Lapland is a country of intrigue! Cloaked in mystery and looking like something straight out of a fairytale book, it wasn’t until only quite recently that Lapland’s tourism industry took off with skiers and snow lovers looking for an alternative destination. But still, everyone still has a lot of questions and sometimes they offer some unexpected answers...
Lapland is a country
Despite the fact that Lapland is vast, it is not actually a country with its own borders. It is a cultural region that encompasses northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and the north-western corner of Russia. Sometimes known as Sapmi, the area is predominantly inhabited by the nomadic Sami peoples.
Lapland is freezing cold
You might think that being so far up inside the Arctic Circle that Lapland is freezing cold and you are better off staying indoors away from the harsh elements... but you could not be further from the truth! Yes- it is cold, but it rarely feels ‘bitterly’ cold. During the winter months the temperature dips to around -25°c, but with extremely low humidity the cold does not cling to your clothes and skin and providing you wear the right gear, you’ll stay warm and toasty for the duration of your trip.
Lapland is so far north that sometimes the sun doesn’t rise
This is true! Deep in the midwinter, sometimes the sun barely struggles to poke its face above the horizon.
During the winter days when the sun doesn’t rise, it is dark in Lapland
Despite the fact the sun does not rise, the land is covered in a perpetual state of dawn/dusk which has the local name kaamos. A mysterious, yet pleasant deep blue light hangs over the land and gives you enough light to go about your usual activities during the day but only lasts for a few hours. Street lights are often left on during this brief period during the winter.
Lapland is a mountainous region
It seems fitting that with all the snow and forests that you may imagine that the terrain of Lapland would be made up of rocky, craggy mountains. Rather, the landscape appears to be made up of large hills, also known as fells which can sometimes reach many feet above the sea level and make up the striking rugged coastline around northern Norway and the picturesque fjords.
These fells are tall and steep enough to provide some excellent skiing terrain that caters for all skiers and snowboarders!
Per year, it snows for over 100 days
Actually it snows for 200 days per year! Talk about snowsure! This obviously means that the skiing and snowboarding conditions on the fells are absolutely fantastic for the whole season.
The modern day equivalent of skiing originated from Norway
In fact, the word ‘ski’ originates from the Old Norse word skid, which means ‘split length of wood’. There are ancient drawings, possibly 4,500-5,000 years old (if not older!), that depict people with ski-like objects attached to their feet found at Rødøy in Norway. Early forms of skis were essential to getting around quickly in the deep snow of Lapland and hunting down food, but they also provided means of social mobility. With settlements in Lapland spread far and wide, early forms of ‘skiing’, particularly cross country skiing, were used to get from A to B.
Husky puppies are born with blue eyes
Baby husky pups are born with ice blue eyes! Usually they turn brown within the first few weeks of their lives, but it’s not uncommon to see a husky with one blue eye and one brown eye.
There is 1 sauna for every 2 people in Finland
Using a sauna is a national pastime for those in Norway, Finland and Sweden. In fact, there are so many saunas in Finland there is roughly 1 for every 2.5 people!
The sauna is so popular in Finland that even prisoners have the right to use one once a week
As previously mentioned using a sauna is something of a national pastime, so it is a prisoners right to have access to a sauna at least once a week...!
The Northern Lights can only be seen from the north
They can also be seen from the southern hemisphere.
You can’t predict when you’re going to see the Northern Lights
Sadly, you cannot predict when the Northern Lights are going to make a special appearance. But visiting in the winter months between October-March gives you a 75% chance of seeing the lights, and many hotels offer a ‘wake up call’ when the lights appear overhead so that you don’t miss them at night!
The Northern Lights are green
It can be difficult to see the variation of colours that the Northern Lights display with the naked eye, but if you are a keen photographer then learn how to adjust your manual exposure on your camera and leave it standing still for a moment, and you may capture the vibrant reds, yellows and peacock greens of the lights.
There are more reindeer than people in Lapland
Perhaps the photo was a bit of a giveaway, but it is true! But if you’re a lover of these soft, doe-eyed creatures then look away now because reindeer meat is a dietary staple for people who live in this region. But don’t worry, Rudolf won’t be appearing on the menu any time soon!
Female reindeer don’t grow antlers
Reindeer are particularly unique in this respect that both male and females grow a majestic set of antlers all year around. It is especially important for females because it allows them to compete for food during the winter months when they are pregnant.
A antler-less reindeer is most likely to be male
Female reindeer hang onto their antlers during the winter months so that they can compete for food when pregnant, and males shed their antlers during this period. If you are visiting Lapland in the winter and spot an antler-less reindeer, he is most likely to be a male. But don’t worry, their antlers grow back pretty quickly!
Only 10% of Finland’s population live in Lapland, despite the fact it takes up over ⅓ of the country
Actually, despite the fact that Lapland holds an enormous geographical footprint and a ⅓ of the land in Finland, only 4% of the country’s population lives there! That’s a population of 200,000 people- fewer than the population of Aberdeen!
The modern Finnish word for the Northern Lights refers to the ancient belief that they were caused by a great fox spirit.
The Finnish word for the Northern Lights is revontulet... which literally translates into ‘fox fires’! As the old folklore legend goes, the lights were caused when a great, giant fox spirit swept his tail over the snow, brushing it up into the sky where it lights up.
Santa Claus lives in Lapland
It’s true... and we’ve met him ourselves!