Laponia, the World Heritage of Lapland

Laponia, with large forests, mountains and wide bogs became a World Heritage 1996, the area is 9 400 square km. You will find living Sámi culture, several national parks and nature reserves. Laponia is the only combined nature- and cultural heritage in Scandinavia, and one of only four in the world which is inhabited by indigenous people.

The overall impression of Laponia is multitude – the multitude of nature types, the environment and geographical formations, different plants, animal species and the way people act in this region. People have used and lived in this varied landscape, having to adjust to the nature and its recourses.


Different landscapes
It is 200 km from the western border to the eastern border in Laponia; in between these a magnificent variation of landscape will show for your eyes. Here are the national parks Sarek, Stora Sjöfallet, Padjelanta and Muddus, the nature reserves Sjaunja and Stubba, parts of Kvikkjokk-Kabla and Sulitelma and the Rapa valley delta.

Sjaunja and Muddus in the eastern part is flat country. The area form Sweden’s largest coherent bog land with virgin forest of spruce and pine trees. The bird life during May and June is enormously rich with whooper swans, wild ducks, waders and peregrines.

The high mountains in Sarek and Stora Sjöfallet show more and more the further west you travel. No region in Sweden have so many glaciers, there are about 100 there. It is the home of wolverines, lynx and bears. The moose tribe in Sarek is unusually rich and big. The area furthest west, Padjelanta, constitutes from fertile plateau on lime bedrock. The flora is rich and during lemming years you can meet arctic foxes and the white snowy owls.

Different usage of the landscape
For the Sámi people, Laponia is the region where they live, where their ancestors lived and where the reindeer live. This is the land they inhabited and used for thousands of years, ever since the latest ice age melted for 10 000 years ago. Nowadays nine Sámi villages lives and works in this region. They follow the reindeer herds on their season bound pasture migrate. The forest Sámi’s move with their reindeers in the forest region, while the reindeer of the mountain Sámi’s move in an eastern western direction between the forests and the mountains.

The oldest known traces of people are 8000 years old and are found along the large mountain lakes. The settlements are marked with fireplaces and storage pits. Hundreds of capture pits shows the significance of hunting.

During winter time the pasture land is on the heaths in the pine forests in east. Spring pasture is at the tree line west. At the end of April the herds move further west, to the high mountain region. The reindeers eat themselves fat and the calves grow to survive the winter. In August they return to the tree line. Pasture land of spring is now used for fall pasture. In December they move with the reindeers to winter pasture land in the pine tree forest.

The World Heritage Laponia is a construction that does not have any support in the Sámi way on looking at the area. Yet, the Sámi’s have welcomed this appointment of Laponia as a World Heritage because it has been emphasised on the value of the now living Sámi culture and the Sámi landscape. The appointment is obligated to work for the Sámi culture to continue on and develop in the region.


Web Tips

Focus Laponia;
a very good site with facts about the life, the landscape and the history. Read about everyday life of a reindeer keeper throughout the year, read about Aktse and listen to Sigurd Länta’s wolf histories and read more about the flora in Laponia.; a site for you who wants to travel to Laponia, find exciting and exclusive activities, gain good travel tips and lots more.; the County Administration Board of Norrbotten.; the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency’s website about the World Heritage, the national parks and nature reserves in the region.; if you would like to learn more about the Sámi people, the only indigenous people in Europe, this is the site for you.

Laponiaprocessen; between 2006-2009 it will be a work in progress developing a brand new local administration organisation and administration plan. A unique and exciting progress!