[Excerpt] Finland is a unitary state where the highest organs of government are the parliament, the president and the government. The Finnish public administration has two tiers: the state administration and the self-governing municipalities (see Figure 1). The state administration operates on all three administrative levels (national or central, regional and local administration level), with the national level being the major area of operation. The municipal administration operates on regional and local levels. Since the majority of the municipalities are rather small (half of them have fewer than 5,000 inhabitants), the most demanding tasks, such as specialised healthcare, are provided through cooperative arrangements. In 2010, there were 342 municipalities and 226 joint authorities in Finland.
In terms of public employment, a clear majority of public sector personnel work for municipalities. In 2010, municipalities had around 434,000 employees. In the state sector, the number of personnel has been decreasing since the 1990s. In 1988, there were a total of 215,000 government employees. In 2005, the figure stood at 124,000 people, and by 2010, it had dropped to around 86,000. In the early 1990s, the government converted several large agencies and departments into state enterprises, such as the postal services and the railway company. However, the most significant step in this direction was the university reform in 2009–2010. The university sector, comprising 31,000 employees, left the state civil service as of 1 January 2010 and it now lies outside the state budget. In addition, the staff of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and the Finnish Orthodox Church are considered part of the public sector, since they take care of certain public services such as maintaining census registration data and providing funeral services. In 2010, the Evangelical Lutheran Church employed 21,600 people and the Finnish Orthodox Church employed 200 people.