The two official languages in Finland are Finnish and Swedish. 90% of the population are Finnish-speaking and 5.4% are Swedish-speaking. Finland is divided into 311 municipalities, of which 33 are bilingual and the rest unilingual with either Finnish or Swedish as the primary language (situation in 2017). Most of the bilingual municipalities are located on the west coast.
The basis for the linguistic rights is section 17 of the Constitution. The Language Act further elaborates on the linguistic rights of the two national languages and in addition, there are laws containing provisions on language matters in other legislation as well. Moreover, Finland is bound by several international treaties.
People with some other mother tongue than Finnish or Swedish comprise 4.5% of the total population. The biggest language groups after Finnish and Swedish are Russian, Estonian, Somali, English and Arabian. According to the Constitution, the Sami, as an indigenous people, as well as the Roma and other groups, have the right to maintain and develop their own language and culture.
More information on the language climate in Finland can be found in Chapters 2 and 9 of the Report of the Government on the application of language legislation 2013.
Unit for Democracy, Language Affairs and Fundamental Rights
Senior Adviser for Language Affairs Corinna Tammenmaa, tel. +358 29 5150 181
Senior Officer Vava Lunabba, tel. +358 29 5150 136
Ministerial Adviser Satu Kaskinen, tel. +358 29 5150 322
Senior Officer Maria Soininen, tel. +358 29 5150 067