It is sparsely populated, but still a home to 178 500 people. Due to tourism and shared boarders with Sweden, Norway and Russia, Lapland is very international. The biggest employers alongside tourism are industry, such as steel, paper, mining and small-scale industry and public organisations, such as municipalities. A special sector of employment is reindeer husbandry.
Nature is very important part of Lapland. Instead of talking about four seasons, as in the rest of the Finland, Lapland is considered to have eight seasons, which have very descriptive names.
The eight seasons of Lapland:
There are several superlatives one can use about Lapland. The air in Lapland is among the purest in the world, which can be sensed when visiting the region. Often times visitors also notice the lack of sound, especially in the winter, creating a unique experience for many city-dwellers. During the summer, the long Arctic nights when the sun doesn’t set, produce some of the most nutrient-dense berries.
If summer is about the night-less nights, then winter is the opposite. Although, the polar night is not pitch-black dark, as commonly believed. Often lovely shades of blue fill the scenery during the day time and of course, at night it is possible to see the Northern Lights.
When visiting an area where nature is everywhere, it is important to act as a polite guest would. “Leave no trace behind.” is a great motto. There are no rubbish bins on the ski or hiking tracks, so travelers are expected to carry their rubbish back to towns. Even compostable food, like fruit peels or tea bags, should be carried back. In some areas it is expected for visitors to stick to marked paths, as not to damage the fragile terrain.
Winter weather can be very cold, so you will need to pack warmly when coming to Nutrition Winter School!
January is the coldest month of the year in the area, and it is not uncommon to have temperatures ranging from -20 to -30 degrees Celsius. The temperature is at its coldest in the valleys, whereas up on the fells can be warmer. However, if the weather is windy, the temperature can feel very cold on the fells.
That said, the weather is never a problem, as most travel services also rent out warm gear for visitors. The participants of Nutrition Winter School will also be given a more detailed information package on how to gear up.
When travelling to Saariselkä, you will be entering the home land of the only indigenous people in Europe, the Sámi people. The Sámi Homeland extends from northern Norway via Sweden and Finland to north-west Russia.
There are about 10 000 Sámi people living in Finland, but most of them are living in bigger cities, like Rovaniemi, Oulu and in the Helsinki region. No matter where they live, many are still involved in cultural traditions and hold their Sámi background close to their heart. There are three Sámi languages spoken in Finland, which are Northern Sámi, Skolt Sámi and Inari Sámi.
Nature is very important for the Sámi people, as traditionally they have been reindeer herders and nomads, and have also gathered and fished food in the wild. What is wilderness to many, is home to the Sámi people.
Previously, the Sámi people have been treated poorly by the tourism sector. They have been primitivized and their culture has been subjected to marketing purposes, without cultural sensitivity. Oftentimes, the Sámi people have been objectified and they haven´t benefitted from the growing tourism. Hence, it is important that things change.
The Sámi people’s traditional costumes are unique and tell a tale of its owner’s heritage and family background. This is why these costumes are not to be used by other people. Also parts of the costumes, such as hats, should not be worn by others.
When purchasing handicraft or traditional silver jewellery, tourists are advised to talk to the salesperson, on which products can be used by anyone, and which products are meant for Sámi people only. Some are decorations for the Sámi costumes and bear a deeper meaning.
You can read more about this important topic here.