The Tornio River Valley is located on the border of Finnish and Swedish Lapland. Originally this area used to be the same country on both sides of the river until the year 1809 when it was devided between two states in the peace of Hamina. Many families and villages were devided in two when a new border was drawn into the Tornio river.
But this didn’t stop people to speak their own language and hold on to their own culture. Still today this Valley is a unique cultural melting pot where the Finns, Swedes and the Sámi have lived together side by side. Four languages – Finnish, Swedish, Meänkieli (=Our language) and Sámi, are spoken in the region.
The Tornio River is Europe’s longest freely flowing river and a great salmon river. The locals call the river Väylä (=Channel/Waterway), as the river was used as a route. The river starts from the Lake Tornio in Sweden and flows into the Gulf of Bothnia between the cities of Tornio and Haparanda.
Tourism in Lapland is said to have originated in the Tornio River Valley when the first explorers came here as early as the 17th century. Especially Aavasaksa hill in Ylitornio has been one of the first destinations, where people have gathered to watch the midnight sun.
The Arctic Circle, 66 ° 33′46 ″ N, passes through the municipality of Pello in the Finnish side and Övertorneå in the Swedish side. The Arctic Circle is defined as the point where the sun does not rise at all in winter (Polar night) and does not set at all in summer (Midnight sun/Nightless nights) for at least one day.