The Republic of Finland (Suomi in Finnish) is a country in northern Europe, sometimes considered to be part of Scandinavia. It is bordered by Sweden on the west, Norway on the north and Russia on the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland. The capital city is Helsinki.
Finland was part of Sweden from 1249 to 1809, when it became an autonomous Grand Duchy within the Russian Empire. Finland's declaration of independence from Russia in 1917 was followed by a civil war. During World War II, Finland fought two wars against the Soviet Union, and, as a consequence, Finland became a co-belligerent with NaziGermany for a time. In 1944, Finland made peace with the USSR and fought Germany. Finland joined the United Nations in 1955, the OECD in 1969, and the European Union in 1995.
Finland was a province of the Russian Empire until the Second Great War. It was a restive province as Finnish nationalists fought a resistance movement against the Russians. The Finns were supported by Germany in this effort, and the members of the Central Powers promised to grant diplomatic recognition to an independent Finland in 1943.
Finland remained neutral when the Second World War broke out in 1938, and continued to remain aloof from the war when Germany invaded its fellow Nordic countries Denmark and Norway in mid-1939. Although Britain and France had moved forces into Norway to help stall the German advance, they would receive no aid from Finland. After the German conquest of Norway only a thin slice of Finnish territory separated the German-occupied nation from the Soviet Union. Joseph Stalin, who had predicted this outcome, also announced that he did not think Finland, with "reactionary" Marshal Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim as its de facto leader would remain neutral. This suggested that Stalin was considering invading Finland before the Germans did.
However, by mid-1940, "the big switch" had taken place, and the USSR found itself fighting not only Germany and Poland, but also its former allies, Britain and France. Thus, Mannerheim was able to continue to influence Finland's decision to remain neutral (albeit with German leanings) through 1940 and into 1941. When the war ended in 1944, Finland was host to the Lithuanian government-in-exile after the latter's annexation by the Soviet Union.
Politically, Finland was something was a point of friction between Germany and the Soviet Union throughout much of the fighting against the Race.
In the frigid polar regions and under German protection, Finland was allowed to remain independent under the terms of the Peace of Cairo in 1944. Finland was a political ally of Germany. Unlike other German allies, Finland jealously and successfully guarded its sovereignty. It refused to participate in the Race-German War of 1965, for example, but the war left Finland without a powerful ally. When the Soviet Union issued an ultimatum for Finnish territory that it had claimed before the Race's arrival, the Finnish government responded by inviting the Race to establish a permanent military base within Finnish territory, while Finland itself maintained its political autonomy. Upon learning this from personally from Finnish Ambassador Urho Kekkonen, Vyacheslav Molotov withdrew the ultimatum, and squashed plans for similar ultimata to other countries.