Lapland is a winter wonderland packed with some of the most exciting and unique Arctic Activities, rich culture, stunning scenery and warm and friendly people. Lapland offers the perfect destination for anyone planning a northern lights holiday, someone looking for a little winter adventure, or for a time to tick off some of the many bucket list Lapland activities.

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Where is Lapland?

Lapland is the traditional home of the Sami people who are native to Northern Europe. The region is largely within the Arctic Circle, stretching across northern Norway, Sweden, and Finland and into the Kola Peninsula of Russia.

Also known locally as Sami Sápmi, Lapi, Lappi, Lappland the region covers everything from the Norwegian Sea to the west, the Barents Sea on the north, and the White Sea on the east.

The recognised region of Lapland spans four recognised countries and their boarders however and does not exist as a unified administrative entity.

Where did the name “Lapland” come from?

The name “Lapland” is a conventional name for the Sami region of Sami region of Sápmi. The name Lapland was derived from Lapp, the name the first Scandinavians attributed to the indigenous Sami people that have lived in the region for thousands of years.

The Sami people, who have lived in the region for thousands of years, still prefer the region to be referred to as Sápmi rather than Lapland – and remain proud of their heritage and customs. Many people who visit Lapland find Sami cultural activities in the Arctic a real highlight of a trip.

The Arctic Circle

The Arctic Circle is a line of latitude around the earth that sits at approximately 66°30′ N. It marks the point at which in December Solstice of mid-winter the sun is no longer visible above the horizon for 24 hours, and likewise in the June solstice of mid-summer the sun does not drop below the horizon and the midnight sun. It is thought that with slight changes in the Earth’s angle, the line of the Arctic Circle is not fixed and can move slightly from year to year.

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Sami People

Sami are the indigenous people to the region known as Lapland. Sami people originate from, and still live in areas of northern Norway, Sweden Finland and the Kola Peninsula of Russia. They are descendants of nomadic people from the region, there is evidence that the Sami were probably dispersed over Scandinavia before moving north as the Finns entered Finland at around 100 AD, with the same happening in Sweden and Norway pushing the Sami people further north into the region we now know as Lapland.

About the Sami people

Earlier Sami history is vague; however, some believe they originated from Siberia, whereas others have concluded they were descended from people in Central Europe.

There are thought to be around 40,000 Sami in Norway, 20,000 in Sweden, 6,000 in Finland, and 2,000 in Russia.

There are thought to be three Sami languages which are both very different and not interchangeable between regions, however are often considered as dialects of a single language.

Traditionally, and until very recently, Reindeer herding was central to the Sami way of life with reindeer sledding and reindeer Sami activities in Lapland still available for visitors to enjoy. Traditional nomadic reindeer herding families would travel, in groups of five to six families, around the Arctic region with large reindeer herds to find the best grazing land staying in Sami tepee like tents called Lavvu, or turf and wooden. As well as eating reindeer as a staple of their diet, Sami people would also hunt and fish as they travelled the region.

Modern Sami life is very different however there are many who keep Reindeer and traditional Sami values and traditions alive. Although many Sami have now found other vocations, there are a significant number of Sami who still remain herders, however they now travel alone with their families residing in permanent housing. Although each animal is still individually owned, reindeer are now herded as a community, where all of the animals are gathered in spring and sorted.

There are many cultural activities in Kiruna, Abisko, Narvik, Lulea – across the region – designed to give guests a better insight into modern and traditional life of the indigenous Sami people.

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