Swedish Lapland (Arctic Circle)
After hiring a car at Lulea Airport and staying one night in the centre of the city, we started our four-hour (or 343km) car journey to Kiruna. Since this was already April and we were heading towards the Arctic Circle, we still encountered snow and low temperature, so we had to dress warmly. The view throughout our journey was stunning: frozen lakes, beautiful mountains and trees and forests everywhere. And you rarely see anybody else on the road. Occasionally you can spot a deer running across the street!
Kiruna in Norrbotten county is the most northern and largest town in the Swedish Lapland, with a population of 18,000 people. The city centre itself is not so interesting. It is home to the largest underground iron ore mine in the world and is also famous for satellite and space projects. But outside Kiruna you will find magnificent scenery and culture- you can easily access the wilderness and adventure of Swedish (and Norwegian) Lapland and encounter the interesting Sami people and their culture. Located about 145 km north of the Arctic Circle, it is possible in Kiruna to experience midnight sun and polar night, meaning the sun will be out 24 hours in a day between end of May until middle of July. In the winter this will be the opposite- from beginning of December up to middle of January there will be just about one hour of sunlight during midday. The population in Swedish Lapland is around 125,000 people.
The Swedish Lapland is made up of two counties: Norrbotten county in the north; and Vasterbotten county in the south. The Sami people, or often referred to as Laplanders, are indigenous Finno-Ugric people that live in the Arctic area of Sapmi, which encompasses the far norther areas of Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Kola Peninsula of Russia. They have existed since prehistoric times. It is estimated that there is a population between 14,600 to 36,000 Sami people in Sweden. They speak the Sami language and live from coastal fishing and sheep and reindeer herding.