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Sameland, Lappland, Lappi, Лапландия
Image:Sami flag.svg Image:Flag of Norway.svg Image:Flag of Sweden.svg Image:Flag of Finland.svg Image:Flag of Russia.svg
(In Detail)
National anthem Sámi soga lávlla
Languages Sami, Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, Russian
Area ca. 388,350 km²; (150,000 sq. mi)
 - Sami
 - Total

About 70 000
2 317 159
Independence None¹
Time zone UTC +1 to +3
¹ Integrated parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia respectively, but with varying degrees of autonomy for the Sami population.


Lapland (also Lappia, Sápmi, and Saamiland) is the name of the cultural region traditionally inhabited by the Sami people. The Sami people prefer using Sápmi. The cultural region includes the Lappi (Lapland in English) province in Finland and the Swedish Lapland province in Sweden.

Lapland is located in Northern Europe and includes the northern parts of Scandinavia and the Kola peninsula. It spans over four countries: Finland, Norway, Russia and Sweden. With the fall of the Soviet Union and increasing internationalization, co-operation across borders is becoming more important and existing county and national borders less important both for the Sami aboriginal population and the non-Sami population. A majority of the current population of this region has at least some Sami ancestry, yet most identify with their respective nation-state ethnicities.


[edit] Name

Sápmi is the name of the region in the Northern Sami language and usually used in official context, while the name Lapland is the common English spelling. The name in Finnish is Lappi, in Norwegian Sameland, and in Swedish Lappland. Also, the northernmost Norwegian county is named Finnmark in Norwegian, derived from Finnmork, which in turn was derived from the Latin term Fenni traditionally used to describe the Sami people. However, since the 13th century, Laponia has replaced Fenni. The choice of words for the people and language is becoming a matter of political correctness, but provinces and counties still carry the old ("Lapp") names. The Russian language uses only the Лапландия ("Laplandia") form.

[edit] Flag

Main article: Sami flag

The Sami flag was inaugurated during the Sami Conference in Åre, Sweden on August 15, 1986. It was the result of a competition for which many suggestions were entered. The winning design was submitted by the artist Astrid Båhl from Skibotn, Norway.

The motif was derived from the shaman's drum and the poem "Paiven parneh" ("Sons of the Sun") by the south Sami Anders Fjellner (1795-1876). Fjellner described the Sami as sons and daughters of the sun. The flag's circle represents the sun (red) and the moon (blue). The flag has the Sami colours, red, green, yellow and blue. Pantone colour formula is: red 485C, green 356C, yellow 116C and blue 286C.

[edit] Area

The area covered by Lapland lies mostly north of the Arctic Circle. The western portion is an area of fjords, deep valleys, glaciers, and mountains, the highest point being Mount Kebnekaise (2,111 m/6,926 ft), in Swedish Lapland. Farther east, the terrain is that of a low plateau, containing many marshes and lakes, the largest and most important of which is Lake Inari, in Finnish Lapland. The extreme eastern section lies within the tundra region.

[edit] Climate

The climate is subarctic and vegetation is sparse, except in the densely forested southern portion. The mountainous west coast has significantly milder winters and more precipitation than the large areas east of the mountain chain. Lapland contains valuable mineral deposits, particularly iron ore in Sweden, copper in Norway, and nickel and apatite in Russia. Reindeer, wolf, bear, and sea and land birds are the main forms of animal life. Sea and river fisheries abound in the region. Steamers are operated on some of the lakes, and a few ports are ice-free throughout the year. All ports along the Norwegian Sea in the west and the Barents Sea in the north east to Murmansk are ice-free all year. The Gulf of Bothnia usually freezes over in winter.

[edit] People

The Sami (Saami or Lapps), who speak a Finno-Ugric language also known as Sami inhabit Lapland. In the geographical area composing Lapland the Sami are a small minority. According to the Swedish Sami parliament the total Sami population is about 70 000. Other Sami live permanently in scattered settlements on the coast and fjords, and many are established in villages at the heads of valleys or on well-stocked lakes. The Sami live mostly in Norway, where they are called Samer. Their principal traditional occupations were hunting, fishing and herding reindeer, from which both food and clothing were derived. Still some 10% of Samis practise reindeer herding, which is seen as a fundamental part of a Sami culture and in some parts of Nordic countries can only be practised by Samis. No Sami today have a nomadic livestyle though. The Sami were conquered by the Norsemen in the 9th century AD and by the Russians in the 11th century. The municipalities of Gällivare, Jokkmokk and Arjeplog in Swedish Lappland were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996 as a "Laponian Area".

[edit] Norway

According to the Swedish Sami parliament the Sami population of Norway is 40 000. If you include all people who speak Sami or have a parent, grandparent, or great-grandparent who speaks or spoke Sami the number will reach about 70 000. The bulk of the Sami live in Finnmark and Northern Troms, but there are also Sami populations in Southern Troms, Nordland and Trøndelag. Due to recent migration it has also been claimed that Oslo is the municipality with the largest Sami population. The Sami are in a majority only in the municipalities of Guovdageaidnu-Kautokeino, Karasjohka-Karasjok, Porsanger, Deatnu-Tana and Unjargga-Nesseby in Finnmark, and Kåfjord in Northern Troms. This area is also know as the Sami core area. Sami and Norwegian are equal as administrative languages in this area.

[edit] Sweden

Main article: Swedish Lapland

According to the Swedish Sami parliament the Sami population of Sweden is about 20 000.

[edit] Finland

Main article: Lapland Province

According to the Swedish Sami parliament the Sami population of Finland is about 6 000.

[edit] Russia

According to the Swedish Sami parliament the Sami population of Russia is about 2 000.

[edit] Conflicts

There is a border, and some state that the rights (for reindeer herding and in some parts even for fishing and hunting) would include a larger part than of Sápmi. However, today's "border" originates from the 14-16th centuries when land-owning conflicts occurred. The establishment of more stable dwelling places and larger towns originates from the 16th century, and was performed for strategic defence and economic reasons, both by peoples from Sami groups themselves and more southern immigrants.

Owning land within the borders or being a member of a siidas (="corporation villages") gives rights. A different law enacted in Sweden in the mid-90s gave the right to anyone to fish and hunt in the region, something that was met with large scepticism and anger amongst the siidas.

Court proceedings have been common throughout history, and the aim from the Samic viewpoint is to reclaim territories used earlier in history. Due to a larger defeat in 1996, one siidas has introduced a sponsorship "Reindeer Godfather" concept to raise funds for further battles in courts. These "internal conflicts" are usually conflicts between non-Sami land owners and Reindeer owners.

The question whether the Fjeld's territory is owned by the governments or the Sami population is not answered.

[edit] Sami Parliament

Lapland demonstrates a distinct semi-national identity that transcends the borders between Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. However, there is no movement for complete autonomy. The Sami Parliaments, founded in Norway (1989), Sweden (1993), and Finland (1996) have very weak political influence, far from autonomy. They are formally public authorities, ruled by the Scandinavian governments, but have democratically elected parliamentarians. Their mission is to work for the Sami culture. The candidates' election promises often get in conflict with the institutions' submission under their governments. But as authorities, they have some influence over the government.

Russia is not actively taking part of this recognition of the minority of Samis. Sweden has taken this active part for two reasons:

  • to recognise the Sami minority as an indigenous people to distinguish it from other minorities;
  • to raise the Sami minority influence which comes into conflict with the European majority democracy system, i.e., the group with the most votes wins.

[edit] Administrative divisions

Sápmi spans four countries, where the main territories lie in the following counties or provinces.

[edit] See also

This audio file was created from an article revision dated 2006-02-14, and may not reflect subsequent edits to the article. (Audio help)


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