In terms of area, Finland is among the largest countries in Europe. With its 5.5 million people, however, it is the most sparsely populated country in the European Union. Its population is concentrated in the southern parts of the country and in a few cities. In the wilderness in northern Finland, you can wander for days without seeing anyone, if you so wish. The cities, however, are modern and continental. From top to bottom, Finland is more than 1,000 kilometres long. It is a multifaceted country: in early summer, when people are enjoying a swim in the sea in the south, you can still go skiing in the north. In the west, you can feel the nearness of the Baltic Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. The Gulf Stream makes the climate in Finland more temperate than the northern location might suggest — different from that of Canada and Russia, which are located along the same latitude. Nearly a third of all people living north of the 60th parallel are Finns. In eastern Finland, the climate is continental in many respects as a result of the Eurasian landmass. Throughout the country, Finland has four seasons. Summer is lush, a season of light, with relatively little rain. Autumn is often rainy, and winter is cold, with heavy snowfall. In the south, snow typically covers the ground in December. In the north, this happens a month or even two months earlier. In the south, snow melts by April, while cross-country skiing competitions are sometimes held as late as Midsummer in the northernmost parts of the country. In some years, southern Finland has only a little snow, while it may snow in late spring in other years. The northern location also affects the amount of light. In summer, the sun stays above the horizon for around two months in the northernmost parts of the country. In winter, the sun stays below the horizon for an equal period of time around Christmas. During this time, the winter scenery reflects a magical blue light for a few hours a day. The population of Finland is around 5.5 million. Women slightly outnumber men. The largest age groups are 50 and over. The average age of Finns is around 42 years. The population is strongly concentrated in southern Finland, where the largest cities are located. In terms of population, the central point of Finland is located around 100 kilometres north of Helsinki. The total length of the country is more than 1,000 kilometres. Around 60% of Finns own their homes. Around 70% of Finns live in or near cities or towns. Only 6% of Finns live in the countryside, which constitutes 70% of the total area of Finland. Nearly 90% of Finns speak Finnish as their first language, and more than 5% speak Swedish. More than 2,000 Finns speak Sámi as their first language. Other languages spoken in Finland Around 70,000 people speak Russian, nearly 50,000 speak Estonian, around 17,000 speak English, around 17,000 speak Somali, around 15,000 speak Arabic, around 10,000 speak Kurdish and around 10,000 speak Chinese as their first language. Most of the people who speak Russian as their first language moved to Finland after 1990, but the country also has a small Russian-speaking population that originates from the era of Russian rule in Finland (1809–1917). Most of the Estonians living in Finland moved to the country after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Nearly 75% of Finns are members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, and around 1% belong to the Orthodox Church of Finland. Around 1.5% of Finns are members of other faiths, and more than 20% do not belong to any church. A small proportion of those who are not members of any church belong to independent religious communities. A significant proportion of the members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church are cultural Christians, meaning that they do not actively participate in religious practice.