By Jussi Rosendahl
HELSINKI (Reuters) - Finland has rolled images of a couple in a sauna, an old Nokia phone and a heavy-metal music fan as part of its own set of national "emojis", or symbols to be used in digital communication.
Billing the use of national symbols for themed emojis as a world first, the government plans to publish the full set of 30 in December -- for anyone in the world to download -- on its promotional website (www.finland.fi).
"The Finland emojis were designed with a tongue-in-cheek approach, but I hope that they will tell the world not only about our special features but also something about our strengths," said Petra Theman, director for public diplomacy at the foreign ministry.
One of the first emojis to be released is called "The Headbanger" - an image of a person with arms upthrust, making a rude sign with the fingers of both hands. It refers to the Finnish taste for head-banging heavy-metal music.
The text beside it reads: "It is dark in Finland and so is the music. There’s a small headbanger living inside of each Finn."
Another one, of a man and a woman in a sauna, has the explanatory text: "The Sauna. Doesn’t need introducing. Sauna is as Finnish as it gets. Naked."
Originally used by Japanese mobile operators, emojis have become increasingly popular following inclusions in Apple and Google smartphone operating systems.
Nokia -- also represented by one of the first emojis -- was once the global handset market leader. But it failed to compete in the smartphones market, eventually selling its phone business to Microsoft last year.
(Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl; Editing by Michael Roddy and Mark Heinrich)