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Finland
Finland lies at the crossroads of the Russian and Scandinavian worlds. Conquered in 1157 by the Swedes, who introduced Christianity there, Finland remained in Swedish hands until the 19th century then fell under Russian domination in 1812 before proclaiming its independence in 1917 as it took advantage of the Russian revolution. It entered into conflict with the USSR in 1920 then again in 1939 and 1945. It emerged from the Second World War with a reduced territory and was obliged to pay heavy war reparations to the USSR. It then claimed its neutrality during the entire period of the Cold War. After the fall of the USSR in 1991 the country turned to the EU of which it became a member in 1995. Within the Union Finland privileges intergovernmental relations and tries to defend the interests of the smallest European countries, an attitude which recent events have encouraged it to strengthen.
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