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City scenery of Rovaniemi in January 2004
Christmas celebration in Rovaniemi, November 2004
bridge in sunset
Rovaniemi ( , , and , ) is a city and municipality of Finlandmarker. It is the administrative capital and commercial centre of Finland's northernmost province, Laplandmarker. It is situated close to the Arctic Circle and is between the hills of Ounasvaara and Korkalovaara, at the confluence of the Kemijoki River and its tributary, the Ounasjoki. The city and the surrounding (Rural municipality of Rovaniemi) were consolidated into a single entity on January 1, 2006. The new municipality has an area of and an approximate population of . It is one of the largest cities in the world by area – though much of it is covered by forests.

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

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 travelers from Kareliamarker in the east, Häme in the south and the Arctic Oceanmarker coast in the north must have come there from 500 A.D. onwards. The Sami 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 Laplandmarker. As the mining of natural resources was increased, Rovaniemi became the business center of the Province of Laplandmarker.

During the Second World War, after Finland signed the Moscow Armistice and found itself involved in the Lapland War with its former German ally, German forces in the beginning of October 1944 captured 130 Finnish civilians from Rovaniemi as hostages, 24 of them being women, as well as 132 from nearby Kemimarker, and threatened to kill them unless the Finnish army released Germans captured at Torniomarker. However, the Finns refused to comply and threatened to retaliate by killing the German POWs, and the hostages were released unharmed on October 11, near Rovaniemi.

Later on, as the Germans took up a "scorched earth" policy in Lapland, aapproximately 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 Finnishmarker architect Alvar Aalto have been erected in the town. One example is the Administrative and Cultural Center, which comprises the City Hall, the Lappia Hall (housing the City Theatre, Orchestra and Congress Hall), and the Provincial Library.

Rovaniemi today

Because of the unspoiled 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 center and on the outskirts of the town.

Since Rovaniemi represents the capital of the Province of Laplandmarker, many government institutions have their offices there. About 10,000 of the inhabitants are students. Rovaniemi is home to not only the University of Laplandmarker but also the Rovaniemi Polytechnic (also known as the Rovaniemi University of Applied Sciences), which comprises institutes of information and traditional technology, business, health and social care, culinary studies, forestry, rural studies and sports.Local newspapers include the Lapin Kansa, Uusi Rovaniemi and ROI-press.

Rovaniemi is the northernmost point of electric railway system managed by Finnish Rail Administration. VR Group operates direct daytime and overnight passenger trains from Rovaniemi stationmarker to Oulumarker, Tamperemarker, Helsinkimarker and Turkumarker. Diesel-powered passenger trains operate north-east of Rovaniemi to Kemijärvimarker. Rovaniemi Airportmarker is located about north of Rovaniemi city centre.

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, and the library. The last three mentioned buildings are by the famous Finnish architect Alvar Aalto. Claimed to be the residence of Santa Claus, Santa Claus Villagemarker and Santapark, is located 8 km north of the centre. Rovaniemi is also home to the world's most northernmarker branch of McDonald's. The Arktikum is a very comprehensive museum of Finland's and the world's Arctic regions.

Directly across the river from the town is the Ounasvaara ski center. The top of the Ounasvaara hill bears the site of some of the earliest known human settlements in the area.

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

Twin cities



Facts and Figures

Climate (Subarctic)

  • average temperature: +0.2 °C
  • annual rainfall: 535 mm/annum
  • snow stays on the grounds 183 days a year on average
  • lowest temperature ever recorded: −47.5 °C, recorded on January 28, 1999
  • highest temperature ever recorded: +30.6 °C
  • the midnight sun can be seen from June 6 to July 7


Population

(figures December 31, 2005)
  • female: 29,813
  • male: 28,022
  • Finnish: 57,037
  • foreigners: 798
  • total: 57,835


Employment

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


Famous inhabitants



References

  1. History of Santa Claus
  2. Santa Claus' Village on the Arctic Circle in Rovaniemi in Lapland in Finland
  3. Joulupukin Kammari – Santa Claus Office – Joulupkki, Lapland, Finland, Rovaniemi
  • Rikkinen, K. A Geography of Finland. Lahti: University of Helsinki (1992)
  • Rovaniemi: Arctic Circle – Finland. Helsinki: Oy Sevenprint Ltd (1998)


External links and references



See also




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