Finnmark is on the same latitude as Siberia, Greenland and Alaska, but thanks to the Gulf Stream, the harbours along the coast of Finnmark do not freeze over and the area enjoys relatively mild winters.
There is normally a lot of snow during the winter. Many parts of the region are surrounded by mountains which provide shelter from the winds and cold from the sea.
Inland, near the Finnish border, it can get extremely cold in the winter, and the summers are often warm and dry. Still the weather and temperatures can change quickly throughout the entire region.
The midnight sun and northern lights
The Arctic Circle marks the starting point for the midnight sun. The further north you travel, the longer these periods last.
On the Arctic coast, the sun does not set for two and a half months. And then the autumn darkness gradually takes over. During the autumn and winter when the sky is clear, you can experience the northern lights, an unforgettable sight, as hues of green, pink and purple dance across the skies.
The Sami people are an indigenous people resident in four countries: Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. Estimates show that there are approximately 50,000 - 100,000 Sami living in these countries, and that slightly more than half of them reside in Norway.
It has not been possible to ascertain how long the Sami have lived in Finnmark, but from around the time of the birth of Christ, the local culture shows distinctive characteristics that we recognise in the Sami culture of later times.
Important towns in Finnmark
- Alta (18,000 inhabitants)
- Hammerfest (9,300 inhabitants)
- Honningsvåg (3,250 inhabitants)
- Kirkenes (9,500 inhabitants)
- Vardø (2,400 inhabitants)
- Vadsø (6,100 inhabitants)
The county of Finnmark has an interesting and dramatic history, strongly characterised by its proximity to neighbouring Finland and Russia. Finnish language and culture are still alive after extensive immigration from Finland in the 1800s, and coastal Finnmark has long traditions in trade with the East – the so-called Pomor Trade.
World War II
In the autumn of 1944, almost all of Finnmark was burned to the ground during the German retreat. The reconstruction of Finnmark started as soon as the war was over. Most people rebuilt their homes where those had stood before, and thousands of identical square houses in various colours started popping up all over Finnmark - these have remained a distinctive characteristic of the county to this day.