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Lapland (region)

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Lapland (region)

For Cultural region of Sami people, see Sapmi (area).

Lapland is a region in northern Fennoscandia, largely within the Arctic Circle. It stretches across Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. On the north it is bounded by the Barents Sea, on the west by the Norwegian Sea and on the east by the White Sea. [1]

The name Lapland refers to land inhabited by the Sami people, formerly called Lapp people, which is now considered derogatory,[2][3] who are the minority indigenous people of the region. Due to this, some define "Lappland" as coterminus with Sápmi, the entire traditional area of the Sámi - on the north bounded by the Barents Sea, on the west by the Norwegian Sea and on the east by the White Sea.[1][4]

However, the Norwegian and Russian parts of the area "Sápmi" are neither formally called "Lapland", nor considered part of "Lapland" by its inhabitants - although in recent times some parts of the area (such as Finnmark) has been marketed as "Lapland" for promoting tourism, although the Norwegian area mostly correspond to the larger region of Northern Norway. Formally, though, the name only survives in Finland and Sweden, where provinces bear the name.



Lapland lies largely north of the Arctic Circle. The western portion is mountainous, rising towards the Norwegian border, with the highest point being Mount Kebnekaise (2,111 m/6,926 ft, Swedish Lapland). The part of Lapland falling on the Swedish side of the border is characterised by great rivers running from the northwest to the southeast. In the northeast, the terrain is that of a low plateau that contains many marshes and lakes, the largest of which is Lake Inari in Finnish Lapland.


The climate is subarctic and vegetation is sparse, except in the densely forested southern portion. North of the Arctic Circle polar night characterises the winter season and midnight sun the summer season—both phenomena are longer the further north one goes. Traditionally, the Sami people divide the year in eight seasons instead of four.

Natural resources

Lapland contains valuable metal and mineral deposits such as gold, silver, iron ore, copper and sandstone. Reindeer, wolves, bears and sea and land birds are the main forms of animal life, in addition to a myriad of insects in the short summer. Sea and river fisheries abound in the region.


The origins of the name Lapland is to be found in the Swedish term Lappmarken ("the Sámi lands"), referring to the territories of the north settled by the Sámi people. From this evolved the province (landskap) Lappland which in 1809 was split into one part that remained Swedish and one part falling under Finland (which became part of the Russian Empire). To this day, Lapland is split into two entities - one Finnish, one Swedish. The Finnish Lapland region contains both parts of the old Lapland province and the old Ostrobothnian province.


Population in general

Swedish and Finnish Lapland have a combined population of 278,350 inhabitants, on an area of 298,686 km2. The largest cities are Rovaniemi (Inari Sámi: Ruávinjargâ, Northern Sámi: Roavenjárga and Roavvenjárga, Skolt Sámi: Ruäˊvnjargg) and Kiruna (North Sámi: Giron, Finnish: Kiiruna - pop. 18,154).

Ethnic composition

While the Sámi are the indigenous population in Lapland, people self-identifying as Sámi are currently a small minority of the Laplanders. Other prominent indigenous groups include Swedes, Finns and Tornedalians.


Five Sámi languages are spoken in the region: North, South, Skolt, Inari and Lule. Two other Sámi languages, Pite and Ume, are moribund while Kemi Sámi is extinct.



Main articles: Lapland (Finland), Sámi Domicile Area
Finland's Lapland (Lappi) is one of the country's 20 administrative regions (that include the autonomous area Åland). Its largest city is Rovaniemi, which is in fact outside the historical Lapland and inside old Ostrobothnia. Areas coterminus with the historical Lapland falling on the Finnish side, are mainly included into the Sámi Domicile Area - a landscape de jure autonomous in Sámi issues (though not de facto).


Main article: Lapland (Sweden)
In Sweden, the Lapland province remains a de jure reality but has no political significance or administrative purposes - it exists only on paper and in the minds of the population. Its functions has been replaced with the counties (län) that took over its territories: Norrbotten, Västerbotten and Jämtland. The capitals of all these counties are outside historical Lapland.

Sámi politics

Main article: Sámi politics
The entities within the Finnish and Swedish states tasked with representing the Sámi minority, both have their headquarters within Lapland: The Sámi Parliament of Finland in Inari, and the Sámi Parliament of Sweden in Kiruna.

See also

External links

Lapland's official website


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