Urho Kekkonen National Park

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Paratiisikuru Valley in Urho Kekkonen National Park

The Urho Kekkonen National Park is a national park in northern Finland . It was founded in 1983 and is named after the long-time Finnish President Urho Kekkonen . The aim of the national park, managed by the Finnish forest authority Metsähallitus , is to protect the nature of Lapland and to preserve the region's traditional industries such as reindeer herding .


The Urho Kekkonen National Park is located in the northern Finnish province of Lapland on the Russian border. It is located on the territory of the municipalities of Inari , Sodankylä and Savukoski . In Tankavaara are Savukoski and information centers in Saariselkä Park office. With its 2550 km² it is the second largest national park in Finland after the Lemmenjoki National Park. The Sompio Nature Park borders the Urho Kekkonen National Park to the west.


The extensive area of ​​the national park includes fells as well as large moor areas and forests. The northern part of the national park consists of a fell area. Here mainly birch grows , the higher areas are unforested and are only covered by lichen . The highest fell in Urho Kekkonen National Park is the 718 m high Sokosti . The Korvatunturi , according to Finnish folk belief, the home of Santa Claus , is located in the area of ​​the national park directly on the Russian border. In the southwest there are wide aapamoore , which are used as breeding grounds for numerous birds. The southern part of the national park is covered by extensive pine and spruce forests , from which fells rise here and there. At Saariselkä in the north of the national park, the spruce reaches the northern limit of its distribution area, north of it only pines can be found.

A total of 130 bird species breed in the national park, including mountain finches , fitisse , meadow pipit , red thrush , siskin and also rare species such as the golden eagle , the gyrfalcon and the peregrine falcon . Black jays , Lapland tits and three-toed woodpeckers can be found in the forested areas . Golden plovers and Mornell plovers, among others, live on the unforested fells . The bog areas provide a habitat for species such as the wood sandpiper , the ruff and the common snipe .

In Urho Kekkonen National Park there are 21 different mammal species, including all four large carnivore species in Finland ( brown bear , wolves , lynx and wolverines ), as well as reindeer , elk , rabbits , foxes , shrews , moles , pine marten , ermines , weasels and otters . In the rivers of the national park there are not only numerous trout but also the rare river pearl mussels . The adder reaches the northern limit of its range here.


The Urho-Kekkonen National Park, with its extensive wilderness areas, offers opportunities for challenging multi-day hikes or ski tours. For less experienced hikers, in the western part of the national park in Kiilopää, Tankavaara and Saariselkä, shorter marked hiking trails of one to seven kilometers in length are marked.


Originally, the area of ​​the national park was inhabited by semi-nomadic Sami who hunted and fishing in summer and gathered in their winter villages in the cold season. There were four such winter villages in the national park area. The wood reindeer in particular was hunted. For this purpose, the Sami used pitfalls , some of the remains of which can still be seen in the landscape. From the 16th century, the forest seed culture began to die out. Under the influence of Finnish new settlers and Christianization, the Sami slowly assimilated to the Finnish agricultural culture. The Finns practiced agriculture and cattle breeding and used the wilderness areas, which also include the area of ​​today's national park, as hunting grounds. The wood reindeer was exterminated in the middle of the 19th century through intensive hunting. The current Sami population in the area did not immigrate from northern Norway until the end of the 19th century . They brought their herds of semi-domesticated reindeer with them and established reindeer herding in what is now the national park.

Web links

Commons : Urho Kekkonen National Park  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Coordinates: 68 ° 12 ′ 0 ″  N , 28 ° 14 ′ 0 ″  E