Lapland; nearly everyone has heard of it, but how much do you really know about the home of Father Christmas? Here is an introduction to the magical area.
Lapland is a region at the far north of Finland. Besides Finland, the area of Lapland also stretches over Sweden, Norway, and (a small part of) Russia. Indigenous to the region are the Sami; spanning the Nordic countries’ political borders. The Sami people speak a range of languages, known collectively as ‘Sami’. The name for Lapland in Sami is ‘Sápmi’.
The native inhabitants are today a minority; numbering just 4,500 in Finland. The Sami are a spiritual people with strong connections with nature. Many of the Sami live a nomadic lifestyle herding reindeer and occasionally sheep.
The majority of Lapland is within the Arctic Circle, and has landscapes varying from mountains over 2,000m tall, to rivers, marshlands and lakes. The variation across the region is stark; where in southern areas there are vast birch and pine forests, further north there is little vegetation of any kind. The famous phenomena of the polar night and the midnight sun are synonymous with this region, and become more extreme to the north.
The region of Lapland is home to a wealth of animals including reindeer, wolves, and bears, plus the lakes and rivers are beset with fish. The ground on lower lands is awash with berries, which are regularly used in cooking. Forest floors are carpeted with mushrooms, used to accompany meats and fish at meal times.
Tourism is growing throughout Scandinavia, the Nordic countries, and around Lapland too. The unspoiled nature of the area – often referred to as Europe’s last wilderness – along with the northern lights are proving popular for those in search of a slightly more adventurous holiday. Holidays to Lapland can be bought as a package to include activities like snowmobiling, dog sledding, skiing in the winter, and walking, horse riding, canoeing, hunting, and fishing in the summer. The open air Sámi Siida centre shows visitors aspects of the Sámi way of life and offers them the chance to pet their reindeer.