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Self-governance

In addition to the municipalities, there are also other self-governing entities in Finland. These include churches and other religious communities, the region of Åland, Sami people as well as the universities. Their self-government varies in relation to their status and execution.

Autonomy of churches and other religious communities

The autonomous status of the churches and other religious communities operating in Finland is based on the freedom of religion laid down in the Constitution of Finland.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and the Finnish Orthodox Church have a special status under public law. Both have the right to levy taxes and they keep population records. They also have a number of cultural historical tasks, such as the conducting of marriage ceremonies. Evangelical Lutheran parishes have an obligation to maintain public cemeteries and provide burial places for the deceased. 

Autonomy of Åland

The autonomous status of the province of Åland is based on the autonomy granted to it under international treaties. Åland has its own political and administrative bodies responsible for decision-making.

The regional parliament exercises legislative power within the framework permitted under the autonomy. In other respects, the laws passed by Finnish Parliament also apply in Åland.  The Government of Åland is responsible for regional administration. The task of the single member of Finnish Parliament elected from Åland is to ensure that the status of the region is considered in national decision-making.

Right of the Sami people to their own language and culture

The Sami people are the only indigenous people of Finland. The Sami people have linguistic and cultural self-government in their native region and this right is also laid down in the Constitution of Finland.

The Sami Parliament is responsible for matters that concern the Sami language and culture as well as the status of the Sami as an indigenous people. The Sami people choose the members of the Sami Parliament in an election. The Sami Parliament may submit initiatives and proposals and issue statements in matters coming under its purview. It can also decide on the allocation of funds intended for joint use of the Sami people.

Universities and other higher education institutions

Universities are administratively and legally independent. This guarantees them an independent status in academic issues and in the provision of teaching.  Even though the state provides the universities with basic funding, they also raise funds independently. As a rule, Finnish citizens can study free of charge at Finnish universities.


    Text edited by: Suomi.fi editorial team
    Updated: 2/21/2018