Lapland, (also Sápmi), is the area traditionally inhabited by the Sami people. It is located in Northern Europe and includes the northern parts of Scandinavia and Finland with the Kola peninsula in Russia. Only a minority part of the Sami group is working with reindeer herding.
With the fall of the Soviet Union and increasing internationalization, co-operation across borders is becoming more important and existing county and national borders less important. This is true both for the Sami aboriginal population and the non-Sami and Sami-descent majority population.
There is a border, and some state that the rights (for reindeer herding and in some parts even for fishing and hunting) would include a larger part than of Sápmi. However, today's "border" originates from the 14-16th century when land-owning conflicts occurred. The establishment of more stable dwelling places and larger towns originates from 16th century, and was performed due to strategical defence and economical reasons, both by peoples from Sami groups themselves and more southern immigrants.
Owning land within the borders or being member of a siidas (="corporation villages") gives rights. A different law settings in Sweden from mid-90s gave right for anyone to fish and hunt in the region, something that was met with large scepticism and anger amongst the siidas.
Court proceedings have been common throughout history, and the aims from Samic viewpoint is to reclaim territories used earlier in history. Due to a larger defeat in 1996, one siidas has introduced a sponsorship "Reindeer Godfather" concept to raise their economical funds for further battles in courts. These "internal conflicts" are usually conflicts between non-Sami land owners and Reindeer owners.
The question whether the Fjeld's territory is owned by the governments or the Sami population is not answered.
Sápmi is the name in the Sami languages and usually used in official context to denote Sami rights, while the name Lapland is the common English spelling of the Swedish Lappland. The name in Finnish is Lappi and in Norwegian Finnmark. (Sápmi includes all cross-country lands.) The name traditionally used in Latin is Fenni, but since 13th century Laponia has replaced this word. The choice of words for the people and language is becoming a matter of political correctness, but provinces and counties still carry the old ("lap") names.
Lapland demonstrates a distinct semi-national identity that transcends the borders between Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. However, there is no movement for complete autonomy. The Sami Parliament s, founded in Norway (1989), Sweden (1993, and Finland (1996) have very weak political influence, far from autonomy. They are formally public authorities, ruled by the Scandinavian governments, but have democratically elected parliamentarians. Their mission is to work for the Sami culture. The candidates' election promises often get in conflict with the institutions' submission under their governments. But as authorities, they have some influence over the government. Although formally similar to a government structure the parliaments strive for sovereignty.
Russia is not actively taking part of this recognition of the minority of Samis. Sweden has taken this active part for two reasons:
- to recognize the Sami minority as an indigenous people to distinguish it from other minorities;
- to raise the Sami minority influence which comes in conflict with the European majority democracy system, i.e. most votes wins.
Sápmi spans four countries, where the main territories lie in the following counties or provinces.
- Finnmark - a county of Norway
- Jämtland - a county of Sweden
- Lapland - a province of Finland
- Murmansk - an oblast of Russia
- Nordland - a county of Norway
- Nord-Trøndelag - a county of Norway
- Norrbotten - a county of Sweden
- Troms - a county of Norway
- Västerbotten - a county of Sweden
- Laponia - a historical province of Sweden and Finland
- Laponian area - a UNESCO World Heritage site protecting the Sami homelands in Sweden
- Barents Region
Lapland - is the subject of a Flash cartoon by weebls stuff .