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Rovaniemi

Rovaniemi is the administrative capital and the centre of commerce of Finland's northernmost Province, Lapland. It is situated close to the Arctic Circle and between the hills of Ounasvaara[?] and Korkalovaara[?], at the confluence of the Kemijoki[?] River and its tributary, the Ounasjoki[?] River. Due to its advantageous location it is the starting point of the Great Arctic Highway.

The word Rovaniemi has often been considered to be of Lappish origin, as "roavve" in Saami denotes a forested ridge or hill or the site of an old forest fire. In the dialects of southern Lapland, however, "rova" means a heap of stones, a rock or a group of rocks in a stretch of rapids, or even a sauna stove.

1. History

There has probably been continuous settlement in the Rovaniemi area since the Stone Age. Periodic clearance of new land for agriculture and the practice of slash-and-burn cultivation began around 750-530 B.C. Artifacts found in the area suggest that an increasing number of travellers from Karelia in the east, Häme in the south and the Arctic Ocean coast in the north must have come there from 500 A.D. onwards. The Saami are considered to be Lapland's own indigenous population.

The exploitation of Lapland's natural resources in the 1800s boosted Rovaniemi's growth. Extensive logging sites and gold fever attracted thousands of people to Lapland. As the mining of natural resources was increased, Rovaniemi became the business centre of the Province of Lapland.

During the Second World War approximately 90% of the total property in the town was destroyed by German troops. The rebuilding of Rovaniemi began in 1946. Several public and private buildings designed by the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto have been erected in the town. One example is the Administrative and Cultural Centre, which comprises the City Hall, the Lappia Hall (housing the City Theatre, Orchestra and Congress Hall), and the Provincial Library.

2. Rovaniemi today

Because of the unspoilt nature and numerous recreational opportunities, tourism is an important industry in Rovaniemi. The city has a number of hotels and restaurants located both in the centre and on the outskirts of the town. The majority of its 35,000 inhabitants make their living in service professions.

Since Rovaniemi represents the capital of the Province of Lapland, many government institutions have their offices there. It is said that out of 35,000 inhabitants, about 10,000 are students. Rovaniemi is home to not only the University but also the Rovaniemi Polytechnic, which comprises institutes of business, health and social care, culinary studies, forestry, rural studies and sports.

Rovaniemi's most prominent landmarks include the Jätkänkynttilä bridge with its eternal flame over the Kemijoki river, the Arktikum House, which rises out of the bank of the Ounasjoki river, the Rovaniemi Town Hall, the Lappia House, which serves as a theatre, concert hall and congress centre, the library and Santapark (http://www.santaclausoffice.fi), the residence of Santa Claus.

A phenomenon also attracting numerous tourists is the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights. In Finnish Lapland the number of auroral displays can be as high as 200 a year whereas in southern Finland the number is usually fewer than 20.

3. Facts and figures about Rovaniemi

  • Climate:
    • average temperature: + 0.2 °C
    • annual rainfall: 535 mm/annum
    • snow stays on the grounds 183 days a year
    • lowest temperature ever recorded: - 45.3°C
    • highest temperature ever recorded: + 30.6°C
    • the midnight sun can be seen from 6 June to 7 July

  • Population (figures 2000/2001):
    • female: 18,524
    • male: 16,406
    • Finnish: 35,158
    • foreigners: 497
    • total: 34,930

  • Employment (figures 1999):
    • primary production: 1.6 %
    • manufacturing in industry: 14.9 %
    • private services: 36.8 %
    • public services: 44.4 %
    • unknown: 2.3 %

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