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Definition: Lapland from Philip's Encyclopedia

Region in N Europe, lying almost entirely within the Arctic Circle and including N Norway, the northernmost parts of Sweden and Finland, and the W part of the Kola Peninsula of Russia. The land is mountainous in Norway and Sweden, but tundra predominates in the NE. The S regions are forested. Industries: hydroelectricity, fishing, tourism, mining for iron ore, copper and nickel. Area: c.388,500sq km (150,000sq mi).


Summary Article: Lapland
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Region of Europe within the Arctic Circle in Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the Kola Peninsula of northwest Russia, without political definition. Its chief resources are chromium, copper, iron, timber, hydroelectric power, and tourism. The indigenous population are the Saami (formerly known as Lapps), 10% of whom are nomadic, the remainder living mostly in coastal settlements. Lapland has low temperatures, with two months of continuous daylight in summer and two months of continuous darkness in winter. There is summer agriculture.

The Saami (or Lapp) The Saami number over 60,000 (1996 est). They tend large reindeer herds which move from region to region depending on the season, and which provide meat, milk, and skins; horn and bone are used in the souvenir industry. Linguistically related to the Finno-Ugrian peoples, the Saami are short in stature with high cheekbones, wide mouths, small, elongated eyes, snub noses and dark hair. They were originally nomadic, roaming the Scandinavian and Kola peninsulas, but by the 1990s only 10% of the Sammi were estimated to follow a nomadic way of life. There are various groups including the Lule, Northern, Pite, Southern, and Ume Saami. The use of the Saami language in schools is encouraged.

The Saami are believed to have come originally either from Siberia or from central Europe. They have declined in numbers in Lapland as the numbers of Norwegian, Swedish, and Finnish settlers have increased, and from the 13th to 17th centuries the Saami were in a state of subservience to the Swedish adventurers, the Birkarlians. They now form only a small proportion of the population of Lapland. Many of them live by hunting, fishing, reindeer herding, and handicrafts, though in coastal settlements there is more scope for cultivation and trade.

Topography and climate Scandinavian Lapland consists of headlands and fjords, deep glaciers, mountain lakes and lake-fed rivers. Russian and Finnish Lapland is similar to the lower-lying parts of its Swedish counterpart. The higher areas support tundra vegetation; the lower regions have pine, spruce and open swamp. The climate is a less extreme, Arctic type. Depending upon the distance north of the Arctic Circle, the sun in winter does not rise above the horizon for seven or eight weeks and comparative darkness prevails, except when the aurora borealis illuminates the snow-covered landscape. Summer lasts for three months and is comparatively warm; the midnight sun can be seen north of Rovaniemi, the capital of Finnish Lapland lying just below the Arctic Circle.

Resources Although the farming activities in the region are limited by the short growing season and summer frosts, hay, potatoes, and oats are grown. There are extensive iron ore deposits, principally in Swedish Lapland (also named Lappland); Kiruna and Gallivare have some of the richest iron mines in the world (the ore having at least 60% iron content). To serve the mining communities and export the iron ore, an electric railway was constructed in 1902 from Luleå on the Gulf of Bothnia to Narvik on the Norwegian coast.

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