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Lapland: the largest and northernmost region of Finland

Marija Georgievska

Lapland is the largest and northernmost region of Finland. It borders the region of Northern Ostrobothnian and also the Gulf of Bothnia, Norrbotten County in Sweden, Troms County and Finnmark County in Norway, and the Murmansk Oblast in Russia.

It occupies 30% of Finland’s area and houses only 3% of its population.

Snowy winter landscape. Riisitunturi, Posio, Finland. Photo Credit

Snowy winter landscape in Riisitunturi, Posio, Finland. Photo Credit

 

The annual mean temperature varies from a couple of degrees below zero in Northwest to a couple fo degrees above zero in the southwest.

The annual mean temperature varies from a couple of degrees below zero in Northwest to a couple  degrees above zero in the southwest.

The largest towns in Lapland are Rovaniemi, which is the regional capital, known as the hometown of Santa Claus, Tornio and Kemi.  Lapland’s borders are follow three rivers: Tana, Torne, and Muonio.

The largest lake in the area is Lake Inari and the highest point is on Halti, which reaches 1, 324 m on the Finnish side of the border. There are eight national parks and two of them are Bothnian Bay and Oulanka.

The very first snowflakes fall to the ground in late August or early September over the higher peaks. Photo Credit

The first snowflakes fall to the ground in late August or early September over the higher peaks Photo Credit

This vast wilderness is most beautiful when it’s covered with snow. The first snow falls in late August over the higher peaks while the permanent snow cover arrives between October and the end of November. The winter in Lapland lasts for seven months. The coldest spot is located in the north-western corner due to the warming effects of the Arctic Sea.

From 1634 to 1809, the area of Lapland was split between two countries of the Swedish Realm. The northern and western areas were part of Västerbotten County and in 1809 were transferred to Oulu County which became Oulu Province. Lapland Province was separated from Oulu Province in 1938.

Finnish Troops on march in the wilderness during Lapland War.

Finnish Troops on a march in the wilderness during Lapland War.

The government of Finland allowed the Nazi German Army to station itself in Lapland during the Interim Peace and beginning of the Continuation War as a part of Operation Barbarossa. In 1944, Finland made a separate peace with the Soviet Union and the Union demanded Finland to expel the German army from Lapland.

The Glass igloos in Lapland. Photo Credit

The Glass igloos in Lapland. Photo Credit

That was the main reason for the Lapland War during which the whole civilian population of Lapland was evacuated. A lot of dwellings, railroads, bridges and telephone lines were destroyed. Ninety percent of Rovaniemi was burned to the ground with only a few buildings surviving the destruction.

After the Second World War, there was a period of rebuilding, industrialization, and fast economic growth. The railroads and the bridges were rebuilt. On January 1st, 2010, the provinces of Finland were abolished, but Lapland was reorganized in new regions that replaced them.

Santa Claus office in Roaremi.

Santa Claus office in Roaremi.

 

 

Tornio Church as seen from the west in Suensaari, Tornio, Lapland. Photo Credit

Tornio Church as seen from the west in Suensaari, Tornio, Lapland Photo Credit

Lapland has been the main motif of the First Finnish gold euro commemorative coin which was minted in 2002. Lapland’s coat of arms was composed of the coats of arms of Laponia and Ostrobothnia. Lapland is a magical place because of its midnight sun and the aurora borealis.

Here is another fun read from us: Rothenburg ob der Daur- One of the best preserved medieval towns in Germany

Far north, Lapland is known as Sapmi with a majority of Sami people. The best tourist attraction is the Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi opened in 1985.