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Rovaniemen kaupunki
coat of arms map
Coat of arms of the city of Rovaniemi Location of Rovaniemi in Finland
Basic data
State : FinlandFinland Finland
Landscape : Lapland
Administrative community : Rovaniemi
Geographical location 66 ° 30 '  N , 25 ° 43'  E Coordinates: 66 ° 30 '  N , 25 ° 43'  E
Surface: 8,017.19 km²
of which land area: 7,582.41 km²
of which inland waterways: 434.78 km²
Residents : 62,922 (Dec. 31, 2018)
Population density : 8.3 inhabitants / km²
Municipality number : 698
Postcodes : 96100-97999
Language (s) : Finnish
Website :

Rovaniemi  [ ˈrɔvɑniɛmi ] is the capital of the northern Finnish landscape of Lapland and is located at the confluence of the Ounasjoki and Kemijoki rivers in the immediate vicinity of the Arctic Circle . The gateway to the north is not only an important shopping center for the settlements in the area, but also a tourist destination. Rovaniemi is the seat of Santa's Chamber , who even has his own post office in Santa Claus Village on the Arctic Circle . On January 1, 2006, the city was merged with the rural municipality of Rovaniemi . The city is also the seat of the International Secretariat of the University of the Arctic . Please click to listen!Play


Position and extent

City center at the confluence of Ounasjoki and Kemijoki

Rovaniemi is centrally located in the Lapland landscape in the far north of Finland. The city center is located at the confluence of the Ounasjoki and Kemijoki rivers, just a few kilometers south of the Arctic Circle .

In addition to the actual core city, in which more than 80% of the population live, the administrative urban area of ​​Rovaniemi covers a very large area of ​​8017 km² (more than three times that of Luxembourg ) since the incorporation of the rural municipality of Rovaniemi . This makes Rovaniemi the largest city in Europe. Most of this area is only very sparsely populated. This results in a low population density of 7.2 inhabitants per square kilometer for the whole of Rovaniemi.

Neighboring municipalities of Rovaniemi are Ranua in the south, Tervola in the southwest, Ylitornio and Pello in the west, Kolari in the northwest, Kittilä and Sodankylä in the north, Kemijärvi in the east and Posio in the southeast. Rovaniemi has merged with the municipality of Ranua to form the Rovaniemi Administrative Association. The nearest major city is Oulu 207 km south, the distance to the capital Helsinki is 815 km.

Climate diagram
J F. M. A. M. J J A. S. O N D.
Temperature in ° Cprecipitation in mm
Source: WMO
Average monthly temperatures and rainfall for Rovaniemi
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Max. Temperature ( ° C ) −8.5 −8.1 −2.8 2.7 10.2 16.8 19.4 16.1 10.0 2.6 −3.5 −6.9 O 4.1
Min. Temperature (° C) −15.1 −14.1 −9.4 −4.5 1.8 8.1 11.0 8.6 3.8 −2.0 −8.7 −13.3 O −2.8
Precipitation ( mm ) 42.1 33.6 35.6 30.9 35.9 59.1 69.1 71.7 54.0 54.6 48.6 41.7 Σ 576.9
Rainy days ( d ) 10 9 9 8th 7th 9 10 10 9 11 12 10 Σ 114
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Source: WMO

Landscape and nature

At the village of Muurola, the Kemijoki River is widened like a lake.

In terms of landscape, the urban area of ​​Rovaniemi belongs to the transition area between the Peräpohjola region and the actual Lapland . The landscape is characterized by forests and moors. Pine (62%) and spruce (22%) predominate among the tree species , 16% are deciduous trees. Around 5% of the urban area consists of inland waterways. In contrast to most of Finland, the Rovaniemi area is poor in large lakes. On the other hand, the two mighty rivers Kemijoki and Ounasjoki , some of which are extended like a lake, shape the landscape. At the time of the snowmelt in spring, there are regular floods.

Rovaniemi belongs to the area of ​​the Finnish hill country (Vaara-Suomi) . Accordingly, in contrast to the fells in northern Lapland , the hills in the urban area are rather flat and wooded. The highest point is the 358 meter high Kaihuanvaara . Much better known is the 204 m high Ounasvaara . Rovaniemi's local mountain rises directly across from the city center and is a popular recreational destination for the residents. Another well-known natural monument is the 16 m high Auttiköngäs waterfall in the southeast of Rovaniemi.

City structure

Rovaniemi city center
The Lordi's Square in the center of Rovaniemi

The urban area of ​​Rovaniemi is divided into the urban center and the rural area. For statistical purposes, Rovaniemi is divided into six urban districts ( suuralue ), which are further subdivided into small statistical areas. The population is distributed among the city districts and statistical areas as follows:

  • Center (50,132 inhabitants)
    • I. District (4,084 inhabitants)
    • Rantavitikka (6,234 inhabitants)
    • Ratantaus (6,923 inhabitants)
    • Pullinpuoli (2.118 inhabitants)
    • Ounasrinne (3,170 inhabitants)
    • Pöykkölä (2,556 inhabitants)
    • Lapinrinne (1,561 inhabitants)
    • Karinrakka (6,280 inhabitants)
    • Ounasmetsä (1,986 inhabitants)
    • Koskenkylä (793 inhabitants)
    • Saarenkylä (9,769 inhabitants)
    • Ylikylä (3,256 inhabitants)
    • Alakorkalo (775 inhabitants)
    • Kauko (627 inhabitants)
  • Sodankyläntie (779 inhabitants)
    • Niesi (276 inhabitants)
    • Olkkajärvi (503 inhabitants)
  • Ounasjoki (2,339 inhabitants)
    • Lohiniva (159 inhabitants)
    • Meltaus (585 inhabitants)
    • Sinettä (1,101 inhabitants)
    • Sonka (497 inhabitants)
  • Alakemijoki ( 2.926 inhabitants)
    • Hirvas (669 inhabitants)
    • Rautiosaari (631 inhabitants)
    • Muurola (1,190 inhabitants)
    • Jaatila (436 inhabitants)
  • Ranuantie (659 inhabitants)
    • Ranuantie (659 inhabitants)
  • Yläkemijoki (1,579 inhabitants)
    • Autti (314 inhabitants)
    • Vanttauskoski (788 inhabitants)
    • Oikarainen (477 inhabitants)



The first human settlement spread to the Rovaniemi area after the retreat of the glaciers towards the end of the last Ice Age between 7000 and 5800 BC. A wooden elk head found in Lehtojärvi near Rovaniemi, which was probably used as a bow ornament on a boat, is dated to around 5800 BC. Dated. The indigenous population lived from hunting and fishing at the Ancylussee , which was created by the meltwater of the glaciers and covered parts of today's urban area.

Due to the mixing of the Stone Age indigenous population and the from the 3rd millennium BC The Sami (Lappish) population of Lapland emerged from the immigrant Finno-Ugrians in the 3rd century BC , which remained predominant in Rovaniemi for a long time. From the early Middle Ages, sedentary, arable Finns settled in the Kemijoki river valley. The Finnish settlement advanced in the 11th century to the height of Rovaniemi. The place names in the area of ​​Rovaniemi indicate that these new settlers came mainly from the landscapes of Häme and Satakunta . Due to the Finnish immigration and the takeover of arable farming, the semi-nomadic seeds were gradually pushed back or assimilated. Parts of Rovaniemi remained Sámi settled until the 18th century.

Swedish and Russian time

In the High Middle Ages, the influence of the Swedish Empire in Lapland increased. Although the area was nominally under the control of Novgorod according to the provisions of the Treaty of Nöteborg of 1323 , the Kemijoki valley was incorporated into the church administration of the Swedish diocese of Turku as the parish of Kemi at the beginning of the 15th century . The name Rovaniemi is first recorded in a land purchase document from 1453. The name is often derived from the Sami word roavve for a wooded mountain range or a swept area. From Peräpohjola dialects of Finnish is also known rova , as an accumulation of stones or rocks, especially at rapids. Niemi is Finnish for “peninsula” or “headland”.

At the beginning of the 17th century, Rovaniemi became a chapel parish of the Kemi parish. A first church was built in 1605-11 but burned down shortly afterwards during a Karelian raid. The church was rebuilt by 1622 and replaced by a new successor building in 1688. In 1785, the chapel community Rovaniemi was raised to an independent parish.


Rovaniemi was completely destroyed in the Lapland War.

In 1929, the Rovaniemi community center became a market town (kauppala) and became a local authority. The surrounding area was transformed into the rural municipality of Rovaniemi (Rovaniemen maalaiskunta) . In 1938 the province of Lapland was founded from the northern areas of the province of Oulu . While hopes of becoming provincial capital were cherished in the largest city, Kemi , Rovaniemi was awarded the contract because of its more central location.

In the Winter War of 1939, the Soviet Union attacked Finland. The Soviet air force bombed Rovaniemi several times, but the ground troops could only penetrate from the east to the village of Joutsijärvi in Kemijärvi and Pelkosenniemi (about 100 km east of Rovaniemi).

In the Continuation War that followed from 1941 to 1944, Rovaniemi was a center of German leadership and logistics in Lapland. Around 15,000 German soldiers were stationed in the city at that time. After Finland changed sides, the Wehrmacht withdrew using the scorched earth tactic. In the town of Rovaniemi, which consists of wooden houses, the Wehrmacht systematically destroyed public and military buildings. A train loaded with ammunition also exploded in the station of the burning Rovaniemi. From October 11th to 14th, 1944, around 90% of the city's buildings were destroyed. The 25,000 or so civilians in the city had been evacuated the day before along with their livestock. The 2500 German soldiers who fell in what is now northern Finland are now resting in the Norvajärvi military cemetery, a peninsula about 19 km north of central Rovaniemi.

From 1952 the city was rebuilt. The market town only received town charter in 1960. At the beginning of 2006, the town and rural community of Rovaniemi reunited to form the town.


Historical development of the population

(December 31st has been in effect since 1983)

  • 1621-500
  • 1775 - 1,000
  • 1820 - 2,000
  • 1865-4,000
  • 1983 - 31,910
  • 1990-33,500
  • 1997 - 35,718
  • 2000 - 35,427
  • 2002 - 35,110
  • 2005 - 57,735
  • 2008 - 58,825
  • 2016 - 62,231

The incorporation of the rural municipality of Rovaniemi into the urban area on January 1, 2006 is responsible for the population growth . In terms of area, Rovaniemi expanded to 8,000 km², which is slightly more than three times the area of ​​Luxembourg. This makes it one of the largest cities in the world in terms of area.


City council

The largest parliamentary group in the Rovaniemi City Council, the highest decision-making body on local affairs, is the Finnish Center Party , with 16 out of 51 seats in the parliamentary term from January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2021 . With less than a third of the vote, their support is lower than in rural Lapland. The National Gathering Party and the Social Democratic Party of Finland each won around a fifth of the votes in local elections and each have 10 MPs. The left-wing alliance is relatively strong with a share of the vote of almost 13 percent and six seats on the city council, as is generally the case in northern Finland. Also represented in the city council are the Green Bund with three, the right-wing populist True Finns with four and the Christian Democrats with two.

The voter turnout in 2017 was 54.5%.

6th 10 10 16 4th 
A total of 50 seats
Composition of the City Council (2018-2021)
Political party Election result 2017 Seats
Center Party (KESK) 29.8% 16
National Collection Party (KOK) 21.2% 10
Social Democrats (SDP) 19.1% 10
Left Alliance (VAS) 12.9% 6th
Green Bund (VIHR) 7.0% 3
True Finns (PS) 7.5% 4th
Christian Democrats (KD) 1.7% 2

coat of arms

The city of Rovaniemi has continued the coat of arms of the former rural municipality of Rovaniemi since the municipal merger in 2006. It was designed by Toivo Vuorela in 1956 and shows a silver forked cross in the green shield, the upper arms of which are jagged, and a golden flame in the upper corner. The forked cross symbolizes the confluence of the Ounasjoki and Kemijoki rivers, while the flame stands for the signal fires that are said to have burned on the hills along the river.

Before the municipal merger, Rovaniemi had a coat of arms drawn by Väinö Tiger in 1930. It showed a silver fjell in the blue field, above the silver fracture letter R and as the uppermost a crown made of rays of polar lights, also in silver.

Town twinning

Rovaniemi has city ​​partnerships with the following cities:

Culture and sights

The famous Finnish architect Alvar Aalto left his mark on Rovaniemi. In 1945, together with fellow architects Viljo Revell and Yrjö Lindegren, he designed the new floor plan for the city of Rovaniemi, which had been completely destroyed by the German Wehrmacht . The three architects chose the shape of reindeer antlers for the floor plan.

Most famous of Alvar Aalto's buildings in Rovaniemi is the Center for Culture and Administration . The three buildings that make up the complex include the Rovaniemi Town House (1988), the Library (1965) and the Lappia House .

The Lappiahaus (1975) designed by Alvar Aalto serves as a theater, concert hall and congress center. The Lappiahaus also houses a music college and a radio station.

Other buildings by Alvar Aalto can be found in the center of Rovaniemi at Koskikatu 18 (built 1959) and Jaakonkatu 3 (built 1963) as well as the house of the Aho family (built 1965). Alvar Aalto also worked on the Tapiola settlement in Rovaniemi from 1958 to 1961 .

The Lapland Chamber Orchestra, founded in 1972, has resided in the newly built Korundi cultural center since 2011 . The modern concert hall is also used for pop concerts. The Rovaniemi Art Museum is in the same building.

Jätkänkynttilä Bridge


The Jätkänkynttiläsilta (Lumberjack's Candle Bridge ) in the northwest of Rovaniemi, completed in 1989, is worth seeing .


Located on the banks of the Ounasjoki River and opened on December 6, 1992, the Arktikum Museum is a center of science. The Arktikum actually consists of two institutions, the Provincial Museum of Lapland and the Arctic Center. The exhibition Ways of the North reports on people in Finnish Lapland, the Sami and their habitat, and the nature of Finnish Lapland. Also on display are Sami costumes and exhibits dealing with the traditional Sami life, reindeer herding . The Sami are considered to be the indigenous people of Lapland. The exhibitions in the Arctic Center report from areas throughout the Arctic. They convey a picture of the interaction between man and nature and of the seasons in arctic regions. Northern lights are shown in a multivision show. The Arctic Center is part of the University of Lapland , which is also located in Rovaniemi.


Rovaniemi has a Lutheran Church (1950) and an Orthodox Church (1957).

Santa's seat

Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi (2002) The white line on the right marks the Arctic Circle

The legend that Santa Claus lives in Finland goes back to the Finnish broadcaster Markus Rautio, who was popular in the 1920s . According to his Christmas fairy tale, Santa Claus lives in the Korvatunturi mountain in northern Finland, shaped like an ear in which he can hear the wishes of children from all over the world. Since the mountain was too remote on the Russian border, for the sake of simplicity, Rovaniemi was declared Santa's second residence.

At the Santa Claus post office

A few kilometers north of the city, the Santa Claus Village has been located since 1985, a tourist attraction where (not only) children can greet the real Santa Claus all year round. There is also a “ Santa Claus post office ” that processes and answers letters from children from all over the world. Another attraction of this Santa Claus Village is the arctic circle drawn on the ground , which is actually now about 120 meters further north: Due to the nutation of the earth's axis and the associated change in the inclination of the ecliptic , the position of the arctic circles is not stationary fixed on a certain line, but changes slightly.


The German military cemetery Rovaniemi Norvajärvi was created 18 kilometers north of the city as a collective cemetery for those who fell in World War II from graves in the provinces of Lapland and Oulu .

Arctic Circle on State Road 4 near Rovaniemi 1975


The Rovaniemi Airport is located eight kilometers from the city center on the main road 4 ( E75 ) direction Ivalo and Inari .

Rovaniemi has been on the Laurila – Kandalakscha railway line since 1909 . Long- distance trains (day and night trains) to Helsinki and Turku operate . The station has a loading point for motorail trains .

An Arctic Railway could be built from Rovaniemi north to the ice-free deep-water port of Kirkenes in northern Norway. Studies by the Finnish and Norwegian ministries of transport in 2018 recommended this route variant. However, the construction costs of 2.9 billion euros would only be economical for an annual transport volume of at least 2.5 million tons, so that implementation is currently not expected.

sons and daughters of the town

Web links

Commons : Rovaniemi  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wikivoyage: Rovaniemi  - Travel Guide

Individual evidence

  1. Maanmittauslaitos (Finnish land surveying office): Suomen pinta-alat kunnittain January 1, 2010 . (PDF; 199 kB)
  2. Statistical Office Finland: Table 11ra - Key figures on population by region, 1990-2018
  3. Website of the Rovaniemi Forestry Association (Metsänhoitoyhdistys Rovaniemi) ( Memento of the original from September 27, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been 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 /
  4. Status: December 31, 2007, source: City of Rovaniemi: Väestön kokonaismäärä suur-, tilasto- ja pienalueittain v. 2001 -  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. .@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  5. Heikki Annanpalo: Rovaniemi. 8000 kansainvälistä vuotta. Mitä kirjoitukset eivät kerro: Rovaniemen ensimmäiset 7000 vuotta , p. 9.  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  6. Museovirasto (Finnish Museum Authority): Kivikauden taide ja uskomukset (Finnish)
  7. Matti Enbuske: Lapin asuttamisen historia . In: Ilmo Massa, Hanna Snellman (eds.) Lappi - Maa, kansat, kulttuurit , Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura, Helsinki 2003. Here p. 41.
  8. PDF at ( memento of the original from June 27, 2003 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 /
  9. PDF at  ( page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. .@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  10. Bernd Wegner: The end of the war in Scandinavia , in Karl-Heinz Frieser (ed.): The German Reich and the Second World War , Volume 8: The Eastern Front 1943/44 - The War in the East and on the Side Fronts , Munich 2011, p. 999.
  11. .
  12. Finnish Ministry of Justice: Result of the 2017 local elections .
  13. Rovaniemi website - Ystävyyskaupungit | ( Finnish ), accessed October 23, 2018
  14. The Chamber Orchestra of Lapland, official website ( Finnish )
  15. The Rovaniemi Art Museum, official website ( Finnish )
  16. Information motorail trains Finland ( Memento from February 3, 2009 in the Internet Archive )