Tarja Halonen was born on 24 December 1943 in the district of Kallio, Helsinki, Finland traditionally a working-class area, the daughter of Vieno Olavi Halonen and Lyyli Elina Loimola.
She is the eleventh and current President of Finland. She began her first six-year term of office in 2000 and was re-elected on January 29, 2006. Her current term expires in 2012. She is the first woman to hold the office.
She obtained a Master of Laws degree from the University of Helsinki in 1968. Halonen served as the Social Affairs Secretary and General Secretary of the National Union of Students (SYL) from 1969 to 1970 and, partly due to having held this position, she obtained a post as a lawyer with the Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (SAK) from 1970 to 1974. She joined the Social Democratic Party in 1971.
Like many young people of the 1960s, Halonen became involved in leftist causes and once counted activist Che Guevara among her heroes. She attended the University of Helsinki and graduated with a master of laws degree in 1968. The following year, Halonen worked as the social affairs and general secretary of the National Union of Finnish Students. In 1970, she became an attorney with the Central Organization of Finnish Trade Unions.
President Halonen’s interests include art history, the theatre and swimming. She also enjoys drawing and painting, and she has two cats named Miska and Rontti. She speaks Finnish, Swedish, English, German, French, Afrikaans, and Estonian.
On August 26, 2000, President Halonen married her longtime partner, Dr Pentti Arajarvi, in a civil ceremony at her official residence, Mantyniemi, after a relationship of more than fifteen years. Halonen’s adult daughter Anna, and Arajarvi’s adult son, Esko, acted as witnesses. Both children were from previous relationships. While in Finland her relationship was not an issue, the marriage clarified the position of Dr. Arajarvi abroad.
Anna Halonen is the daughter of President Halonen and her former partner, Kari Pekkonen. She is currently studying international politics at the University of Kent in Canterbury, Great Britain.