Geographically, more than 2,000 kilometres is the distance that separates Helsinki from Paris, but that doesn’t stop the French and Finnish communities from growing closer together; French culture, education and cuisine continue to expand here, particularly in the Helsinki area.

In keeping with the number of kilometres seperating the two countries, a minority of about 2,000 French people currently live in Finland (from which 65 per cent live in the capital), but what is worth emphasising is the way the French culture and language has managed to settle in this foreign country where everything is so different to what they know, to say the least.

Finland aspires to host a growing number of cloud services. What makes Finland a good location for their data centres? And are there benefits for local users?

IF YOU wanted to find a symbol for some of the most significant changes that the Finnish economy has seen in the recent times, you could do worse than settling on Google’s data centre that is located in Hamina. As paper manufacturing has progressively left Finland, the old paper mill that the Internet giant bought from Stora Enso now hosts one of its data centres.

ALUN BESTOR enjoys the solitude Finland offers to an expatriate of friendly New Zealand.

What do you do here in Finland?

I’m a programmer and a graphic artist in a mobile games company in Turku. When I first came to Finland I was freelancing as a web designer.

When and how did you end up here?

Like so many others I moved to this benighted frozen land because of a woman. I met my wife online 11 years ago. After visiting back and forth for two years we got sick of airports and I decided to ask her to marry me. I moved here at the end of 2004, and have been living happily ever after.

ACCORDING to Statistics Finland, in 2012 there have been 436 Austrian citizens living in Finland. The Network for Austrian expatriates estimates this number at “about 600”. The truth might be just somewhere in between. Taking a look at the other side of the coin – with more than 1,300 Finns living in Austria – one might get the impression that the love that Finns bring towards this small, mountainous country in the heart of Europe is only returned in a desultory way. But if one thinks that the only interest Austrians and Finns share is a passion for ski jumping, you might be surprised. There are many more occasions, in which Austrians and Finns come together and where the small but mighty Austrian population in Finland show that they’re alive and kicking.

Situated in the always-bustling Kamppi area of Helsinki, the Hietaniemenkatu Service Centre opened its doors for the first time in June 2009. Back then, the City of Helsinki decided that two of the main institutions in charge of providing social aid, the Herttoniemi dormitories and the Pääskylänrinne day centre (Sörnäinen), didn’t have sufficient capacity to answer the growing demand for assistance. Instead, a new place needed to be found where all the services the City intended to offer could be gathered: emergency shelter, day care activities and temporary housing.