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Län (Swedish, IPA: [ˈlɛːn] ( listen )), lääni (Finnish, IPA: [ˈlæːni] ) and len (Norwegian, IPA: [leːn] ) refer to the administrative divisions used in Sweden and previously in Finland and Norway. The provinces of Finland were abolished on January 1, 2010. In Norway, the term was in use between 1308 and 1662.
They are also sometimes used in other countries, especially as a translation of the Russian word Volost . During the period when Finland was a part of the Russian Empire (1809-1917), when Russian was made an official language alongside Swedish, it was synonymous with the word guberniya .
The word literally means fief. The usual English language terms used are separate for the two countries, where Sweden has chosen to translate the term as "county" while Finland prefers "province". With a shared administrative tradition spanning centuries, ending only in 1809, this is a separation by convention, rather than by distinction.
The term matches reasonably well the British term "county", but not so well the American term "county" which is usually much smaller in population, akin to a Swedish "kommun" (and nor does the concept of an American state compare well to län).
[ citation needed ] In the Swedish Empire, all lands conquered became provinser (provinces); Swedish law, which granted the common people much more freedom and influence than any other European law at the time, was not extended to them, remaining confined to the landskap (in plural) which made up the Swedish-and-Finnish heartland (roughly corresponding to present-day Sweden and Finland). Examples of such former Swedish provinser are Estonia and Swedish Pomerania. [ citation needed ]
Before län were adopted, the historical provinces were defined as either "hertigdöme" (duchy) or "grevskap" (county), which adds further confusion. Later all historical provinces have been given "hertigdöme" (duchy) as honorary title.
In Sweden a län is but an arm of the executive power of the national government, and has no autonomy nor legislative power. The län subdivision does not always match the traditional provinces, which are called landskap (singular and plural) in Swedish (including Swedish-speaking Finland) and maakunnat (singular maakunta) in Finnish. The same situation existed in Finland until län/lääni were abolished in 2010.
Historically the term guberniya (Russian : губе́рния) was used for the län/lääni in the Grand Duchy of Finland as a part of Russia from 1809 to 1917. See Governorates of the Grand Duchy of Finland.
In every Swedish län (except Gotland) there was a landsting. This was a locally elected assembly, which collected tax and had responsibility for a number of services to the population. The main responsibilities were health care, public transport and culture. As of 2020, the landsting have been replaced by regions.
The governor has the title landshövding (Swedish) (previously maaherra in Finnish). He or she is appointed by the government, and presides over the länsstyrelse (Swedish; previously lääninhallitus in Finnish) - translated as "County Administrative Board". The governor's office is administrative by nature, which is also hinted at by the now obsolete title Konungens befallningshavande - "the King's Deputy" - and traditionally used as an honourable post for politicians to conclude their careers. In Finland, the office of governor was abolished in 2010. However, the office still exists in the autonomous province of Åland. The governor of a Swedish county is appointed to represent the central government, rather than elected by the people.
Sápmi is the cultural region traditionally inhabited by the Sámi people. Sápmi is in Northern Europe and includes the northern parts of Fennoscandia.
Västerbotten County is a county or län in the north of Sweden. It borders the counties of Västernorrland, Jämtland, and Norrbotten, as well as the Norwegian county of Nordland and the Gulf of Bothnia. Its capital is Umeå, which combined with the largest town in the northern part Skellefteå house about half of the population, with the two municipalities themselves making up the majority of the populace. The vast wilderness areas make Västerbotten County have a larger land area than Denmark, the Netherlands or Switzerland.
The provinces of Sweden are historical, geographical and cultural regions. Sweden has 25 provinces and they have no administrative function, but remain historical legacies and a means of cultural identification as pertains, for example, to dialects and folklore.
The counties of Sweden are the top-level geographic subdivisions of Sweden. Sweden is today divided into 21 counties; however, the number of counties has varied over time, due to territorial gains/losses and to divisions and/or mergers of existing counties. This level of administrative unit was first established in the 1634 Instrument of Government on Lord Chancellor Count Axel Oxenstierna's initiative, and superseded the historical provinces of Sweden in order to introduce a more efficient administration of the realm. At that time, they were what the translation of län into English literally means: fiefdoms. The county borders often follow the provincial borders, but the Crown often chose to make slight relocations to suit its purposes.
Västerbotten, known in English as West Bothnia or Westrobothnia, is a province (landskap) in the north of Sweden, bordering Ångermanland, Lapland, North Bothnia, and the Gulf of Bothnia. It is known for the cheese named after the province.
Between 1634 and 2009, Finland was administered as several provinces. Finland had always been a unitary state: the provincial authorities were part of the central government's executive branch and apart from the Åland Islands, the provinces had little autonomy. There were never any elected provincial parliaments in continental Finland. The system was initially created in 1634. Its makeup was changed drastically in 1997, when the number of the provinces was reduced from twelve to six. This effectively made them purely administrative units, as linguistic and cultural boundaries no longer followed the borders of the provinces. The provinces were eventually abolished at the end of 2009. Consequently, different ministries may subdivide their areal organization differently. Besides the former provinces, the municipalities of Finland form the fundamental subdivisions of the country. In current use are the regions of Finland, a smaller subdivision where some pre-1997 läänis are split into multiple regions. Åland Islands retain their special autonomous status and their own regional parliament.
A thing was a governing assembly in early Germanic society, made up of the free people of the community presided over by lawspeakers. The word appears in Old Norse, Old English, and modern Icelandic as þing, in Middle English, Old Saxon, Old Dutch, and Old Frisian as thing, in German as Ding, in Dutch and Afrikaans as ding, and in modern Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Faroese, Gutnish, and Norn as ting, all from a reconstructed Proto-Germanic neuter *þingą; the word is the same as the more common English word thing, both having at their core the basic meaning of "an assemblage, a coming together of parts"—in the one case, an "assembly" or "meeting", in the other, an "entity", "object", or "thing". The meeting-place of a thing was called a "thingstead" or "thingstow".
Uusimaa, is a historical province in the south of Finland. It borders Finland Proper, Tavastia, Savonia, and Karelia. The English translation would be "new land". From the Middle Ages to 1809, most of the present-day Finland was a part of Sweden. Uusimaa (Nyland) was thus included also among the historical Swedish provinces.
Häme is the name of a geographical region in Finland, associated with the Tavastians, or Häme people (hämäläiset), a subgroup of the Finnish people. The precise area referred to can vary depending on the context.
Viborg and Nyslott County was a county of the Swedish Empire from 1634 to 1721. The county was named after the castle towns of Viborg and Nyslott, today located in the towns of Vyborg in Russia and Savonlinna in Finland.
Kexholm County was a county of the Swedish Empire from 1634 to 1721, when the southern part was ceded to the Russian Empire in the Treaty of Nystad. The capital of the county was Kexholm, which today is Priozersk.
A governorate, or a guberniya, was a major and principal administrative subdivision of the Russian Empire. Unlike Russia where gubernias were abolished in 1929, in Ukraine subdivision of gubernias was abolished in 1925. The term is usually translated as government, governorate, or province. A governorate was ruled by a governor, a word borrowed from Latin gubernator, in turn from Greek kybernetes. Sometimes the term guberniya was informally used to refer to the office of a governor.
The Grand Duchy of Finland, was the predecessor state of modern Finland. It existed between 1809 and 1917 as an autonomous part of the Russian Empire.
A krai is a type of federal subject of Russia. The country is divided into 85 federal subjects, of which nine are krais. Oblasts, another type of federal subject, are legally identical to krais and the difference between a political entity with the name "krai" or "oblast" is purely traditional, similar to the commonwealths in the United States; both are constituent entities equivalent in legal status in Russia with representation in the Federation Council. During the Soviet era, the autonomous oblasts could be subordinated to republics or krais, but not to oblasts. Outside of political terminology, both words have very similar general meaning and can often be used interchangeably.
The Baltic governorates, originally the Ostsee governorates, was a collective name for the administrative units of the Russian Empire set up in the territories of Swedish Estonia, Swedish Livonia (1721) and, afterwards, of Duchy of Courland and Semigallia (1795).
A governorate is an administrative division of a country. It is headed by a governor. As English-speaking nations tend to call regions administered by governors either states or provinces, the term governorate is often used in translation from non-English-speaking administrations.
The governorates of the Grand Principality of Finland were the administrative division of the Grand Principality of Finland as part of the Russian Empire from 1809 to 1917.
Kymmenegård County was a county of Sweden 1775-1809 and province of Grand Duchy of Finland 1809-1831.
The Province of Oulu was a province of Finland from 1775 to 2009. It bordered the provinces of Lapland, Western Finland and Eastern Finland and also the Gulf of Bothnia and Russia.