World leaders travel the world without having to queue to the security check or immigration control, but sadly, they have few opportunities to take a sightseeing tour or interact with local people. Maybe Helsinki, the capital of Finland, is an exception.
There must be something special in Helsinki, because the President of Russia Vladimir Putin and the President of the US Donald Trump are meeting in the city on July 16th, 2018. The usual reasons related to Finland – safety, conference organizing experience, air traffic hub between the east and the west – are all true, but there is more.
Travel writer Max Boyle suggests two more reasons in his book The Honest Tribe – Travels in Finland that favor Helsinki as a high level meeting place: honesty and we-mind-our-own-business attitude.
Reader’s Digest conducted a practical street test with a lost wallet in various cities across the world, and Helsinki residents were the most consistent in returning it with the money still inside.
The mind-your-own-business attitude of Finns has two sides. They are happy to host world leaders like Mr Putin and Mr Trump in the capital as long as they mind their own businesses and don’t disturb (too much) the sacred holiday season of Finns. In July, many places are closed because Helsinki residents escape to their summer cottages or overseas.
The other side of minding their own business is that an accidental visitor may think Finns are rude, or extremely shy because they don’t talk with foreigners (or with anyone else). The reason is that it is impolite to interfere other people’s matters. Simply make an initiative, and they are more than happy to talk with you.
So, Mr Putin and Mr Trump can visit Helsinki without having to worry about their wallets or Finns interrupting their speech.
The book Honest Tribe – Travels in Finland is available at major bookstores, such as