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Saami People Of Lapland

Updated on October 18, 2009
A Saami family from about 1900
A Saami family from about 1900
Lapland countryside during winter
Lapland countryside during winter

Saami People Of Lapland - Introduction

The Saami People of Lapland are an indigenous people living in the northernmost parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland & western Russia.

The area they live in is collectively known as Lapland. It's approximately 390,000 sq km in area.

The people were known as Lapps but prefer Saami.

There are around 70,000 Saami People Of Lapland, more than half live in Norway.

Saami speak a language known as Saami, it is related to Finnish & Hungarian & there 3 distinct regional versions and many dialects.

About a third of Saami People Of Lapland are nomadic and still live in the traditional way.

Their main occupation is reindeer herding, using them for food, clothing, footwear and tents similar to teepees.

This lifestyle was impacted by radio-active fallout from Chernobyl in 1986. Lichen the reindeer eat was contaminated, making the meat radio-active and inedible.

A Saami boy with a deer
A Saami boy with a deer
Lapland countryside during winter
Lapland countryside during winter

Saami People Of Lapland - History

The Saami People of Lapland are believed to have entered northern Europe from the east several thousand years ago, before the Scandinavians, Finns & Russians.

Were originally a nomadic people living in small communties which each had a specified hunting ground.

In the 16th C they switched to reindeer herding and began to follow the seasonal movement of the deer.

From 17th C onwards there have been many attempts at forced assimilation into society.

This lead to severe damage to their culture through dislocation from their land & bans on speaking Saami.

From the 1960's this has begun to change and developments include the teaching of Saami at schools.

In 1989 the Sameting, a Saami parliament was opened in Norway (Karasjok). It reports to the national government.

There are ongoing problems facing the Saami People Of Lapland including land & mineral rights issues and poverty.

My name is Robee Kann, for four years I was a tour guide throughout Europe. I loved my job and I would love to hear from you. You are most welcome to message me to say hello or request a hub about a European subject. Please look at my other hubs and leave a comment for me.

Comments On The Saami People Of Lapland

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    • Robee Kann profile imageAUTHOR

      Robee Kann 

      8 years ago

      Try contacting the Nordic Saami Council via their website they might be able to enlighten you some more. Good luck.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Hi Robee,

      I'm writing an essay aiming to compare poverty and inequality between two fourth world/indigenous peoples, looking at the Sioux at Pine Ridge Reservation, and (hopefully) the Saami of North Scandinavia, but I am finding it difficult to find anything... I was wondering if you could shed some light for me?

      Many thanks,


    • Robee Kann profile imageAUTHOR

      Robee Kann 

      8 years ago

      Hi Anna, Yes I met some saami people in northern Finland, they still live traditionally, I believe that there are also saami living traditionally in Norway and Northern Russia. Great to hear from you. Rob

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I think the Saami people are very interesting. I saw a show on the discovery channel and immediately became interested with them. Are they still Saami people today living off the land and herding Reindeer?


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