World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Kven people


Kven people

Total population
Regions with significant populations
Norway (Finnmark, Troms)
Kven/Finnish,[1] Norwegian
Lutheranism, including Laestadianism
Related ethnic groups
Finns and Tornedalians

Kvens (kveeni in Kven language/Finnish; kvener in Norwegian, and kveanat in Northern Sami) are an ethnic minority in Norway who are descended from Finnish peasants and fishermen who emigrated from the northern parts of Finland and Sweden to Northern Norway in the 18th and 19th centuries. In 1996 the Kvens were granted minority status in Norway, and in 2005 the Kven language was recognized as a minority language in Norway.


  • Name 1
  • Demographics 2
  • History 3
    • Kvenland 3.1
    • Migrations 3.2
  • Language 4
  • Ethnic controversies 5
  • Modern recognition 6
  • Culture and media 7
    • Ruijan Kaiku 7.1
    • Baaski festival 7.2
    • Kven costume 7.3
    • Kadonu Loru 7.4
  • Organisations and institutions 8
    • The Norwegian Kven organization 8.1
    • The Kven institute 8.2
    • Kven Language Board 8.3
    • Halti kvenkultursenter 8.4
    • Ruija Kven museum 8.5
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11


The origin of the term Kven is disputed as is the fate of the medieval Kvens. There is little evidence that modern Kvens are direct descendants of Kvenland mentioned in a few ancient Norwegian and Icelandic sources. As a result of Norway signing the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities in 1999, the term Kven became for the first time an official name, the name of Finnish descendants with a long history in Norway who view themselves as a member of that particular protected ethnic minority group of Finnish descendants.

There is a theory among some academic groups that due to the discrimination and suppression by the Norwegian authorities the term Kven became derogatory in the late 19th century. Therefore, many Kvens preferred to be called 'suomalaiset' (finns).[1] But with the revitalization of the Kven culture in the 1970s, Kvens themselves started using the term. However, even in the 1990s there was a debate whether the Norwegian terms 'finne', 'finsk', or 'finskætted' (respectively a Finnish person, Finnish, and of Finnish origin) should be used instead.[2] However, today the term Kven is accepted and used, for example, in the name of the Kven organization in Norway (Norske Kveners Forbund).


The Kvens were registered as a separate group in the Norwegian censuses in the period 1845 to 1930. From the 18th century the Kvens started to comprise a significant part of the population in Northern Norway. In 1845 13.3% of the population in Finnmark, and 3.2% in Troms, considered themselves as Kvens. In 1854 the numbers increased to respectively, 19.9% and 7.0%. The peak was in 1875, with respectively 24.2% and 7.7%. The ratios were reduced to respectively 20.2% and 3.7%, in 1890, and 13.8% and 2.0% in 1900 (all numbers from).[3] In the 1930 census there were 8215 registered Kvens in Troms and Finnmark. Iin 1950, 1,439 people reported that they used the Finnish language in Troms (58 people) and Finnmark (1,381 people).[4]

In 2001, the number of Kvens was estimated to be about 10,000 to 15,000 in a parliamentary inquiry on national minorities in Norway.[5] However, estimating the number of Kvens is difficult since there is no official definition of a Kven. Therefore, other studies have estimated the number of Kvens to be about 50-60,000, based on the criteria that at least one grandparent spoke Finnish.[6] But many of these may consider themselves to be Norwegian or Sami or a combination.



Kvenland is an ancient name for an area in Fennoscandia and Scandinavia. By that particular spelling or close to that spelling, Kvenland is best known from a Norse account from the 9th century and from Icelandic sources written in the 12th and 13th centuries.

The precise location, the borders and the size of Kvenland at various points in the ancient history are debated, as the existing sources can be interpreted in several ways. The most common interpretation is that the epicenter of the ancient Kvenland was located around the Gulf of Bothnia, particularly in the areas of Ostrobothnia and Norrbotten.


A Kven boy helping to milk a reindeer (late 19th century)

Danish/Norwegian tax records from the 16th century already list some Kvens living in

  • Norske Kveners Forbund (the Norwegian Kven Organization (Norwegian only)
  • Vadsø museum. A Kven museum
  • [2]. Kven bibliography. Searchable database of news articles, books, maps, etc.
  • . 2003Kvenskans status: Rapport för Kommunal- og regionaldepartement och Kultur- og kirkedepartementKenneth Hyltenstam & Tommaso Maria Milani: . Has a nice introduction to Kven history (Swedish only)
  • Ethographical map of Finnmark in 1861.
  • FTDNA Finland Geographic DNA Project

External links

  1. ^ Kenneth Hyltenstam & Tommaso Maria Milani: Kvenskans status: Rapport för Kommunal- og regionaldepartement och Kultur- og kirkedepartement. 2003
  2. ^ Olsen, V. (1985), Inngruppe- og utgruppe i kommunikasjon mellom etniske grupper. En teoretisk tilnærming til etnologisk analyse av kulturelle former. Arbeidsrapport nr. 2 fra prosjektet Finsk kulturforskning i Nord-Norge. Tromsø: Tromsø Museum/IMV. University of Tromsø. Norges allmennvitenskaplige forskningsråd.
  3. ^ a b Niemi, E. (1978), Den finske kolonisasjon av Nordkalotten – forløp og årsaker. Ottar, 103. 49-70.
  4. ^ Universitetsbiblioteket i Tromsø - juni 1999
  5. ^ St.meld. nr. 15 (2000-2001) " Om nasjonale minoriteter i Norge
  6. ^ Saressalo, L. (1996), Kveenit. Tutkimus erään pohjoisnorjalaisen vähemmistön identiteetistä. Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seuran Toimituksia, 638. Helsinki.
  7. ^ Niemi, E. (1994), Kvenene og staten – et historisk riss. I: Torekoven Strøm (ed.), Report from the seminar ”Kvenene – en glemt minoritet?” Monday 14.11.94 at the University of Tromsø/ Tromsø Museum.
  8. ^ "Berkara Qvenar" in Olaus Magnus map of Scandinavia 1539 CE, see section B.
  9. ^ Vahtola, Jouko. Tornionlaakson historia I. Birkarlit, 'pirkkalaiset'. Malungs boktryckeri AB. Malung, Sweden. 1991.
  10. ^ Peter Schnitler. Grenseeksaminasjonsprotokoller 1742-1745. Volume I-III. Editors J. Qvigstad, K. B. Wiklund, Lars Ivar Hansen and Tom Schmidt. 1929.
  11. ^ Tälje stadga (Translation from Latin). Wallerström, 1995. Sweden.
  12. ^ Halti Kvenkultursenter
  13. ^ - Hjem
  14. ^
  15. ^ Ságat Tuesday, April 19th, 2007.
  16. ^ Halti Kvenkultursenter


Articles of the – Finnish people – its subgroups and its diaspora
Traditional groups (or "heimot")

Tavastians Karelians Ostrobothnians Savonians Finns (proper) Swedish-speakers


Finnish Americans Finnish Canadians Ingrian Finns Sweden Finns (Tornedalians, Forest Finns) Kvens

See also

The Ruija Kven Museum is located in Vadsø.

Ruija Kven museum

Halti kvenkultursenter is located in Nordreisa municipality.[16]

Halti kvenkultursenter

The Kven Language Board that was established in April 2007.[14] It consists of the leader Irene Andreassen, Terje Aronsen, Prof. Anna Riitta Lindgren, Assoc. Prof. Eira Söderholm, and Pia Lane. The first task is to create a standard for written Kven language.[15]

Kven Language Board

The Kven institute (Kainun institutti in Kven/Finnish and Kvensk institutt in Norwegian) is a center for Kven culture and language located in Børselv in Porsangi (Porsanger) municipality in Norway.

The Kven institute

The tasks of the organisation include working for a government report about the history and rights of the Kven population, improving the media coverage of Kven issues, and for the Norwegian government to establish a secretary (statssekretær) for Kven issues. In addition, reading and writing classes at the beginner to advanced level, establishing a Kven kindergarten, and to incorporate the Kven language in all education levels in Norway. Also, to establish a Kven culture fund, road and other signs in Kven, Kven names in official maps, and museums and centers for Kven language and culture.

The Norwegian Kven Organization (Ruijan Kveeniliitto in Kven/Finnish and Norske Kveners Forbund in Norwegian) was established in 1987, and has currently about 700 members.[13] The organization has local branches in: Skibotn, Børselv, Nord-Varanger, Tana, Lakselv, Alta, northern Troms, Tromsø, and Østlandet.

The Norwegian Kven organization

Organisations and institutions

Kadonu Loru is the only pop music single ever recorded in the Kven language. It is based on an old Kven nursery rhyme about making sausages. The artists are Karine Jacobsen and Kine Johansen respectively from Børselv and Lakselv. The single was published by Iđut.

Kadonu Loru

In the late 1990s a Kven costume was designed. It is not a reconstruction of an old costume, but rather a new design based on pictures and other sources about the clothing and jewelry used by Kvens in the late 19th and early 20th century. The purpose of creating the costume was to unify and strengthen Kven identity.

Kven costume

[12] is a Kven culture festival held in Baaski

Baaski festival

Ruijan Kaiku is a bi-lingual newspaper (Nordic and surrounding countries.Chief editor Liisa Koivulehto.

Ruijan Kaiku

Culture and media

In the past, the Kven language spoken in Norway was considered a dialect of Finnish language, much like the Finnic Meänkieli language spoken in northern Sweden. Today, both are officially recognized minority languages in the areas where the languages are spoken. The Finnish, Meänkieli and Sami all are officially recognized minority languages in the Kiruna Municipality in Sweden.

The city of Kiruna is a part of the Kiruna Municipality. It is the northernmost municipality of Sweden, and geographically it is Sweden's largest, covering roughly 4.604% of the total area of Sweden.

The date for the occasion was chosen from the 14th century signing of a state treaty between Sweden and Kvenland, known as Tälje Charter ("Tälje stadga" in Swedish). In that treaty, the king of Sweden guaranteed the Kvens ("Birkarls") trading rights in the north (translation from Latin last printed in 1995, Wallerström, page 48).[11]

The flag of Kvenland was lifted up at the Kiruna City Hall in Sweden on March 16, 2013, at 11:00, in celebration and honor of the first annual Day of the Kvens. Hereafter, that date - March 16 - is meant to be recognized wider in the Kven communities of the north, and by others as well.

Modern recognition

Lately, the Jouko Vahtola and Kyösti Julku. Vahtola has hypothesized that words "Kven" and "Kainu(u)" are interchangeable.

Kven and Sami people share a common history of Norwegianization. However, post-Norwegianization policies have treated them differently. Sami people have been recognized as the indigenous people in Northern Norway. They have their own schools and parliament, and they elect three of the six members for the board of Finnmark Estate (the organization owning about 95% of the land in the county of Finnmark). Some Kvens believe the distribution of rights and public funds has favored the Sami people too much, whereas on the Sami side there are people who think the Norwegian minority politics and public funding should focus mostly on the Sami people.

In the 1990s there was a debate among Kvens whether they should be considered as an ethnic group of their own, or whether they were Finnish Norwegians. As well, during the process of legal recognition of the Kven language, there was a debate as to whether it should be considered an actual language or merely a dialect of Finnish, and whether the Kven language or Kven dialect of Finnish should be taught in schools.

Ethnic controversies

The Kven language differs from Finnish, since the Kven population was in effect isolated from other Finnish-speaking people. The Kven language has come to incorporate many Norwegian loan words, and Finnish words no longer used in Finland are still used. In a 2005 government report, the number of people speaking the Kven language in Norway is estimated to be between 2,000 and 8,000, depending on the criteria used.

The Kven language is a Finnic language. From a linguistic point of view the Kven language is a mutually intelligible dialect of Finnish, but for political and historical reasons it received in 2005 status of a legal minority language in Norway, within the framework of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.


The second immigration was from about 1820 to 1890 to the coastal areas of eastern Finnmark, motivated by the blooming fishing industry in Northern Norway. It was also easier to get to America from Northern Norway than Northern Finland. Therefore, many people moved first to Finnmark, continuing from there over the Atlantic. The immigration ended due to problems in the fishing industry, population pressure, emigration to America and increasing problems for Kvens to buy land and obtain Norwegian citizenship.

The main immigration of Kvens to Norway can be divided into two periods.[3] The first immigration was from about 1720 to 1820, when Finnish speaking people from the northern Finland and Tornio River valley moved to river basins and fjord-ends in Troms and the western parts of Finnmark, to places such as Polmak, Karasjok, Porsanger, Alta and Lyngen.

[10], who are the indigenous people of Central and Northern Norway.Sami people In some early documents Kvens are also grouped together with the [9]

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.