Since the end of World War II, industrial progress has been noteworthy. Contributing factors include the forced stimulus of reparation payments, large quantities of available electric power, increased mining operations, growing mechanization of agriculture and forestry, development of transportation and communications, and steady foreign demand for Finnish exports. In terms of value of production and size of labor force, the metals industry is the most important, accounting for 26% of industrial employment (including power industries, mining, and quarrying) in 1998. The metals industry grew 22.5% in 2000 from 1999, faster than any other industrial sector. Also highly significant are the food, pulp and paper, machinery, chemical, and electrical products and instruments industries. In recent years impressive growth has been registered by the electronics industry, which accounted for 20% of industrial employment in 1999. The most important industrial regions center around Helsinki, Tampere, Turku, Lappeenranta, Lahti, Jyväskylä, and the valleys of the Kymi and Kokemäki rivers, and coastal towns like Kotka, Rauma, and Pori. The state owns a majority of the outstanding stock in many industrial companies.
Manufacturing production grew 13% in 2000. Industry as a whole accounted for 34% of GDP in 2002, and employed 22% of the labor force. Finland was the world's leader in the making of cellular telephones, paper machinery, medical devices, and instruments for environmental measurements. Nokia, the largest company in the country, produces the most mobile telephones in the world. Finland produced 42,320 automobiles in 2001, an increase of 9% over 2000. Biotechnology is an increasingly important sector, with strength in pharmaceuticals, biomaterials, diagnostics, and industrial enzymes. Finland is the eighth largest producer of ships in the world, and although the number of shipyards had declined in 2002, the industry employed 30,000 Finns.