Finns - Settlements



With the rise of permanent agricultural settlements in the fertile plains of western and southern Finland in the Middle Ages, communal ownership and management practices were employed so that an entire hamlet, including fifteen to twenty closely spaced farms, assumed joint ownership of fields, Forests, and pastures. Land reforms in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries broke down the communal villages, but the newly created individual farmsteads retained a modified courtyard arrangement with dwelling units, sauna or bathhouse, grain and food storage buildings, livestock barns, and hay sheds enclosing an inner yard. Wooden domestic architecture displayed a high level of woodworking skill and embellishment, with two-storied houses marking prosperous farms. However, in the eastern and interior areas of Finland agricultural settlement occurred at a later date, and it was characterized by a more flexible system of landownership and farmstead organization. The persistence of "burn-beating" cultivation ( poltta kaskea, kaskiviljelys ), a form of pioneer extensive farming of the conifer forests, involved mobile Populations and a dispersed pattern of settlement. Remote individual farms or extended dual-family holdings were won from the forest, often along favored glacial esker ridges or "home hills" ( harju , vaara ). While these historical patterns of settlement affect the present rural landscape, six of every ten Finns now live in urban areas. The largest cities are greater Helsinki, with 950,000 people in the 1980s, and Tampere and Turku, each with a population of 250,000. The majority of Finnish residential dwellings of all types have been constructed since World War II, many of them consisting of apartment-house complexes in the large cities. Social and emotional adjustment to this urban landscape has been problematic for many recently uprooted migrants from the countryside.

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