Finnish is mostly spoken in northern parts of Europe, around the Scandinavian areas. Around 5.4 million people speak it as a native language. The total number including people speaking Finnish as second or third language is significantly higher.
Finnish is one of the official native languages of Finland, with the other being Swedish. It is also recognized as official language within the European Union.
Finnish furthermore has the status of recognised minority language in Sweden and parts of Russia and Norway.
Finnish is part of the Uralic family of languages, which is a relatively small group of languages including among others Hungarian and Estonian. Knowing either of the languages doesn’t automatically enable you to understand other languages of the Uralic language family, but it might make it easier to pick either of them up after being proficient in one of them.
Standard Finnish is the most common form of the language. Apart from that, there are two main Finnish dialects: Western and Eastern Finnish. The differences between the two dialects are mainly limited to minor changes in vowels and differences in rhythm which makes it relatively easy for speakers of either of the dialects to communicate with each other.
Finnish is considered a Category II language by the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), which means there are some significant differences between English and Finnish which make it harder for English native speakers to learn the language. Finnish is furthermore considered one of the hardest within its category. The FSI recommend around 1,100 hours of class time, which translates into roughly 44 weeks of full-time study.