Lapland (Finland)

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Lapin maakunta
Lapin maakunnan vaakuna.svg
Coat of arms
Lappi sijainti Suomi.svg
Coordinates: 67°N026°E / 67°N 26°E / 67; 26 Coordinates: 67°N026°E / 67°N 26°E / 67; 26
Country Finland
Capital Rovaniemi
  Total100,366 km2 (38,752 sq mi)
  Land92,667 km2 (35,779 sq mi)
  Water7,699 km2 (2,973 sq mi)
  Density1.8/km2 (4.6/sq mi)
Time zone UTC+2 (EET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+3 (EEST)
ISO 3166 code FI-10
Mammal Reindeer
Bird Bluethroat
Fish Salmon
Flower Globe-flower
Lake Lake Inari
Mineral Gold

Lapland (Finnish : Lappi, Finnish pronunciation:  [ˈlɑpːi] ; Northern Sami : Sápmi; Swedish : Lappland; Latin: Lapponia) is the largest and northernmost region of Finland. The municipalities in the region cooperate in a Regional Council. There are 21 municipalities in Lapland region. Lapland borders the region of North Ostrobothnia in the south. It also borders the Gulf of Bothnia, Norrbotten County in Sweden, Troms and Finnmark County in Norway, and Murmansk Oblast and the Republic of Karelia in Russia. Topography varies from vast mires and forests of the South to fells in the North. The Arctic circle crosses Lapland, so polar phenomena such as the midnight sun and polar night can be seen in Lapland. [1] [2]


Lapland's cold and wintry climate, coupled with its relative abundance of conifer trees such as pines and spruces means that it has become associated with Christmas in some countries, most notably the United Kingdom, and holidays to Lapland are common towards the end of the year. However, Lapland region has developed its infrastructure for year-round tourism and for example 2019 on snow-free period tourism increased more than during the winter season. [3] Rovaniemi Airport is the third busiest airport in Finland. [4] Besides tourism, other important sectors are trade, manufacturing and construction. [5] [6]

The region was associated with Father Christmas or Saint Nicholas when first proposed by Finnish radio host Markus Rautio in 1927. [7]

Aurora Borealis, the northern lights at the sky in Ruka, South of Lapland Green Northern Lights 2.jpg
Aurora Borealis , the northern lights at the sky in Ruka, South of Lapland


The area of the Lapland region is 100,367 km², which consists of 92,667 km² of dry land, 6,316 km² fresh water and 1,383 km² of sea water. [8] In the south it borders the Northern Ostrobothnia region, in the west Sweden, in the north and west Norway and in the east Russia. Its borders follow three rivers: Tana, Muonio and Torne. The largest lake is Lake Inari, 1,102 km². [9] Highest point is on Halti, which reaches 1,324 m (4,344 ft) on the Finnish side of the border. [10]

The areas of Enontekiö and Utsjoki in northern Lapland are known as Fell-Lapland. The bulk and remaining Lapland is known as Forest-Lapland. Lake Inari, the many fens of the region and the Salla-Saariselkä mountains are all part of Forest-Lapland. Fell-Lapland lies in the fells of the Scandinavian Mountains. Where it is not made up of barren ground like blockfields but instead has a vegetation of birch forests, willow thickets or heath. [11] Common soil types in Forest-Lapland are till and sand with conifer forests growing on top. These forests show little variation across Lapland. Compared to southern Finland forest tree species grow slower. Understory is typically made of blueberry, lichens, crowberry and ling. [11]

The landscape of large parts of Lapland is an inselberg plain. [12] It has been suggested the inselberg plains were formed in the Late Cretaceous or Paleogene period by pediplanation or etchplanation. [13] Relative to southern Finland Lapland stands out for its thick till cover. [14] [upper-alpha 1] The hills and mountains are typically made up of resistant rocks like granite, gneiss, quartzite and amphibolite. [11] The ice sheet that covered Finland intermittently during the Quaternary grew out from the Scandinavian Mountains. [16] The central parts of the Fennoscandian ice sheet had cold-based conditions during times of maximum extent. This means that in areas like north-east Sweden and northern Finland pre-existing landforms and deposits escaped glacier erosion and are particularly well preserved at present. [17] Northwest to southeast movement of the ice has left a field of aligned drumlins in central Lapland. Ribbed moraines found in the same area reflects a later west to east change in movement of the ice. [17] During the last deglaciation ice in Lapland retreated from the north-east, east and southeast so that the lower course of the Tornio was the last part of Finland to be deglaciated 10,100 years ago. [18] Present-day periglacial conditions in Lapland are reflected in the existence of numerous palsas, permafrost landforms developed on peat. [11]

The bedrock of Lapland belongs to the Karelian Domain occupying the bulk of the region, the Kola Domain in the northeast around Lake Inari and the Scandinavian Caledonides in the tip of Lapland's northwestern arm. With few exceptions rocks are of Archean and Proterozoic age. Granites, gneiss, metasediments and metavolcanics are common rocks while greenstone belts are recurring features. [19] More rare rock associations include mafic and ultramafic layered intrusions and one of the world's oldest ophiolites. [19] [20] The region hosts valuable deposits of gold, chromium, iron and phosphate. [21]


The Luosto inselberg from air. Luosto ilmasta.jpg
The Luosto inselberg from air.

The very first snowflakes fall to the ground in late August or early September over the higher peaks. The first ground-covering snow arrives on average in October or late September. Permanent snow cover comes between mid-October and the end of November, significantly earlier than in southern Finland. The winter is long, approximately seven months. The snow cover is usually thickest in early April. Soon after that the snow cover starts to melt fast. [22] The thickest snow cover ever was measured in Kilpisjärvi in 19 April 1997 and it was 190 cm. [23] The annual mean temperature varies from a couple of degrees below zero in the northwest to a couple of degrees above zero in the southwest (Kemi-Tornio area). Lapland exhibits a trend of increasing precipitation towards the south, with the dryest parts being located at the two arms. [24]

Summer months, the average temperature is consistently over 10°C. Heat waves with daily temperatures exceeding +25 °C, occur average 5-10 days per summer in northern Finland. [25]


Wehrmacht soldiers with a local Sami reindeer herder in Lappland, Sodankyla, Finland 1942. Wehrmacht soldiers with a local sami reindeer herder, Lappland, Sodankyla, Finland 1942. (31872677877).jpg
Wehrmacht soldiers with a local Sami reindeer herder in Lappland, Sodankylä, Finland 1942.

The area of Lapland was split between two counties of the Swedish Realm from 1634 to 1809. The northern and western areas were part of Västerbotten County, while the southern areas (so-called Peräpohjola) were part of Ostrobothnia County (after 1755 Oulu County). The northern and western areas were transferred in 1809 to Oulu County, which became Oulu Province. Under the royalist constitution of Finland during the first half of 1918, Lapland was to become a Grand Principality and part of the inheritance of the proposed king of Finland. Lapland Province was separated from Oulu Province in 1938.

During the Interim Peace and beginning of the Continuation War the government of Finland allowed the Nazi German Army to station itself in Lapland as a part of Operation Barbarossa. After Finland made a separate peace with the Soviet Union in 1944, the Soviet Union demanded that Finland expel the German army from its soil. The result was the Lapland War, during which almost the whole civilian population of Lapland was evacuated. The Germans used scorched earth tactics in Lapland, before they withdrew to Norway. Forty to forty-seven percent of the dwellings in Lapland and 417 kilometres (259 mi) of railroads were destroyed, 9,500 kilometres (5,900 mi) of roadways were mined, destroyed or were unusable, and 675 bridges and 3,700 kilometres (2,300 mi) of telephone lines were also destroyed. Ninety percent of Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland, was burned to the ground, with only a few pre-war buildings surviving the destruction.

After the Second World War, Petsamo municipality and part of Salla municipality were ceded to the Soviet Union. The decades following the war were a period of rebuilding, industrialization and fast economic growth. Large hydroelectric plants and mines were established and cities, roads and bridges were rebuilt from the destruction of the war. In the late 20th century the economy of Lapland started to decline, mines and factories became unprofitable and the population started to decline rapidly across most of the region.

The provinces of Finland were abolished on 1 January 2010, but Lapland was reorganised as one of the new regions that replaced them. [26]


Economic facts and figures (2012) [27]
GDP (million euros)5,600
GDP (per capita)€30,635

(84% Finland average)

Private and public offices10,400
Private sector revenues (million euros)10,000
Exports (million euros)3,400
Private and public sector workers64,800
Unemployment15.3% [28]

Lapland's economy (2012)

  Public sector (33%)
  Retail/Lodging/Restaurants (15%)
  Industry (14%)
  Business services (14%)
  Construction (7%)
  Traffic and transportation (6%)
  Primary production (6%)
  Household services (5%)


Top 10 tourism source countries in 2016–2018 [29]
1. Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom 233,295273,603285,359
2. Flag of Germany.svg  Germany 137,440162,035165,993
3. Flag of France.svg  France 124,071141,123159,343
4. Flag of the Netherlands.svg  Netherlands 59,36883,06995,673
5. Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg  China (including Flag of Hong Kong.svg  Hong Kong)54,11685,10990,751
6. Flag of Norway.svg  Norway 67,63368,69567,453
7. Flag of Switzerland.svg   Switzerland 57,70962,05365,428
8. Flag of Russia.svg  Russia 55,27856,39554,963
9. Flag of Spain.svg  Spain 37,84243,60753,132
10. Flag of Italy.svg  Italy 35,63842,99640,359
Total foreign1,213,6891,479,6911,563,495


Lapland is the home of about 3.4% of Finland's total population, and is by far the least densely populated area in the country. The biggest towns in Lapland are Rovaniemi (the regional capital), Tornio, and Kemi. In 2011, Lapland had a population of 183,320 of whom 177,950 spoke Finnish, 1,526 spoke Sami, 387 spoke Swedish and 3,467 spoke some other languages as their mother tongue. [30] Of the Sami languages, Northern Sami, Inari Sami and Skolt Sami are spoken in the region.

Lapland's population has been in decline since 1990.

People with a foreign background [31] [32]
Country of originPopulation (2017)
Flag of Sweden.svg  Sweden 3,087
Flag of Russia.svg  Russia 942
Flag of Myanmar.svg  Myanmar 415
Flag of Iraq.svg  Iraq 256
Flag of Thailand.svg  Thailand 245
Flag of Syria.svg  Syria 244
Flag of Estonia.svg  Estonia 195
Flag of Norway.svg  Norway 192
Flag of Germany.svg  Germany 187
Flag of Afghanistan.svg  Afghanistan 183
Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg  China 182
Flag of Vietnam.svg  Vietnam 172
Flag of Somalia.svg  Somalia 169
Flag of Turkey.svg  Turkey 122
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom 107
Sami family in Lapland, 1936. Sami family Finland 1936.jpg
Sámi family in Lapland, 1936.
Population of Lapland

Regional Council

The 21 municipalities of Lapland are organised into a single Region, where they cooperate in the Lapland Regional Council, Lapin liitto or Lapplands förbund.


Lapland has seven seats in the 200-seat parliament of Finland. In the 2019 Finnish parliamentary election, three seats went to Centre Party, and the Finns Party, the Left Alliance, the Social Democratic Party and the National Coalition Party got one seat each. [33]

The votes were distributed as follows:

Sami Domicile Area

The northernmost municipalities of Lapland where the Sami people are the most numerous, form the Sami Domicile Area. Sami organization exists in parallel with the provincial one.


The region of Lapland is made up of 21 municipalities, of which four have city status (marked in bold).

Municipalities by population (cities marked as bold)
(pop. per km²)
Rovaniemi 62,9638,016.847.85Rovaniemi
Tornio 21,8721,348.8518.84Kemi-Tornio
Kemi 21,024747.51232.23Kemi-Tornio
Sodankylä 8,44212,415.480.76Northern Lapland
Keminmaa 8,149647.2313.69Kemi-Tornio
Kemijärvi 7,3753,930.912.29Eastern Lapland
Inari 6,91117,333.540.45Northern Lapland
Kittilä 6,4238,262.940.79Fell Lapland
Ylitornio 4,0172,212.382.22Torne Valley
Ranua 3,8953,694.801.21Rovaniemi
Kolari 3,8242,617.771.51Fell Lapland
Salla 3,4935,873.080.68Eastern Lapland
Pellon vaakuna.svg
Pello 3,4391,863.682.17Torne Valley
Posio 3,2363,544.811.20Eastern Lapland
Tervola 3,0631,592.042.12Kemi-Tornio
Simo 3,0442,086.392.34Kemi-Tornio
Muonio 2,3022,037.801.25Fell Lapland
Enontekiö 1,8568,391.350.24Fell Lapland
Utsjoki 1,2325,372.010.25Northern Lapland
Savukoski 1,0166,495.950.17Eastern Lapland
Pelkosenniemi 9541,881.570.53Eastern Lapland

See also


  1. Among the glacial deposits of Finnish Lapland pre-Quaternary Cenozoic marine microfossils have been found. These findings were first reported by Astrid Cleve in 1934, leading to the assumption that the areas were drowned by the sea during the Eocene. However, as of 2013, no sedimentary deposit from this time has been found and the marine fossils may have arrived much later by wind transport. [15]

Related Research Articles

Geography of Finland Overview of the geography of Finland

The geography of Finland is characterized by its northern position, its ubiquitous landscapes of intermingled boreal forests and lakes, and its low population density. Finland can be divided into three areas: archipelagoes and coastal lowlands, a slightly higher central lake plateau and uplands to north and northeast. Bordering the Baltic Sea, Gulf of Bothnia, and Gulf of Finland, as well as Sweden, Norway, and Russia, Finland is the northernmost country in the European Union. Most of the population and agricultural resources are concentrated in the south. Northern and eastern Finland are sparsely populated containing vast wilderness areas. Taiga forest is the dominant vegetation type.

Sápmi Cultural region traditionally inhabited by the Sami people

Sápmi is the cultural region traditionally inhabited by the Sámi people. Sápmi is in Northern Europe and includes the northern parts of Fennoscandia.

Rovaniemi Municipality in Lapland, Finland

Rovaniemi is a city and municipality of Finland. It is the administrative capital and commercial centre of Finland's northernmost province, Lapland, and its southern part Peräpohjola. It is situated about 6 kilometres south of the Arctic Circle and is between the hills of Ounasvaara and Korkalovaara, at the confluence of the river Kemijoki and its tributary, the Ounasjoki. It is the second-largest city of the Northern Finland after Oulu.

Laponia (historical province)

Laponia was a historical Swedish province, or landscape, in the north of Sweden which evolved from Lappmarken. In 1809, Sweden ceded the eastern part, along with Finland, to the Russian Empire, which in effect created a Swedish Lapland and Finnish Lapland.

The 21 municipalities of the Lapland Region in Finland are divided on six sub-regions:

Enontekiö Municipality in Lapland, Finland

Enontekiö is a municipality in the Finnish part of Lapland with approx. 1,800 inhabitants. It is situated in the outermost northwest of the country and occupies a large and very sparsely populated area of about 8,400 square kilometres (3,200 sq mi) between the Swedish and Norwegian border. Finland's highest point, the Halti fell with a height of 1,324 metres (4,344 ft) above the mean sea level, lies in the north of Enontekiö, where the municipality occupies a part of the Scandinavian Mountains. The administrative centre of Enontekiö is the village of Hetta. About one fifth of the community's population are Sami people. Enontekiö's main industries are tourism and reindeer husbandry.

Kemi Town in Lapland, Finland

Kemi is a town and municipality of Finland. It is located very near the city of Tornio and the Swedish border. The distance to Oulu is 105 kilometres (65 mi) to the south and to Rovaniemi is 117 kilometres (73 mi) to the northeast. It was founded in 1869 by a decree of the Emperor Alexander II of Russia because of its proximity to a deepwater port.

Tornio Town in Lapland, Finland

Tornio is a city and municipality in Lapland, Finland. The city forms a cross-border twin city together with Haparanda on the Swedish side. The municipality covers an area of 1,348.83 square kilometres (520.79 sq mi), of which 161.59 km2 (62.39 sq mi) is water. The population density is 18.08 inhabitants per square kilometre (46.8/sq mi), with a total population of 21,466. It borders the Swedish municipality of Haparanda.

Finland is divided into 70 sub-regional units. The sub-regions are formed by groups of municipalities within the 19 regions of Finland. The sub-regions represent a LAU 1 level of division used in conjunction with the Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics.

Kemijärvi Town in Lapland, Finland

Kemijärvi is a municipality of Finland. It is located in the province of Lapland. The municipality has a population of 7,167 and covers an area of 3,930.91 square kilometres (1,517.73 sq mi) of which 425.84 km2 (164.42 sq mi) is water. The population density is 2.04 inhabitants per square kilometre (5.3/sq mi).

Sodankylä Municipality in Lapland, Finland

Sodankylä is a municipality of Finland. It is located in the region of Lapland, and lies at the northern end of Highway 5 (E63) and along Highway 4 (E75). The Kitinen River flows near the center of Sodankylä. Its neighbouring municipalities are Inari, Kemijärvi, Kittilä, Pelkosenniemi, Rovaniemi, and Savukoski. The municipality has two official languages: Finnish and Northern Sami.

Battle of Tornio

The Battle of Tornio was the first major engagement between Nazi Germany and Finland in the Lapland War; although hostilities had already begun elsewhere.

Languages of Finland Languages of a geographic region

The two main official languages of Finland are Finnish and Swedish. There are also several official minority languages: three variants of Sami, Romani, Finnish Sign Language and Karelian.

Sámi homeland (Finland)

The Sámi homeland of Finland is the northernmost part of the Lappi (Lapland) administrative region in Finland, home of approximately half of Finland's Sámi population. The area is defined in and protected by the Finnish constitution to be autonomous on issues relating to the Sámi culture and language.

Finnish national road 4

Finnish national road 4 is a highway in Finland. It is the main route from Helsinki to Northern Finland and a major road link in the country. It runs from Erottaja in Helsinki to Sami Bridge in Utsjoki. The road is 1,295 kilometres (805 mi) long, making it Finland's longest highway. The road is also part of the European route E75 and it is a part of TERN; the section between Oulu and Kemi is part of the European route E8.

Lapland War 1944–1945 war between Finland and Germany

During World War II, the Lapland War saw fighting between Finland and Nazi Germany – effectively from September to November 1944 – in Finland's northernmost region, Lapland. Though the Finns and the Germans had been fighting against the Soviet Union since 1941 during the Continuation War (1941–1944) the peace negotiations had already been conducted intermittently during 1943–1944 between Finland, the Western Allies and the USSR, but no agreement had been reached. The Moscow Armistice, signed on 19 September 1944, demanded that Finland break diplomatic ties with Germany and expel or disarm any German soldiers remaining in Finland after 15 September 1944.

Sámi languages group of Uralic languages spoken by the Sami people in northern Europe

Sámi languages, in English also rendered as Sami and Saami, are a group of Uralic languages spoken by the Sámi people in Northern Europe. There are, depending on the nature and terms of division, ten or more Sami languages. Several spellings have been used for the Sámi languages, including Sámi, Sami, Saami, Saame, Sámic, Samic and Saamic, as well as the exonyms Lappish and Lappic. The last two, along with the term Lapp, are now often considered pejorative.

Peräpohjola dialects

The Peräpohjola dialects are forms of Finnish spoken in Lapland in Finland, Sweden, and Norway. The dialect group belongs to the Western Finnish dialects and it is divided into five more specific dialect groups.

Norwegians in Finland are immigrants born in Norway, citizens of Norway or speakers of the Norwegian language living in Finland.


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