In this article, the Finnish Great Famine of the 1860s will be discussed from a number of perspectives. First, using the famine classification developed by Howe and Devereux (2007), it is analyzed at four levels: mortality rate, food supply, coping strategies, and social breakdown. The main finding is that, although the criteria of severe famine conditions were fulfilled in certain parts of the country, at the local level authorities showed competence and the local government organized help in the desperate conditions. Second, the reasons behind the famine will be considered from the point of view of the structural and event history models (Arnold 1988). I will argue that the flow of events cannot be explained without adopting both of the approaches. The system theory approach (Howe and Devereux 2004; Howe 2010) will be connected with the long-term structural explanations (Mokyr 1985). The events can be seen as a process, where different factors strengthened one another, and the culmination point came in May 1868. Third, and finally, the Great Hunger Years of the 1860s will be discussed in the overall historical context: should the famine be considered as a notable turning point in Finland's history interpretation, or was the event a harmful temporary setback on the road to national social and economic prosperity? The latter view seems to be true. The famine impoverished the country, postponed the adoption of new technology and means of production, and proved how vulnerable the one-sided, agriculturally based national economy was.

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