Highway 4 (Finland)

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Ypsilon from Finland

Nima Farid

Highway 4 (Finnish: Valtatie 4, Swedish: Riksväg 4) is by far the longest numbered road in Finland. It stretches 1295 km from Helsinki to Utsjoki, almost the full length of the country from south to north. The highway is also part of the European route E75 from Vardø in Norway to Sitia in Greece.
When the first numbering system for roads was established in Finland in 1938, highway 4 connected Helsinki to Petsamo on the Arctic Sea. After the Second World War, that area became part of the Soviet Union and Petsamo is nowadays called Pechenga. The northern end of the road was transfered to Karigasniemi, and in 1993 to Utsjoki.
There have been some other changes to the route over the decades, most notably in the southern end. Originally, highway 4 lead straight north from Helsinki to Hyvinkää, along what is now zig-zagging minor roads up to Padasjoki and along the western bank of Lake Päijänne to Jämsä and Jyväskylä. Later the road was routed via Lahti, but still along the western bank of Lake Päijänne, and since 1996 east of the lake.
North of Jyväskylä the route has (aside of the very northernmost end) roughly stayed the same, though it has been improved and straightened over the years and it has been rerouted around cities and towns. Also, some bodies of water were crossed by ferries until the 1960s. Overall the distance between Helsinki and Ivalo has been cut down from 1265 km in 1938 to 1117 km in 2013.


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