Language: Finnish

Climate: Finland has a much milder climate than most other regions of the world that lie as far north. July temperatures in Finland average 13-17°C. February is usually Finland's coldest month, with temperatures averaging from -22 to -3°C. Most of the country is icebound in winter, and subject to periods of continuous darkness. In the northernmost areas of the country the sun never rises above the horizon for about two months. Southern Finland has some daylight each day, though it receives only about six hours of daylight a day in midwinter. Northern Finland lies in the Land of the Midnight Sun and so has continuous daylight during part of the summer. Southern Finland never has continuous daylight, though it averages 19 hours of daylight a day in midsummer.

Time Zone: EET – Eastern European Time

International phone code: 358

Currency: Euro

Capital: Helsinki

Transportation: Travel into Finland by plane, bus, car, train and ferry, though flights from other European countries are not among the cheapest travel options within Europe. Finland's main international hub is Helsinki-Vantaa Airport near Helsinki. Finnair, Blue1 and Flybe Nordic are based there. Approximately 30 foreign airlines fly to Helsinki-Vantaa. One of the best ways to travel to and from Finland is by sea. The boats to Estonia and Sweden, in particular, are giant, multi-story floating palaces and department stores, with cheap prices subsidized by sales of tax-free booze. Flights are the fastest but generally also the most expensive way of getting around. Finnair and some smaller airlines operate regional flights from Helsinki to all over the country, including Kuopio, Pori, Rovaniemi and Ivalo. VR (Finnish Railways) operates the fairly extensive railroad network. Matkahuolto offers long-distance coach connections to practically all parts of Finland. Bus is also the only way to travel in Lapland, since the rail network doesn't extend to the extreme north. Car rental is possible in Finland but generally expensive.

Gay Finland:

As in the other Nordic countries, homosexuality is widely accepted in Finland. Their first female president, Tarja Halonen, was once the chairperson of SETA, the country's LGBT rights group.

Registered partnerships have been legally recognized since 2002. A bill to legalize same-sex marriage was submitted to the country's parliament in early 2012 and is expected to receive wide support, including from Prime Minister Jyrki Katainen.

About 10 percent of the country's residents live in Helsinki. The city's gay scene is large and diverse, especially considering its population of just over 500,000. Pride festivities trace their roots to the 1975 Freedom Day, and are now a week-long event, usually held in mid-summer. In 2012, a tear gas attack along the parade route brought gay issues back into the media spotlight.

Although it's a faux pas to wear anything in Finnish saunas (neither towel nor bathing suit), they are not to be confused with western sex clubs. They are an integral, almost religious tradition, and are frequently mixed and family-oriented.

And, as with most Scandinavian countries, punctuality is esteemed and expected in Finland. If your watch only runs on 'gay-time' leave it at home.