AREFS taide ja kulttuuri ry
AREFS art and culture association

  • Savon Radan ryhmä organizes activities along the historical Savo line


From hunters to farmers to citizens is a general development of human civilization. It seems natural that finally all peoples will live in more or less urban areas. If this will be true, nobody knows, but it is possible. It is also possible that more people will choose to live in the countryside, as they find there values which are missing in urbanized regions.

Living in a city is attractive and comfortable, with all kind of services and work right away. Culture, art, entertainment and sport facilities are concentrated in urban regions as there are more people taking part in these programs.
Living in the countryside offers others values, like space, fresh air, silence, healthy environment, freedom of living and a natural surrounding for children.

In Europe the Nordic countries are sparsely populated with some urban areas near their coasts.

Finland is the northernmost country in Europe and has 5.5 million inhabitants and about 1.5 million are living in the countryside, which is over 80% of the country. The average population density is 15.6/km², after Iceland and Norway, the most sparsely populated country in Europe. Moreover, the population is also in another way very unequally distributed: the majority of the population lives in the south of the country, while large parts in Lapland are actual uninhabited with a population density of less than 2 inhabitants per km ² . About one-fifth of the Finnish population is concentrated in the capital region around Helsinki, which is therefore seen as the only real city in the country. In addition to the capital are especially Tampere and Turku urban area of any size. Most other Finnish cities have fewer than 100,000 inhabitants, and are relatively scattered across the southern part of the country. (source Wikipedia)

From the past the country is an agriculture society with farms and forests. Some industry like wood and metal are related to what is available in the environment. Some decades ago some cities have started to grow and being attractive for people to live in. The countryside has lost an important part of their population. This process has huge consequences for the government, which has to solve the problem of livability in rural Finland..

One of the answers on this problem is scaling and it has result in disappearing of almost all the little villages as independent administrative units.

On paper it is easy to write down perfect sentences about the the way how to develop rural regions.
The problem is the execution of these perfect thoughts.
When the government write this:
"The countryside remains a vital part of Finland in both cultural and socio-economic terms. It produces local food, timber and other essential products and services for Finnish society. It is essential to ensure that Finland’s rural areas continue to be attractive places to live and work." it sounds as they really notice the importance of this huge part of the country.
As soon as it has financial consequences it starts to be problematic.

It sounds easy to close small schools in the countryside, it does not matter to transport young children from their home to school during 1/2 to 2 hours a day. Time which they cannot play outside, time during which they cannot explore their living environment. Officials are easily thinking that it does not harm children and when it harms they are at pension.
It looks so clear at an office desk, concentrate all children together to intensify the education quality and in the same time it will reduce the costs.

It sounds so easy to close and concentrate health care services. It is more efficient and cheaper to bring all the services together and let people travel.
It cheaper to close health care centers during summer (even the populations is twice or three times larger during that time) and concentrate first aid at distances up to 60 kilometer and more.
It is cheaper to close ambulance stations and increase the time needed to arrive at the emergency place, because at an office desk it looks so clear that it is possible to intensify the health care quality and in the same time to reduce the costs.

It sounds so realistic to close train stops, when a faster speed can be reached. The time reduce of 5 minutes on a trip of 2 hours and more is perfect excuse to get rid of all those small stops.
It looks so clear at an office desk, too few people per train, closing the stop is very efficient and reduces the costs.

The ministry of agriculture and forestry wrote memorable words:
"Finland’s rural policy aims to ensure that the Finnish countryside continues to thrive by keeping jobs and services close to people, by enhancing infrastructures including transport and telecommunications connections, and by ensuring that rural residents have housing to meet their needs and wishes."
The government has to fulfill their own objectives in order to prevent the countryside for the opposite result.

As long as a public official in Mikkeli can say against someone from the countryside that "life in the country is an own choice" and all indications are that this is a common thought, then there is something seriously wrong with the attitude of the official and with the government as a whole.










©2009 AREFS taide ja kulttuuri ry, Finland. All rights reserved.
No reproduction by any means or in any language without prior permission of the author.