* = Includes minorities.
UTC +1 to +3
¹ Integrated parts of Norway, Sweden,
Finland and Russia
respectively, but with varying degrees of autonomy for the Sami
Sápmi (Northern Sami: [ˈsapmi]), in English commonly known
as the now-pejorative term Lapland (/ˈlæplənd/),
is the cultural region traditionally inhabited by the Sami people,
traditionally known in English as Lapps.
Sápmi is located in Northern
Europe and includes the northern parts of Fennoscandia. The region
stretches over four countries: Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. On
the north it is bounded by the Barents Sea, on the west by the
Norwegian Sea and on the east by the White Sea.
Despite being the namesake of the region, the
Sami people are
estimated to only make up around 5% of its total population. No
political organization advocates secession, although several groups
desire more territorial autonomy and/or more self-determination for
the region's indigenous population.
2.3 Natural resources
3 Cultural subdivisions
3.1 East Sápmi
3.2 Central Sápmi
3.3 South Sápmi
4.1 Saamic (Sami) languages
4.2 East Slavic languages
4.3 North Germanic (Scandinavian) languages
4.4 Finnic languages
Tornedalians and Kvens
6.1 Sami political structures
6.1.1 Sami Parliaments
6.1.2 Sami Parliamentary Council
6.1.3 Saami Council
6.2 Russian side
6.3 Norwegian side
6.4 Swedish side
6.5 Finnish side
8 Notable places
8.1 Sami core area
8.2 South Sápmi
8.3 East Sápmi
9 See also
11 External links
Sápmi (and corresponding terms in other Sami languages) refers to
both the Sami land and the Sami people. In fact, the word "Sámi" is
only the accusative-genitive form of the noun "Sápmi"—making the
name's (Sámi olbmot) meaning "people of Sápmi." The origin of the
word is speculated to be related to the Baltic word *žēmē that
simply means "land". The same word is speculated to be the origin
of "Suomi", the Finnish name for Finland.
Sápmi is the name in North Sami, while the Julev Sami name is Sábme
and the South Sami name is Saemie. In Norwegian and Swedish the term
Sameland is often used.
In modern Swedish and Norwegian,
Sápmi is known as "Sameland", but in
older Swedish it was known as "Lappmarken", "Lappland", and Finnmark,
respectively.[clarification needed] Originally these two names did
refer to the entire Sápmi, but subsequently became applied to areas
exclusively inhabited by the Sami. "Lappland" (Laponia) became the
name of Sweden's northernmost province (landskap) which in 1809 was
split into one part that remained Swedish and one part falling under
Finland (which became part of the Russian Empire). "Lappland" survives
as the name of both Sweden's northernmost province and Finland's, also
containing part of the old Ostrobothnian province.
In older Norwegian,
Sápmi was known as "Finnmork" or "Finnmark";
which is now the name of Norway's northernmost province. Both Northern
Murmansk Oblast are sometimes marketed as Norwegian Lapland
and Russian Lapland, respectively.
In the 17th century,
Johannes Schefferus assumed the etymology of the
lesser used term "Lapland" to be related to the Swedish word for
"running", "löpa" (cognate with English, to leap).
The largest part of
Sápmi lies north of the Arctic Circle. The
western portion is an area of fjords, deep valleys, glaciers, and
mountains, the highest point being Mount
m/6,926 ft), in Swedish Lapland. The part of
Sápmi falling on
the Swedish side of the border is characterized by great rivers
running from the northwest to the southeast. From the Norwegian
Finnmark and eastwards, the terrain is that of a low
plateau that contains many marshes and lakes, the largest of which is
Lake Inari in Finnish Lapland. The extreme northeastern section lies
within the tundra region, but it does not have permafrost.
In the 19th century scientific expeditions to
Sápmi were undertaken,
for instance by Jöns Svanberg.
The climate is subarctic and vegetation is sparse, except in the
densely forested southern portion. The mountainous west coast has
significantly milder winters and more precipitation than the large
areas east of the mountain chain. North of the
Arctic Circle polar
night characterize the winter season and midnight sun the summer
season—both phenomena are longer the further north you go.
Traditionally, the Sami divide the year in eight seasons instead of
Sápmi contains valuable mineral deposits, particularly iron ore in
Sweden, copper in Norway, and nickel and apatite in Russia. Reindeer,
wolf, bear, and birds are the main forms of animal life, in addition
to a myriad of insects in the short summer. Sea and river fisheries
abound in the region. Steamers are operated on some of the lakes, and
many ports are ice-free throughout the year. All ports along the
Norwegian Sea in the west and the
Barents Sea in the northeast to
Murmansk are ice-free all year. The
Gulf of Bothnia
Gulf of Bothnia usually freezes
over in winter. The ocean floor to the north and west of
deposits of petroleum and natural gas.
Sápmi consists of the
Kola peninsula and the
Lake Inari region,
and is home to the eastern Sami languages. While being the most
heavily populated part of Sápmi, this is also the region where the
indigenous population and their culture is weakest. Corresponds to the
regions marked 6 through 9 on the map below.
Sápmi consists of the western part of Finland's Sami Domicile
Area, the parts of
Norway north of the
Saltfjellet mountains and areas
on the Swedish side corresponding to this. Central
Sápmi is the
region where Sami culture is strongest, and home to North Sami—the
most widely used Sami language. In the southernmost part of this
subregion, however, Sami culture is rather weak—this is where the
moribound Bithun Sami language is used. The areas around the Tysfjord
Norway and the river Lule in
Sweden are home to the Julev
Sami language, one of the more widely used Sami languages. These
correspond to the regions marked 3 through 5 on the map below.
Sápmi consists of the areas south of
corresponding areas in Sweden, and is home to the southern languages.
In this area Sami culture is mostly visible on the inland and in the
coast of Baltic Sea, and the languages are spoken by few. Corresponds
to the regions marked 1 and 2 on the map below plus
Dalarna County to
the south east of region 1 in Sweden.
The inner parts of
Sápmi are often referred to as Lapland or Lappi, a
name deriving from a former name given to the Sami, which is today
considered derogatory by many Sami. The name is also found on the
Russian side as Laplandige (the name of a natural reservation) and the
Norwegian county of
Finnmark is sometimes titled the "Norwegian
Lapland", especially by the travel industry. Lappi- appears as a
common component of place-names throughout central and southern
Finland as well; in many cases it probably refers to earlier Sami
presence, though in some cases the underlying meaning may be merely
"periphery" or "outlying district".
Sápmi may also be sub-divided into cultural regions
according to the states' borders, that obviously affects daily life
for people no matter their ethnicity. By Sami, these regions are
commonly referred to as "sides", for example "the Norwegian side"
(norgga bealli) or "the Finnish side" (suoma bealli).
Map of Saamic language areas
(see text for explanation of numbers)
Saamic (Sami) languages
Main article: Sami languages
The Saamic languages are the region's main minority languages and also
its original languages. They belong to the Uralic language family, and
are most closely related to the Finnic languages. Many Sami languages
are mutually unintelligible, but the languages originally formed a
dialect continuum stretching southwest-northeast, so that a message
could hypothetically be passed between Sami speakers from one end to
the other and be understood by all. Today, however, many of the
languages are moribund and thus there are "gaps" in the original
On the map to the right numbers indicate Sámi Languages (Darkened
areas represent municipalities that recognize Sami as an official
language.): 1. South (Åarjil) Sámi, 2. Ume (Upme) Sámi, 3. Pite
(Bitthun) Sámi, 4. Lule (Julev) Sámi, 5. North (Davvi) Sámi, 6.
Skolt Sámi, 7. Inari (Ánár) Sámi, 8. Kildin Sámi, 9. Ter Sámi.
Of these languages the Northern one is by far the most vital; whereas
Ume, Pite and Ter seem to be dying languages. Kemi Sámi is extinct.
North Sami is subdivided into three main dialects: West, East and
Coast. The written standard is based on the Western dialect.
East Slavic languages
Main article: Russian language
The language spoken by most people in the region is Russian, which is
an East Slavic language. It is the dominant language on the Russian
side of the border, and also spoken by recently immigrated minority
groups elsewhere in Sápmi. Earlier, a common pidgin language was
spoken on the northern coast of
Sápmi that combined elements of
Russian, Norwegian, North Sami and Kven. This language was known as
Russenorsk. On the Russian side, there are also speakers of the East
Slavic Belarusian and Ukrainian languages.
North Germanic (Scandinavian) languages
Norwegian language and Swedish language
Norwegian and Swedish dominate the largest part of Sápmi, including
the entire Southern region and most of the Central region. There also
used to be minorities speaking Norwegian on the Kola Peninsula. The
Scandinavian languages are to a very large degree mutually
intelligible, much more so than South Sami and North Sami. The
Norwegian dialects spoken particularly in North and Central Norway
Sami areas differ very much from the written bokmål standard. In
Sápmi the Scandinavian dialects have taken the Uralic trait
of having a more or less constant emphasis on the first syllable of
each spoken word. In the inner and northernmost parts of
Norway, however, people often speak Norwegian and Swedish close to the
written standard, though with a heavy Uralic accent.
Main articles: Meänkieli, Kven language, and Finnish language
The Finnic (i.e. Baltic Finnic) languages are spoken on the Finnish
(Finnish), Swedish (Meänkieli—spoken by the Tornedalians) and
Norwegian (Kven) sides of the borders. There also used to be
minorities speaking Finnish on the Kola Peninsula. The languages are
as mutually intelligible as the Scandinavian languages. Other Finnic
languages include Karelian, Estonian, Livonian, Veps, Votic and
Izhoran. Many are mutually intelligible.
The approximate number of people living in
Sápmi is about 2 million,
though it is difficult to give the precise number of inhabitants since
certain counties and provinces only include parts of Sápmi. It is
also quite difficult to account for the distribution of ethnic groups
as many people have double or multiple ethnic identities—both seeing
themselves as members of the majority population and being part of one
or more minority groups.
Main article: Sami people
Different criteria are set when calculating the number of Sami, but
the number is generally given as somewhere between 80,000 and 100,000.
Many live in areas outside
Sápmi such as Oulu, Oslo,
Helsinki. Some Sapmi people have migrated to places outside the Sapmi
vernacular region, such as in Canada and the United States. Many Sapmi
people have settled in the northern parts of Minnesota.[citation
Main article: Russians
About 900,000 people inhabit
Murmansk province (oblast'), but parts of
this area lies outside Sápmi. About 758,600 of Murmansk's population
claim to be exclusively Russian. It should be noted, however, that
Russians also live elsewhere in Sápmi. The Russian side of
Sápmi is very ethnically diverse, with particularly big Ukrainian and
Belarusian minorities. The Sami are one of the minor minorities in
this part of Sápmi.
Main article: Norwegians
About 850,000 people inhabit the Norwegian regions North
within Sápmi) and
Trøndelag (mostly within Sápmi). However, many of
the regions' inhabitants—particularly those of North Norway—are
not exclusively Norwegian. Notable minority groups include the Sami,
Finns, and Kvens.
Main article: Swedish people
About 700,000 people inhabit the Swedish counties Norrbotten,
Västernorrland and Jämtland. Many of the counties'
inhabitants are not exclusively Swedish. Notable minority groups
include the Sami, Tornedalians, Kvens, and Finns.
Main article: Finns
13,226 people inhabit the Sami native region of Lapland, Finland. A
great portion of these are Sami.
Tornedalians and Kvens
Tornedalians and Kvens
These two ethnic groups, closely related to each other and also the
Finns, mainly live on the Swedish and Norwegian sides of Sápmi,
Sami political structures
Sweden all have
Sami Parliaments that to varying
degrees are involved in governing the region—though mostly they only
have authority over the matters of the Sami citizens of the states in
which they are situated.
The Sami Parliament of Norway
Every Norwegian citizen registered as a Sami has the right to vote in
the elections for the Sami Parliament of Norway. Elections are held
every four years by direct vote from 13 constituencies covering all of
Norway (12 of which are in Sápmi), and run parallel to the general
Norwegian parliamentary elections. This is the Sami Parliament with
most influence over any part of Sápmi, as it is involved in the
autonomy established by the
Finnmark Act.The parliament is situated in
Kárášjohka and its current President is
Egil Olli from the
Norwegian Labour Party.
The Sami Parliament of Sweden, situated in
Kiruna (Northern Sami:
Giron), is elected by a general vote where all registered Sami
Sweden may attend. The current President is Lars-Anders
Voting for elections to the Sámi Parliament of
Finland is restricted
to inhabitants of the Sami Domicile Area. The Parliament is located in
Inari (Inari Sami: Aanaar), and its current President is Pekka Aikio.
Russia there is no Sami Parliament. There are two Sami
organizations that are members of the national umbrella organisation
of indigenous peoples, the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples
of the North and represent the Russian Sami in the Sami Council.
RAIPON is represented in Russia's Public Chamber by Pavel Sulyandziga.
On 14 December 2008 the first Congress of the Russian Sámi took
place. The Conference decided to demand the formation of a Russian
Sámi Parliament, to be elected by the local Sami. A suggestion to
have the Russian Federation pick representatives to the Parliament was
voted down with a clear majority. The Congress also chose a Council of
Representatives that were to work for the establishment of a
Parliament, and otherwise represent the Russian Sami. It is headed by
Sami Parliamentary Council
On 2 March 2000, the Sami parliaments of
the Sami Parliamentary Council, and the Sami Parliament of Sweden
joined two years later. Each parliament sends seven representatives,
and observers are sent from the Sami organizations of
Russia and the
Sami Council (see below). The Sami Parliamentary Council discuss
cross-border cooperation, hand out the annual Gollegiella language
development award and represent the
Sami people abroad.
In addition to the parliaments and their common council, there is a
Saami Council based on Saami organizations. This council also
organizes inter-state cooperation between the Saami, and also often
represent the Saami in international fora such as the Barents Region.
This organization is older than the Parliamentary Council, but not
connected to the parliaments except for the fact that some of the NGOs
double as party lists in Sami parliament elections.
The Russian Federation consists of several types of subunits. The
Russian side of
Sápmi is contained within an oblast (province).
Oblasti are governed by popularly elected parliaments, and formally
headed by governors. The governors are nominated by the President of
the Russian Federation, and accepted or discarded by the parliaments.
However, should the parliament refuse to accept the President's
nominee, the President is entitled to dissolve parliament and call for
new oblast elections.
Murmansk Oblast covers the Kola Peninsula and is home to Murmánska
(Northern Sami) or
Murmansk (Russian), the largest city north of the
Arctic Circle and in Sápmi. It is subdivided into several districts,
of which the geographically largest is Lovozersky District. This is
also the part of
Russia where the Sami population is most numerous and
visible. In the west of the province there is a large natural reserve
known as Laplandiya. The current governor of
Murmansk Province is
Yuriy A. Yevdokimov, who has run the province since 1997 and
helped found the pro-Putin party Jedinstvo that after Putin's victory
combined with its main opponent to become the Yedinaya Rossiya Party.
The counties of
Norway are governed by popularly elected assemblies,
headed by county mayors. Formally, the counties are headed by county
governors, but in practice these have limited influence today.
The largest of Norway's counties, Finmárku (Northern Sami) or
Finnmark (Norwegian), is located in
Sápmi and has a special form of
autonomy: 95% (about 46,000 km2) of the area is owned by the
Finnmark Estate. The board of the Estate consists of equally many
representatives from the Sami Parliament of
Norway and Finnmark's
county council. The two institutions appoint leaders of the board
alternately. The administrative centre of Finmárku is Čáhcesuolu or
Vadsø, located far east in the county. The current county governor is
Runar Sjåstad from the Norwegian Labour Party.
Troms is situated to the southwest of Finmárku. Its
administrative centre is the city after which the county is named,
Romsa or Tromsø. Romsa is North Norway's biggest city and Sápmi's
biggest city after Murmansk. Current fylkesordfører is Terje Olsen
from the Conservative Party. A similar solution to the Finnmark
Estate, Hålogalandsallmenningen, has been proposed for Romsa county
and its southern neighbour Nordlánda.
Nordland or Nordlánda (not official name) covers a long strip of
coast that includes both North Sami, Julev Sami, Bithun Sami and South
Sami areas. Its administrative centre is Bådåddjo or Bodø. The
current county governor is Mariette Korsrud from the Norwegian Labour
The southernmost parts of Norwegian Sapmi lie in Nord-
partially in Sør-Trøndelag, and the administrative centres of which
Trondheim respectively. The latter city is outside
Sápmi but well known for being the site of the first international
Sami conference in February 1917. The county governors are Gunnar
Viken (the Conservative Party) in Nord-
Trøndelag and Tore Sandvik
(Norwegian Labour Party) in Sør-Trøndelag.
"Lappland" is the name of a large northwestern province of Sweden,
wholly within Sápmi. The traditional provinces of
Sweden are cultural
and historical entities; for administrative and political purposes
they were replaced by the counties of
Sweden (län) in 1634.
Five counties are wholly or partially within Sapmi. Län are formally
governed by the landshövding, who is an envoy of the government and
runs the government-appointed länsstyrelse that coordinates
administration with national political goals for the county. Much of
county politics is run by the county council or landsting, which is
elected by the inhabitants of the county; but the counties' top
positions are still determined by those who win the general elections
Norrbotten is more or less covered by Sápmi, although the lower
Tornedalen region is often excluded. The administrative centre is
Luleå in the Julev Sami area (
Norrbotten includes North, Julev and
Bithun areas). Current landshövding is
Per-Ola Eriksson of the Centre
Sápmi covers the interior majority of Västerbotten, which are Upmeje
and South Sami regions. The administrative centre is Umeå, and the
current landshövding is
Chris Heister from the conservative Moderate
Västernorrland is an old part of Sapmi and still is. There is a lot
of sami in the coast of Baltic Sea (Gulf of Bothnia).
Jämtland is wholly within Sápmi, and is a South Sami county. The
administrative centre is Östersund. Current landshövding is Maggi
Kristina Maria Mikaelsson from the socialist Left Party.
Sápmi covers the interior majority of Dalarna, which is traditionally
a South Sami region.
Finland is subdivided into nineteen regions (maakunta). The regions
are governed by regional councils, which are generally forums of
cooperation between the municipalities and not elected by direct
popular vote. "Lapland" ("Lappi") is the name of the northernmost of
the regions, which stretches further south than Sápmi. North Sami,
Skolt Sami and Aanaar Sami are indigenous to the region.
Four municipalities in the northern part of Finnish Lapland constitute
the Sami Domicile Area; Sámiid Ruovttoguovlu, a region which is
autonomous on issues regarding Sami culture and language.
Coats of Arms
The region has its own football team, the
Sápmi football team, which
is organized by FA Sápmi. It is a member of
ConIFA and the host of
ConIFA World Football Cup.
Sápmi football team
Sápmi football team won the 2006 VIVA
World Cup and hosted the 2008 event.
Tour de Barents is a cross-country skiing race held in the region.
The following towns and villages have a significant Sami population or
host Sami institutions. Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish or Russian
toponyms are in parenthesis.
Sami core area
Deatnu (Tana) has a significant Sami population.
Divtasvuodna (Tysfjord) is a centre for the Lule (Julev) Sami
population. The Árran Lule-Sami centre is located here.
Gáivuotna (Kåfjord) is an important centre for the Coastal Sami
culture, which is host to the Riddu Riđđu international indigenous
festival each summer. The municipality has a Sami language centre, and
hosts the Ája Sami Centre. The opposition against Sami language and
culture revitalization in
Gáivuotna was infamous in the late 1990s
and included Sami language road signs being shot to pieces
Giron (Kiruna) is the seat of the Swedish Sami Parliament and the
largest urban settlement in Swedish Lapland.
Guovdageaidnu (Kautokeino): About 90% of the population speak North
Sami, and several Sami institutions are located here. These include:
Beaivváš Sami Theatre, a Sami High School and
School, the Sami University College, the Nordic Sami Research
Institute, the Sami Language Board, the Resource Centre for the Rights
of Indigenous People, and the International Centre For Reindeer
Husbandry. In addition, several Sami media are based in Kautokeino.
These include the Sami language newspaper Áššu, and the DAT Sami
publishing house/record company. Kautokeino also hosts the Sami Easter
Festival. The Kautokeino rebellion in 1852 is one of the few Sami
rebellions against the Norwegian governments oppression against the
Jiellevárri or Váhčir (Gällivare)
Johkamohkki (Jokkmokk) holds a large Sami market and festival the
first weekend of every February. It is also the location of Ájtte,
Svenskt fjäll- och samemuseum.
Kárášjohka (Karasjok) is the seat of the Norwegian Sami Parliament.
Also other important Sami institutions including NRK Sami Radio, the
Sami Collections museum, the Sami Art Centre, the Sami Specialist
Library, the legal office of Middle Finnmark, the Inner
and Youth Psychiatric Policlinic, the Sami Specialist Medical Centre,
and the Sami Health Research Institute. In addition the Sápmi
cultural park is in the township, and the Sami language Min Áigi
newspaper is published here.
Leavdnja (Lakselv) in Porsáŋgu (Porsanger) municipality is the
location of the
Finnmark Estate, and the Ságat Sami newspaper. The
Finnmarkseiendommen organization owns and manages about 95% of the
land in Finnmark, and 50% of its board members are elected by the
Norwegian Sami Parliament.
Romsa or Tromsa (Tromsø) is the largest city in the Central Sami area
and has a university that specializes in Sami subjects. It also has a
notable and very active Sami population.
Unjárga (Nesseby) is an important centre for the Coastal Sami
culture. It is also the site for the Várjjat Sami Museum and the
Norwegian Sami Parliament's department of culture and environment. The
first Sami to be elected into the Norwegian Parliament, Isak Saba, was
Aarborte (Hattfjelldal) is a southern Sami centre with a southern-Sami
language school and a Sami culture centre.
Snåase (Snåsa) is a centre for the Southern Sami language, and the
only municipality in
Norway where Southern Sami is an official
language. The Saemien Sijte southern sami museum is located in
Aanaar, Anár, or Aanar (Inari) is the seat of the Finnish Sami
Lujávri (Lovozero) is the largest settlement of Sami on the Russian
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More spoken articles
Cuisine of Lapland
Environmental racism in Europe
Laponia—a historical province of
Sweden and Finland
World Heritage site
World Heritage site protecting the Sami
homelands in Sweden
A Norwegian Government report
Swedish Sami Parliament web page
^ Riitta-Liisa,, Valijärvi,. North Sámi : an essential grammar.
Kahn, Lily,. Abingdon, Oxon. ISBN 9781138839373.
^ "Lapland." Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica
Online. Encyclopædia Britannica, 2009. Web. 24 November 2009
^ We are the Sámi – Fact sheets. Gáldu Resource Centre for the
Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
^ 100,000 out of 2,000,000.
^ Article on the subject by the Finno-Ugrian Society.
^ Egil's Saga, Chapter XIV
^ The History of Lapland: Chap. I: Of the name of Lapland, Scheffer,
John, Oxford, 1674
^ Svanberg, Jons (1805). Exposition des opérations faites en
Lapponie, pour la détermination d'un arc du méridien en 1801, 1802
et 1803 (in French). Johan Pehr Lindh.
^ Presentation of
Finnmark by Norway's Ministry of Trade and Industry
in their official travel guide to Norway.
^ "RUSSLAND: Samene vil ha et eget Sameting". Galdu.org. 14 December
2008. Archived from the original on 17 February 2012. Retrieved 13
^ Samiskt parlamentariskt råd – Sametinget
^ Евдокимов, Юрий Алексеевич on Russian
^ Korsrud Nordlands første, NRK, Retrieved 31 July 2008
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Coordinates: 68°N 20°E / 68°N