Lapland, Sweden

Lapland (Lappland) is a province in northernmost Sweden. It borders Jämtland, Ångermanland, Västerbotten, Norrbotten, Norway and Finland. About a quarter of Sweden's surface area is in Lapland.

Lapland originally extended eastward. However, in 1809 Russia annexed the eastern part of the Swedish realm, and created the Grand Duchy of Finland, which in effect split Lapland into a Swedish part and a Finnish part, both of which still exist today.


The traditional provinces of Sweden serve no administrative or political purposes, but are cultural and historical entities. Administratively Lapland constitutes the western part of two counties of Sweden, Norrbotten County in the north and Västerbotten County in the south. In contrast to most other areas of Sweden there is more of an identification with the counties rather than to provinces. Thus, most people in these counties refer to the entire county, including the areas in Lapland, when they say 'Norrbotten' or 'Västerbotten'.

Citizens of Sami descent are eligible to stand and vote in elections for the Swedish Sami Parliament, which is the case with Sami people elsewhere in Sweden as well. Sami language has an official minority status in Kiruna Municipality, Gällivare Municipality, Jokkmokk Municipality and Arjeplog Municipality.


Lapland itself was never considered a duchy but on January 18, 1884 the Privy Council gave all Provinces the right of use to a ducal coronet for their arms. Blazon Swedish version: "Argent, a Wildman stantant Gules wrapped with birch leaves Vert on the head and around the waist holding a Club Or in dexter over the shoulder."


Parts of Lappland have been named a UNESCO World heritage site, the Laponian area.

National parks


The history of Lappland is in many ways connected to the history of Norrbotten County and Västerbotten County, since Lappland is a historic region connected to these counties. During the middle ages, Norrbotten/Lappland was basically a no man's land. The area was sparsely populated by nomadic Sami people, but the region became increasingly settled by Swedish, Finnish and Norwegian settlers, especially along the coasts and large rivers. From the Middle ages on, the Swedish kings tried hard to colonize and Christianize the area using settlers from what is now Finland and southern Sweden. Today, despite large-scale assimilation into the dominant Swedish culture, Finnish and Sami minorities continue to maintain their cultures and identities.

During the industrialization of Sweden, natural resources (hydroelectricity, timber and minerals) from Lappland and surrounding provinces played a key role. Still, mining, forestry and hydroelectric power are the backbone of the local economy, together with municipal services. The unemployment has however been relatively high for several decades and many young people leave for the larger cities by the coast or in southern Sweden.


  • Culture of the Sami people
  • The conservative Lutheran Laestadian movement is prominent in the region
  • Referenced in Herman Melville's Moby Dick in a chapter entitled "The Whiteness of the Whale"

See also

External links

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