The Land of a Thousand Lakes

Finland is sometimes called the land of a thousand lakes. Why is that. Are there really that many lakes. Or are there even more lakes?

Finnish Lake

Finland is sometimes called the land of a thousand lakes. This is actually quite good description, because water is important part of Finnish landscape. Except only of the most northern parts, water seems to be present anywhere you go.

If you visit any city in Finland, it is most likely located by water. All the biggest cities in Finland are either coastal towns by the Baltic Sea or inland cities located by a lake.

And if there is no lake for some reason, you can be pretty sure to find at least a river that runs right through the city. Check this the next time you are visiting Finnish city, and you’ll notice this to be true.

Land of How Many Lakes?

So the land of a thousand lakes must have thousand lakes, right?
No, not exactly, but it’s partly true.

Although thousand lakes does sound like a lot, it’s not even close to the real number. There are a lot more of them. There are around 57 000 lakes in Finland, if we count just the big ones, with a size one hectare or larger.

If we include also the smallest ponds with the size larger than 500 m2, than the number of lakes in Finland is around 168 000. Previously there have been estimates that Finland has over 187 000 lakes, but perhaps latest number of 168 000 published by the National Land Survey of Finland is closer to the truth.

Most of the Finnish lakes are small ponds, there are also some big ones. If we compare the number of large lakes in European Union, Finland is quite dominant. In the European Union there are 93 lakes with the size of 100 km2 or larger. 47 of these lakes are in Finland.

Largest lake in Finland is Saimaa with the size of 1393 km2 . The other four big ones in the top five are Päijänne, Inari, Pielinen and Oulujärvi. Although big, Finnish lakes aren’t very deep. The deepest one is Päijänne with a maximum depth of 95 meters.

Land of Islands

Finland isn’t just rich with lakes. There are also an amazing number of islands as well. Finland has around 187 000 islands with an area of 100 m2 or more. More than half of these are inland islands. The largest inland island is Soisalo with the size of 1638 km2. It’s that big that you don’t even understand that you are on an island.

The island of Soisalo itself has over 700 lakes, with around 200 islands on them. The biggest of these is the 76-hectare island on lake the Saamaisjärvi. No Finnish islands in lakes on islands have lakes. Or at least we don’t know any.

Some of the Finnish cities are located on islands. For example, Savonlinna, Kotka and Helsinki are cities which are partly on islands.  

Finland is the Land of Waters

Finland has 168 000 lakes, 187 000 islands and 647 rivers. So you can fairly say that water really is a big part of Finland. Freshwater areas (33 000 km2) actually cover one tenth of Finland’s surface area of 338 000 km2. And with the sea water area of 52 000 km2, Finland isn’t just land of lakes, it is land of water!   

Statistics Finland