Estimated native speakers: 6 million
Estimated total speakers: 7 million
Official/de facto official language in: Finland
Language family: Uralic - Finnic
A brief history:
Finnish is one of the few European languages that does not belong to the Indo-European language family, having developed separately from the Germanic and Latin languages. Indeed, Finnish only became an official language of Finland in 1892, after centuries of Swedish rule. For a long time Finnish was only an oral language, with the first accepted writing system being developed by bishop Mikael Agricola in the 16th century, who applied Swedish, German and Latin orthographic rules to the spoken language.
Agricola's Finnish remained relatively untouched until the 19th century, when the idea of Finnish as a source of national pride began to develop and a more standardised version of the language started to develop. The new version blended more elements of the eastern Finnish dialects with the western Finnish used by Bishop Agricola to create a language that could be understood across the country. The result is a literary language that all Finns can understand but few actually speak outside of formal occasions, preferring to use local dialects. Nowadays, 90% of Finns speak Finnish as a first language (although they still have to learn Swedish at school!).