Originally we were the same Lapland
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.
“Once upon a time there was a vast pristine wilderness far up in the North, covered with ice. Only few animals could live there.
One day a powerful light came and liberated the land from the ice and tremendous water masses formed the region. A beautiful river valley was born. It was surrounded by many hills and fells, and soon the area was filled with rich forests and a wide variety of animals.
Eventually, mankind also found this new land where the waters offered plenty of fish and forests a lot of game. It was a great place to settle down.
Small villages were born. The land was called Lapland and the river as Väylä. The same language was spoken on the both sides of the river and people were very hospitable.
Although the distances were long and difficult to travel, the residents of the area still used to visit each other and talk until late at night. The midnight sun illuminated their way home in the summer, the shining snow in the spring and the bright stars, the moonlight or the northern lights in the winter.
Later, their world changed, because the rulers of the region decided to divide the area into two and draw a new border to the river.
However, people continued their lifes around the river as before and felt that they were still nationals of the same country on both sides of the river. The common language was preserved.
There are only a few today who have been able to experience this magic of Original Lapland, their unique lifestyle and the beauty of this region in different seasons.
In this valley the light of midnight sun is the most beautiful, the colors of autumn are the richest, the blue moments of winter are the bluest and the snow shines the brightest in the spring.
People say that this river valley is like Lapland’s Italy, whose inhabitants are lively, authentic and hospitable. They even eat as much rieska as pizza in Italy!”