Lesson 1 – Lapland Info
- Husky safaris are very popular, and they are arranged at holiday resorts and in populated areas all over Lapland.
- The husky dog sled team, a way of travelling first developed by the Inuit of Greenland, is naturally suited for the Arctic conditions of Lapland.
- Huskies were first used for tourist safaris in the late 1980s.
- At the moment, there are about 70 husky safari companies and approximately 6,000 dogs in Lapland.
- Siberian and Alaskan Huskies are mostly used for pulling sleds.
- The Siberian Husky has a mild character and its fur may be any colour. The colour of the eyes also varies. – The Alaskan Husky is a cross-bred sleigh dog that mixes several breeds.
The Sami People
- The Sami are the only indigenous people of the European Union. They have the right to maintain and develop their own language, culture and traditional livelihoods.
- They live in the Northern parts of Finland, Norway and Sweden as well as in parts of North-Eastern Russia.
- Sámi Homeland is legally defined and it covers the municipalities of Enontekiö, Inari and Utsjoki as well as some parts of the municipality of Sodankylä.
- There are about 9,000 Sámi people in Finland (2014). More than 60% of them now live outside the Sámi Homeland.
- Finland’s Three Sámi Languages, North Sámi, Inari Sámi and Skolt Sámi, are official languages in the Sámi Homeland.
Lakes and Rivers
- There are over 188,000 lakes in Finland. The lakes cover about 10% of the total area of Finland.
- In the north, there many rivers, but also lakes and ponds.
- The Kemijoki river and Lake Inarinjärvi are the best-known waterways in Lapland.
- The shore area of the Bothnian Bay in the south-western part of Lapland also belongs to the waterways of Lapland.
- Fishing in Lapland is very popular. The river Teno in Utsjoki, northernmost Lapland, is the best salmon river in Europe and the river Tornionjoki is also among the best.
- The reindeer is an icon of Finnish Lapland and the provincial animal of Lapland.
- The reindeer herding area has a total of approximately 200,000 reindeer – more than the number of inhabitants in the province of Lapland.
- Male reindeer can be quite aggressive during the mating season in September and October. At other times, the reindeer usually avoid humans.
- In the summer, reindeer feed on herbaceous plants and the leaves of trees, in the autumn they feed on mushrooms and lichen and in the winter on lichen, hay and twigs.
- Lapland has a lot of reindeer and the roads very often cross through areas where they are grazing, so you should pay attention to reindeer in traffic.
- The seasons are clearly distinct in Lapland’s nature.
- The nature and scenery in Lapland are very versatile.
- Lapland’s best-known natural characteristics are the treeless fells and wildlife, but also the rivers, lakes and large swamps.
- Southern Lapland has endless pine and spruce tree forests. Further north, the trees become rarer. In Northern Lapland, up in the fells, there are no trees at all.
- Dead trees, known as “kelo” in Finnish, are characteristic of Lapland’s nature.
- Plants growing in Lapland include mountain birch, garden angelica and globeflower.
- Cloudberries, alpine bearberries and crowberries are common berries in Lapland.
- In the summer, the sun does not set below the horizon during the day in Lapland. This is known as the midnight sun.
- The midnight sun is caused by the inclination of the Earth’s axis of rotation in relation to its orbit, and it is only experienced at the polar circles and any latitudes above them.
- At midnight, the nature of the light changes and the sun takes on a reddish yellow colour.
The Lapps (Laplanders)
- There are about 180,000 people living in Lapland. Most of them live ordinary Finnish lives in small towns.
- The Lapland brand sees a positive originality and some creative madness in the Lapps:
- “The Lapp people are genuine, not cocky, but bold and distinctive. They have a deep primal energy, which is highly contagious. The region is known for its relaxed entrepreneurial spirit, good-natured down to earth attitudes and racy sense of humour. Laplanders will not turn their backs on anyone and are not afraid of standing out from the crowd. […] Intellectual and spiritual freedom creates an open atmosphere in which it easy for everyone to be themselves.”
- According to an old belief, the northern lights are generated when the sides of firefoxes running in the sky strike trees or their tails touch the snow.
- Finland is one of the best places on Earth to spot the northern lights. The further north you go, the greater the chances of spotting the northern lights.
- In Lapland, the northern lights are visible on roughly 200 nights per year, every other clear night.
- Seeing the northern lights requires sufficient darkness and clear skies. The most favourable times are late autumn, winter and early spring (September to March).
- During the darkest winter months, there is no sun at all.
- This polar night is called “kaamos” in Finnish.
- In northernmost Finland, the polar night lasts for 51 days.
- Polar night happens when regions inside the polar circle endure periods of darkness that last up to 24 hours a day.
- It is the opposite of the midnight sun phenomenon.
- Polar night begins in December as the Winter Solstice approaches.
- The length of the polar night and the amount of darkness experienced depends on the latitude of the location.
Snow and Winter
- Winter is the longest season in Finland. In Lapland, the length of the winter is about 200 days.
- The snow season begins in November and lasts at least until May.
- The snow cover is deepest around mid-March, with an average of 60 to 90 cm of snow in northern Finland.
- The coldest temperatures in winter are from -45°C to -50°C in Lapland.
- Snow is made of water crystals and when the temperature is below zero, the snow is light and loose. When the weather is milder, the snow is damp and easier to mould.
- The locals are used to harsh winter conditions and are also active in the cold. The infrastructure and traffic function well despite the snow and cold.
- Reindeer herding is the oldest source of livelihood in Lapland, and it remains vital.
- In Finnish Lapland, reindeer are semi-domesticated, and each and every animal is owned by a herder. All herders have their own earmarks for their reindeer.
- There are almost 5,000 reindeer owners in Finland, about 1,000 of them are Sámi.
- The reindeer husbandry area is a legally demarcated area and it covers 36% of Finland’s total area.
- The area is divided into 56 herding cooperatives.
- Reindeer herding lives in the rhythm of the northern nature and the natural annual cycle of the reindeer.
- Lappish food is simple, basic food made of pure natural ingredients.
- The cuisine uses a lot of reindeer. Typical reindeer dishes include sautéed reindeer, roast and jerky.
- Elk and bear and the game birds such as capercaillie, willow grouse and black grouse are also eaten.
- Salmon, trout, pike-perch, whitefish, arctic char, grayling and vendace are commonly used species of fish.
- Potato is the most common side dish, and Lapland has its own variety called the almond potato.
- Cloudberry is the most popular berry, but bilberries, lingonberries and cranberries are also used.
- A typical dessert in Lapland is bread cheese, which is mostly served with fresh cloudberries or cloudberry jam.
- “Kampanisu” is one of the best-known pastries in Lapland.
- Barley flatbread is a typical type of bread in Lapland.
- The one and only Santa Claus is Finnish and lives in Lapland.
- Santa Claus’ original home lies in the mysterious Korvatunturi, eastern Lapland, where he lives together with Mrs Claus and the elves.
- Santa’s official office is situated on the Arctic Circle in Rovaniemi.
- Santa Claus was born over 300 years ago.
- In Finland, Santa Claus brings the gifts on Christmas Eve.
- People from all over the world send letters to Santa Claus in Finland.
History of Lapland
- Lapland has been inhabited for thousands of years. Current evidence suggests that Lapland was originally inhabited by a Sámi population.
- Rural settlements expanded to Lapland in the 17th century. By the end of the 18th century, there were only a few Sámi households in Lappmarken.
- Reindeer husbandry and agriculture were still major sources of livelihood in the 1800s in Northern Finland, when forestry and the forest industry took root in Lapland.
- The Winter War between Finland and the Soviet Union was fought in 1939–1940, followed by the Continuation War in 1941–1944. During the Continuation War, Finnish soldiers fought under German command.
- After Finland lost the Continuation War, the Lapland War was fought between Finland and Germany in 1944–1945.
- As the Germans retreated, they burned down the buildings and bridges in the roadside villages. Rovaniemi was almost completely destroyed.
The Legendary Gold Fields of Lapland
- Gold has been discovered in the Lemmenjoki and Ivalojoki regions.
- The first gold discovery was made in Ivalojoki in 1868. This caused a gold rush, and a lot of gold was discovered during the first years.
- In Lemmenjoki, the gold rush started in 1945, and it has been the area with the highest yield for gold panning. Many large historical nuggets originate from this area.
- The annual gold panning world championships are held at Tankavaara Gold Village in Sodankylä.
- There’s a variety of different species of animals in the natural environment of Lapland.
- There are elks, foxes, lynxes, hares, wolverines, bears and wolves.
- The Finnish bear population is at its strongest along the eastern border and in Lapland.
- The wolf is a protected predator that is found in Northern and Eastern Finland.
- The wolverine is an endangered species and the largest weasel in Finland. It is encountered in thin numbers in the uninhabited parts of Northern and Eastern Finland and, occasionally, also in the interior parts of the country.
- There are also many bird species. Owls, black grouses, capercaillies and ptarmigans are some of the most common large birds.
- Lapland’s main seasons are spring, summer, autumn and winter.
- The changing of the seasons in Lapland is dramatic and distinctly noticeable.
- Lapland can also be described as the land of 8 seasons: Christmas (deep winter), Frosty Winter (late winter), Crusty Snow (spring), Departure of Ice (early summer), Midnight Sun (summer), Harvest Season (late summer), Colourful Autumn (autumn) and First Snow (early winter).
- The changing seasons also bring remarkable changes into people’s daily routines
- In the past, lumber was floated along the waterways from the logging sites to the lumber mills and ports.
- When the spring floods started, the logs were floated along the brooks to the riversides, and the Kemijoki water system was the most important route for log floating.
- Log floating resumed for over one hundred years in the province of Lapland, and it was at its most active in the 1950s and 1960s.
- The lumberjack culture was a logging site and log floating culture related to forestry work. Lumberjacks were workers who earned their living in the forest.
- The last log floating in Lapland took place on Ounasjoki and Kemijoki in 1991.
- Log floating was replaced by timber trucks and rail transport.
Mythology and Fictional Figures
- – In Finnish folklore, an element of mystery is associated with Lapland.
- – According to old Laplander beliefs, the natural elements are inhabited by spirits. The belief in elves that inhabit different places is still alive in modern Lapland.
- – An “etiäinen” is a concrete, aural or visual observation of future events. Many people still believe in them.
- - There are many beliefs and stories related to every animal found in Lapland’s nature, such as the bear, wolf, deer, cuckoo, the Siberian jay and the crow.
- – The fells, lakes and landscapes as well as the siedis and sáivas are considered holy places.
- - In Lapland, witches are known as shamans. They were great seers with rare powers.
- – There are also local stories concerning legends and fictional and real people in different parts of Lapland.
- The fells were created 65 million years ago due to the large changes in the bedrock that were caused by the formation of the Alps.
- Lapland has several fells as well as forest-covered hills and open fells.
- The best known fells in Lapland are Halti, Saana and Korvatunturi and the fells with well-known winter sports centres. Finland’s highest point is located on Halti.
- Lapland has raised a number of people who are successful and well-known in Finland and internationally.
- Tanja Poutiainen and Kalle Palander are among the most successful skiers in Finland.
- Lapland has also raised several other winter athletes who have been internationally successful.
- Antti Tuisku is one of the most popular pop artists in Finland.
- Timo K. Mukka (1944–1973) was an author from Lapland who wrote “Maa on syntinen laulu”, a highly controversial novel.
- Reidar Särestöniemi (1925–1981) was one of the best-known Finnish artists and the most significant artist from Lapland in his time.
- Lordi is a band from Lapland that is known for the monster costumes the players wear on stage. In 2006, the band won the Eurovision Song Contest as the first and only winner from Finland, with an all-time record-breaking number of points in Eurovision history at the time.
History of Tourism in Lapland
- In the early days, tourism in Lapland was mainly focused in Torne River Valley, with Tornio and Aavasaksa being the central locations.
- The Aavasaksa fell in Ylitornio became a popular midnight sun sightseeing destination already in the 1700s.
- Ounasvaara in Rovaniemi was also a popular place for Midsummer parties already in the previous century.
- Officially, tourism in Lapland started in the 1920s, when Petsamo was annexed to Finland and the Arctic Ocean Highway stretching 531 kilometres was opened.
- Most of the programme services companies were started in the mid-1980s. The first Concorde flight in 1984 brought British tourists to Rovaniemi.