Intercultural relationships and transnational marriage are not new phenomena. The stories of influential intercultural couples can be read from history books and poems and intercultural couples appear both in the Bible and the stories written by William Shakespeare: Cleopatra and Marcus Antonius, Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, King Solomon and Pharaoh’s daughter, Othello and Desdemona and Joseph and Asenath.
Though there is nothing new to intercultural relationships, what is new is that during the past few decades the number of intercultural relationships has risen sharply worldwide and Finland is not an exception. In 1990, there were 12,500 intercultural couples in Finland but in 2009 the number of intercultural couples in Finland exceeded 58,500. That means there was a four-fold increase in the number of intercultural families in Finland in less than twenty years.
The reasons for this continuing trend are manifold but they include people's increased possibilities to meet potential partners from different cultures. The possibilities contain voluntary and involuntarily migration as well as foreign holidays, international job opportunities, exchange programmes and social networking sites.
A slight majority of Finnish-born people in intercultural relationships are men (53 %). Finnish-born men’s partners are most often from Russia and the former Soviet Union, Sweden, Thailand, Estonia, Germany, China and the Philippines. Finnish-born women’s partners are most often from Sweden, Great Britain, Germany, Russia and the former Soviet Union, Turkey, USA and Italy.
From the 3087 new marriages of Finnish citizens with foreign citizens in 2006, 1655 were performed between a Finnish man and foreign woman. Marriages where the female spouse was a Finnish citizen and the male spouse a foreign citizen were 1432. Finnish men concluded mixed marriages most often with women from Russia, Thailand and Estonia. Finnish women concluded mixed marriages most often with men from Great Britain, Turkey and the United States.
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