Norrland (, "Northland", originally ''Norrlanden'' or "the Northlands") is the northernmost, largest and least populated of the three traditional lands of Sweden
, consisting of nine provinces
. Although Norrland does not serve any administrative purposes, it continues to exist as a historical, cultural, and geographic region; it is often referred to in everyday language, e.g., in weather forecasts. Several related Norrland dialects form a distinct subset of dialects of the Swedish language
separate from those to its south.
Provinces and counties
Norrland comprises the historical provinces (''landskap'') Gästrikland
, roughly 59 percent of Sweden's total area. Historically, Jämtland and Härjedalen belonged to Norway
until 1645, and are thus often considered outside of the historical Norrland.
Administratively, Sweden is not divided into provinces but into counties
(''Län''). Although Norrland is defined in terms of the historical provinces and not the counties, it roughly comprises the modern counties of Gävleborg
Sometimes, Norrland is subdivided into Northern Norrland (''norra Norrland'') and Southern Norrland (''södra Norrland''). The northern part of the region typically covers the historical provinces of Norrbotten, Västerbotten and Lappland (the modern counties of Norrbotten and Västerbotten), while the southern part covers the remainder of the region.
Except for the coastal areas, Norrland is sparsely populated. Approximately 12 percent of Sweden's population lives in Norrland.
[Population of Sweden 2008-12-31](_blank)
, Statistics Sweden
Except for some coastal areas most of Norrland is made up by the Norrland terrain
– hilly and mountainous land covered by boreal forests
More in detail Norrland is made up of three north-south belts: the Scandinavian Mountains
in the west, the Muddus Plains
covering much of the inland, and the mixed relief of the eastern coast.
Unlike the much more densely populated Svealand
, which are better known for big cities (Stockholm
) with landmarks and tourist attractions, Norrland is known for its nature: wide forests, large rivers and untouched wilderness.
Most inhabitants live in rural areas and small villages, and in cities along the coast. Towards the end of the 20th Century there was a noticeable increase of the population in Norrland, mainly from people moving from bigger cities. The largest cities in Norrland, from north to south, are Luleå
. With the exception of Östersund, all these cities are located near the coast.
During the industrial revolution
, which reached Sweden in the mid-19th Century, Norrland became the source for the important wood and pulp
industry. All of the major Norrland rivers but four have been exploited for water power
. The rivers in Norrland account for the bulk of hydroelectric power in Sweden – in many countries a limited energy source, but in Sweden hydroelectrical power accounts for approximately 40 percent of Sweden's total production of electricity
Mines for producing precious metal
s have also been located in Norrland. In older history and still today, the administration in Stockholm viewed Norrland pretty much as a colony
consisting of natural resource
s to be exploited. "In Norrland we have an India
within our borders, if only we realize we should be taking advantage of it" ''(I Norrland hava vi inom våra gränser ett Indien, blott vi förstå att bruka det)'' is a quote attributed to Axel Oxenstierna
that fairly well describes the attitude. In the official history of Sweden not much is written about the northern parts of the country.
, Sweden's tallest mountain at 2,111 metres (6,926 feet), is located in Lappland
in the north of Norrland.
Norrland has a highly variable climate depending on altitude, latitude and distance to water. The southern coastal areas have a humid continental climate
, but further north the subarctic climate
is abundant, although it in many areas is very mild for that classification, especially in coastal regions. In the mountain ranges the tundra climate
can be found with summer temperatures averaging below , although this is due to altitude and not in populated areas. All low-lying areas of Norrland are below the tree line
due to the mild summers, meaning that the boreal forest
In older history, Norrland is one of the four lands of Sweden
. To the west it represented the northern half of Sweden bounded to the south by Svealand
and to the east it represented the northern half of Finland
– which was then a part of Sweden – bounded to the south by Österland
. In Svealand and Götaland, the land boundaries were of major juridical and administrative importance, but this was not the case with Norrland. The name ''Norrland'' just gradually became a denomination of everything north of Svealand. Up to the Middle Ages, the northern part of Norrland (Norrbotten
) was basically a no man's land. The area was sparsely populated by Sami
and different tribes/people related to the Finns
. In the southern part of Norrland, Swedish and Norwegian settlers lived side by side with the Sami population. From the Middle Ages on, the Swedish kings tried hard to colonize and Christianize the area. But it took time – even today, Finnish and Sami minorities live in the northern parts of Norrland and have maintained their culture and customs.
As a result of the changing relations to Finland, the northern borders of Norrland have shifted. While the word Finland originally meant only the southwestern part of what is now Finland (Finland Proper
), the border of Norrland was drawn at the rivers Kaakamojoki
or, later, Simojoki
. This changed when the eastern half of Sweden (Finland) was lost to Russia
in 1809, and the new border was drawn at Torne River
. The southern border was originally everything north of the Gästrikland
province (until the 14th or 15th century a part of Uppland
), but since the mid 17th century, Gästrikland is also considered a part of Norrland. The name can be first traced from ''Karl's Chronicle'', explaining how Engelbrekt Engelbrektsson
in 1433 sent a letter to Erik Puke
requesting assistance to conquer entire Norrland (''al norland vnte han honom wolla'').
Three Norrland teams compete at the Swedish Hockey League
: Brynäs IF
, Skellefteå AIK
and Luleå HF
. Timrå IK
, MoDo Hockey
and IF Björklöven
are also three popular teams from Norrland except that they play in the second highest league Hockeyallsvenskan
also have long traditions within Swedish ice hockey.
Notable Norrland soccer (football) teams include Selånger FK
, Sandvikens IF
, Gefle IF
, Östersunds FK
, and GIF Sundsvall
Norrland is sometimes portrayed slightly negatively in Swedish fiction, sometimes being a place of terror and dread. The thriller films ''The Hunters
'' and ''False Trail
'' (''The Hunters 2'') show a highly negative portrait of Norrland, filled with racial prejudice and violence. The people of Norrland in their turn tend to have a fairly negative view of people from Stockholm and the rest of southern Sweden, for example by referring to Stockholm as "fjollträsk", which loosely translated means "sissy town". This dynamic is portrayed in movies and series such as ''Sällskapsresan 2 – Snowroller
'', ''The Hunters'' and ''Pistvakt – En vintersaga
''. Despite Norrland being the most diverse of the three lands of Sweden in terms of languages and cultures it is usually portrayed as one homogeneous region. Fiction usually portrays characters from Norrland as villagers from the wilderness even though the majority of the population live in and around the coastal cities.
In the 2006 horror film ''Frostbite
'', the portrait is more balanced. Unlike most other Swedish films, it takes place in a larger community at the northern peak of Sweden, being filmed in Kalix
. The people are shown to be pretty warm and welcoming towards outsiders. Rather than the people, the nature of Norrland is shown to be hostile. A constant darkness roams over the town and there is extreme cold. Vampires have been shown taking a liking to the land and hunt the towns people in the arctic night. The film is notorious for having the actors speak without the district Norrland accent, even the actors in the film who are native to Norrland.
A mixed portrait of the region is found in ''As It Is in Heaven
'' (2004), which "vividly conveys both the delights and the challenges of small town living."
The northern town is initially inhospitable to the main character as a boy, whose mother chooses to take him out of the town to escape bullying. He returns years later as an accomplished musician, only to find an insular town where bullying continues in several forms, including from the original classmates who troubled him as a youth. It is through his outside status—along with his music and desire share its joy—that the town finds redemption.
The plot of the well-known thriller ''The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
'' shifts back and forth between Stockholm and the fictional Norrland town of Hedestad. A constantly repeated theme in the book's background are the social, cultural and physical differences between these two locations: Norrland is more sedate, conservative and slow-moving in comparison with the cosmopolitan Stockholm; a Stockholmer having to live for an extended period in Norrland feels "exiled to the back of beyond"; Norrland is also colder, and a Stockholmer coming there must urgently buy warmer clothes (a theme highlighted also in ''As It Is in Heaven)''; Norrlanders often speak regional dialects
which Stockholm people find nearly incomprehensible; Stockholm people look down their noses at "a working class boy from Norrland" even when he had lived many years in Stockholm. The book's great success and translation into numerous languages made non-Swedish people more aware of Norrland and its special characteristics.
* Upper Norrland
* Middle Norrland
* Historical provinces of Finland
* Norrland Grand Regiment
* Norrland County
* Norland (disambiguation)
* Nordland (disambiguation)
from Nordisk familjebok
. In Swedish.
Category:Lands of Sweden