(Chapter IX, section 11)


The Baltic Finns: Finland

As we have seen in our review of Finno-Ugrian tribal history, Finland itself was the last region to be invaded and fully colonized by Finns. At the same time  it has always maintained close relationships with Sweden, before as well as after the Finnish migration from Esthonia. Skeletal remains from Ostrobothnia, dating from the Early Iron Age, resemble closely the Iron Age Nordic crania from Sweden,95 while other skulls, from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries onward, include a majority of brachycephalic examples, and thus witness the arrival of the Finns from their ancestral homelands in the Middle Volga country, whence they had been impelled by Slavic and Turko-Mongol pressure.

Modern Finland is divided into nine counties (landskap) which are based on old tribal affiliations, and also into administrative divisions (län) of more recent designation. The counties, in both Swedish and Finnish, bear the names of, and contain the proportions of Finnish and of Swedish speakers shown in the table on the following page.

English or Swedish Finnish Per Cent Swedes Per Cent Finns           
Åland Island Ahvenanmaa 99.12% .88%
Finland Proper      
   (Swedish comm.)   87.6 12.4
   (Finnish comm.) Länsisuomi 3.4 96.6
Satakunta Satakunta .9 99.1
   (Swedish comm.)   69.4 30.6
   (Finnish comm.) Uusima 24.4 75.6
Tavastland Häme .9 99.1
Southern Ostrobothnia      
   (Swedish comm.)   95.0 5.0
   (Finnish comm.) Etela Pohjanmaa 1.2 98.8
Savolax Savo .66 99.34
Carelia Karjala .70 99.30
Northern Ostrobothnia Pohjois Pohjanmaa .9 99.1

The Swedish population of Finland is almost exclusively confined to the Åland Islands, to Finland Proper, Nyland, and Southern Ostrobothnia, being concentrated in two non-contiguous coastal areas. The old Gothic settlement was largely located in Finland Proper and Satakunta, between the two Swedish areas of the present day.

These county divisions, which have their basis in tribal origins, are marked by dialectic differences. The Suomaläiset, or southWestern Finns, inhabit Finland Proper and Satakunta, and speak a dialect which, although closest to the Esthonian of any in Finland, has been influenced by the language of the Germanic people who preceded them and whom they absorbed. The Hämäläiset or Tavastians are said to represent, in least mixed form, the original Finnish invaders from Esthonia. The Savolaiset, or people of Savolax, are linguistically a mixture between Tavastians and Carelians; the latter are naturally identified with their tribal companions who live over the border in the Carelian S. S. Republic, and whom we have already studied. The Kainulaiset, or Kvaens, who live in northern Ostrobothnia and Finnish Lappland as well as in northern Norway and Sweden, although mixed to some extent with Lapps, are linguistically close to the Carelians. Historically, the Kvaens are, although partly of mixed Finnish origin, to be considered as an early, northern Carelian offshoot. The southern Ostrobothnians speak a dialect which is transitional between Tavastian and Kvaenish, the latter being their earlier speech.

These tribal differences are clearly reflected in stature; the Finns of Esthonian origin and those in districts where Gothic and Swedish blood has been absorbed, are tall, with local means as high as 172 tm., while in the Carelian and Kvaenish provinces the mean stature runs as low as 165 cm. There is no difference in this respect between the Swedish speakers and Finnish speakers in the southern and western counties.96 The early recruit material enlisted between 1767 and 1906 shows the uniform stature mean of 169.6 cm., with less local variation than is found today, and no evidence of increase. The range of these early soldiers is from 137 cm. to 207 cm., and the latter figure reflects the fact that Finland has furnished some of the world's most famous cases of giantism. Like the Livs, the Finns have, apparently, always been tall, and have not been as much affected by the modern increase as have their neighbors across the Baltic. The bodily proportions of the Finns show no unusual features; a relative span of 104.597 is higher than that of most Scandinavians, while a relative sitting height of 5398 is moderate.

The cephalic index means of the Finns vary from 79.3 in Finland proper, which is the same as that of the southern enclave of Swedish speakers, to 82.2 in Finnish Carelia, and 82.6 in northern Ostrobothnia. The distribution of this index takes the form of a gradual rise from the southwestern corner of Finland outward, to the east and north, until one reaches Carelian and Kvaenish country. These differences in the cephalic index are almost entirely differences in mean head length, ranging from 193.3 mm. in Finland Proper, to 188.1 mm. in Carelia and 187.6 mm. in northern Ostrobothnia. The breadth remains constant at a mean of 153 to 154 mm.99 Thus the Carelians of Finland, and their northern relatives the Kvaens, preserve, to a large extent, the old Finnish head size and form, while the Finns Proper keep, in varying degree, the dimensions and proportions acquired by mixture with the descendants of earlier Baltic peoples, and with Goths and Swedes, both in Esthonia and in their new home. The Finnish head height mean, as determined by Luther, is 127 mm., which agrees both with the early Finnish condition and that to be expected from mixture with Scandinavians. The faces of the Finns are large, with a constant bizygomatic diameter100 mean of 141 mm., whereas the menton-nasion heights vary provincially in harmony with the distribution of stature and of head length. The mean for the total is 126.5 mm., and the longest faces are found in southwestern Finland, while the shortest occur in the north.101 The nasal index mean for Finland is 66, which is moderately leptorrhine and probably typical of the East Baltic group as a whole.102 The bigonial diameter of the Finns is very broad,103 quite equal to the standards of the Livs, and gives the Finnish face the square appearance for which it is noted.

The pigmentation of the Finns is as abundantly documented as are their stature and head form. Skin color, however, has been tabulated in only one study104 of 154 males, of whom 121 were found to be "white," presumably in the extreme Scandinavian sense, while the others were listed as "yellowish" or "brunet." General observation of Finns, however, and descriptions by various authors, lead to the conclusion that the skin color of these people is as a rule unusually fair, but that in many cases it lacks surface vascularity.

If one may judge by a series of 176 hair samples from various parts of Finland,105 then the Finns, like the Livs, are blonder than the Norwegian total, but less blond than Bryn's selected Eastern Valley farmers. The ash-blond series (Fischer #20-26) accounts for 36 per cent of the whole, while brown (Fischer #6-8) totals 47 per cent, and dark brown and black amount to less than 2 per cent. Reds are negligible, and black and really dark hair less frequent than in Scandinavia. Westerlund's rceruit material106 on a series of 6000 agrees with that of Luther, and yields less than one per cent of red. The Finns and Swedes of the western and southern provinces are almost identical in hair color proportions, although the Finns have a little more ash-blond, and the Swedes a little more brown. The distribution of hair color shows the greatest degree of blondism among the Finns living in Nyland, Finland Proper, and Satakunta - these have over 60 per cent of ash-blond and golden shades, more than the Swedish speakers; while in Carelia and the two Ostrobothnias the lesser blondism already determined for Carelians is found.

The eye color of the Finns is, as one would expect, prevailingly light, with blue commoner than gray. Westerlund finds but 7 per cent of brown eyes, and 15 per cent of mixed, while Luther's mixed group comprises 15 per cent. Since the eye color of the Finns and of the Swedes in the coastal regions is equally distributed, it is reasonable to suppose that Finland, in this respect, is about equal to Scandinavia. Blue eyes, with a regional maximum of 53 per cent, are commonest in southern Ostrobothnia; while gray eyes, attaining 37 per cent, are concentrated in Finland Proper. In four-fold correlation tables blue eyes go especially with brown, and gray eyes with ash-blond hair. The regional distribution of eye color, while following faithfully that of stature, head form, and hair color, is not as strongly marked as is the case with the metrical characters; the maximum of Westerlund's blue + gray classes combined is 83 per cent in Finland Proper, the minimum 71.8 per cent in northern Ostrobothnia; dark eyes vary only from 5.7 per cent to 9.1 per cent, in the same counties.

Morphological observations on modern Finns are rare. Those which are available indicate that the foreheads are usually high, broad, and only slightly sloping, and that, in general, the total facial profile resembles that of the eastern Finns rather than of Scandinavian Nordics. The nose is most often straight or slightly concave, and the nasion region smoothly curved over glabella, so that it is difficult to locate nasion. Browridges are usually only slightly developed. The nasal wings are usually of moderate spread, and as often flaring as compressed. Heavy mandibles, with powerful chins, are as typical of these as of other Finns. Within any random Finnish gathering, it is possible to pick out Nordic individuals of ordinary Iron Age type, as well as broad-faced, snub-nosed individuals who are exaggeratedly East Baltic. There is a considerable individual range, although the regional trends are well marked and constant.

On the whole the Finns are physically just what one would expect from their history; an amalgamation between an intrusive eastern Finnish population, Scandinavian Nordics, and earlier elements local to the eastern Baltic shores. The Finnish invaders seem, here as in Esthonia and among the Livs, to have preserved in many instances their characteristic cranial and facial morphology, while at the same time undergoing a great increase in size, and some increase in blondism, through the absorption of the other racial factors. The various component elements have not, in Finland, been completely absorbed and fused; correlations between stature, head form, face form, and pigmentation show that a tall, mesocephalie, brown-haired, and blue-eyed strain, which probably represents a Nordic element in a sense, but to a greater extent the old Corded race, may be contrasted with a shorter, rounder-headed type, with ash-blond hair and gray eyes, which is the original Finnic.


95. Retzius, G., Finska Kranier.
Westerlund, F. W., Fennia, vol.18, #2, 1900, pp. 1-31, 90-96; vol.32, #4, 1912, pp.1-43.

96. There is an abundance of data on Finnish stature, covering roughly 150,000 individuals, from 1768 A.D. to the present. Principal sources:
Hilden, K., AFA, vol. 47, 1923, pp. 36-40.
Kajava, Y., AAnz, vol.2, 1925, pp. 228-253; AASF, ser. A, vol.25, #5, 1925; Fennia, vol. 48 (Atlas of Finland), 1929, pp.141-143.
Karvonen, J. J., AASF, ser. A, vol.25, #6, 1926.
Nickul, K., AASF, ser. A, vol.25, #4, 1925.
Westerlund, F. W., Fennia, vol.18, #2, 1900, pp.1-31, 90-96; vol.32, #4, 1912, pp. 1-43.
Wilskman, T., Tilastollisia tietoja Suomen kansan ruumülisesta kehityksestd, III, Miesten kasvutilastoa.

97. From unpublished niaterial collected by Mr. Martin Luther for the Peabody Museum, and seriated by the author with the collector's permission.

98. Westerlund, F. W., Fennia, 1912.

99. Westerlund, F. W., Fennia, vol.20, 1903, pp. 1-67. Also Luther's material.

100. Kolmogorov, A. J., AFA, vol.34, 1907, pp.228-231. Also, Luther's data.
Retzius, A., CRCA, 8me sess., Budapest, 1876, vol.2, pp. 740-771.

101. Luther, Retzius, whose means are 14 mm. lower, obviously located nasion too low.

102. Westerlund, F. W., Fennia, 1912.

103. Retzius, op. cit. Mean 114 mm.

104. Eliseev, A. V., résumé in AFA, vol.26, 1900, pp. 803-807; from a Russian source.

105. Collected by Luther, matched to the Fischer scale by,the author.

106. Westerlund, F. W., Fennia, vol.21, 1904, pp.1-58.