Lapland or Lappland, a region of Europe largely within the Arctic Circle. Lapland is not a nation. The region covers parts of northern Sweden, Norway, and Finland, and part of northwestern Russia. With an approximate area of 150,000 square miles (388,000 km2), Lapland is slightly larger than Montana. The western part is mountainous. The highest peak is Mount Kebnekaise (6,965 feet [2,123 m]), in Sweden. The eastern part is largely tundra with many lakes, rivers, and marshes.

Lapland is a land of the midnight sun—the sun never sets in midsummer. In winter, on the other hand, the sun remains below the horizon for weeks. The darkness, however, is often broken by the flaring of the Northern Lights.

Fish are abundant. Land animals include arctic fox, wolverine, bear, reindeer, and ptarmigan and other birds. Metal ores are mined at several locations.

The People

The region is sparsely populated. The people are called Lapps, which means “nomads” in Scandinavian languages. They call themselves Samior Sameand their land Same-adnam. The Lapps are the shortest people in Europe, ranging in height from four to five feet (1.2 to 1.5 m). They have somewhat yellowish skin, straight black hair, low foreheads, and high cheekbones. Lapps speak Lappish, a Finno-Ugric language.

Today, most Lapps live in permanent villages or on farms. Some, however, still adhere to tlie traditional nomadic way of life, moving with reindeer herds between feeding grounds in the lowlands in winter and the mountains in summer. Reindeer are still important to Lapland's economy, providing meat, milk, and skins for clothing and blankets. Farming, mining, and fishing, especially along the Norwegian coast, are the leading economic activities. Forestry is also important.

History

Little is known of Lapland's early history. The Lapps are said to have migrated to the region from central Asia in prehistoric times. Until the Middle Ages, the Lapps had little contact with their neighbors. By the middle of the 18th century, Lapland had been partitioned between Norway, Sweden, and Russia. In 1989, the Sami Assembly was created in Norway in an effort to grant Lapps greater autonomy within the country.