Category Archives: Finland

Finland – The Lapps

Finland-The Lapps


There are few peoples in the world that have been portrayed as often in literature as the Sámi, or Lapps. These portrayals have been influenced by the real conditions of the Sami, but certainly also by the different backgrounds of the writers themselves. From the start, knowledge and myths mixed and piled up in the literature on Lapland. Even the writings of ancient Roman writer Tacitus were full of cliches that were used to describe tribal peoples. He wrote about the Fenni who were primitive hunters, but still “happy in their simplicity” because they did not know about heavy agriculture. Other ancient writers who portrayed the Lapps – or Sami – were Prokopios and Jordanes (550 A.D.), Paulus Diaconus (795), the Norwegian Ohthere (894), Adam of Bremen (1070), and Saxo Grammaticus (1200). These writers gave new details to the picture: the Sámi were “skrithiphinnoi”, and they lived in a country where the sun did not set at all during summer. And the Lapps were masters of sorcery. Many mythical and curious elements were repeated by the authors up through the ages, thus strengthening the wrong picture of the Sami. The work “Historia de gentibus septentrionalibus”, published by Olaus Magnus Gothus in the mid-1500s, brought a new type of information on Lapland. Olaus Magnus based his writings on his own experiences. He had travelled as far north as Tornio. With the new administrative and missionary activities led to an enormous increase in the amount of information about the northern regions. The classic work “Lapponia” by Johannes Schefferus in 1673 started a more scholarly way of thinking about the Lapps.

Finland – UNESCO – Verla Groundwood and Board Mill

The Verla groundwood and board mill and its associated residential area is an outstanding, remarkably well-preserved example of the small-scale rural industrial settlements associated with pulp, paper and board production that flourished in northern Europe and North America in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Only a handful of such settlements survive to the present day.

Finland – UNESCO WHS – Struve Geodetic Arc

The Struve Arc is a chain of survey triangulations stretching from Hammerfest in Norway to the Black Sea, through 10 countries and over 2,820 km. These are points of a survey, carried out between 1816 and 1855 by the astronomer Friedrich Georg Wilhelm Struve, which represented the first accurate measuring of a long segment of a meridian. This helped to establish the exact size and shape of the planet and marked an important step in the development of earth sciences and topographic mapping. It is an extraordinary example of scientific collaboration among scientists from different countries, and of collaboration between monarchs for a scientific cause. The original arc consisted of 258 main triangles with 265 main station points. The listed site includes 34 of the original station points, with different markings, i.e. a drilled hole in rock, iron cross, cairns, or built obelisks.


Finland – Lapps

The oldest known inhabitants of Finland are the Lapps, who were already settled there when the Finns arrived in the southern part of the country about 2,000 years ago. The Lapps were distantly related to the Finns, and both spoke a non-Indo- European language belonging to the Finno-Ugric family of languages. Once present throughout the country, the Lapps gradually moved northward under the pressure of the advancing Finns. As they were a nomadic people in a sparsely settled land, the Lapps were always able to find new and open territory in which to follow their traditional activities of hunting, fishing, and slash-and-burn agriculture. By the sixteenth century, most Lapps lived in the northern half of the country, and it was during this period that they converted to Christianity. By the nineteenth century, most of them lived in the parts of Lapland that were still their home in the 1980s. The last major shift in Lapp settlement was the migration westward of 600 Skolt Lapps from the Petsamo region after it was ceded to the Soviet Union in 1944. A reminder of their eastern origin was their Orthodox faith; the remaining 85 percent of Finland’s Lapps were Lutheran.

About 90 percent of Finland’s 4,400 Lapps lived in the municipalities of Enontekiö, Inari, and Utsjoki, and in the reindeer herding-area of Sodankyla. According to Finnish regulations, anyone who spoke the Lapp language, Sami, or who had a relative who was a Lapp, was registered as a Lapp in census records. Finnish Lapps spoke three Sami dialects, but by the late 1980s perhaps only a minority actually had Sami as their first language. Lapp children had the right to instruction in Sami, but there were few qualified instructors or textbooks available. One reason for the scarcity of written material in Sami is that the three dialects spoken in Finland made agreement about a common orthography difficult. Perhaps these shortcomings explained why a 1979 study found the educational level of Lapps to be considerably lower than that of other Finns.

Few Finnish Lapps actually led the traditional nomadic life pictured in school geography texts and in travel brochures. Although many Lapps living in rural regions of Lapland earned some of their livelihood from reindeer herding, it was estimated that Lapps owned no more than one-third of Finland’s 200,000 reindeer. Only 5 percent of Finnish Lapps had the herds of 250 to 300 reindeer needed to live entirely from this kind of work. Most Lapps worked at more routine activities, including farming, construction, and service industries such as tourism. Often a variety of jobs and sources of income supported Lapp families, which were, on the average, twice the size of a typical Finnish family. Lapps also were aided by old-age pensions and by government welfare, which provided a greater share of their income than it did for Finns as a whole.

There have been many efforts over the years by Finnish authorities to safeguard the Lapps’ culture and way of life and to ease their entry into modern society. Officials created bodies that dealt with the Lapp minority, or formed committees that studied their situation. An early body was the Society for the Promotion of Lapp Culture, formed in 1932. In 1960 the government created the Advisory Commission on Lapp Affairs. The Lapps themselves formed the Samii Litto in 1945 and the Johti Sabmelazzat, a more aggressive organization, in 1968. In 1973 the government arranged for elections every four years to a twentymember Sami Parlamenta that was to advise authorities. On the international level, there was the Nordic Sami Council of 1956, and there has been a regularly occurring regional conference since then that represented–in addition to Finland’s Lapps– Norway’s 20,000 Lapps, Sweden’s 10,000 Lapps, and the 1,000 to 2,000 Lapps who remained in the Kola Peninsula in the Soviet Union.


Finland – Petäjävesi Old Church

The Petäjävesi Old Church  is a wooden church located in Petäjävesi, Finland. It was inscribed in 1994 on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It was built between 1763 and 1765. The clock tower that has been built in 1821 is connected to it. UNESCO considered it to be a representative Lutheran church of the Scandinavian tradition, mixing Renaissance with older Gothic architectural elements.

Finland – Old Rauma

Old Rauma (Finnish: Vanha Rauma) is the wooden city centre of the town of Rauma, Finland. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The area of Old Rauma is about 0.3 km², with approximately six hundred buildings (counting both proper houses and smaller buildings like sheds) and about 800 people living in the area. The town of Rauma expanded outside the Old Rauma proper only in the early 19th century. The oldest buildings date from the 18th century, as two fires of 1640 and 1682 destroyed the town. Most buildings are currently inhabited and owned by private individuals, although along the two main streets and around the town square they are mainly in business use.

Locations of special interest include the Kirsti house, which is a seaman’s house from the 18th and 19th centuries, and the Marela house, which is a shipowner’s house dating to the 18th century but with a 19th century facade, both of which are currently museums. Other sights include the rare stone buildings of the Old Rauma: the Church of the Holy Cross, an old Franciscan monastery church from the 15th century with medieval paintings and the old town hall from 1776. Another church in Rauma, the Church of the Holy Trinity, also from the 15th century, burned in the fire of 1640.