The 8th President of Finland (1956-82). Kekkonen continued the "active neutrality" policy of President Juho Kusti Paasikivi, which came to be known as the Paasikivi-Kekkonen Line. This policy allowed Finland to retain independence and trade with both the nations of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the Warsaw Pact. Kekkonen was the longest-serving President of Finland.
A general and the face and voice most associated with rehabilitation of the fighters who secured Finland its independence. The long era during which it simply was not progressive to value the military ended in the early 1990s, at which time his charismatic persona was at its height.
He became a figurehead for the whole veteran community—straight-talking and unapologetic. When he found out that many nationalist youths cited him as an idol, he blasted them squarely by saying that he might have in his own youth held nationalistic views, but that Finland's path was now in the European Union, a view the nationalists did not hold.
A pediatrician who significantly decreased Finnish infant mortality during the 20th century. He is credited as the father of the public child welfare clinic system in Finland. He is often referred to as the Dr. Benjamin Spock of Finland.
A clergyman who became de facto founder of written Finnish and one of the prominent proponents of the Protestant Reformation in Sweden-Finland. He is often called "the father of Finnish written language".
An author who wrote the first significant novel in the Finnish language, Seven Brothers (Finnish title: Seitsemän veljestä). Although Kivi was among the very earliest authors of prose and lyrics in Finnish language, he is still considered one of the greatest of them all.
A former ski jumper, arguably the best ever in that sport, winning five Olympic medals (four gold) and nine World championships medals (five gold). Nykänen is the only ski jumper in the world to have won both a gold medal in Olympic Games, World Championships and Ski flying World Championships and finished first in the overall World Cup and Four Hills Tournament.
Nowadays he is more known as an alcoholic wife-beater. He has been in the headlines of tabloid newspapers more often than any other person in Finland.
One of the most influential Finnish authors of the 20th century. He shot to immediate literary fame with his third novel, Tuntematon sotilas (The Unknown Soldier, published in 1954), and consolidated his position with the trilogy Täällä Pohjantähden alla (Under the North Star, published in 1959 – 1963).
A radical environmentalist, dissident and fisherman. He has written widely about his ideas and is well-known in Finland.
Linkola is a misanthropist who blames humans for the destruction of the environment, and he has promoted ideas such as genocide for saving the environment and to keep the population in control. He strongly promotes deindustrialization.
A runner who won a total of nine gold and three silver medals in the 12 events in which he competed at the Olympic Games from 1920 to 1928. During the 1920s, Nurmi was the best middle and long distance runner in the world, setting world records at distances between 1500 m and 20 km.
A writer whose work addresses issues of women's rights, particularly in the context of a prevailing culture she considered antithetical to permitting expression and realization of women's aspirations. In her time, she became a controversial figure, due to the asynchrony between her ideas and those of her time, and in part due to her strong advocacy for her point of view.
She is the first woman to receive her own flag day in Finland, starting on March 19, 2007.
A compiler of folk culture, priest and 18th century lexicographer. Ganander's greated achievement was the compilation of the first fully extensive Finnish-language dictionary which was, however, unpublished.
One of the most beloved singers in Finland, the Olympic Champion in the javelin at the 1948 Summer Olympics and a successful actor who supposedly was a candidate for the part of Tarzan after Johnny Weissmuller had quit his career.
A clergyman, educator, and chief inspector of the country's school system, who is considered the father of the Finnish public school system. His accomplishments also include the initiation of high class teacher training, emphasizing the importance of women's education and most importantly introducing the use of crafts as a mandatory subject in the school curriculum.
The first Finnish footballing superstar, widely considered the country's greatest ever, who was one of the best players in the world at mid-1990s. In Finland he is often called "Kuningas" ("The King").
The Association of Football Statisticians' (The AFS) compendium of 'Greatest Ever Footballers' listed Litmanen as the 53rd best footballer ever.
The longtime leader of the Finnish Lotta Svärd, a voluntary auxiliary organisation for women. During her time the organisation grew to 232 000 members, the largest women's organisation in Finland, and even the world.
A singer-songwriter, musician and scriptwriter, mainly known for his humorous, yet homely songs.
Suuret suomalaiset (Great Finns) was a 2004 television show broadcast in Finland by YLE (the Finnish Broadcasting Company), which determined the 100 greatest Finns of all time according to the opinions of its viewers. The viewers were able to vote during a programme which lasted from October to December 2004. The show was a Finnish spin-off of the BBC's programme Great Britons.
Some of the choises can be considered a joke, such as Väinö Myllyrinne and Lalli.