Swedish Lapland is the largest by area and represents about a quarter of Sweden’s total land area. Norrbotten’s first towns, Piteå and Luleå, were founded in 1621. The largest city in Swedish Lapland is Luleå.
Swedish Lapland is a rich county. It is rich in nature, natural resources, culture, experiences, well-run companies and competent people.
Swedish Lapland is also rich in contrasts. Contrasts of wilderness and high technology, the darkness of winter and the Midnight Sun, high fells and archipelago, rural communities and cities. Norrbotten also has a rich industrial and commercial sector. The primary industries - mining, steel, forestry and hydro power - are important for both the county and for Sweden.
The average population density in Europe is 118 people per square kilometer. Here in Lapland it’s two. As a result people look forward to meeting each other and appreciate each other more. You socialize informally and spontaneously. There are many places to meet. People buy and sell goods at markets; they get together in large, modern conference centers with all the latest technology. The traditional meeting place is of course the sauna. The heat and steam free your thoughts and release tension. The most complicated deals are best solved around steaming coals.
The cities are dotted along the coast like a string of pearls, offering shopping, entertainment and restaurants. Everything is within easy walking distance of the city center. You can stroll around, following your fancy, and still have time to see everything.
The silence of the wilderness is deafening. When there is nothing to shout above it becomes easier to listen to yourself. There are no ringing telephones. No revving cars. No screeching underground trains. Just you and nature. And the thunder of falling snowflakes. The loudest thing around is water. It rushes in rivers, laps the sandy beaches of the archipelago, drips from icicles and crunches under your feet as frozen snow.
10,000 years ago the ice age came to an end in Europe, except in Lapland, where it still rules the landscape today. Snow, ice and cold weather still shape people’s lives and culture. It is coldest in mid-winter, from January to February, when the temperature can hover around –20ºC for weeks on end. But the climate is dry and agreeable, and as long as you’re properly dressed it’s pleasant to spend time outdoors.
Swedish Lapland’s World Heritage sites encompass both human settlement and wilderness: settlement in the form of the church village in Gammelstad outside Luleå, and wilderness in the shape of four national parks and two nature reserves in Laponia. Laponia is a living Sami cultural landscape that has outstanding natural appeal. You follow your own route through this land without roads. Accompanied perhaps by the howling of sled dogs. Perhaps on skis or snowshoes. Perhaps on foot or by canoe.
The difference in temperature between summer and wintertime is 60°C. During wintertime the temperature can be down to - 35°C compared to the summertime when it often can be up to + 30°C.
In Swedish Lapland we have lots of things that other destinations don’t have much of; such as time, space, peace, quietness, pure air, fresh water, snow, midnight sun and aurora Borealis, the northern lights. Come see for your self – There is much space also for you!
The Same people
Where: Lapland or Samiland, northern Sweden, Norway and Finland in the Arctic Circle
Who: Ancient Germanic culture and fore-bearers of the mighty Vikings
Culture: Colorful folk dress & tradition nomadic lifestyle based on reindeer hunting
Explore: Visit the Sami museum in Kautokeino and Kiruna or privately visit a tourist Sami Community
The name 'Lapp' means piece of cloth or patch, and is considered an outdated, and often derogative term. The name 'Sami' derives from their own name from themselves, is therefore a more acceptable term, and is the race's preferred name.
They traditionally survived by hunting and fishing, and in more recent years, by herding reindeer, which have also become their staple food. Reindeer meat is most commonly eaten fried, or on special occasions, stewed, however, due to their limited preservation, it is often dried for later consumption. They are never wasteful, and every part of the reindeer is put to use - the skin for shoes and clothing, the bones for handicrafts, and other parts are sold to China for their alternative medicinal properties. The Sami are a nomadic people, and in the summer months many still live in their tepee like homes, known as Katas, which can easily be taken down and reconstructed in a different place as the people move across the country with their animals.
Festivals play a significant part of the Sami calendar, particularly at Easter, which is predominantly a celebration of the end of the dark winter months, and the beginning of a pilgrimage north for new pasture. This is also the time of year when other celebrations take place, and is particularly popular for weddings. The festival is marked with an annual Reindeer Racing Championship, held at Kautokeino. A past-time popular especially during festivals, and unique to the Sami, is the Joiking. This is the practice of singing yodel-like song-poems, originally used to communicate with the gods, and is supposed to describe a mood, person, place or event, forming a kind of lyrical story-telling.
The Sami retain their separate status through the use of their own language (notable for its 100 different words for snow!), and many still wear the traditional, embroidered red and blue felt clothing - augmented for women with pearl and ribbon crowns for celebrations, and these, along with their music and handicrafts, mark them out as different from the many other ethnic groups in Scandinavia. On a more national scale, even have their own radio stations, flag, national anthem, and representatives in Norwegian parliament.
Their isolation and exclusive culture have mean that they have been historically and politically marginalized, and there has been a long-standing mutual animosity between the Norwegians and their Northern neighbors. These problems are lessening now, as links with these ancient people become more popular, almost a source of national pride, and certainly a tourist attraction. The Sami are, however, inevitably becoming more westernized, as they incorporate more technology into their lifestyles - such as snowmobiles for reindeer herding - and more begin to live in modern style homes. As a people they believe in changing and adapting their ways to fit the times.