Lapland (Finland)

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Lapin maakunta
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Åland Varsinais-Suomi Uusimaa Kymenlaakso Südkarelien Nordkarelien Südsavo Päijät-Häme Kanta-Häme Kainuu Satakunta Pirkanmaa Mittelfinnland Nordsavo Österbotten Mittelösterbotten Südösterbotten Nordösterbotten Lappland Norwegen Schweden Russland Estland SchwedenLocation in Finland
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Basic data
Country: Finland
Municipalities: 21st
Administrative headquarters: Rovaniemi
Surface: 98,982.56 km²
Residents: 180.276 May 31, 2016
Population density: 1.8 inhabitants per km²
ISO 3166 : FI-10
Aerial view of Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland
Topographic map of the Lapland landscape

Lapland ( Finnish Lappi , Swedish Lapland ) is a landscape (maakunta) in Finland . From 1938 to 2009 it was also one of the provinces (lääni) of Finland. Lapland is the northernmost landscape of the country and includes the Finnish part of Lapland . With an area of ​​almost 100,000 km², Lapland is the largest Finnish landscape, and with a population density of less than two inhabitants per square kilometer, it is also by far the most sparsely populated. The administrative center and the largest city in the countryside is Rovaniemi . The indigenous people of Lapland, the Sami people , represent only a minority. In parts of the landscape they have special minority rights.


The Lapland landscape lies in the area of ​​the northern calotte and comprises the Finnish part of the Lapland region, which is divided between Finland, Sweden , Norway and Russia . The term “Lapland” (Finnish Lappi ) can refer to the Finnish landscape or the entire region, depending on the context. For the sake of clarity, the name form “Finnish Lapland” (Suomen Lappi) can be used.

Position and extent

Lapland extends roughly between the 66th and 70th parallel. This means that a large part of the landscape lies north of the Arctic Circle . The northernmost point of Finland and the European Union is near the village of Nuorgam . Within Finland, Lapland borders the landscape of Northern Ostrobothnia in the south . In the east lies the 373 km long state border with Russia. The length of the northern border with Norway is 736 km, of which 256 km follow the course of the Tenojoki River ( norwegian Tanaelva ). The rivers Muonionjoki ( Swedish. Muonio älv ) and Tornionjoki (Torne älv) represent the 614 km long border between the landscape of Lapland and Sweden in the west. In the south-west, Lapland is part of the coast of the Gulf of Bothnia . Lapland is by far the largest of the twenty Finnish landscapes and covers almost a third of the country's total area. The area of ​​the landscape is 98,983 km² (of which 6,321 km² inland water). This makes Lapland bigger than Austria, for example .

The area of ​​today's Lapland landscape consists of two historical landscapes : Lapland and Peräpohjola . Peräpohjola (lit. about "high north") was the northern part of the historical Österbotten (Finnish: Pohjanmaa ). It had the places Kolari , Rovaniemi , Kemijärvi and Salla as the northern border. The Finnish part of the Tornedalen belonged to the Swedish landscape of Västerbotten (Länsipohja) . The northern part of Lapland was connected to Swedish Lapland during Finland's membership of Sweden until 1809 .

The bulge in the northwest between the Swedish and Norwegian borders near Enontekiö is called Käsivarsi ("arm"). The name comes from the fact that the borders of Finland before the Second World War had the shape of a woman ( Suomi-neito ) on the map and the area of ​​Enontekiö appeared as her raised right arm.


The bedrock of Lapland is part of the Baltic Shield , a continental core with Precambrian age. This was subject to three orogenes , which formed the rock into a mosaic characterized by fractures and faults . The former mountains have been almost completely eroded over the course of millions of years, so that only their bases have been preserved. The oldest rocks, gneisses and migmatites , were formed in the Late Archean ages 2.8–2.7 billion years ago. Most of the Lappish rock consists of granites , schists , granodiorites and quartz diorites with an age of 1.9 to 1.8 billion years. The shale in the northwest pushed into the area during the Caledonian Folding 450–400 million years ago and is one of the youngest rock formations in Finland.

The surface shape of Lapland is shaped by the glaciers of the last glacial period. The ice masses cut the rock into flat, round fells (Finnish: tunturi ) and deposited a moraine a few meters thick, which covers the bedrock and smooths out its irregularities. In many places, the moraine material has also created its own surface formations, such as the Oser (harju) , dam-like ridges of gravel and sand that were created by the meltwater of the glaciers.

The soil of Lapland contains mineral deposits that have only been partially developed. Iron ore was mined in Kolari and Kemijärvi in the second half of the 20th century . The chrome mine of Kemi was founded in 1965. In the 1860s, followed the discovery of gold of the river sand Kemijoki a veritable gold rush in Lapland. The largest gold nugget found weighed 393 g. To this day gold is washed on the rivers of Lapland partly by hand washing, partly by industrial means, a total of an estimated 1000 kg of gold have been extracted. The precious metal is also extracted in mines. An extensive deposit of an estimated 50 tons of gold was last discovered at Kittilä in 1996 .

Forest and lake landscape near Salla in southeastern Lapland


Lapland is part of three major Finnish landscapes: the Bothnian coastal plain, the Finnish hill country and Lapland. The actual Lapland is divided into the so-called “Forest Lapland” and “Fjell Lapland” according to the type of vegetation, so that one can speak of four Lappish landscape types.

In northern Lapland (here near Kilpisjärvi ) the vegetation is already very sparse

The flat coastal plain at the northern end of the Gulf of Bothnia is also called "Sea Lapland" (Finnish: Meri-Lappi ). The Peräpohjola region in the southern part of Lapland still belongs to the Finnish hill country (Vaara-Suomi) , which stretches from North Karelia via Kainuu to southeastern Lapland. From a geographical point of view, the actual Lapland only begins at the level of Kolari , Pelkosenniemi and Salla . The fells (tunturi) are characteristic of this area . These are hills that exceed the tree line. The northern border of the distribution area of pine and spruce marks the transition from forest Lapland (Metsä-Lappi) to Fjell-Lapland (Tunturi-Lappi) . Forest Lapland consists of extensive, flat forest and swamp areas from which isolated treeless fells rise. In Fjell-Lapland, squat birch trees grow in the lower elevations , the higher elevations are only covered by lichen .

The treeless Yllästunturi (718 m) near Kolari

From the Baltic coast the terrain gradually rises north and east to the Maanselkä watershed at an altitude of 300 to 500 meters. In the far north-west (Käsivarsi), Lapland has a share of the Scandinavian mountains . The only thousand-meter peaks in Finland are located here. The highest mountain is Haltitunturi , located directly on the Norwegian border, at 1324 meters, followed by the neighboring peaks of Ridnitšohkka (1317 m) and Kovddoskaisi (1210 m). The most famous and most strikingly scenic mountain is Saana (1029 m), which rises 500 meters above the village of Kilpisjärvi . The fells in the rest of Lapland are lower and more wavy, with heights between 400 and 800 meters. The most important mountains are Pallastunturi (807 m) in Muonio , Ounastunturi (723 m, Enontekiö ), Yllästunturi (718 m, Kittilä ), Sokosti (718 m, Sodankylä ), Paistunturi (648 m, Utsjoki ) and Pyhätunturi (540 m, between Sodankylä and Kemijärvi ). The 484 meter high Korvatunturi on the Russian border in the municipality of Savukoski is considered to be the home of Santa Claus in Finland . The Aavasaksa near Ylitornio is counted among the Finnish " national landscapes " ; despite its rather modest height of 242 meters, its top offers an impressive view of the valley of the Tornionjoki .

The Tenojoki forms the Finnish-Norwegian border


The total area of ​​the inland waters of Lapland is 5944 km². As a result, 6% of the area of ​​the landscape is covered by water, which is less than in the rest of Finland (the national average is 12%). The number of lakes is particularly high in the north, but most of them are very small. The Inarijärvi is a notable exception . With 1040 km² (almost double the area of Lake Constance ) it is the second or third largest lake in Finland and the tenth largest in Europe, depending on how it is counted. The number of islands in Inarijärvi is estimated to be over 3000. The next largest natural lake is the Kemijärvi near the city of the same name with an area of ​​231 km². The two large reservoirs Lokka (315 km²) and Porttipahta (149 km²) were created in the course of the construction of hydropower plants .

The largest rivers in Finland run through Lapland. South of the Maanselkä watershed in northern Lapland they flow into the Gulf of Bothnia , north of it into the Arctic Ocean . A few rivers in eastern Lapland also flow into the White Sea . The main rivers are the Tornionjoki , the Kemijoki and the Ounasjoki . The permanent settlement of Lapland spread along the river banks in the past centuries, so the larger settlement centers of Lapland are located on the waters.

The Kemijoki is the longest river in Finland at 512 km. Over half of Lapland belongs to its catchment area (51,127 km², of which about 1,600 km² is on the Russian side). The Kemijoki has its source at Savukoski near the Russian border and flows in a south-westerly direction via Kemijärvi and Rovaniemi to its mouth at Kemi . The river's numerous rapids are harnessed for hydropower today. The largest tributary of the Kemijoki is the Ounasjoki. Like the Tornionjoki, it is still completely in its natural state. The 565 km long Tornionjoki is the second major river in Lapland. It rises in Swedish Lapland and flows into the Baltic Sea at Tornio . Together with its tributary Muonionjoki , it forms the Finnish-Swedish border.


Inari climate diagram

With the exception of the extreme north, the climate in Lapland is cold-temperate . Because Lapland is shielded from the Atlantic by the Scandinavian Mountains and the influence of the Baltic Sea is only very weak, Lapland belongs to the continental climate zone . Therefore, the differences between the seasons with relatively mild summers and cold, snowy winters are very pronounced. The climate of Lapland may appear extreme compared to Central Europe, but due to the influence of the Gulf Stream it is much milder than in other places at the same latitude.

The average annual temperature drops from south to north. While it is still +1 ° C on the Lappish Baltic coast, it is −4 ° C in northwestern Lapland. The summers in Lapland are very short with a duration of 95 days in the south and 45 days in the north. The warmest month is July with an average temperature of around 10 ° C in the south and 7 ° C in the north. In summer, temperatures can sometimes exceed 20 °. The winter is cold and harsh. It lasts between 170 and 200 days. In the coldest month, January, the average temperature is around −20 ° C. The coldest temperature ever recorded in Finland was reached on January 28, 1999 in Pokka near Kittilä at −51.5 ° C. The first snow can come in August or September, a permanent snow cover usually falls from late October to mid-November and melts from late April to late May. The snow remains partly all year round on protected mountain slopes; In Kilpisjärvi in the far north-west, for example, skiing is traditionally held on midsummer night.

The annual rainfall in southern Lapland is a little over 500 mm, in the north just under 400 mm. This makes Lapland significantly drier than the rest of Finland. The scarce amounts of precipitation are compensated for by the fact that evaporation is very low due to the low temperatures. The least precipitation falls in March, most in August. In winter, the snow cover reaches an average thickness of 60–70 cm. In some places it can be even thicker: The deepest snow depth in Finland, 190 cm, was measured on April 19, 1997 in Kilpisjärvi.

In the high latitudes of Lapland, the lighting seasons play a major role. In the areas north of the Arctic Circle , the midnight sun shines in summer and the polar night (kaamos) prevails in winter . Even in Kemi in southern Lapland, the sun does not set between June 18 and 24. The closer you get to the pole, the longer the polar day: At the northern tip in Utsjoki , the sun shines for 73 days continuously. Accordingly, the polar night prevails for 51 days in winter, during which the sun does not rise once. Northern lights occur throughout Lapland in winter , around 200 nights in the north and almost 100 nights in the south.

Flora and fauna

Much of Lapland belongs to the northern boreal coniferous forest zone . In addition to the predominant pine and spruce trees , birch trees are also widespread . Because of the harsh climatic conditions, the vegetation is rather sparse and the plants grow slowly. The trees in Lapland do not reach maturity until they are around 100 years old. Blueberry bushes or lichens usually grow in the undergrowth . There are many swamps , mainly open bogs, in southern and central Lapland in particular . The floodplains on the river banks provide hay for agriculture. Only birch trees grow in northern Lapland and at higher altitudes. As you get closer to the tree line, the stocky and shrubby mountain birches predominate . The tree line of the birch forest is 300 to 600 meters, above it there is a tundra- like vegetation with lichen, moss, grass and dwarf shrubs.

The color of the leaves (ruska) in September to October is considered a unique natural spectacle. Both the leaves of the trees as the leaves of the blue, moss and cranberry bushes that cover the ground, turning into bright colors.

Reindeer south of Kilpisjärvi

Probably the best-known representative of the fauna of Lapland and a kind of symbol of the landscape is the reindeer . The roughly 160,000 reindeer in Lapland are semi-domesticated livestock. They run around freely throughout the year, in late autumn their owners herd the animals together and look for the animals for slaughter. In addition, numerous elks live in the forests of Lapland , and deer from Sweden have spread to western Lapland . Bears , wolves and wolverines are common predators in Lapland . The beaver was extinct in the meantime, but after targeted efforts to reintroduce it, it has now spread all over Lapland again. Arctic animal species not found in the rest of Finland include the arctic fox , lemming , ptarmigan , snowy owl and snow bunting .

For birds of Lapland include various wading birds such as Ruff , Wood Sandpiper and golden plover and water birds such as bean goose , widgeon , Nordic throated diver , red-throated diver and whooper swan , next to the north scaup , long-tailed duck , velvet scoter and Smew .

Intensive fishing and the damming of the rivers have decimated the rich fish stocks. However, salmon can still be caught in Tenojoki and Tornionjoki . In the lakes of Lapland live pike , perch , gray trout and whitefish .


Although it occupies almost a third of the land area of ​​Finland, Lapland is inhabited by only 183,775 people (as of December 31, 2009). That's less than four percent of the country's total population. The population density of Lapland is just 2.0 people per square kilometer. The population is very unevenly distributed: over half of the inhabitants live in south-west Lapland in the triangle between the three largest cities of Rovaniemi (60,000 inhabitants), Kemi (23,000 inhabitants) and Tornio (22,000 inhabitants). The inhabitants of Lapland are collectively referred to as "Laplanders" (Finnish. Lappilainen ) regardless of their ethnicity , while "Lappe" (Finnish. Lappalainen ) is an outdated or pejorative term for the Sami people .

Ethnicities and languages

The vast majority of today's Lapland residents are Finns . The Peräpohjola dialects of Finnish are spoken in large parts of Lapland . Its most striking feature is the preservation of the h sound instead of a long vowel in the written Finnish language. The common language saunaan ("in the sauna") corresponds to the Lappish saunhan or, with the metathesis of the h, even sauhnan . The Finnish-speaking area continues across national borders. In Tornedalen on both sides of the Tornionjoki River, on both Finnish and Swedish sides, a form of language known as Tornedal Finnish or Meänkieli (literally “our language”) is spoken. After the demarcation of 1809, the Meänkieli forms on both sides of the river developed in different directions, especially in terms of vocabulary, as the Swedish speakers lost contact with the rest of the Finnish-speaking area. In Sweden Meänkieli is officially regarded as a separate language, while in Finland it is simply a dialect of Finnish. In the south of Lapland the West Finnish North Ostrobothnian dialect is also widespread in Ranua and in Posio the dialect of the Koillismaa region belonging to the group of East Finnish Savo dialects .

Samin in traditional costume

Lapland is the traditional settlement area of ​​the indigenous people of the Sami ( Samit ). Overall, their number in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia is given as 60,000–100,000. There are 6,000–7,000 Sami in Finland, of which 4,000 live in the Sami settlement area in northern Lapland. The municipalities of Enontekiö , Inari , Utsjoki and the northern parts of Sodankylä are legally defined as the “homeland” (kotiseutualue) of the Sami. Utsjoki is the only Finnish municipality in which the Sami make up the majority of the population.

According to Finnish law, a person is considered a seed if he or she identifies himself as a seed and has at least one parent or grandparent who speaks Sami as a native language. Many Sami have given up their language. Estimates of the number of Sami native speakers vary widely. However, it can be assumed that a maximum of half of the Finnish Sami are still Sami-speaking. The different Sámi dialects differ so much from one another that mutual understanding is not possible. Therefore, they are classified as independent languages ​​by linguistics. Three Sami languages ​​are spoken in Finland. Northern Sami is the largest Sami language with a total of 30,000 speakers, and is spoken by 2,000 people in Finland. Inari Sami is used exclusively in Finland and has 300–400 speakers. The Skolt were after the Second World War from the territory of Pechenga had to cede (Petsamo), the Finland to the Soviet Union, evacuated to Inari. Your language, Skolt Sami , has a total of 400 speakers, most of them in Finland, but also in Russia.

There is no Finnish-Swedish minority in Lapland . Therefore, Swedish , the second national language of Finland, has no official status in any municipality in Lapland at the local level . The proportion of foreigners in Lapland is low. In 2005 Lapland had 2,033 people with foreign citizenship, which is a little over one percent. The largest groups of foreigners were Swedes and Russians .


The simple Old Church of Sodankylä (1689) is one of the oldest surviving wooden churches in Finland.

The vast majority of Lapland's residents belong to the Evangelical Lutheran Church . The 22 Lappish parishes are subordinate to the diocese of Oulu . Laestadianism , a conservative Lutheran revival movement, plays an important role in Lapland's religious life . Laestadianism originated in Swedish Lapland in the mid-19th century and quickly spread to northern parts of Sweden, Finland, and Norway. Today Laestadianism in Finland is mainly found in Lapland and the area around Oulu and Ostrobothnia . The Laestadians are organized within the Evangelical Lutheran Church.

A small Orthodox minority also lives in Lapland , including the 700 Skolt seeds. There are a total of six Orthodox churches in the countryside, three of them in the Inari community . Shamanism was able to maintain itself as the religion of the Sami until the 18th century , today the Sami are completely Christianized.

Population development and structure

Almost all rural areas in Finland have been affected by migration to the centers in the south of the country since the mid-1990s. Lapland was particularly hard hit by this development. Because it is mainly younger people who leave Lapland in search of work, the landscape is noticeably aging. In 2015, 15.3% of the population were younger than 15 years, 62% between 15 and 64 years old and 22.6% 65 years or older. While the population of the cities in the countryside remains reasonably stable, the development in the more remote parts of Lapland is even more dramatic. It is also noticeable that especially in the structurally weaker areas of Lapland, men are in the majority.

Development of the population since 1980:

Population development in Lapland (1980-2005)
year Residents
1980 194,890
1985 200,943
1990 200,674
1995 201.411
2000 191,768
2005 185,800
2010 183,488
2015 180.858


Early history

The history of Lapland begins with the retreat of the glaciers at the end of the last ice age . Between 9000 and 6000 BC The Stone Age Komsa culture spread from Central Europe to Lapland. Around 3000 BC The first Finno-Ugrians immigrated to Lapland from the east. It is believed that the Finno-Ugric indigenous people of Finland lived between 2500 and 1500 BC. Divided into the linguistically and culturally different groups of the Finns who farmed and raised livestock in the south and the Sami hunting in the northern interior. Despite the linguistic affinity, the Sami are genetically very different from the Finns as from all other European peoples, which indicates that they are the descendants of the Stone Age indigenous population who adopted a Finno-Ugric language. Originally, the Sami settlement area extended far into the south of Finland, as numerous place names of Sami origin prove. The previously widespread view that the Sami were ousted by the Finns who later immigrated is now considered outdated. Rather, it is now assumed that the Sami population in the south gradually assimilated to the Finnish culture and language with the takeover of agriculture.

Sami family in front of their Kohte (around 1900)

By the 9th century at the latest, Finnish agriculture had established itself in the Tornionjoki and Kemijoki river valleys. Until the 18th century, the peasant way of life was concentrated only on the banks of the large rivers. They were the only way to get around in the impassable wilderness and provided food for the people with their abundant salmon stocks. The river meadows provided hay as fodder for the cattle, in the surrounding forests the farmers cleared fields and hunted. By the 11th century, the Finnish settlement had advanced to the level of Rovaniemi . At that time, “Lapland” was understood to be the Sámi settlement area that followed it to the north. The Arctic coast was inhabited by Norwegians from the 12th century. The Sami were essentially divided into three cultures: The "forest seeds" from Kemi lived mainly from hunting, the "fishermen's seeds" from Inari from fishing and the "reindeer seeds" from Tornio, who farmed reindeer. The Sami way of life was semi-nomadic. In the summer they moved their reindeer herds and lived in Kohten . The rest of the year they settled down in winter villages, where they also took care of their religious and judicial affairs.

Swedish time

In the High Middle Ages, the influence of the Swedish Empire on Lapland increased. At the end of the 13th century, the so-called Birkarls (Finnish: pirkkalaiset ), privileged representatives of the Swedish crown, were given the right to trade and tax Lapland. The Tornedalen was under the diocese of Uppsala and the Swedish central government. According to the provisions of the Treaty of Nöteborg of 1323, the valley of the Kemijoki belonged in principle to the sphere of influence of Novgorod . Nevertheless, from the 14th century onwards, it was actually under the influence of the Turku diocese and thus Sweden. This Swedish-Russian conflict of interest repeatedly caused tensions until the Swedish-Russian border was fixed in the Peace of Teusina in 1595 and confirmed again in the Peace of Stolbowo in 1617 ; roughly speaking, it ran roughly where Finland's eastern border is today.

At the end of the 16th century the parish of Tornio , to which the river valley of the Tornionjoki belonged up to the level of Pello , was added to the province of Västerbotten , the parish of Kemi , which included the area of ​​the Kemijoki up to Rovaniemi , came to the province of Österbotten . At that time, around 5000 people lived in what is now the Lapland landscape. The Sami-populated area was divided into so-called Lappmarks , two of which, Tornio-Lappmark and Kemi-Lappmark, were in the area of ​​today's Finnish landscape. In Lapland, the boundaries weren't exactly set. The area was nominally part of Västerbotten, but was practically more or less ownerless and was taxed by both Sweden and Norway. Until 1751, the village of Inari was even taxable towards three countries (Sweden, Norway and Russia).

From 1560 onwards, settlers from Savo engaged in shifting cultivation began to settle in Lapland in search of new Schwenden. As a result, the population rose to 6,000–7,000 in the following century. Tornio was the first city in Lapland to be founded in 1621 on the Suensaari river island at the mouth of the Tornionjoki. The “ Little Ice Age ” from 1690 onwards also caused famine in what is now Lapland, but did not hit the region as badly as the south of Finland, which is more dependent on agriculture. In order to force the settlement of Lapland, the Swedish state granted all new settlers from 1673 tax exemption for 15 years. Attracted by this and due to the fact that the men of Lapland were not used for military service, the rural settlement expanded to the north.

After the Great Northern War (1700–1721), Lapland experienced a real population explosion in the 18th century. The settlement spread from the large river valleys to the smaller tributaries and the banks of remote lakes. The forest seed culture in southern Lapland slowly died out as more and more seeds took over the agricultural way of life and assimilated to the Finnish population.

Russian time

After the lost Russo-Swedish War , Sweden had to cede what is now Finland to Russia in the Treaty of Fredrikshamn in 1809 . Lapland became part of the Oulu Province of the newly established autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland . This was a major change for the people of Lapland. The tornionjoki, previously always a connecting factor, has now become the border, the Russian east bank is cut off from the Swedish west bank. In 1826 the previously open Russian-Norwegian border was established. As a result, the inhabitants of Lapland were no longer able to move their reindeer herds across the border or to fish and trade on the Arctic coast. The Laplanders felt this was an injustice, because they were last guaranteed the right to cross the border in the Treaty of Strömstad in 1751.

The importance of reindeer herding increased in the 19th century after the wild wood reindeer was exterminated by intensive hunting in Lapland. Whereas previously only the Sami from northern Lapland had kept reindeer, the reindeer herding area has now expanded into southern Lapland. The strong population growth continued in the 19th century: in 1830 around 21,000 people lived in what is now Lapland, and in 1870 the population was already 33,652. The Sami population continued to decline. In the northern part of Lapland it fell from 22.6% to 16.3% between 1830 and 1860.

After bad harvests, there were multiple famines in the 1830s, 1850s and 1860s. Because agriculture, the most important branch of business, could only feed a limited number of people, the population pressure was released through emigration initially to the northern Norwegian region of Finnmark , and later to the USA .

Industrialization with the emergence of forestry and the wood industry in the second half of the 19th century was supposed to cause a major social upheaval . In the inland forests, wood was felled and floated down the rivers to the coast . The first steam-powered sawmill in Lapland was built in Laitakari near Kemi in 1861 . At the beginning of the 20th century, 10,000 men were already employed in forest work in Lapland. The expansion of the infrastructure went hand in hand with industrialization. The previously pathless north of Lapland was connected to the road network, and the first railway line to Kemi was built in 1902.

Finnish independence

The Petsamo area. Green: ceded in 1940, red: ceded in 1947.

With the Finnish declaration of independence in 1917, Lapland became part of an independent Finland. In the civil war that followed, the socialist reds were initially strongly represented in Lapland, but the bourgeois whites were able to bring the entire northern part of Finland under their control within a short time. After the end of the civil war, Bolshevik Russia recognized Finnish independence in the Peace of Dorpat in 1920 and ceded the area of ​​Petsamo (Russian Pechenga ) to Finland. This gave Finland access to the European Arctic Ocean and the Arctic Ocean for the first time . Thanks to the Gulf Stream , Petsamo was the only year-round ice-free port in the country. The first attempts to establish a connection to the Arctic Ocean had already been made in the 19th century after the Norwegian border was closed, and in 1864 Tsar Alexander II had already promised the Grand Duchy of Finland Petsamo as compensation for a smaller cession in Siestarjoki ( Sestrorezk ). The Laplanders perceived the annexation of Petsamo as compensation for the "injustice" suffered at the time, in nationalist circles it was even seen as the first step towards a desired Greater Finland . The area of ​​Petsamo with 1400 inhabitants and an area of ​​10,480 km² briefly formed its own province until it was annexed to the province of Oulu in 1921. Thanks to the port, a large nickel deposit discovered in 1924 and tourism, Petsamo prospered; by 1939 the population rose to around 5,000.

In 1938, Lapland was detached from the province of Oulu as an independent province. Although the new province included the Peräpohjola landscape in addition to the actual Lapland, the name “Lapland” was chosen, not least because the region was easier to market for tourists. The largest city, Kemi, had hoped to become the provincial capital, but in the end the market town of Rovaniemi was awarded the contract because of its more central location.

Second World War

The Second World War was divided for Finland in the Winter War and the Continuation War against the Soviet Union and the Lapland War against Germany . Fighting took place in Lapland in all three wars, especially the Lapland War hit the province hard.

The winter war between November 30, 1939 and March 13, 1940 saw two of its theaters of war in Lapland. At the beginning of the war two divisions of the Red Army launched an offensive near Salla . They had orders to advance within two weeks via Kemijärvi and Sodankylä to Rovaniemi and from there to move to the Swedish border at Tornio, in order to separate Finland in two. At the same time, two Soviet divisions attacked Petsamo . First the Soviet troops advanced in Petsamo and took the church village of Salla. In mid-December, however, the clearly outnumbered Finnish Army Group Lapland was able to stop the offensive east of Kemijärvi. In the Peace of Moscow , which ended the Winter War, Finland had to cede large parts of Karelia as well as the eastern part of Salla and the fishing peninsula ( Kalastajansaarento ) near Petsamo.

After the end of the Winter War, Finland relied on cooperation with Germany, whose troops were granted the whole of northern Finland as an area of ​​operations in 1941. With Germany's attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941, Finland began the Continuation War, in which Finland fought against the Soviet Union on the German side as a brotherhood in arms in order to regain the lost territories. In “ Operation Silberfuchs ”, the German troops secured the nickel mines of Petsamo, which were important for the war effort, and tried unsuccessfully to stop supplies from the Western Allies via the port of Murmansk from Lapland . Two German divisions tried to conquer from Petsamo from Murmansk, from Salla another two German and one Finnish divisions advanced in the direction of Kandalakscha in order to interrupt the Murman railway . The attack failed due to resistance from the Red Army, and the northern front remained fairly stable for the remainder of the war.

The village of
Ivalo, burned down by the Wehrmacht

On September 4, 1944, Finland, threatened by full occupation after a major Soviet offensive, signed an armistice agreement in which it had to undertake to drive the German troops out of the country. This started the Lapland War between Finland and Germany on September 15, 1944. At the beginning of the Lapland War, over 200,000 Wehrmacht soldiers were stationed in Lapland - more than the population of the province. The civilian population of Lapland was brought to safety within two weeks; a total of over 100,000 from 140,000 Laplanders were evacuated, over half of them to neutral Sweden. The actual acts of war began at the end of September. Because the Germans had no strategic interest in Lapland, they embarked on a controlled retreat, in the course of which - believing they had been betrayed by Finland - they used the scorched earth tactic . They blew up bridges, mined roads, and burned villages and towns. Large parts of Lapland were completely devastated, in Rovaniemi around 90% of the buildings were destroyed. After the Finnish army had taken the southern part of Lapland in October and November, the German troops held the position in the northwest during the winter. The last Wehrmacht soldiers left Finnish soil near Kilpisjärvi on April 27, 1945 .

The destruction of the Lapland War and the feeling of having been abandoned by its own government, which had deliberately accepted the Lapland War to save the rest of Finland from Soviet occupation, caused lasting trauma among the Lappish population. In addition, in 1944 Finland had to surrender all of Petsamo to the Soviet Union in addition to the areas that had already been ceded during the winter war, which was a severe blow to Lapland's economic development.

post war period

After the end of the war, the evacuated Laplanders returned to their homeland and began to repair the war damage. The state supported the reconstruction with loans. The city of Rovaniemi was completely rebuilt according to plans by Alvar Aalto . In the post-war period, many people from southern Finland moved to Lapland because the reconstruction offered them work. Together with the high birthrate, this resulted in strong population growth in Lapland.

The reconstruction was essentially complete by 1950. In the period that followed, the Finnish state initiated several major projects to industrialize Lapland and to develop natural resources. Because Finland had lost several power plants in Karelia during the war, the Kemijoki River had already been used for hydropower in 1945 . A total of 18 large hydropower plants were built on Kemijoki by 1976. These state construction projects were also intended as employment measures: in the early 1960s, one in eight working Laplanders was working in the construction industry. The last major state-funded project was a stainless steel factory in Tornio from 1973–1976. The builder, the company Outokumpu , originally planned to be in the southwestern Finnish city of Pori . In Lapland, however, a citizens' movement emerged that demanded the building in Tornio, so that the government finally influenced Outokumpu and established the Tornio site.

After the rapid population growth in the post-war period, the population of Lapland reached an all-time high of 210,000 in 1963. However, the rationalization of agriculture, the mechanization of forestry and the decreasing number of large construction projects meant that at the end of the 1960s the post-war generation entering working age found no employment in Lapland. As a result, Lapland experienced a massive population decline: between 1967 and 1974 almost 25,000 Laplanders left the province in search of work, 9,000 of them abroad (mainly Swedes). In the 1970s and 1980s, Lapland was consolidated again through the state's regional structural policy. The great Finnish economic crisis in the early 1990s hit structurally weak Lapland particularly hard. It caused a sharp rise in the unemployment rate and a renewed population decline, which continues to this day: at the height of the economic crisis, 24% of the Laplanders were unemployed, between 1993 and 2001 the population of Lapland fell by almost 7%.

The administrative reform of 1997, when the number of provinces was reduced from twelve to six, initially remained unaffected by the area of ​​Lapland. At the beginning of 2010, however, the provinces were completely abolished and the province of Lapland also abolished.



Lapland is one of 20 landscapes (maakunta) in Finland. The division of Finland into landscapes, which dates back to Swedish times, was officially institutionalized in 1994. The Lapland landscape has no independent significance as an administrative region, but the municipalities in the landscape cooperate within the framework of a landscape association.

From 1938 to 2009, Lapland was a province (lääni) of Finland. The province and the countryside of Lapland comprised the same territory, but were independent local authorities . The province served the purpose of state administration and was subject to the central government. Since the abolition of the provinces, the state administration of Lapland has been carried out by the Regional Administrative Authority (aluehallintovirasto) Lapland. It is based in Rovaniemi and is responsible for the area of ​​the Lapland landscape.

coat of arms

Coat of arms of the former province

The coat of arms of the Lapland region is derived from the coat of arms of the historic Swedish province . The description reads: In red, a wild man with a black beard and a wreath of green hair, dressed in green shorts, is standing in the front and is holding a golden club over his right shoulder. A flat pearl crown rests on the shield.

The former province of Lapland had a different coat of arms, which combined the coat of arms of the landscape with that of the historical landscape of Ostrobothnia , to which the southern parts of Lapland formerly belonged. The description reads: The shield is divided and the right shows in red a short with green trousers dressed in front standing wild man with a black beard and green hair ring, a gold club over his right shoulder reserved, and rear pole Asked in blue three white fleeing stoats with black tail tips. A crown rests on the shield.


In the elections to the Finnish parliament , Lapland forms one of 13 constituencies (up to 2015 there were 15) and sends 7 out of a total of 200 members. As in most rural areas of Finland, the Finnish Center Party is the strongest political force in Lapland. It has had four out of seven Lappish MPs in parliament since 2015. The other two major parties in the country, the Social Democrats and the Collection Party , are relatively weak in Lapland and have usually only had one MP in the last few decades. In 2015, the Collection Party narrowly missed this. In contrast, the left-wing alliance is stronger than in the rest of Finland and has had two MPs for a long time. Since 2011 the True Finns (since 2012 The Finns ) are as strong as in the rest of Finland and have won a seat. In 2017, however, the Lappish MP for the Finns joined the Blue Future split , and the same applies to her successor.

A similar picture emerges in the local politics of Lapland: The Center Party has the majority in the city or local council in 20 of 21 municipalities. In Kemi , the left-wing alliance holds the majority in the city administration, and in most other municipalities it is the second largest party.

Election results in the Lapland constituency
Political party General election 2007 Parliamentary election 2011 General election 2015
Center Party 43.2% 3 seats 32.2% 3 seats 42.9% 4 seats
True Finns 1.8% - 20.5% 1 seat 16.5% 1 seat
Left alliance 23.1% 2 seats 16.7% 1 seat 13.7% 1 seat
Collection party 11.7% 1 seat 12.5% 1 seat 10.1% -
Social democrats 15.1% 1 seat 11.8% 1 seat 10.8% 1 seat
Rest 5.0% - 6.3% - 6.0% -

Sami politics

The Sami flag was officially recognized by the Nordic Sami Conference in 1986.

With Samething (Sami Sámediggi , Finnish. Saamelaiskäräjät ), the Sami of Finland have their own political representation. Its predecessor was the Sami Parliament (Sámi parlamenta, Saamelaisvaltuuskunta) from 1973 to 1996 . Samething implements the Samething's cultural self-government, which has been anchored in the Finnish constitution since 1995, and represents the minority in national and international matters. The 21 members of the Sameting are elected every four years by the Finnish Sami and meet four to five times a year in plenary assembly. You elect the government, which is headed by a full-time chairman and subordinate to five committees on cultural, linguistic, educational, social and legal issues.

The Sami of Finland, Sweden, Norway and Russia operate close political cooperation across national borders. The Seed Council (Sámiráđđi, Saamelaisneuvosto) has existed since 1956 . In 2000, the Sami Parliamentary Council (Sámi Parlamentáralaš Rađđi, Saamelainen parlamentaarinen neuvosto) met for the first time with members of the Samethings of Finland, Sweden and Norway and representatives of the Russian Sami.

The Sami languages ​​have had an official status in the Sami homeland since 1992. In Enontekiö, Utsjoki and Sodankylä, North Sami is the official language alongside Finnish. Inari is the only officially quadrilingual community in Finland with Finnish, North Sami, Inari Sami and Skolt Sami. Citizens have the right to use Sami as the lingua franca in authorities and hospitals. All official documents as well as street signs etc. Ä. are published in two or more languages. There are also school lessons and radio programs in Sami.

Administrative division

The Lapland landscape comprises 21 municipalities , four of which have city status. The cities and municipalities in the sparsely populated Lapland are sometimes extremely extensive. With an area of ​​over 17,000 km², Inari is the largest municipality in Finland in terms of area and larger than the German state of Thuringia . The provincial capital Rovaniemi has the most inhabitants with 62,922. Since the merger with the former rural community of Rovaniemi at the beginning of 2006, Rovaniemi has been the largest city in Europe with an area of ​​over 8,000 km². In addition to Rovaniemi, Kemi , Tornio and Kemijärvi have city ​​status.

  local community Resident
December 31, 2018
1. Enontekio 1852 08,391.5 km²
2. Inari 6930 17,333.9 km²
3. Kemi 21,021 00102.6 km²
4th Kemijärvi 7370 03,931.5 km²
5. Keminmaa 8147 00646.3 km²
6th Kittila 6436 08,263.2 km²
7th Kolari 3834 02,617.6 km²
8th. Muonio 2299 02,037.9 km²
9. Pelkosenniemi 954 01,882.1 km²
10. Pello 3438 01,863.7 km²
11. Posio 3237 03,545.2 km²
12. Ranua 3896 03,694.8 km²
13. Rovaniemi 62,922 08,017.2 km²
14th Salla 3491 05,872.5 km²
15th Savukoski 1015 06,496.7 km²
16. Simo 3045 01,465.3 km²
17th Sodankylä 8444 12,415.2 km²
18th Tervola 3062 01,594.5 km²
19th Tornio 21,875 01,228.4 km²
20th Utsjoki 1232 05,371.8 km²
21st Ylitornio 4022 02,212.6 km²

Municipalities of the Lapland countryside

These 21 communities are united to six administrative communities ( seutukunta ). These are local territorial units for the purpose of communal cooperation.

Administrative community Communities
Fjell Lapland Enontekiö, Kittilä, Kolari, Muonio
Kemi-Tornio Kemi, Keminmaa, Simo, Tervola, Tornio
Northern Lapland Inari, Sodankylä, Utsjoki
Eastern Lapland Kemijärvi, Pelkosenniemi, Posio, Salla, Savukoski
Rovaniemi Ranua, Rovaniemi
Tornio valley Pello, Ylitornio



Traffic map of Lapland

Due to the extremely low population density, the transport network in Lapland is rather thin. At least the larger roads are mostly kept in good condition. The public road network has a total length of 9162 kilometers. This corresponds to a road density of around 0.1 kilometers per square kilometer. Of these, 1,265 km are state roads, 954 km are main roads, 2,212 km are country roads and 4,704 km are connecting roads. Two thirds of the road network are paved.

Three state roads, which are also European roads, cross Lapland in a north-south direction. The most important traffic artery is the state road 4 ( E 75 ), which leads from Kemi via Oulu from southern Finland via Rovaniemi , Sodankylä and Ivalo to Utsjoki to the Norwegian border. The national road 5 ( E 63 ) is about Kuusamo from the south of the country and ends in Sodankylä. The State Road 21 begins in Tornio and follows the Swedish border to the border crossing to Norway in Kilpisjärvi . There is also the 17 km long state road 29 between Keminmaa and Tornio. In 2001 it was expanded to become the only motorway in Lapland, and since then it has been the northernmost motorway in the world. The European route 8 follows the route of the trunk roads 21 and 29.

In Lapland there are six border crossing points each to Sweden and Norway and two to Russia . The largest border crossing between Tornio and the Swedish Haparanda pass an average of 11,500 vehicles per day.

Lapland is only rudimentarily connected to the railway network. There are two lines with a total length of around 500 kilometers. There are a total of eleven train stations that are served by passenger trains. The only connection to southern Finland comes from Oulu and branches off in Kemi. One branch leads north to Kolari , the other north-east via Rovaniemi and Kemijärvi to Salla . However, passenger trains only run as far as Kemijärvi on this route.

There are six airports in Lapland : Enontekiö , Ivalo , Kemi-Tornio , Kittilä , Rovaniemi and Sodankylä airports . All airports except Sodankylä are operated by the Finnish Aviation Authority (Ilmailulaitos). In 2005 they carried a total of 991,000 passengers. With 385,000 passengers per year, Rovaniemi Airport is the largest in Lapland and the fourth largest in Finland.

The ports of Ajos and Vesiluoto in Kemi and Röyttä in Tornio are located on the Lappish stretch of coast of the Gulf of Bothnia . Icebreakers have been keeping a fairway clear in winter since the 1970s . The ports are only used for freight traffic, Kemi is an export port for sawn timber, cellulose and paper. 630 ships a year dock in Kemi and 352 in Tornio.


In the school year 2005/2006 there were 163 primary schools and 27 high schools in Lapland with a total of around 25,200 students. There are also ten vocational schools. Because of the decreasing population, schools in remote areas have to be closed again and again; since 1983 over 130 schools have been closed. Because of the low population density, the ways to school are often long. If a primary school pupil lives more than five kilometers from his school, the municipality must ensure that he is transported to the school. Overall, 27% of Lappish elementary school students take advantage of this, in some rural communities even half. For high school students, several tens of kilometers to school are not uncommon. In the Sami home area, the municipalities receive state grants to be able to offer Sami-language school lessons. In 2002, 477 students took advantage of this offer. In 1994 the first students wrote their Abitur exams in Sami for their mother tongue.

The only university in Lapland is the University of Lapland in Rovaniemi . This was founded in 1979 to promote the regional development of Lapland. Today it has around 5000 students and 650 employees. There are also two technical colleges in Lapland, one in Rovaniemi and the other in Kemi and Tornio .

In 2001 there were a total of 89 libraries and library branches in Lapland. 53% of the population of Lapland have a library within two kilometers of their home; Even in the extremely sparsely populated Utsjoki , this is guaranteed for every fourth citizen. The more remote areas are supplied with a total of 16 mobile libraries.


Lapland's economy has undergone major structural change in the past few decades. While in 1960 44.8% of the workforce were still working in the agriculture and forestry sector, in 2000 it was only 6.2%. The industrial sector has also lost its importance, albeit not as rapidly: the proportion of industrial workers fell between 1968 and 2000 from 26.9% to 22.2%. In contrast, the number of employees in the service sector rose sharply: in 1960 it was 30.3%, in 2000 it was 69.0%. The public sector makes up an above-average share of 32.0%.

Unemployment is a big problem in Lapland. The unemployment rate in 2001 was 19.7% and was almost twice as high as the national average (11.7%). Over half of the unemployed were under 25 years of age.

Agriculture and reindeer herding

In 2001 there were 2,161 active farms in Lapland. By 1960 their number was around 16,000. At the same time, the area under cultivation was halved. The climatic conditions make agriculture in Lapland difficult. There is almost no grain cultivation, the potato harvest only covers half of the demand. The potato variety Lapin Puikula is considered to be particularly aromatic due to the special growing conditions (low temperatures, lots of light) and is recognized by the EU as a protected designation of origin. The most important role in Lappish agriculture is played by milk and meat production. Therefore, fodder is grown on most of the fields.

There are around 4,400 reindeer herders in Lapland who own a total of 160,000 animals. The reindeer herding area includes Lapland and the northern parts of the landscapes of Northern Ostrobothnia and Kainuu . Reindeer herding is the traditional Sami way of life. Unlike in Sweden and Norway, however, exercising them is not their privilege; in fact, only a small part of the Sami live from reindeer herding today, and the Finns are the majority of reindeer herders.

There are also professional fishermen on the Baltic coast and on the larger lakes. Hunting and collecting berries and mushrooms are also very important in Lapland. Lapland accounts for a third of the Finnish berry harvest, and for the rare cloudberries it is even three quarters.


In the 1970s, forestry in Lapland employed up to 20,000 people. Mechanization has meant that today only 4,000 Laplanders work in the forestry sector. In 2005, 4.2 million cubic meters of wood were felled in the forests of Lapland. While deforestation used to be the order of the day, forestry is now subject to restrictions aimed at the sustainable use of nature. A fifth of the forest areas in Lapland are protected, in Northern Lapland it is even 40%.

But because there are untouched virgin forests under the unprotected areas , there are always conflicts of interest between nature conservation and economic interests. In northern Lapland there have been disputes between reindeer herders, whose animals use the primeval forests as winter pastures, and forestry for decades. In spring 2005, the environmental protection organization Greenpeace intervened with the allegation that the Finnish state forestry authority Metsähallitus and the large Finnish paper companies were destroying primeval forests worthy of protection in Lapland and thus threatening the livelihood of the Sami people, and set up a camp in Inari . The forest industry firmly opposed the actions of Greenpeace.

Industry, mining and energy production

Lapland's industry is largely based on the use of natural resources (wood and ores); the forest and metal industries account for 90% of Lappish industrial production. The production facilities are concentrated in the cities of Kemi , Tornio , Rovaniemi and Kemijärvi . Since the beginning of industrialization in Lapland in the 19th century, the forest industry has been the dominant branch. Initially sawmills were built in the coastal towns of Kemi and Tornio, and cellulose and paper mills were added in the 20th century . Mainly due to technological progress, the number of jobs in this sector has declined, from 6400 in the 1970s to around 2700 in 2000. Because the raw material requirements of the Lappish forest industry, at 7 million cubic meters of wood per year, are higher than the production of forestry, wood is imported from other parts of Finland and Russia. Mining employs around 300 people in Lapland and extracts ores that are processed by the metal industry, especially the stainless steel factory in Tornio. The metal industry is the only industrial sector in Lapland in which new jobs have been created in the last few decades; today it employs around 1,800 people. Other branches of industry only play a marginal role.

The oldest hydropower plant on Kemijoki: Isohaara near Kemi

The rapids of the Kemijoki River were harnessed for energy production after the Second World War. Today 18 hydropower plants , most of which belong to the Kemijoki Oy energy company, produce electricity on the Kemijoki and its tributaries. Their annual production in 2003 was 4.3 terawatt hours , which accounts for over a third of Finnish hydropower production and around 5% of the country's total electricity production. In Lapland there is a considerable potential for wind energy due to the natural conditions , but this is only exploited to a limited extent. It is estimated that one fifth of Finnish electricity needs could be met with wind energy from Lapland. At the moment there are only seven wind power plants in the landscape, the total production of which is negligible at 4 gigawatt hours.


Ski slope in the Levi ski center near Kittilä

Tourism is an important industry in Lapland today. A total of 3400 people are directly employed by tourism in Lapland, the total income is put at 362 million euros (2002). In 2003, almost 1.8 million overnight stays were registered in Lapland, 0.7 million of which were from foreign guests. The largest group was made up of the British with around 130,000 overnight stays, followed by the Germans (123,000), French (79,000), Dutch (55,000), Russians (43,000), Norwegians (42,000), Swiss (32,000) and Japanese (28,000) .

In summer and autumn, Lapland is primarily a destination for nature tourists who hike, fish, kayak, etc. there, but most holidaymakers visit Lapland during the winter season. There are a total of 13 ski sports centers in the landscape, which mainly benefit from the long season. After Ruka in Kuusamo , the Lappish town of Levi is the second largest ski center in Finland. Finnish tourists come to Lapland mainly for skiing. The foreign guests are also offered "exotic Lapland" with activities such as cross-country skiing, snowmobile rides or excursions with teams of reindeer and dogs. Then there is Christmas tourism. According to Finnish popular belief, Santa Claus lives on Mount Korvatunturi in Lapland. Rovaniemi in particular specializes in Christmas tourism : Since 1985 there has been the “ Santa Claus' Village” with an attached “ Santa Claus Post Office”, and in 1998 the “SantaPark” amusement park was inaugurated. The airport of Rovaniemi, where even the Concorde Christmas guests flew in for a while, even bears the registered trademark “Official Airport of Santa Claus” . British tourists in particular come to Lapland to experience a white Christmas: over 60% of British overnight stays in Lapland are recorded in December.


The "four winds hat" (čiehgahpir) is part of the traditional Sami costume

Although the Sami are only a small minority in Lapland society, it is mainly elements of their culture, such as the colorful costumes or traditional yoik singing, that are associated with Lapland, because the culture of the Finnish majority population hardly differs from that of the rest of the country is different. Despite the difficulties that result from Lapland's low population density, there is a relatively lively cultural life with museums and festivals in the cities of the countryside and also in the remote communities.


The works of Lappish writers can be classified as either Finnish or Sami, depending on the language in which they are written. There can hardly be any talk of an independent Lappish literature; However, what most authors from Lapland have in common is that they deal with living conditions and questions of identity in the periphery. This also connects her with other writers from the Nordkalotte such as the Swede Mikael Niemi ( popular music from Vittula ) .

At first, Lapland only appeared in travel and research literature, for the first time in 1555 in the Historia de gentibus septentrionalibus by Olaus Magnus . The first work explicitly dedicated to Lapland, the Lapponia by the German Johannes Schefferus , appeared in 1673. It also contained samples of Sami folk poetry translated into Latin for the first time. Based on two of these, the poet Frans Michael Franzén, born in Oulu , created his poem Spring min snälla ren (“Run my dear Ren”) in 1798 , which later became a popular folk song in Finnish translation (Juokse porosein) .

Arvi Järventaus , who worked as a pastor in the countryside, was the first writer to make Lapland a topic in fiction. His first work Risti ja noitarumpu ("The Cross and the Witch's Drum", 1916) dealt with the encounter between Christianity and shamanism. The Finnish-speaking author Anniki Kariniemi , born in Lapland, took up the same subject in her novel Poro-Kristiina (“Reindeer Christina”, 1952) and the ballad Laulu Lapista ja Lapin papista (“Song about Lapland and the priest of Lapland”, 1972). The writer Timo K. Mukka describes in his novel Maa on syntinen laulu ("The world is a sinful song", 1964) in a ruthless way the life in a village in Lapland dominated by patriarchy, Laestadianism and sexuality. The film adaptation of the work from 1973 was the most successful Finnish film of the 1970s. Contemporary Lappish writers such as Rosa Liksom , Jari Tervo and Janne Huilaja also address life in Lapland in their works.

The Sami literature, the cornerstone of which the Norwegian Same Johan Turi had laid in 1910 with Muittalus sámid birra (“Tale about the life of the Sami”), was able to gain a foothold in Finland from the 1970s. Nils-Aslak Valkeapää - probably the best-known and most versatile Sami cultural personality - was not only active as a musician, painter and actor but also as a writer. He published a total of eight collections of poetry, his main work is Beaivi áhčážan ("Sun, my father", 1988). Another well-known Finnish-Sami author is Kirsti Paltto . Her novel Guhtoset dearvan min bohccot ("Ach, mein Rentier ", 1986) deals with the effects of majority society on the Sami culture.

Museums and events

In the Arktikum Museum in Rovaniemi

The Arktikum Museum in Rovaniemi combines the Provincial Museum of Lapland and the Arctic Center, in which the culture of different peoples of the Arctic is presented. Since 1992 it has been housed in a futuristic building with a 172 m long glass dome and underground exhibition rooms. Modern Finnish art is exhibited in the art museums of Rovaniemi and Kemi . The Siida Museum in Inari has been dedicated to the Sami culture and nature of Northern Lapland since 1962. There are also other smaller museums in Lapland, such as the Tankavaara Gold Museum in Sodankylä and a total of twelve nature centers run by the state forest authority.

Numerous festivals are held in Lapland in summer. The best known is probably the Midnight Sun Film Festival in Sodankylä, which is attended by 15,000-20,000 guests every year. It was founded in 1986 by the Kaurismäki brothers as a kind of counter-event to glamorous film festivals such as those in Cannes . The international folklore festival Jutajaiset takes place in Rovaniemi with musicians from all over the world. At the Pyhä Unplugged Festival at Pyhätunturi , well-known Finnish rock musicians perform and play with acoustic instruments ( unplugged ) .


Two regional daily newspapers appear in Lapland. The largest newspaper in Lapland , Lapin Kansa, published in Rovaniemi , with 91,000 readers. The second newspaper, Pohjolan Sanomat , is published in Kemi and has 60,000 readers. The oldest Sami-language magazine was the Sápmelaš cultural paper , which appeared in Inari from 1934 to 2001 . Today is inarisamische magazine Anaras the only published in Finland Sami magazine, but it is only published four times a year. Many Finnish Sami, however, get Sami newspapers from Norway.

Radio occupies the most important position in the Sami media landscape. The Finnish public broadcaster Yleisradio has been broadcasting Sami-language programs on a regular basis since 1947. Since 1987 there has been a dedicated transmitter for this, YLE Radio Sámi. It can be received in Northern Lapland and broadcasts news and music in Northern, Inari and Skolt Sami. In collaboration with the Sami radio stations in Norway and Sweden, YLE Radio Sámi also produces a Sami-language television news program that can be seen in Northern Lapland on YLE TV1 and otherwise on digital television and the Internet.


  1. (Finnish Statistics Office), Finnish ( Memento of the original from August 15, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  2. a b Status: January 1, 2009, source: Maanmittauslaitos - Lantmäteriverket (Finnish land surveying office): Suomen pinta-ala kunnittain January 1, 2009. ( Memento from March 18, 2009 in the Internet Archive )
  3. See the map of the Research Center for Agriculture and Food Management ( MTT) Soilregions ( Memento of November 2, 2005 in the Internet Archive )
  4. a b Ilmatieteen laitos (Institute for Meteorology): [1] , [2] , [3] (Finnish)
  5. a b Law on Samething 17th July 1995/974 (legal text in Finnish , in English translation (PDF; 191 kB))
  6. Kotimaisten Kielten Tutkimuskeskus (state. Research Institute for the Languages of Finland) Saami Languages ( Memento of 21 December 2004 at the Internet Archive ) (English)
  7. Tilastokeskus (Statistics Center) Page no longer available , search in web archives:@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /
  8. Väestörekisterikeskus (Resident Registration Center) Page no longer available , search in web archives:@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /
  9. Finnish Statistics Office
  10. Matti Enbuske: Lapin asuttamisen historia . In: Lappi - Maa, kansat, kulttuurit (lit.)
  11. The historian and later Minister Väinö Voionmaa wrote about 1918 in his book Finland at the Arctic Ocean (Suomi jäämerellä) : “It will be the first sign of life from growing Finland” (quoted from: Maria Lähteenmäki: Jäämeren valloitus . In: Lappi - Maa, kansat, kulttuurit (lit.)).
  12. a b Heikki Kerkelä: Teollistuva Lappi osana maailmantaloutta . In: Lappi - Maa, kansat, kulttuurit (lit.)
  13. Result of the 2007 parliamentary elections (Finnish Ministry of Justice)
  14. Result of the 2015 parliamentary election , Finnish Ministry of Justice, accessed December 18, 2017
  15. Statistical Office Finland: Table 11ra - Key figures on population by region, 1990-2018
  16. Tiehallinto (Finnish Road Administration) [4] (Finnish)
  17. Suomen Satamaliitto (Finnish Port Association) archive link ( memento of the original from October 9, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. (Finnish) @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  18. Homepage of the Provincial Government of Lapland [5] (Finnish)
  19. Samething's website ( Memento from February 19, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) (Finnish)
  20. Report of the Provincial Government of Lapland [6] (Finnish; PDF; 937 kB)
  21. a b Website of the Provincial Government of Lapland [7] (Finnish)
  22. Beate Steffens: Destruction of primeval forests in Finnish Lapland (Greenpeace website) Archive link ( Memento of the original from September 29, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  23. Press release of the Forestry Experts' Association (METO) ( Memento of September 27, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) (English)
  24. Report from the Finnish TV station MTV3 [8] (Finnish)
  25. Lapin liitto: Tourism in Finland and Lapland International tourist arrivals 1950–2020 ( Memento from February 22, 2006 in the Internet Archive ) (English)
  26. ( Memento from January 17, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) (Finnish; PDF; 438 kB)


  • Ilmo Massa, Hanna Snellman (eds.): Lappi - Maa, kansat, kulttuurit. Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura, Helsinki 2003, ISBN 951-746-505-X (Finnish).

Web links

Commons : Lapland, Finland  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wikivoyage: Lapland  travel guide
This version was added to the list of excellent articles on October 23, 2006 .