Wedged in-between Sweden and Russia and facing out towards the Baltic Sea, Finland is a very unique country. With their own distinctive language and culture, the Finns have managed to carve out a northern niche that comes through in its cinematic, literary and musical output.
Although it will probably be Tove Jansson's stories about the Moomins that stand out to most foreigners, Elias Lonnrot's compilation of the epic poetry of The Kalevala and Jean Sibelius' classical composition Finlandia undoubtedly serve as the backbone of Finnish national identity.
Finland, however, has a long line of notable personalities besides these three legendary contributors.
Aki Kaurismaki and his brother Mika are two of the countries most famous filmmakers. Aki won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival in 2002 and an Academy-nomination for his Man Without a Past. In Literature Pentti Saarikoski and Arto Paasilinna have been internationally recognised as well, Saarikoski for his striking poetry and Paasilinna particularly for his award-winning work on The Year of the Hare.
Finland has a healthy score of music, with HIM and Nightwish being some of its biggest musical exports in recent years. Leningrad Cowboys and 22-Pistepirrko have also made a name for themselves on the underground circuit and all of them are definitely worth a good listen.