19 - Changing structure and organisation of foreign trade in Finland after Russian rule  pp. 382-403

Changing structure and organisation of foreign trade in Finland after Russian rule

By Riitta Hjerppe and Juha-antti Lamberg

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Finland became independent in December 1917. Separation from Russia and the new European ‘economic order’ imposed many important changes on the Finnish economy after the First World War. Very notable were the changes in foreign and Russian trade, which were of utmost importance to the Finnish economy – separation virtually ended the considerable trade with Russia. New markets and a reorganisation of trade were needed. Finland's independence was also very significant for many groups in society. The Finns were not a united people with clear goals; rather, there were severely conflicting fronts. There were the rightist/White and leftist/Red fronts, which led to a civil war a few months after independence, the result being a White victory and a politically divided people.

There were also the nationalistic groups whose ideas had been stimulated by the nationalistic movements of the other European countries from the middle of the nineteenth century. It is difficult to determine the goals of the nationalistic movement as they seem to have changed over time and were sometimes even conflicting. On the one hand, an important goal of the nationalistic movement was a better position for the Finnish language, the language of the majority. On the other hand, the aim was a better position for Finland in the Russian Empire.