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(lăp`lănd'), Finn. Lappi, Nor. Lapland, Swed. Lappland, vast region of N Europe, largely within the Arctic Circle. It includes the Norwegian provinces of Finnmark and Troms and part of Nordland; the Swedish historic province of Lappland; N Finland; and the Kola Peninsula of Russia. Swedish Lappland is now included in Norrbotten and Västerbotten counties.

Lapland is mountainous in N Norway and Sweden, reaching its highest point (6,879 ft/2,097 m) in Kebnekaise (Sweden), and consists largely of tundra in the northeast. There are also extensive forests and many lakes and rivers. The climate is arctic and the vegetation is generally sparse, except in the forested southern zone. Lapland is very rich in mineral resources, particularly in high-grade iron ore at Gällivare and Kiruna (Sweden), in copper at Sulitjelma (Norway), and in nickel and apatite in Russia. Kirkenes and Narvik (both in Norway) are the chief maritime outlets for Scandinavian Lapland, and Murmansk is the port for Russian Lapland. The region abounds in sea and river fisheries and in aquatic and land fowl. Reindeer are essential to the economy; there is a growing tourist industry in the region.

The Sami, formerly known as Lapps or Laplanders, who constitute the indigenous population, number from about 80,000 to 100,000. The largest concentration of Sami are found in Norway (about 50,000), where formerly they were called Finns (hence the province name Finnmark). Sami institutions in Norway include a parliament (est. 1989) in Karasjok, which advises the federal parliament on Sami concerns, and the anthropological Nordic Sami Institute in Kautokeino. There are also Sami parliaments in Sweden and Finland, and the international Sami Council works to protect the rights of Sami throughout Lapland. The Sami speak a Finno-Ugric language, also called Sami and divided into three broad regional dialects, but only about 30,000 are Sami speakers. The Sami once led a largely nomadic life, but now only about a tenth raise and follow the reindeer herds, wintering in the lowlands and summering in the western mountains. Their movements today are more restricted than in former times. Other Sami are sea and river fishermen and hunters or work in other fields.

Little is known of their early history, and they have proved to have no genetic resemblance to any other peoples. It is believed that they came from central Asia and were pushed to the northern extremity of Europe by the migrations of the Finns, Goths, and Slavs. They may have assumed their Finnic language in the last millennium B.C. Though mainly conquered by Sweden and Norway in the Middle Ages, the Sami long resisted Christianization, which was completed only in the 18th cent. by Russian and Scandinavian missionaries, and elements of their traditional shamanism survived despite being banned.


See V. Stalder, Lapland (1971) and N.-A. Valkeapaa, Greetings from Lappland: The Sami—Europe's Forgotten People (1983).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a region in northern Norway, Sweden, and Finland and the western part of Murmansk Oblast, USSR, north of 64°-66° N lat. It is the basic area of settlement of the Saam or Lapps.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


northern region of Scandinavian peninsula, mostly within Arctic Circle. [Geography: Misc.]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


an extensive region of N Europe, mainly within the Arctic Circle: consists of the N parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the Kola Peninsula of the extreme NW of Russia
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
And in the centre of the gathering, a traditional Laplander used a reindeer antler to beat out a tune on the drum, before welcoming everyone in turn to his homeland.
There were twenty-four Laplanders, their dogs, and their reindeer (which died one by one when the heat of summer arrived).
If Laplander means more specifically a "member of the Sami people of the Lapland area of Scandinavia," single quotes might be used to better designate and evaluate the term.
The destination was a nineteenth-century neo-romantic structure recalling in turn the palaces of a century before: today it is home to the Nordic Museum, a curious visual encyclopedia embracing everything from ethnographic displays of Laplander culture to a recent show concerning the relationship of Swedes to their cars.
Organized in 1929 by the Canadian government to import a herd of several thousand reindeer to help the starving Inuit of the Mackenzie Delta, the trek was led by Andrew Bahr, a 62-year-old Laplander commissioned to bring the reindeer from the Bering Sea across Alaska and into the Northwest Territories.
Last Sunday the wide-eyed youngsters stepped into the snow at the airport in Rovaniemi to be greeted by reindeer and a Laplander in traditional dress.
Thus a Laplander, American, Frenchman, and Japanese will each have their own ideas on what they find entertaining, humorous, and relevant news to them or something they aspire to.
On a good night, ten to twelve rascals would ply themselves on the scaffold and hoist a Laplander onto the fatherland's shoulders.
PWC's advisers reckon the globe-trotting Laplander needs to focus on four key areas.
Norwich Union reckons the hard-working Laplander would be classified as a "non-standard motoring risk".
Gerda has to battle through magical landscapes to rescue her friend, encountering everything from giant dancing flowers to Laplanders and a prince and princess suspended above the stage in their castle.