Countries: Norway (Lapland), Sweden (Lappland), Finland (Lappi), Russia (Laplandiya)
The name of Lapland is applied to the northern part of Scandinavia, extending over parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. It has a total area of around 260,000sq.km/100,000sq.mi, sloping down towards the east from the mountains of Norway and northern Sweden.
In the south it is mostly forest-covered; in the north it consists of treeless tundra and bog. It has a population of some 380,000, of whom 30,000-32,000 are Sami (Lapps).
The climate, except in the coastal regions, is continental, with short summers (many mosquitoes) and long, cold winters. Since most of Lapland lies north of the Arctic Circle, the midnight sun shines in summer, while in winter the Arctic night prevails.
In the fauna of Lapland the reindeer occupies a special place. Brown bears are now rare, and with the advance of modern civilization the lynx has almost disappeared. During the winter wolves venture near human settlements.
Those who want to do any walking in Lapland should be equipped with sturdy footwear, good maps, a compass and sufficient food. Lapland is beautiful, but it has a character of its own which finds expression in sudden and violent changes in the weather. Walkers should never go on their own.
Ecology and Tourism
The ecological balance of Lapland is extremely delicate, and visitors should be very careful not to disturb it. It may take many years, for example, for a tin can to rust away, since it is subject to corrosion only during the few frost-free months in the year.
In the dry summer months great caution is required with open fires. During this period there are different stages of alert restricting the lighting of fires, and visitors must be sure to check up on the current alert situation: ignorance is no defense against failure to comply with the restrictions, which may result in a heavy fine. They should ensure, before leaving a camping site, that any fire they have lit is completely extinguished. If they are traveling by mountain bicycle they should remember that the layer of topsoil in Lapland is extremely thin and slow to build up, and should, therefore, ride only on made-up roads.
One possible hazard for motorists in Lapland is a collision with an elk or reindeer. Animals tend to like main roads, where there is likely to be a breeze to keep the mosquitos away. If an animal is critically injured in an accident it should be put out of its misery. If you are unable or reluctant to do so, a local inhabitant should be informed and driven to the spot in order to do what is necessary. The nearest police station or frontier post should then be informed. Elks belong to no one; but a motorist who kills one has no right to it, since under the veterinary regulations only the holder of an elk-shooting permit is entitled to dispose of a dead elk. Reindeer always belong to someone, and any visitor who takes the meat of a reindeer is guilty of theft.
In accidents of this kind the facts are recorded by the authorities, and that ends the matter. The question of responsibility for the accident is not pursued. The motorist is not liable for compensation, which the owner of the animal can claim from the state. Since he is not exposed to any legal action, either criminal or civil, the driver need have no hesitation in reporting the matter and giving all the information required. Failure to do so will usually have unpleasant consequences, since the local people will realize what caused the bump on your car and the bush telegraph will associate it with an accident which may have occurred hours or days before and many miles away.