The name of Finland Proper has a historical function. In historic times, in the area of the present southern Finland lived three tribes, which were the Finns, the Tavastians and the Karelians. The southwestern part of the country, the province where the Finns lived, was called simply Finland (Finnish: Suomi). In the 17th century the name began to be used to refer to the whole land and a specified name for the lesser Finland was required. The first notes Fennigia specialiter dicta and Fennigia presse dicta were recorded in Latin in the 1650s and the Swedish Finland för sig sielft and Egenteliga Finland later in the 18th century the modern form Egentliga Finland being in official use at the end of the century. The Finnish term Varsinais-Suomi became established only around the 1850s.
The region of Southwest Finland is made up of 27 municipalities, of which 11 have city status (marked in bold).