Finland has had a diplomatic relationship with South Africa for more than 50 years now. The relations have followed the prevailing political conditions. Finland took active part in the fall of apartheid and participated in the commercial blockade in the years 1987-1991. Reestablishment of official relations started in the year 1994 after the first democratic elections. As a result, the two countries have an extensive political dialogue, increased volume of trade and a sizeable development co-operation program.
Meetings between then Prime Minister Lipponen and President Mbeki in the years 2000 and 2002 led to declarations ( Nordic Skagen Declaration and Molde Declaration and a bilateral Declaration of Intent) aiming at enlarged bilateral co-operation and improvement in political and economical interaction as well as furthering local and international co-operation. Regular co-operation consultations, professional- and ministerial conferences and an annual Foreign Minister's meeting are embodied in the Declaration of Intent.
Trade between Finland and South Africa has been on a steep upward trajectory since the UN imposed economic sanctions on South Africa were lifted. South Africa´s political stability, societal reform process as well as liberalization of foreign trade and removal of trade barriers has created excellent business opportunities for Finnish companies in the country.
Development co-operation between South Africa and Finland began in the year 1995. At the time, the Finnish government decided to support South Africa's move from apartheid to democracy. In the year 1998 the then Prime Minister Lipponen and President Mbeki agreed on continuing the co-operation. Development co-operation between the two countries aims at improving the resources of the previously disenfranchised segment of the population, preventing environmental risks and strengthening democracy, respect for human rights and rule of law.
The rich cultural activities between Finland and South Africa today are largely based on president Nelson Mandela's Shuttle-99 initiative, the purpose of which was to enhance cultural interaction between the nordic countries and the new South Africa. The forms of cultural co-operation have been supported through development project funding as well as through cultural co-operation funding. The cultural program of the embassy includes a wide variety of visits from Finnish artists and the sponsoring of special events for making Finnish culture better known in South Africa.
Helge von Knorring, chargé d'affaires 1949-1952
Armas Yöntilä, chargé d'affaires 1952-1957
Hans Ruben Martola, chargé d'affaires 1957-1964
Tauno Nevalainen, chargé d'affaires 1964-1969
Jaakko Lyytinen, chargé d'affaires 1969-1971
Kurt Uggeldahl, chargé d'affaires 1971-1974
Kari Härkönen, chargé d'affaires 1974-1977
Juha Puromies, chargé d'affaires 1977-1980
Pertti Kaukonen, chargé d'affaires 1980-1984
Erik Hagfors, chargé d'affaires 1984-1988
Hannu Mäntyvaara, chargé d'affaires 1988-1990
Hannu Uusi-Videnoja, chargé d'affaires 1990-1991, chargé d'affaires a.i 1991
Björn Ekblom, ambassador 1991-1995
Tapani Brotherus, ambassador 1995-2000
Kirsti Lintonen, ambassador 2000-2005
Heikki Tuunanen, ambassador 2005-2009
Tiina Myllyntausta, ambassador 2009-2012
Petri Salo, ambassador 2012-2016
Kari Alanko, ambassador 2016-