name = Finnmark
alt_names_last = Finnmárkku fylka
idnumber = 20
governor = Gunnar Kjønnøy
governor_date = 1998
mayor = Runar Sjåstad
mayor_date = 2007
mayor_party = Arbeiderpartiet
region = Nord-Norge
arearank = 1
area = 48618
arealand = 45757
areapercent = 15.04
language = Bokmål, Kvensk, and Sami
population_as_of = 2008
populationrank = 19
population = 72,560
populationpercent = 1.60
populationdensity = 2
populationincrease = -4.2
gdp_as_of = 2001
gdprank = 19
gdppercent = 0.90
gdpcapita = 185,563
incomecapita = 128,300
demonym = Finnmarking
munwebpage = www.ffk.no
Audio|Finnmark.ogg|Finnmark or Finnmárku (
Sami language) is a county in the extreme northeast of Norway. By land it borders Tromscounty to the west, Finland(Lapland) to the south and Russia( Murmansk Oblast) to the east, and by water, the Norwegian Sea( Atlantic Ocean) to the northwest, and the Barents Sea( Arctic Ocean) to the north and northeast.
The county was formerly known as "Finmarkens amt" or "Vardøhus amt", and since 2002, has had two official names: Finnmark (Norwegian) and Finnmárku (
Sami language). It is part of the Sápmi region, which spans four countries, as well as the Barents Region, and is the largest and least populated county of Norway.
Situated on top of
Europe, where Norway swings eastward, Finnmark has always been an area where east meets west, in culture as well as in nature and geography. Vardø, the easternmost municipality in the country, is located further east than both St. Petersburgand Istanbul.
Geography and environment
Finnmark is the northern- and easternmost county of Norway (
Svalbardis not considered a county). In area, Finnmark is Norway's largest county, and is larger than Denmark. However, with a population of only 72,000, it is also the least populated. Knivskjelloddenin Nordkappmunicipality (on Magerøyaisland) is the northernmost point of Europe; Kinnaroddenat Nordkynis the northernmost point on the European mainland.Now Honningsvåg, former Hammerfest, is the northernmost city of the world, and Vardøis the easternmost town in Norwayand western Europe, and is actually east of Istanbul.
The coast is indented by large
fjords, which in a strict sense are false fjords, as they are not carved out by glaciers. Some of Norway's largest sea birdcolonies can be seen on the northern coast, the largest are "Hjelmsøystauran" in Måsøyand "Gjesværstappan" in Nordkapp. The highest point is located on the top of the glacier Øksfjordjøkelen("Øksfjord glacier", 45 km²). Both Øksfjordjøkelen and Seilandsjøkelen("Seiland glacier") are located in the western part of Finnmark. The Øksfjord plateau glacier calved directly into the sea ("Jøkelfjorden") until 1900, the last glacier in mainland Norway to do so. The central and eastern part of Finnmark is generally less mountainous, and has no glaciers. The land east of Nordkapp is mostly below 300 m.
The nature varies from barren coastal areas facing the
Barents Sea, to more sheltered fjord areas and river valleys with gullies and tree vegetation. About half of the county is above the tree line, and large parts of the other half is covered with small Downy birch.
The most lush areas are the Alta area and the
Tana(river) valleys [ [http://english.dirnat.no/wbch3.exe?p=3055 Norwegian Nature Directorate] ] , and in the east is the lowland area in the Pasvikvalley in Sør-Varanger, where the pine and Siberian spruceforest is considered part of the Russian taigavegetation [ [http://english.dirnat.no/wbch3.exe?p=3057 Øvre Anarjóhka National Park] ] . This valley has the highest density of Brown bears in Norway, and is the only location in the country with a population of musk-rats. Lynxand elk are common in large parts of Finnmark, but rarely on the coast.
In the interior is the
Finnmarksviddaplateau, with an elevation of 300 - 400 m, with numerous lakes and river valleys, and famous for its tens of thousands of reindeerowned by the Sami, and swarms of mosquitos in mid-summer. Finnmarksvidda makes up 36% of the county's area. Stabbursdalen national parkensures protection for the world's most northernpine forest. [ [http://english.dirnat.no/wbch3.exe?p=3054 Reference to Finnmarksvidda plateau] ]
Tanaelva, which partly defines the border with
Finland, gives the largest catch of salmonof all rivers in Europe, and also has the world record for Atlantic salmon, 36 kg. In the east, Pasvikelvadefines the border with Russia.
Finnmarksviddain the interior of the county has a continental climatewith the coldest winter temperatures in Norway: the coldest temperature ever recorded was -51.4 °C (-60.5 °F) in Karasjokon 1 January 1886. The 24-hour averages for January and July at the same location are -17.1 °C (1.2 °F) and 13.1 °C (55.6 °F), the annual average is -2.4 °C (28 °F), and precipitation is only 366 mm (14.43 in) per year [ [http://met.no/observasjoner/finnmark/normaler_for_kommune_2021.html?kommuner 1 Norwegian Meteorological Records] ] . Karasjok has recorded up to 32.4 °C (90.3 °F) in July, giving a possible year amplitude of 84 °C (151 °F) (rare in Europe). Finnmarksvidda has annual mean temperatures down to -3 °C (27 °F) (Sihcajavri in Kautokeino), the coldest in mainland Norway (except for higher mountains areas) and even colder than Jan Mayenand Bear Island. However, Sihcajavri has also recorded the warmest temperature ever in North Norway: 34.3°C (93.8°F) on 23 June 1920.
Due to the proximity to the ice-free ocean, winters are much milder in coastal areas (and more windy);
Loppahas average January & July temperatures of -2 °C (28 °F) and 11.6 °C (52.9 °F) respectively, with an annual mean of 3.6 °C (38.5 °F) [ [http://met.no/observasjoner/finnmark/normaler_for_kommune_2014.html?kommuner 2 Meteorological data] ] , despite being further north. The year average temperature difference between Loppa and Karasjok (6 °C) is comparable to the difference between Loppa and London[ [http://www.worldclimate.com/cgi-bin/data.pl?ref=N51W000+1102+03776W Meteorological data] ] .
Köppen climate classification, the climate in Karasjok - and most of the lowland areas in Finnmark - corresponds to the Dfc category ( subarctic climate), while the Loppa climate corresponds to the Cfc category. The northeastern coast, from Nordkappeast to Vardø, have arctic tundraclimate (Köppen: ETf), as the average July temperature is below 10 °C (50 °F). Furthermore, elevations exceeding approximately 100 - 200 m in coastal areas in western Finnmark and 300-500 m in the interior result in an alpine tundra climate, and in the northeast this merges with the Arctic tundra climate.
The climate in sheltered parts of fjord areas (particularly Altafjord) is usually considered the most hospitable: winters are not as cold as in the interior, and summer warmth is comparable. Even if winter temperatures are milder in coastal areas, the coast is more exposed to winter
storms, which often complicate or shut down road and air communications.
Midnight sun and the northern lights
Situated far north of the
Arctic circle, Finnmark has midnight sunfrom middle of May until late July. And in two months of the winter, from late November to late January, the county experiences polar nights where the sun is always below the horizon. As a consequence, there is continuous daylight from early May to early August. At midwinter, there is only a bluish twilightfor a couple of hours around noon, which can almost reach full daylight if there are clear skies to the south.
Finnmark is situated in the
Aurora Borealiszone, and because of the dry climate with frequent clear skies, Alta was early chosen as a location for the study of this strange light phenomenon. For this reason, Alta is sometimes referred to as the city of the northern lights.
Administration and economy
Vadsøis the capital city of the county of Finnmark, although Alta has the largest population. Fisherieshave traditionally been the most important way of living along the coast, where the majority of the Norwegian population live. The red king crab, originally from the northern Pacific oceanbut brought to the Barents sea by the Russians, have invaded from the east and are now being exploited commercially (especially in Varangerfjord). To prevent the crab from spreading too far south, crab fishing west of Nordkapp is totally unregulated. The slateindustry in Alta is well known, and have sold to customers as far away as Japan. Kirkenesgrew into a town as the exploitation of the iron oresstarted, but AS Sydvaranger closed down their iron ore activities in 1996.
In more recent years,
tourismhas grown in importance, with Nordkapp (North Cape), Alta and Hammerfest as the most important destinations.
There are two
hospitals in Finnmark, located in Kirkenesand Hammerfest. There are several smaller airports (with flights to Tromsø), but only Alta and Kirkenes have airports with direct flights to Oslo. In addition, Lakselv Airport, Banakin Porsangeris used for training purposes by the Royal Norwegian Air Forceand other NATOallies, in conjunction with the nearby Halkavarreshooting range, which allows for practice with precision guided munitions. Garnisonen i Porsangeris also located near Halkavarre training area. There is also the Garnisonen i Sør-Varanger( Gsv) in the east, which guards the border with Russia. Hammerfest is now experiencing an economic boom [ [http://observer.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,6903,1651724,00.html Arctic booms as climate change melts polar ice cap] ] as a consequence of Statoil's construction of the large land-based LNGsite at Melkøya[ [http://www.statoil.com/STATOILCOM/snohvit/svg02699.nsf?OpenDatabase&lang=en Snøhvit home page] ] , which will get natural gas from the Snøhvitfield. A new oil fieldwas recently discovered just 45 km off shore [ [http://www.aftenposten.no/english/business/article1183572.ece Aftenpost article] ] , [ [http://www.aftenposten.no/english/business/article1197441.ece Aftenpost article] ] , close to the Snøhvit field.
There is also optimism in the eastern part of the county, as the growing
petroleumactivity in the Barents Sea is expected to generate increased economic activity on land as well [ [http://www.bellona.no/en/energy/fossil/barents/27569.html Norwegian environmental group Bellona] ] .
Finnmark Estateagency owns and manages about 95% of the land in Finnmark, and is governed in tandem by Finnmark County and the Sami Parliament of Norway.
People have lived in Finnmark for at least 10,000 years (see
Komsa, Pit-Comb Ware cultureand Rock carvings at Alta). The destiny of these early cultures is unknown. Three ethnic groups have a long history in Finnmark: the Sami people, the Norwegians and the Kven people. Of these the Sami were the first people to settle in Finnmark. Later Norwegian and Finnish people (ancestors to the Kvens) colonized the areas.
The Sami are the indigenous people of Finnmark, but Norwegians have lived for hundreds of years on the islands' outer parts, where they made up the majority. The
Sami peoplestill constitute the majority in Finnmark's interior parts, while the fjord areas have been ethnically mixed for a long time. In essence, this still holds true today. The Sami were for many years victims of the "Norwegianization" policy, which in essence was a deliberate attempt by the Norwegian government to make them "true" Norwegians and forget about their Sami way of life and religion, which was seen as inferior. As a result of this, the Sami living at the coast and in the fjords gradually lost much of their culture and often felt ashamed by their Sami inheritance. The Sami in the interior managed to preserve more of their culture. However, in the 1970s, instruction of the Sami language started in the schools, and a new sense of consciousness started to grow among the Sami; today most are proud of their Sami background and culture. In the midst of this awakening (1979), Norway's government decided to build a damin Alta to produce hydropower, provoking many Sami and environmentalists to demonstrations and civil disobedience ("Altasaken"). In the end, the dam was built on a much smaller scale than originally intended and the Sami culture was on the government's agenda. The Sami parliament("Sámediggi") was opened in Karasjok in 1989.
Gjesværin Nordkapp is mentioned in the Sagas( Heimskringla) as a northern harbor in the viking age, especially used by vikings on the way to Bjarmaland(see Ottar from Hålogaland), and probably also for gathering food in the nearby seabird colony. Coastal areas of Finnmark were colonized by Norwegians beginning in the 10th century, and there are stories describing clashes with the karelians. Border skirmishes between the Norwegians and Novgorodians continued until 1326, when the Treaty of Novgorodsettled the issue.
The first known
fortificationin Finnmark is Vardøhus festning, first erected in 1306 by King Haakon V Magnusson. This is the world's most northernfortress. In the 17th century, 88 young women were burned as witches in Vardø, an extremely high number compared to the total population in this area at the time [ [http://www.bioone.org/bioone/?request=get-document&issn=0013-0001&volume=057&issue=03&page=0403 BioOne article] ] .
Finnmark first became subject to increased colonization in the 18th and 19th century. Norway, Sweden and Russia all claimed control over this area. Finnmark was given the status of an "Amt" (county) in the 19th century. For a time, there was a vibrant trade with Russia (Pomor Trade), and many Norwegians settled on the
Kola Peninsula(see Kola Norwegians).
Finnic" Kven" residents of Finnmark are largely descendants of Finnish immigrants who arrived in the area during the 19th century - or before - from Finland, suffering from famineand war.
World War II and the Cold War
Towards the end of
World War II, with Operation Nordlicht, the Germans used the scorched earthtactic in Finnmark and northern Tromsto halt the victorious Red Army. As a consequence of this, few houses survived the war, and a large part of the population was forcefully evacuated further south (Tromsø was crowded), but many hid and waited until the Germans were gone, then inspected their burned homes. However, after liberating Kirkenes on 25 October 1944 (as the first town in Norway), the Red Army did not attempt further offensives in Norway. The town was peacefully handed over to Norway as the war ended.
Cold Warwas a period with sometimes high tension in eastern Finnmark, at the 196 km long border with the Soviet Union. To keep tensions from getting too high, Norway declared that no NATOexercises would take place in Finnmark. There were, however, a lot of military intelligence activity, and Norwegian P-3 Orionmaritime surveillance aircraft were often the first to get pictures of newly built Soviet submarines and aircraft. A purpose built ELINTvessel, the Marjata, was always stationed near the border, and the current Marjata (7500 t, [ [http://www.mil.no/etjenesten/start/marjata/1995/article.jhtml?articleID=19245 Norwegian military article no icon] ] is still operating out of the ports in eastern Finnmark. As recent as 2000, Russian generals threatened to target nuclear missiles at the Globus IIRadar in Vardø[ [http://www.newsmax.com/articles/?a=2000/7/23/134906 NewsMax Russia Threatens Norway Over Radar Base; Says Base Targeted with Nuclear Missiles] ] ).
The Norse form of the name was "Finnmörk". The first element is "finn(ar)", the Norse name for the
Sámipeople. The last element is "mörk" f 'woodland, borderland'. In Norse times the name was referring to any places where Sámi people were living (also parts of Southern Norway).
More recently, "Finnmark" is also the older name for Lapland in
Swedenand is used by some inhabitants in this region. The title comes from Linné's expeditions in the northern Nordic regions during the 1700s, and his choice of name was influenced by the history of the region.
Coat of arms
The coat of arms, "Sable, a single-towered castle Or", is from 1967, and shows the old Vardøhus festning.
stoneage" Komsaculture" is very difficult to relate to the people living in Finnmark today. There are findings suggesting that the Sami people have been here for a long time, but exactly how long is unclear, some scholars claim 8000 years, while some claim only 2500 years. From the Middle Ages, starting in the 10th century, the coastal areas have been populated and visited by ethnic Norwegians, and Finnmark became part of the kingdom.
The Sami core areas in Norway are in Finnmark, where they constitute about one-quarter of the total population. The county and the municipalities
Kautokeino, Karasjok, Tana, Nesseby, Porsanger, Kåfjord (in Troms), Tysfjord(in Nordland) and Snåsa(in Nord-Trøndelag) also have official names in the Sami language. Most municipalities in Sápmi, however, have unofficial names in Sámi as well.
In the 1800s up to World War II many Finnish speaking
immigrants[ [http://www.nordlys.no/debatt/kronikk/article1880185.ece Den kvenske folkevandringen til Troms og Finnmark no icon] ] settled in Finnmark. Since 1996 they had have minority status as Kven people. Vadsø (Vesisaari in Kven) is often seen as the "Kven capital" in Finnmark. Lakselvin central Finnmark is sometimes referred to as "meeting place for three tribes". In recent years, with the Russian immigrants arriving in Kirkenes, this town is actually a meeting place for four cultures.
Kárášjohka - Karasjok
Guovdageaidnu - Kautokeino
Unjárga - Nesseby
# Porsanger or Porsángu or Porsanki
Deatnu - Tana
Norwegian Meteorological Institute(24-hr averages, 1961-90 base period)
* A.Moen: "Vegetasjon. Nasjonalatlas for Norge" (1998)
* G. Bjørbæk: "Norsk Vær i 110 År" (2003).
* J.I. Tollefsrud, E. Tjørve, P. Hermansen: "Perler i Norsk Natur - En Veiviser (Aschehoug, 1991)
* [http://www.uit.no/melkoya/perioder/older_stone.htm Stone age in Finnmark]
* [http://www.finnmark.no/english/default.aspx Finnmark county administration]
* [http://www.visitnorthcape.com/ Visitnorthcape.com - official travel guide to Finnmark]
* [http://www.visitnorway.com/destinations/finnmark Finnmark at the official travel guide to Norway]
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