnish and Swedish. Forty-nine per cent of Finnish municipalities are either bilingual or Swedish-speaking. There are 16 Swedish-speaking municipalities, all of them located on the Åland Islands. The number of residents in bilingual municipalities totals 1.75 million, which is just over one thirds of the country’s total population of 5.5 million.

Over this decade, the number of municipalities has decreased from 448 (2002) to 311 (2017).

In Finland, local authorities have broad responsibility for the provision of basic public services to their residents. Local authorities have strong self-government based on local democracy and decision-making and the right to levy taxes. Finnish local and joint municipal authorities employ over 422,000 persons (2015), which is approximately 20 per cent of Finland’s workforce. In 2015, the annual expenditure of local authorities was EUR 44.1 billion.