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Rovaniemi (Finnish: [ˈroʋɑniemi] (About this soundlisten)) is a city and municipality of Finland. It is the administrative capital and commercial centre of Finland's northernmost province, Lapland. It is situated about 6 kilometres (4 miles) south of the Arctic Circle and is between the hills of Ounasvaara and Korkalovaara, at the confluence of the river Kemijoki and its tributary, the Ounasjoki.

The city and the surrounding Rovaniemen maalaiskunta (Rural municipality of Rovaniemi) were consolidated into a single entity on 1 January 2006. The resulting city of Rovaniemi is considered the largest city in all of Europe by land area, because the defined limits of the city proper extend far beyond the actual urban area.[6]

Rovaniemi municipality has an approximate population of 63,000. The urban area of Rovaniemi has a population of 53 361, in an area of 5,977 km2 (2,308 sq mi). Rovaniemi is a unilingual Finnish-speaking municipality and, uncommonly for larger Finnish towns, it is also known by its Finnish name and spelling in the Swedish language.

Name

The rova part in the name Rovaniemi has often been considered to be of Saami origin, as roavve in Northern Saami denotes a forested ridge or hill or the site of an old forest fire. The niemi part of the name means "cape". The name of the town in the Saami languages spoken in Finland are Inari Sami: Ruávinjargâ, Northern Sami: Roavenjárga and Roavvenjárga and Skolt Sami: Ruäʹvnjargg.

History

Periodic clearance of new land for agriculture and the practise of slash-and-burn cultivation began around 750–530 BC. Artifacts found in the area suggest that an increasing number of travellers from Karelia in the east, Häme in the south and the Arctic Ocean coast in the north must have come there from 500 AD onwards. The Sami are considered to be Lapland's most indigenous existing population.

It is first mentioned by name in official documents in 1453, existing effectively as a set of small villages whose inhabitants earned their living mainly in agriculture and animal husbandry—with fishing and hunting the most important offshoots.[citation needed]

The exploitation of Lapland's natural resources in the 1800s boosted Rovaniemi's growth. Extensive logging sites and gold fever attracted thousands of people to Lapland. As the mining of natural resources was increased, Rovaniemi became the business centre of the province of Lapland.

Second World War

Rebuilding Rovaniemi in 1949

During the Second World War, Finland signed the Moscow Armistice and found itself involved in the Lapland War with its former German ally. Retreating German forces utilised scorched earth tactics, and though initially German General Lothar Rendulic ordered only the public buildings in Rovaniemi to be destroyed, on 13 October 1944 the German army received orders to destroy all the buildings in Rovaniemi, only excluding hospitals and houses where inhabitants were present.[7]

While the German rearguard was going about the destruction, an ammunition train in Rovaniemi station exploded and set fire to the wooden houses of the town. The German troops suffered many casualties, mainly from glass splinters. A Finnish commando unit claimed to have blown up the ammunition train and may well have been the primary cause of the town's ruin. The cause was then unknown and generally assumed to be the deliberate intent of Rendulic.[citation needed] During these hostilities 90% of all the buildings in Rovaniemi were destroyed.[8] There is a German cemetery 19 km from Rovaniemi where soldiers killed fighting in Lapland during the war are buried.

Although there has been continuous human settlement in the Rovaniemi area since at least the Stone Age, few of the buildings date back before 1944 since most of the city was destroyed during WWII. When the city was rebuilt, it was designed with input by famous Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, who planned the city's footprint in the shape of a reindeer's head, with the city roads forming the antlers, and the local sports stadium as the reindeer's eye.[9]

Modern day

Rovaniemi in 1999
Christmas celebration in Rovaniemi, November 2004

Since Rovaniemi is the capital of the region of Lapland, many government institutions have their offices there. About 10,000 of the inhabitants are students. Rovaniemi is home to not only the University of Lapland but also the Lapland University of Applied Sciences (formerly known as the Rovaniemi Polytechnic), which comprises institutes of information and traditional technology, business, health and social care, culinary studies, forestry, rural studies, and sports. Local newspapers include the Lapin Kansa, Uusi Rovaniemi and Lappilainen.

Rovaniemi's most prominent landmarks include the Jätkänkynttilä bridge with its eternal flame over the Kemijoki river, the Arktikum Science Museum which rises out of the bank of the Ounasjoki river, the Rovaniemi city hall, the Lappia Hall, which serves as a theatre, concert hall, and congress centre, and the library.

The last three mentioned buildings are designed by the famous Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. The Arktikum Science Museum is a comprehensive museum of Finland's, and the world's, Arctic regions.

Tourism

Because of the unspoiled nature of the area and numerous recreational opportunities, tourism is an important industry in Rovaniemi. The city has a number of hotels and restaurants located both in the centre and on the outskirts of the town, hosting over 481,000 visitors in 2013.[10]

Rovaniemi is also considered by Finns to be the official home town of

The city and the surrounding Rovaniemen maalaiskunta (Rural municipality of Rovaniemi) were consolidated into a single entity on 1 January 2006. The resulting city of Rovaniemi is considered the largest city in all of Europe by land area, because the defined limits of the city proper extend far beyond the actual urban area.[6]

Rovaniemi municipality has an approximate population of 63,000. The urban area of Rovaniemi has a population of 53 361, in an area of 5,977 km2 (2,308 sq mi). Rovaniemi is a unilingual Finnish-speaking municipality and, uncommonly for larger Finnish towns, it is also known by its Finnish name and spelling in the Swedish language.

The rova part in the name Rovaniemi has often been considered to be of Saami origin, as roavve in Northern Saami denotes a forested ridge or hill or the site of an old forest fire. The niemi part of the name means "cape". The name of the town in the Saami languages spoken in Finland are Inari Sami: Ruávinjargâ, Northern Sami: Roavenjárga and Roavvenjárga and Skolt Sami: Ruäʹvnjargg.

History

Periodic clearance of new land for agriculture and the practise of slash-and-burn cultivation began around 750–530 BC. Artifacts found in the area suggest that an increasing number of travellers from Karelia in the east, Häme in the south and the Arctic Ocean coast in the north must have come there from 500 AD onwards. The Sami are considered to be Lapland's most indigenous existing population.

It is first mentioned by name in official documents in 1453, existing effectively as a set of small villages whose inhabitants earned their living mainly in agriculture and animal husbandry—with fishing and hunting the most important offshoots.[citation needed]

The exploitation of Lapland's natural resources in the 1800s boosted Rovaniemi's growth. Extensive logging sites and gold fever attracted thousands of people to Lapland. As the mining of natural resources was increased, Rovaniemi became the business centre of the province of Lapland.

Second World War

agriculture and the practise of slash-and-burn cultivation began around 750–530 BC. Artifacts found in the area suggest that an increasing number of travellers from Karelia in the east, Häme in the south and the Arctic Ocean coast in the north must have come there from 500 AD onwards. The Sami are considered to be Lapland's most indigenous existing population.

It is first mentioned by name in official documents in 1453, existing effectively as a set of small villages whose inhabitants earned their living mainly in agriculture and animal husbandry—with fishing and hunting the most important offshoots.[citation needed]

The exploitation of Lapland's natural resources in the 1800s boosted Rovaniemi's growth. Extensive logging sites and gold fever attracted thousands of people to Lapland. As the mining of natural resources was increased, Rovaniemi became the business centre of the province of Lapland.

During the Second World War, Finland signed the Moscow Armistice and found itself involved in the Lapland War with its former German ally. Retreating German forces utilised scorched earth tactics, and though initially German General Lothar Rendulic ordered only the public buildings in Rovaniemi to be destroyed, on 13 October 1944 the German army received orders to destroy all the buildings in Rovaniemi, only excluding hospitals and houses where inhabitants were present.[7]

While the German rearguard was going about the destruction, an ammunition train in Rovaniemi station exploded and set fire to the wooden houses of the town. The German troops suffered many casualties, mainly from glass splinters. A Finnish commando unit claimed to have blown up the ammunition train and may well have been the primary cause of the town's ruin. The cause was then unknown and generally assumed to be the deliberate intent of Rendulic.[citation needed] During these hostilities 90% of all the buildings in Rovaniemi were destroyed.[8] There is a German cemetery 19 km from Rovaniemi where soldiers killed fighting in Lapland during the war are buried.

Although there has been continuous human settlement in the Rovaniemi area since at least the Stone Age, few of the buildings date back before 1944 since most of the city was destroyed during WWII. When the city was rebuilt, it was designed with input by famous Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, who planned the city's footprint in the shape of a reindeer's head, with the city roads forming the antlers, and the local sports stadium as the reindeer's eye.[9]

Modern day

Rovaniemi in 1999
Christmas celebration in Rovaniemi, November 2004

Since Rovaniemi is the capital of the region of Lapland, many government institutions have their offices there. About 10,000 of the inhabitants are students. Rovaniemi is home to not only the University of Lapland but also the Lapland University of Applied Sciences (formerly known as the Rovaniemi Polytechnic), which comprises institutes of information and traditional technology, business, health and social care, culinary studies, forestry, rural studies, and sports. Local newspapers include the Lapin Kansa, Uusi Rovaniemi and Lappilainen.

Rovaniemi's most prominent landmarks include the Jätkänkynttilä bridge with its eternal flame over the Kemijoki river, the Arktikum Science Museum which rises out of the bank of the Ounasjoki river, the Rovaniemi city hall, the Lappia Hall, which serves as a theatre, concert hall, and congress centre, and the library.

The last three mentioned buildings are designed by the famous Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. The Arktikum Science Museum is a comprehensive museum of Finland's, and the world's, Arctic regions.

Tourism

Because of the unspoiled nature of the area and numerous recreational opportunities, tourism is an important industry in Rovaniemi. The city has a number of hotels and restaurants located both in the centre and on the outskirts of the town, hosting over 481,000 visitors in 2013.[10]

Rovaniemi is also considered by Finns to be the official home town of Santa Claus.[11][12][13] It is home to the Santa Claus Village at the Arctic Circle and SantaPark Arctic World, which is located 8 km (5 mi) north of the centre.

Directly across the river from the town is the Ounasvaara ski centre. The

While the German rearguard was going about the destruction, an ammunition train in Rovaniemi station exploded and set fire to the wooden houses of the town. The German troops suffered many casualties, mainly from glass splinters. A Finnish commando unit claimed to have blown up the ammunition train and may well have been the primary cause of the town's ruin. The cause was then unknown and generally assumed to be the deliberate intent of Rendulic.[citation needed] During these hostilities 90% of all the buildings in Rovaniemi were destroyed.[8] There is a German cemetery 19 km from Rovaniemi where soldiers killed fighting in Lapland during the war are buried.

Although there has been continuous human settlement in the Rovaniemi area since at least the Stone Age, few of the buildings date back before 1944 since most of the city was destroyed during WWII. When the city was rebuilt, it was designed with input by famous Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, who planned the city's footprint in the shape of a reindeer's head, with the city roads forming the antlers, and the local sports stadium as the reindeer's eye.[9]

Since Rovaniemi is the capital of the region of Lapland, many government institutions have their offices there. About 10,000 of the inhabitants are students. Rovaniemi is home to not only the University of Lapland but also the Lapland University of Applied Sciences (formerly known as the Rovaniemi Polytechnic), which comprises institutes of information and traditional technology, business, health and social care, culinary studies, forestry, rural studies, and sports. Local newspapers include the Lapin Kansa, Uusi Rovaniemi and Lappilainen.

Rovaniemi's most prominent landmarks include the Jätkänkynttilä bridge with its eternal flame over the Kemijoki river, the Arktikum Science Museum which rises out of the bank of the Ounasjoki river, the Rovaniemi city hall, the Lappia Hall, which serves as a theatre, concert hall, and congress centre, and the library.

The last three mentioned buildings are designed by the famous Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. The Arktikum Science Museum is a comprehensive museum of Finland's, and the world's, Arctic regions.

Tourism

Because of the unspoiled nature of the area and numerous recreational opportunities, tourism is an important industry in Rovaniemi. The city has a number of hotels and restaurants located both in the centre and on the outskirts of the town, hosting over 481,000 visitors in 2013.[10]

Rovaniemi is also considered by Finns to be the official home town of Santa Claus.[11][12][13]

Rovaniemi's most prominent landmarks include the Jätkänkynttilä bridge with its eternal flame over the Kemijoki river, the Arktikum Science Museum which rises out of the bank of the Ounasjoki river, the Rovaniemi city hall, the Lappia Hall, which serves as a theatre, concert hall, and congress centre, and the library.

The last three mentioned buildings are designed by the famous Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. The Arktikum Science Museum is a comprehensive museum of Finland's, and the world's, Arctic regions.

Because of the unspoiled nature of the area and numerous recreational opportunities, tourism is an important industry in Rovaniemi. The city has a number of hotels and restaurants located both in the centre and on the outskirts of the town, hosting over 481,000 visitors in 2013.[10]

Rovaniemi is also considered by Finns to be the official home town of Santa Claus.[11]Rovaniemi is also considered by Finns to be the official home town of Santa Claus.[11][12][13] It is home to the Santa Claus Village at the Arctic Circle and SantaPark Arctic World, which is located 8 km (5 mi) north of the centre.

Directly across the river from the town is the Ounasvaara ski centre. The top of the Ounasvaara hill bears the site of some of the earliest known human settlements in the area.

A phenomenon also attracting numerous tourists is the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights. In Finnish Lapland, the number of auroral displays can be as high as 200 a year whereas in southern Finland the number is usually fewer than 20.

VR Group, the Finnish state railway system, operates direct daytime and overnight passenger trains from Rovaniemi Station to Oulu, Tampere, Helsinki and Turku. Diesel-powered passenger trains operated northeast of Rovaniemi to Kemijärvi until March 2014, when electrification to Kemijärvi was completed. Rovaniemi Airport is located about 10 kilometres (6 mi) north of the Rovaniemi city centre.

Steam Locomotive VR Class Tk3 1147 at Rovaniemi railway station

Geography

Rovaniemi is twinned with:[22]

Famous inhabitants