Finland, officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in Northern Europe. It shares land borders with Sweden to the west, Russia to the east, and Norway to the north. Finland is bounded by the Baltic Sea, with the Gulf of Finland to the south and the Gulf of Bothnia to the west. The Åland Islands, off the southwestern coast, are an autonomous, demilitarized administrative province of Finland.
Finland has a population of 5,282,583 people spread over 338,145 square kilometres (130,559 square miles) making it the most sparsely populated country in the European Union. Finland is a democratic republic with a semi-presidential system and parliamentarism. Finland was previously part of the Swedish kingdom and from 1809 an autonomous Grand Duchy in the Russian Empire, until it declared its independence on December 6, 1917. Finland is eleventh on the 2006 United Nations Human Development Index and ranked as the sixth happiest nation in the world by a subjective independent scientific study. According to the World Audit Democracy profile, Finland is the freest nation in the world, in terms of civil liberties, freedom of the press, low corruption levels and political rights.
The Republic of Finland is a member state of the United Nations and the European Union. Along with Estonian, Hungarian and Maltese, Finnish is one of the few official languages of the European Union that is not of Indo-European origin. Finland's second official language is Swedish, spoken by a 5.5 percent minority.