The Swedish-speaking population of Finland is a linguistic minority in Finland that maintains a strong identity and are seen either as a separate cultural or ethnic group, while still being Finns, or as a distinct nationality. They speak Finland Swedish, which encompasses both a standard language and distinct dialects that are mutually intelligible with the dialects spoken in Sweden and, to a lesser extent, other Scandinavian languages. According to Statistics Finland, Swedish is the mother tongue of about 260000 people in mainland Finland and of about 26,000 people in Åland, where Swedish speakers constitute a majority. Swedish-speakers comprise 5.2% of the total Finnish population or about 4.9% without Åland. The proportion has been steadily diminishing since the 18th century, when almost 20% spoke Swedish; in the early 19th century Swedish was still the mother tongue of approximately 15% of the population and considered a prestige language. According to a statistical analysis made by Fjalar Finnäs, the population of the minority group is nowadays stable, and may even be increasing slightly in total numbers since 70% of bilingual families tend to register their children as Swedish speakers. Members of the minority are called alternatively: ‘finlandssvenskar’ in Swedish; ‘suomenruotsalaiset’ in Finnish; the main political institutions for the Swedish-speaking minority, in Finland, use the expression ‘Swedish-speaking population of Finland’; Swedish-speaking NGOs use the term ‘Finland-Swedes’; the ‘Research Institute for the Languages of Finland’ proposes ‘Swedish-speaking Finns’, ‘Swedish Finns’, or ‘Finland-Swedes’.
Åland, Education, Finland, History, Languages, Scandinavia, Society, Sweden