Intercultural Dialogue

Global Index (ICDI): Finland


Finland is an ethnically homogenous country, with small ethnic minority of Finland-Swedes, Sami, and Roma people. Towards the end of the 20th century and beginning of 21st, immigration became one of the drivers of population growth as in the number of immigrants, mostly from Russia, Sweden, Estonia, and Somalia increased. Finland has two official languages – Finnish and Swedish – but its constitution also recognizes the Sami and Roma, and their rights to develop their languages and cultures.

While the discourse on multiculturalism is relatively recent, the Finnish government affirmed its commitment towards promoting multiculturalism in metropolitan Helsinki (Tolley 2011). In 2003, the government affirmed that multiculturalism will be considered when designing public policies. This was reiterated and expanded in a 2007 program noting that Finland belonged to all citizens “regardless of the place of residence, life situation, mother tongue, or ethnic background” (Tolley 2011). This commitment is also reflected in the country’s endorsement of multiculturalism in the national curriculum, supports for ethnic representation in media, anti-discrimination program, and support for bilingualism.   


Finland has achieved an ICDI score of 0.785. Scores above 0.90 in the components of Multiculturalism, Freedoms and Rights and Legislative dimensions reflect positive social and legal attitudes towards cultural diversity. Similarly, scores above 0.80 in the components of Fractionalisation, Cohesion and Stability, Attitudes, and Opportunities dimensions reinforce a conducive environment, which promotes social cohesion. In sharp contrast, lower scores in components of Anti-Discrimination, Social contact and Inequality components indicate lower levels of integration between migrants, minorities, and the dominant ethnic communities.  

Current Situation and Outlook

Finland’s multicultural, legislative environment driven on the basis of freedom and rights serves as a conducive opportunity for social inclusion. Yet, lower scores in social contact, and inclusion indicate that contact is lacking between the different communities while access to communication may be limited for some communities. Finland could improve its ICDI score by reducing its structural risk through increasing the provision of access to communication for migrant, refugee and minority communities, creating opportunities for increased social interaction and promoting anti-discrimination policies.

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