Today we left the city and headed north. We landed in Rovaniemi, where the airport is just a few meters south of the Arctic Circle. After a quick lunch and a few photos on the 66.5628° N latitude we boarded the bus for the 170 mile drive to Ivalo and Sami country.
I was amazed by the beauty of this boreal wilderness. This is not the barren tundra I’ve experienced in northern Canada and Alaska but rather verdant forests, small farms and villages. The highways are first-class, the hotels and restaurants very nice, it’s a popular hideaway for skiers and hikers alike.
Ivalo is also a gateway to Lapland, the home of the Sami, the indigenous people who have lived in northern Scandinavia since prehistoric times. Lapland, also called Samiland, spans northern parts of Finland, Norway, and Sweden. Although the Sami are a minority of today's population in northern Finland, their cultural traditions endure. The Sami have a proud tradition of nomadic reindeer herding and been a much maligned for centuries. I understand that is rapidly changing, but we’ll learn more about that today…
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