13 Inventions We Have to Thank Finland For

Wind turbine
Wind turbine | © corlaffra/Shutterstock
Jessica Wood

This article is part of Culture Trip’s Finland 100 campaign, celebrating everything Finnish on the country’s centenary.

Finland has grown a lot in the 100 years since its independence from Russia, and its firm footing in the tech field has seen the country develop many inventions that have helped changed lives all over the globe. Here are some of the most ground-breaking inventions by Finns, both in technology and other areas.

speech icon man in bubble

Destinations Unlocked:

Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip

Looking for an expert's perspective?

Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
speech icon man in bubble
left arrow trip map

CentralAmerica

GORGEOUS GUATEMALA

Gorgeous Guatemala

5 days . Mini
speech icon man in bubble

1. Guatemala

An express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.

Next

right arrow next slide
left arrow trip map

CentralAmerica

BEACHY BELIZE

Beachy Belize

5 days . Mini
speech icon man in bubble

2. Belize

A quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
left arrow previous slide

Next

right arrow next slide
left arrow trip map

CentralAmerica

COLONIAL MEXICO

Colonial Mexico

5 days . Mini
speech icon man in bubble

3. Mexico

An exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
left arrow previous slide

Back to Map

left arrow trip map

SouthAmerica

ADVENTUROUS ECUADOR

Adventurous Ecuador

8 days . Epic
speech icon man in bubble

1. Ecuador

A remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.

Next

right arrow next slide
left arrow trip map

SouthAmerica

ANCIENT PERU

Ancient Peru

9 days . Epic
speech icon man in bubble

2. Peru

An alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
left arrow previous slide

Back to Map

left arrow trip map

Europe

SEDUCTIVE SOUTHERN ITALY

Seductive Southern Italy

10 days . Epic
speech icon man in bubble

1. Italy

The ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.

Next

right arrow next slide
left arrow trip map

Europe

EDINBURGH AND THE SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS BY TRAIN

Edinburgh And The Scottish Highlands By Train

7 days . Culture
speech icon man in bubble

2. Scotland

Embark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
left arrow previous slide

Next

right arrow next slide
left arrow trip map

Europe

COMPLETE PORTUGAL BY TRAIN

Complete Portugal By Train

8 days . Culture
speech icon man in bubble

3. Portugal

A wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
left arrow previous slide

Back to Map

left arrow trip map

Asia

SOULFUL SOUTH KOREA

Soulful South Korea

10 days . Epic
speech icon man in bubble

1. South Korea

Discover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.

Next

right arrow next slide
left arrow trip map

Asia

THAILAND, CAMBODIA & VIETNAM

Thailand, Cambodia & Vietnam

11 days . Epic
speech icon man in bubble

2. Thailand

From Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
left arrow previous slide

Next

right arrow next slide
left arrow trip map

Asia

SECRETS OF SRI LANKA BY TRAIN

Secrets Of Sri Lanka By Train

10 days . Culture
speech icon man in bubble

3. Sri Lanka

A fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
left arrow previous slide

Back to Map

left arrow trip map

Africa

EPIC MOROCCO

Epic Morocco

11 days . Epic
speech icon man in bubble

1. Morocco

An epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!

Next

right arrow next slide
left arrow trip map

Africa

ULTIMATE EGYPT

Ultimate Egypt

9 days . Epic
speech icon man in bubble

2. Egypt

From Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
left arrow previous slide

Next

right arrow next slide
left arrow trip map

Africa

IMMERSIVE KENYA

Immersive Kenya

8 days . Epic
speech icon man in bubble

3. Kenya

An immersive blend of culture and wildlife for first time travelers to Africa. Learn about Nairobi, sample local coffee in the Aberdares and finish up with a fantastic safari stay in the Masai Mara.
left arrow previous slide

Back to Map

Linux

The ‘operating system for smart people’ and its distinct penguin mascot were created in 1991 by Finnish inventor Linus Torvalds, who was still just a computer science student at the time. Torvalds wanted to create his own operating system for his PC and, when he did, he made it universally available and free.

Linux mascot, Tux

Bubble chair

They appear all the time in sci-fi movies and modernist homes to give them more of a ‘futuristic’ look. These circular chairs suspended from the ceiling were actually invented by Finnish designer Eero Aarnio way back in the 1960s. There are also more rustic-wicker versions, which are suited in more traditional Finnish homes.

Bubble Chair

IRC chat protocol

Internet Relay Chat, or IRC, was invented in 1988 at the University of Oulu. It was the first system that allowed users to connect to a central server for text chats. This was revolutionary and essential in the development of the internet, giving way to Usenet groups, chatrooms, bulletin boards, online gaming and private-chat features which we now take for granted. The initial success of IRC allowed quick reporting during the Gulf War.

A version of IRC

Erwise

You can thank Finland for the web browser you’re using to read this article right now. The very first web browser, Erwise, was created by four Finnish students as a Master’s project during the early days of the internet. It took a while to catch on, since the internet wasn’t in widespread use in the early 1990s, but it did pave the way for the more advanced-web browsers used today.

Pulks

A pulk is a sled that converts into a backpack, and it’s a Godsend for many hikers and Arctic explorers. Essentially, it is a backpack that can also work as a small toboggan and be pulled along by skiers, reindeer or sledge dogs. In remote Lapland communities, they are used to transport supplies, to carry small children and to sled down hills for fun. Who wouldn’t want to ride across the snow in one of these?

Winter adventurers using Pulkas

Wind turbine

Perhaps the most important renewable energy source available, wind power is estimated to produce 20% of our power by 2030 according to EcoWatch. The very first wind-powered turbine was created way back in 1922 by Finnish engineer Sigurd Savonius and subsequently named the Savonius turbine. Not only were they revolutionary for their time, but this was also long before the need for renewable energy was known. Yet, as is typical of Finnish design, they were incredibly simple and easy to maintain. They are still used today not to produce power but as a cooling system for large vehicles.

Savonius wind turbine

Heart rate monitors

A device strapped to an athlete’s body to record their heart rate was introduced by the Finnish company Polar Electro back in 1977. It was also the first piece of wearable wireless technology available. The first monitor was battery powered and attached to the fingertip.

Heart Rate Monitor

Nokia phones

Nokia, a Finnish company, invented the fairly simple, but longest-lasting, mobile phones to date. Most can be used even in harsh conditions. It may be ancient technology now, but Nokia has some of the the best-selling phones of all time, which helped transform mobiles from trendy gadgets to essential (and even life-saving) items that anybody can own.

The classic Nokia 3310

Sauna

Finland’s sauna culture has been going on for a long time, almost 9,000 years in fact. It is difficult to trace, but there has been evidence of Finnish saunas existing since 7000 BCE. The sauna may be a luxury in other countries, but it is a hugely important part of national identity in Finland. Weekly saunas are an essential bonding and health activity.

Finnish style Sauna

Fiskars scissors

Chances are that the scissors in any given utility drawer have an orange handle. This is thanks to the Finnish company Fiskars who produce high-quality kitchen and homeware items, including the distinct orange-handled scissors. Over one billion of these scissors have been sold worldwide since their introduction in 1967.

Finnish Invention, Fiskars Scissors

Reflectors

Reflective strips for clothing are essential products in Finland due to the long, dark winters. It is common for people to give each other reflector key rings as gifts so that they can be spotted by cars even in the darkest parts of the winter. These reflectors were invented by Arvi Lehti in 1955 and are now used on key rings, armbands, adhesive strips and even on dog collars.

Bicycle Reflector

Angry birds

The mobile game Angry Birds exploded and enjoyed worldwide popularity after its introduction by Rovio Entertainment. It has since been downloaded over one billion times. Its popularity has spread to include merchandise, sweets, a feature film and even a theme park in Finland. The game’s mainstream popularity may have died down, but it was the first highly successful mobile game, and it was hugely influential in popularising mobile gaming.

Original Angry Birds app

Ice skates

Ice skates are another invention that came about due to Finland’s cold winters, but they have now spread worldwide. Finns have supposedly been using ice skates for 5,000 years, although they were initially used only for safe travel rather than sport and leisure. Some of the earliest skates made of animal bones have been found in southern Finland dating back to around 3,000 BCE. It isn’t known for certain whether Finland invented ice skates, but Finns still have a thriving winter-sport culture and some successful ice hockey teams.

Finnish national Ice Hockey team

This article is part of Culture Trip’s Finland 100 campaign, celebrating everything Finnish on the country’s centenary.

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider

Hanna

women sitting on iceberg

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?

2 years.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?

It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.

WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?

I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air

KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?

Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

X

Holiday Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article