Finnmark [ˈfinmɑrk] ( listen) (Northern Sami: Finnmárku;
Finnish: Finnmark; Russian: Фи́ннмарк, Fínnmark) is a county
("fylke") in the extreme northeastern part of Norway. By land, it
Troms county to the west,
Finland (Lapland region) to the
Russia (Murmansk Oblast) to the east, and by water, the
Norwegian Sea (Atlantic Ocean) to the northwest, and the Barents Sea
Arctic Ocean) to the north and northeast.
The county was formerly known as Finmarkens amt or Vardøhus amt.
Since 2002, it has had two official names:
Finnmark (Norwegian) and
Finnmárku (Northern Sami). It is part of the Sápmi region, which
spans four countries, as well as the Barents Region, and is the
largest and least populated county of Norway.
Situated at the northernmost part of continental Europe, where the
Norwegian coastline swings eastward,
Finnmark is an area "where East
meets West," in culture as well as in nature and geography. Vardø,
the easternmost municipality in Norway, is located farther east than
the cities of
St. Petersburg and Istanbul.
2 Coat of arms
4.1 Midnight sun
4.2 Northern lights
7.4 Brief summary
7.5 World War II
7.6 Cold War
10 External links
See also: Hedmark, Telemark, and Marches
Old Norse form of the name was Finnmǫrk. The first element is
finn(ar), the Norse name for the
Sámi people. The last element is
mǫrk which means "woodland" or "borderland". In Norse times the name
referred to any places where
Sámi people were living (also parts of
Coat of arms
The coat of arms is black with a gold-colored castle tower,
technically described as "Sable, a single-towered castle Or". The
design is from 1967 and shows the old
Vardøhus Fortress on the
eastern border with Russia.
Mountain landscape in Kvalsund, some 35 km (22 mi) south of
Finnmark is the northernmost and easternmost county in Norway
Svalbard is not considered a county). By area,
Finnmark is Norway's
largest county; even larger than the neighboring country of Denmark.
However, with a population of about 75,000, it is also the least
populated of all Norwegian counties.
Finnmark has a total coastline of
6,844 kilometres (4,253 mi), including 3,155 kilometres
(1,960 mi) of coastline on the islands. Nearly 12,300 people or
16.6 percent of the county's population in 2000 was living in the
100-meter belt along the coastline.
Nordkapp Municipality (on the island of Magerøya)
sometimes considered the northernmost point of
Europe (on an island);
Nordkinn Peninsula in
Lebesby Municipality is the
northernmost point on the European mainland.
Honningsvåg in Finnmark
claims to be the northernmost city of the world, and
Vardø is the
easternmost town in
Norway and is farther east than Istanbul.
The coast is indented by large fjords, many of which (in a strict
sense) are false fjords, as they are not carved out by glaciers. Some
of Norway's largest sea bird colonies can be seen on the northern
coast, the largest are Hjelmsøystauran on the island of
Måsøy Municipality and
Nordkapp Municipality. The
highest point is located on the top of the glacier Øksfjordjøkelen,
which has an area of 45 square kilometres (17 sq mi), and it
is located in
Loppa Municipality. Both
Seilandsjøkelen (Seiland glacier) are located in the western part of
The Øksfjord plateau glacier calved directly into the sea
(Jøkelfjorden) until 1900, the last glacier in mainland
Norway to do
so. The central and eastern part of
Finnmark is generally less
mountainous, and has no glaciers. The land east of
Nordkapp is mostly
below 300 m (980 ft).
The nature varies from barren coastal areas facing the Barents Sea, to
more sheltered fjord areas and river valleys with gullies and tree
vegetation. About half of the county is above the tree line, and large
parts of the other half is covered with small Downy birch.
The most lush areas are the Alta area and the Tana valleys, and in the
east is the lowland area in the
Pasvik valley in Sør-Varanger, where
the pine and Siberian spruce forest is considered part of the Russian
taiga vegetation. This valley has the highest density of Brown bears
in Norway, and is the only location in the country with a population
Lynx and moose are common in large parts of Finnmark,
but rare on the coast.
Map showing coastline and rivers. The largest river, slightly to the
right, is Tana, and slightly to the left is Alta-Kaoutokeino river.
Down to the right is lake Inari (Finland) from which goes the Pasvik
valley of the
Pasvikelva river. Near the far left corner of the map is
the green Målselv valley of Troms, with the
The interior parts of the county are part of the great Finnmarksvidda
plateau, with an elevation of 300 to 400 m (980 to
1,310 ft), with numerous lakes and river valleys. The plateau is
famous for its tens of thousands of reindeer owned by the Sami, and
swarms of mosquitos in mid-summer.
Finnmarksvidda makes up 36% of the
Stabbursdalen National Park
Stabbursdalen National Park ensures protection for the
world's most northern pine forest.
The Tana River, which partly defines the border with Finland, gives
the largest catch of salmon of all rivers in Europe, and also has the
world record for Atlantic salmon, 36 kg (79 lb). In the
Pasvikelva defines the border with Russia.
Alta airport/Alta (1961–90)
Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Average max. and min. temperatures in °F
Precipitation totals in inches
Finnmarksvidda plateau in the interior of the county has a
continental climate with the coldest winter temperatures in Norway:
the coldest temperature ever recorded was −51.4 °C
(−60.5 °F) in
Karasjok on 1 January 1886. The 24-hour averages
for January and July at the same location are −17.1 °C
(1.2 °F) and 13.1 °C (55.6 °F), the annual average
is −2.4 °C (27.7 °F), and precipitation is only 366
millimetres (14.4 in) per year with summer as the wettest
Karasjok has recorded up to 32.4 °C (90.3 °F)
in July, giving a possible year amplitude of 84 °C
(151 °F) (rare in Europe).
Finnmarksvidda has annual mean
temperatures down to −3 °C (27 °F) (Sihcajavri in
Kautokeino), the coldest in mainland
Norway (except for higher
mountains areas) and even colder than
Jan Mayen and Bear Island.
However, Sihcajavri has also recorded the warmest temperature ever in
North Norway: 34.3 °C (93.7 °F) on 23 June 1920.
Due to the proximity to the ice-free ocean, winters are much milder in
coastal areas (and more windy);
Loppa Municipality has average January
and July temperatures of −2 °C (28 °F) and 11.6 °C
(52.9 °F) respectively, with an annual mean of 3.6 °C
(38.5 °F), despite being further north. Average annual
precipitation is 914 millimetres (36.0 in) and the wettest season
is September until December. The year average temperature difference
Karasjok (6 °C) is comparable to the
Loppa and London.
In the Köppen climate classification, the climate in Karasjok–and
most of the lowland areas in Finnmark–corresponds to the Dfc
category (subarctic climate), while the
Loppa climate corresponds to
the Cfc category. The northeastern coast, from
Nordkapp east to
Vardø, have arctic tundra climate (Köppen: ETf), as the average July
temperature is below 10 °C (50 °F).
Kjøllefjord on the northeastern coast
Furthermore, elevations exceeding approximately 100 to 200 metres (330
to 660 ft) in coastal areas in western
Finnmark and 300 to 500
metres (980 to 1,640 ft) in the interior result in an alpine
climate, and in the northeast this merges with the
The climate in sheltered parts of fjord areas (particularly the
Altafjorden) is usually considered the most hospitable: winters are
not as cold as in the interior, and summer warmth is comparable. Even
if winter temperatures are milder in coastal areas, the coast is more
exposed to winter storms, which often complicate or shut down road and
Sunrise at 07:33 in February; Vadsø
Situated far north of the
Finnmark has midnight sun
from the middle of May until late July. Conversely, in two months of
the winter, from late November to late January, the county experiences
polar nights where the sun is always below the horizon. As a
consequence, there is continuous daylight from early May to early
August. At midwinter, there is only a bluish twilight for a couple of
hours around noon, which can almost reach full daylight if there are
clear skies to the south.
Finnmark is situated in the Aurora Borealis zone, and because of the
dry climate with frequent clear skies,
Alta Municipality was early
chosen as a location for the study of this strange light phenomenon.
For this reason, Alta is sometimes referred to as the city of the
Hammerfest suburb of Rypefjord
Fisheries have traditionally been the most important way of living
along the coast, where the majority of the Norwegian population live.
The red king crab, originally from the northern
Pacific ocean but
brought to the Barents sea by the Russians, have invaded from the east
and are now being exploited commercially (especially in the
Varangerfjord). To prevent the crab from spreading too far south, crab
fishing west of
Nordkapp is totally unregulated.
The slate industry in Alta is well known and have sold to customers as
far away as Japan.
Kirkenes grew into a town as the exploitation of
the iron ores started, but AS
Sydvaranger closed down their iron ore
activities in 1996.
In more recent years, tourism has grown in importance, with the North
Cape (in Nordkapp) and the towns of Alta and
Hammerfest as the most
There are eleven airports, but only Alta Airport, Lakselv-Banak
Airport, and Kirkenes-Høybuktmoen Airport have direct flights to
Oslo. In addition, Lakselv-Banak Airport in
Porsanger is used for
training by the
Royal Norwegian Air Force
Royal Norwegian Air Force and other
NATO allies, in
conjunction with the nearby Halkavarre shooting range, which allows
for practice with precision-guided munitions. Garnisonen i Porsanger
is near the Halkavarre training area. There is also the Garnisonen i
Sør-Varanger (Gsv) in the east, which guards the border with Russia.
The town of
Hammerfest is experiencing an economic boom as a
consequence of Statoil's construction of the large land-based
on the island of Melkøya, which gets natural gas from the
Snøhvit undersea gas field. A new oil field was discovered in 2009
just 45 km (28 mi) off shore, close to the Snøhvit
There is optimism in the eastern part of the county, as the growing
petroleum activity in the
Barents Sea is expected to generate
increased economic activity on land as well.
Vadsø with the church, February 2004
The town of
Vadsø is the administrative centre for the county of
Finnmark, although Alta has the largest population. The Finnmark
County Municipality is the governing body for the county. The county
is generally divided into two districts: West-
Until 2006, Statskog, the Norwegian state-owned agency responsible for
the management of state owned forest and mountain real estate, owned
about 95% of the land in
Finnmark county. On 1 July 2006, the Finnmark
Estate agency took over the ownership and management of that land in
Finnmark Estate is governed in tandem by the Finnmark
County Municipality and the Sami Parliament of Norway. The Sami
Norway is based in the village of Karasjok.
The national government runs the Northern
Norway Regional Health
Authority which in turn owns and operates two hospitals in Finnmark,
Kirkenes and Hammerfest.
Currently, there are 19 municipalities in Finnmark.
Municipalities in Finnmark
Kárášjohka or Karasjok
Guovdageaidnu or Kautokeino
Unjárga or Nesseby
Porsanger or Porsángu or Porsanki
Deatnu or Tana
Source: Statistics Norway.
Religion in Finnmark
People have lived in
Finnmark for at least 10,000 years (see Komsa,
Pit-Comb Ware culture
Pit-Comb Ware culture and Rock carvings at Alta). The destiny of these
early cultures is unknown. Three ethnic groups have a long history in
Finnmark: the Sami people, the Norwegian people, and the Kven people.
Of these, the Sami probably were the first people to explore Finnmark.
Ohthere of Hålogaland
Ohthere of Hålogaland was an adventurous Norwegian (Norseman) from
Hålogaland, the area roughly corresponding to today's Nordland
county. Around 890 AD, he claimed, according to historical sources
(see Ohthere of Hålogaland) that he lived "north-most of all the
Northmen", and that "no one [lived] to the north of him." Later,
Norwegians in the 14th century, and Kvens in the 16th century, settled
along the coast. See the articles on
Kven people and Vardøhus
Fortress for more details.
Main article: Sami history
The Sami are the indigenous people of Finnmark, but Norwegians have
lived for hundreds of years on the islands' outer parts, where they
made up the majority. The
Sami people still constitute the majority in
Finnmark's interior parts, while the fjord areas have been ethnically
mixed for a long time. This essentially holds true today.
The Sami were for many years victims of the
which in essence was an attempt by the government to make them "true"
Norwegians and forget about their Sami way of life and religion, which
was seen as inferior. As a result, the Sami living at the coast and in
the fjords gradually lost much of their culture and often felt ashamed
by their Sami inheritance. The Sami in the interior managed to
preserve more of their culture. In the 1970s, instruction of the Sami
language started in schools, and a new sense of consciousness started
to grow among the Sami; today most are proud of their background and
In the midst of this awakening (1979), Norway's government decided to
build a dam in Alta to produce hydropower, provoking many Sami and
environmentalists to demonstrations and civil disobedience
(Altasaken). In the end, the dam was built on a much smaller scale
than originally intended and the Sami culture was on the government's
Sami parliament (Sámediggi) was opened in
A Dutch map of
Finnmark (1660), showing the border between Norway,
Sweden and Russia.
Nordkapp is mentioned in the
Sagas (Heimskringla) as a
northern harbor in the viking age, especially used by Vikings on the
Bjarmaland (see Ottar from Hålogaland), and probably also for
gathering food in the nearby seabird colony. Coastal areas of Finnmark
were colonized by Norwegians beginning in the 10th century, and there
are stories describing clashes with the Karelians. Border skirmishes
between the Norwegians and Novgorodians continued until 1326, when the
Treaty of Novgorod settled the issue.
The first known fortification in
Finnmark is Vardøhus festning, first
erected in 1306 by King Haakon V Magnusson. This is the world's most
northern fortress. In the 17th century, 88 young women were burned as
witches in Vardø, an extremely high number compared to the total
population in this area at the time. However, the first person
burned as witch in
Vardø in the 17th century was not a woman, but a
Finnmark first became subject to increased colonization in the 18th
and 19th century. Norway, Sweden, and
Russia all claimed control over
Finland was part of
Russia at that time and had no
Finnmark was given the status of an Amt
(county) in the 19th century. For a time, there was a vibrant trade
Russia (Pomor trade), and many Norwegians settled on the Kola
Peninsula (see Kola Norwegians).
Main article: Kven people
The Finnic Kven residents of
Finnmark are largely descendants of
Finnish speaking immigrants who arrived in the area in the 18th
century from Meänmaa, and later in the 19th century from Finland,
suffering from famine and war.
In 1576, the King of
Norway established Vardøhus len as a new
administrative unit for the kingdom. In 1660, it became Vardøhus amt,
a subordinate to the large Trondhjems stiftamt, based in Trondheim. In
1787, the island of
Senja and the
Troms area were transferred from
Nordlandenes amt to Vardøhus amt. In 1866, the island of
Troms area were separated from Vardøhus to form the new Tromsø
amt. In 1919, the name was again changed to
Finnmark fylke. In 2002,
Sami language name, Finnmárku, was added as a co-official name
for the county.
Per Fugelli has said that
World War II
World War II resulted in many persons
acquiring psychiatric disorders (psykiske senskadene) which could be
from experiencing "bombing, accidents involving mines, burning down of
homes, forcible evacuation, illness and starvation during the war and
liberation. But it was maybe in particular the treatment of Russian
prisoners that left marks on the local population."
World War II
Towards the end of World War II, with Operation Nordlicht, the Germans
used the scorched earth tactic in
Finnmark and northern
Troms to halt
the Red Army. As a consequence of this, few houses survived the war,
and a large part of the population was forcefully evacuated further
Tromsø was crowded), but many people avoided evacuation by
hiding in caves and mountain huts and waited until the Germans were
gone, then inspected their burned homes. There were 11,000 houses,
4,700 cow sheds, 106 schools, 27 churches, and 21 hospitals burned.
There were 22,000 communications lines destroyed, roads were blown up,
boats destroyed, animals killed, and 1,000 children separated from
However, after taking the town of
Kirkenes on 25 October 1944 (as the
first town in Norway), the
Red Army did not attempt further offensives
Free Norwegian forces
Free Norwegian forces arrived from Britain and liberated
the rest of the county. When war was over, more than 70,000 people
were left homeless in Finnmark. The government imposed a temporary ban
on residents returning to
Finnmark because of the danger of landmines.
The ban lasted until the summer of 1945 when evacuees were told that
they could finally return home.
Hammerfest by Peder Balke (1851)
Neiden in Sør-Varanger
Cold War was a period with sometimes high tension in eastern
Finnmark, at the 196-kilometre (122 mi) long border with the
Soviet Union. To keep tensions from getting too high,
NATO exercises would take place in Finnmark. There was,
however, a lot of military intelligence activity, and Norwegian P-3
Orion maritime surveillance aircraft were often the first to get
pictures of newly built Soviet submarines and aircraft. A purpose
ELINT vessel, Marjata, was always stationed near the border, and
Marjata (7500 t) is still operating out of the ports in
eastern Finnmark. As recently as 2000, Russian generals threatened to
Globus II Radar in
Vardø with nuclear missiles.
Komsa culture is very difficult to relate to the
people living in
Finnmark today. There are findings suggesting that
Sami people have been there for a long time, but exactly how long
is unclear, some scholars[who?] claiming 8000 years but others[who?]
only 2500 years. From the 10th century, the coastal areas have been
populated and visited by ethnic Norwegians, and
Finnmark became part
of the kingdom.
The Sami core areas in
Norway are in Finnmark, where they constitute
about one quarter of the total population. The municipalities of
Kautokeino, Karasjok, Tana, Nesseby, and
and the municipalities of Kåfjord (in Troms),
Tysfjord (in Nordland),
Snåsa (in Nord-Trøndelag) also have official names in the Sami
language. Most municipalities in Sápmi, however, have unofficial
Sámi as well.
In the 18th century and the 19th century, many Finnish-speaking
immigrants settled in Finnmark. Since 1996, they have had minority
status as Kven people. The town of
Vadsø (Kven: Vesisaari) is often
seen as the Kven capital in Finnmark.
Lakselv, in central Finnmark, is sometimes referred to as meeting
place for three tribes. After the collapse of the
Soviet Union and
severe economic troubles in the Russian economy during the 90s,
Russian immigrants and shoppers arrived in Kirkenes. Since the
beginning of the
European migrant crisis
European migrant crisis a lot of Syrian refugees
began to arrive in
Kirkenes via Russia.
^ Rygh, Oluf (1924). Norske gaardnavne: Finmarkens amt (in Norwegian)
(18 ed.). Kristiania, Norge: W. C. Fabritius & sønners
bogtrikkeri. pp. 1–7.
^ Store norske leksikon. "Finnmark" (in Norwegian). Retrieved
^ "Norwegian Meteorological Records". met.no. Archived from the
original on 2007-11-20. Retrieved 2009-02-12.
^ "Meteorological data". met.no. Retrieved 2009-02-12.
^ "Meteorological data". worldclimate.com. 2007-02-04. Retrieved
^ Duval-Smith, Alex (2005-11-27). "
Arctic booms as climate change
melts polar ice cap". London: Observer.guardian.co.uk. Retrieved
^ "Snøhvit". Statoil.com. Archived from the original on December 14,
2007. Retrieved 2009-02-12.
^ "Aftenpost article". Aftenposten.no. Archived from the original on
2009-12-14. Retrieved 2009-02-12.
^ "Aftenpost article". Aftenposten.no. Retrieved 2009-02-12.
^ "Norwegian environmental group Bellona". Bellona.no. Retrieved
^ Projected population – Statistics Norway
Norway – Church of Norway.
Norway – Members of religious and life stance
communities outside the Church of Norway, by religion/life stance.
County. 2006–2010 Archived November 2, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
^ "BioOne article". Bioone.org. 1970-01-01. Retrieved
^ NRK. "Den glemte krigen". NRK. Retrieved 20 May 2016.
^ Zimmerman, Susan (November–December 2010). "World War II
Magazine". 25 (4): 31.
^ German, Robert K. (1982). "
Norway and the Bear: Soviet Coercive
Diplomacy and Norwegian Security Policy". International Security. 7
(2): 70. doi:10.2307/2538433.
^ "NewsMax Archives". Retrieved 20 May 2016.
^ "Den kvenske folkevandringen til
Troms og Finnmark" (in Norwegian).
nordlys.no. 2008-02-28. Retrieved 2009-02-12.
^ Haroon Siddique. "Bicycles used by Syrian refugees to enter Norway
Russia to be destroyed". the Guardian. Retrieved 20 May
Bjørbæk, Gustav (2003). Norsk Vær i 110 År. Oslo: Damm.
Haugan, Trygve B, ed. (1940). Det Nordlige Norge Fra
Midnattssolens Land. Trondheim: Reisetrafikkforeningen for Trondheim
Moen, Asbjørn (1998). Nasjonalatlas for Norge: Vegetasjon. Hønefoss:
Statens Kartverk. ISBN 978-82-90408-26-3.
Norwegian Meteorological Institute
Norwegian Meteorological Institute (24-hr averages, 1961–90 base
Tollefsrud, Jan Inge; Tjørve, Even; Hermansen, Pål (1991). Perler i
Norsk Natur – En Veiviser. Aschehoug.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Finnmark.
Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Finnmark.
Stone age in Finnmark
Finnmark county administration
Visitnorthcape.com – official travel guide to Finnmark
Finnmark at the official travel guide to Norway
Kampen vår mot Akersystemet og Staten blir som om Justin Bieber
skulle møtt Mike Tyson til boksekamp. Hvor er sensasjonspressen? Hvor
er VG, Aftenposten, NRK Dagsrevyen og TV2? Hvor er Dagsnytt atten? Er
ikke landets nest største eksportnæring viktig nok? [Our struggle
against Akersystemet and the government is as if Justin Bieber was to
meet Mike Tyson for a smoker. Where is the press? Where is Verdens
Gang, Aftenposten, NRK Dagsrevyen and TV"? Where is "Dagsnytt atten"?
Is the country's second largest export industry, not important
"Finmark". The American Cyclopædia. 1879.
Counties of Norway
Møre og Romsdal
Sogn og Fjordane