Linguistic rights

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 313 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.

Action plan of the Strategy for the National Languages of Finland published by the Ministry of Justice on February 2017

More information of the application of language legislation can be found in the Report of the Government on the application of language legislation 2017.



Strategy for the National Languages of Finland

Contact information

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

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