The purpose of regional classifications used in statistics is to describe regional variations of various phenomena and regional structure. As most regional classifications, the division of regions is based on the administrative regional division. The Government decided on the division of regions in summer 1992.
Starting from September 1997, the areas of regions and regional councils representing them are uniform. Regional councils attend to the supervision of municipalities’ interests and are in charge of regional development in their operating areas. According to the Government decision in principle (6 February 1997), the regional division of regional councils was adopted as the basis for the regional divisions of regional administration authorities.
Names of regions
By the decision of the Government on 26 February 1998, the names of regions in Finnish and Swedish were confirmed. The decision entered into force on 1 March 1998. Apart from the regional council of Häme, the names of regional councils correspond to the names of regions starting from 1 January 1999.
The recommendation was made in the Ministry of the Interior (December 1998) for the equivalent names of regions in English, German and French. The main principle is to use the national names of regions. However, exceptions are Lapland, Ostrobothnia, Central Finland and Karelia, which already have established equivalents in foreign languages. The Swedish name of a region is used in Nordic languages. If the word region needs to be combined to the name, the structure in Swedish and English is as follows: Etelä-Pohjanmaan maakunta - landskapet Södra Österbotten - (the) region of South Ostrobothnia.
Changes on 1 January 2019
Åland has been left out of the Finnish name (previously Ahvenanmaa-Åland) for the region of Åland.
The English name of three regions has changed:
Etelä-Savo > South Savo
Pohjois-Savo > North Savo
Varsinais-Suomi > Southwest Finland.
On 1 January 2016, Vaala (785) moved from the region of Kainuu (18) to the region of North Ostrobothnia (17). On 1 January 2013, Suomenniemi (775) was merged with Mikkeli (491), whereby the area of the former municipality of Suomenniemi moved from the region of South Karelia (09) to the region of Etelä-Savo (10), and Kiikoinen (254) was merged with Sastamala (790), whereby the area of the former municipality of Kiikkoinen moved from the region of Satakunta (04) to the region of Pirkanmaa (06). On 1 January 2011, the region of Itä-Uusimaa (20) was merged with the region of Uusimaa (01). On 1 January 2010, Himanka (095) was merged with the municipality of Kalajoki (208) and the area of the former municipality of Himanka moved from the region of Ostrobothnia (16) to that of North Ostrobothnia (17). On 1 January 2009, the boundary between Itä-Uusimaa (20) and Uusimaa (01) changed when part of Sipoo was merged with Helsinki. On 1 January 2007, as a result of the abolishment of Längelmäki (443), the regional boundary changed, when part of the area of Längelmäki moved from Pirkanmaa (06) to the region of Central Finland. The areas of Längelmäki were merged with Jämsä (182, Central Finland) and Orivesi (562, Pirkanmaa). The size of the area merged with Orivesi is 300 km2, the area merged with Jämsä 197.6 km2. According to the population data on the situation in 2004, 64 per cent (1,088 persons) of the inhabitants in the present municipality of Längelmäki moved to the area merged with Jämsä and 36 per cent (612) to the area merged with Orivesi. On 1 January 2005, Punkalaidun (619) moved from the region of Satakunta (04) to the region of Pirkanmaa (06). The change is taken into account in statistics produced on the national level. The change is not taken into consideration in statistics submitted to Eurostat, because data are delivered according to the NUTS classification. (NUTS is the EU's common classification of statistical regions, which is updated at most every three years.) On 1 January 2002, Kangaslampi (212) moved from the region of Etelä-Savo (10) to the region of Pohjois-Savo (11). As a result of the municipal merger of 1 January 2001 when Kuorevesi (299) merged with Jämsä, the former municipality of Kuorevesi moved from the region of Pirkanmaa to that of Central Finland. On 1 March 1998, regions received their official names. In this connection, two regions changed their names: The new name of the region of Häme (05) is Kanta-Häme. The new name of Coastal Vasa (15) is Ostrobothnia.
The classification of regions is a classification compiled for national needs.