The republic of Finland is a country in the Fennoscandian region of northern Europe, bordering Sweden and Norway to the west and Russia to the east. The territory of Finland is mostly flat with only some mountains in the northeast of the country. Finland has a large number of lakes and islands (187888 lakes larger than 500 sqm and 179584 islands). With just 5.4 million inhabitants spread over an area of 338000 sq km Finland is a very sparsely populated country. Its capital is Helsinki. Other important cities include Tampere, Turku, Oulu, Jyväskylä, Kuopio and Lahti. Finland has been settled at least since 8500 BC and achieved independence for the first time in 1917. Nowadays Finland has a highly advanced economy and one of the world's highest GDP.