Finland was a part of Sweden from the 12th century until 1809 and, after gaining independence, adopted a national flag patterned on the Swedish one. Similar flags were introduced by Finnish yacht clubs more than half a century earlier, when Finland was under Russian rule. The first yacht club, the Nyländska Jaktkluben, was established in 1861 in Helsinki and adopted a white flag with a blue cross, with the arms of the county of Nyland in the canton. The other yacht clubs followed suit, adopting the same design with different arms in the canton. The first to propose the blue and white as national colours of Finland was a poet called Zachris Topelius in 1862. In 1863 the newspaper Helsingfors Dagblad suggested that the national flags should be white with a blue cross. The blue represents the thousands of lakes in Finland and its clear sky; the white stands for the snow that covers the country in the long winters.


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