During the Middle Ages there were only 6 towns in Finland ( Turku , Porvoo , Naantali , Rauma , Ulvila and Vyborg ), with wooden buildings growing organically around a stone church and/or castle. Historian Henrik Lilius has pointed out that Finnish wooden towns were on average destroyed by fire every 30–40 years.  They were never rebuilt exactly as they had existed before, and the fire damage offered the opportunity to create new urban structures in accordance with any reigning ideals: for example, completely new grid plans, straightening and widening streets, codes for constructing buildings in stone (in practice often ignored) and the introduction of "fire breaks" in the form of green areas between properties. As a consequence of fires, the greatest part of the wooden towns which have been preserved date from the nineteenth century. For example, the town of Oulu was founded in 1605 by Charles IX beside a medieval castle and, typical for its time, grew organically. In 1651 Claes Claesson drew up a new plan comprising a regular street grid, his proposal outlined on top of the existing "medieval" situation, but still retaining the position of the existing church. Over the following years, there more fires (significantly in 1822 and 1824) and yet more exacting regulations in new town plans regarding wider streets and fire breaks. Of Finland's 6 medieval towns, only Porvoo has retained its medieval town plan.
Basic Economy. Livestock raising was a major element in the peasant economy, along with fishing, hunting, tar production, and peddling. Wood as a commercial product did not become part of the farming economy until liberalized marketing policies, improved sawmilling techniques, and foreign demand converged in the late nineteenth century. The precariousness of crop cultivation, coupled with the emergence of new international markets for butter during the Russian colonial period (1808–1917), intensified the production of dairy cattle. Gradually, cultivated grasses replaced grains and wild hay as a source of cattle pasturage and fodder, and after the turn of the century, farmers began to establish cooperative dairies ( osuusmeijerit ). The general shift toward commercial agriculture coincided with the decline of the burn-beating system. Nonetheless, many farm families in the northern and eastern regions maintained an essentially subsistence orientation until the 1950s. Increased mechanization and specialization in farm production (dairy cattle, hogs, and grains) occurred in the 1960s as the labor force moved into manufacturing and service industries; less than 11 percent of the labor force is now involved in agriculture and forestry. The rural economy is still based on modest family-owned farms where the marketing of timber from privately owned forest tracts is an important means of financing agricultural operations.
During World War II , Finland was in many ways a unique case: It was the only European country bordering the Soviet Union in 1939 which was still unoccupied by 1945. Of all the European countries fighting, only three European capitals were never occupied: Moscow, London and Helsinki. It was a country which sided with Germany, but in which native Jews and almost all refugees were safe from persecution.  It was the only co-belligerent of Nazi Germany which maintained democracy throughout the war. It was also the only belligerent in mainland Europe to do so.