County in the extreme north of Norway.

Finnmark covers an area of 48,367 km2 and has a population of 74,061 per January 1, 2002. It shares a 196 km border with Russia and a 616 km one with Finland, both to the east. To the south is Troms county. Finnmark is Norway's biggest county, larger than Denmark, yet at the same time the most thinly populated of Norway's 19 self-governed counties. Norway's largest municipality Kautokeino is located in Finnmark.

The three major towns in Finnmark are Vadsø (pop. 6,182), Hammerfest (pop. 9,151. Founded 1789 and the northermost city in the world) and Vardø (pop. 2,799). The administrative centre is situated in Vadsø.

There are 19 municipalities in Finnmark. Population per January 1, 2002 in parenthesis.

Finnmark is dominated by long, wide fjords at the coast and the large Finnmark mountain plateau (Finnmarksvidda) inland. The plateau is an arctic tundra. The long harsh winters yield temperatures as low as -50°C, and the short but intense summers frequently sees temperatures in the high twenties. Because of Finnmark's latitude, the winters are almost completely dark, just as the summers have daylight around the clock.

Norway's low temperature record was set in Karasjok January 1, 1886. On that day, a temperature of minus 51.4 degrees Celcius was recorded. At that temperature, boiling water will freeze before hitting the ground when poured from a kettle.

  • Longest river: Pasvik River, 380 km
  • Highest mountain: Rastegaissa, 1,067 metres
  • Deepest fjord: Porsangerfjord, 120 km
  • Largest inland lake: Jiesjavri, 68 km2
  • Largest island: Sørøya, 815 km2
  • Norway's largest municipality: Guovdageaidnu/Kautokeino, 9704 km2

In all but five municipalities, Norwegian is the official language. In Kautokeino, Karasjok, Tana, Nesseby and Porsanger, the administration has two languages; Norwegian and Sámi. The duality of language have been in effect since 1992.

Principal industries are fishing, reindeer herding, mining and service industries. Finnmark is totally dependent on the fish resources in the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean.

The borders between Finland, Sweden, Russia and Norway in Nordkalotten weren't drawn up until early in the 17th century. Up until then, pirates, freeloaders, English and Dutch merchant ships came and went pretty much however they wanted and without paying any sort of customs to the Danish King. To gain control of the Norwegian territories in the extreme north of his kingdom, Christian IV left Copenhagen with a fleet of eight warships. He reached Kildin Island off Russia in the summer of 1599, laying claim to the territories along the way. Several historians have later claimed Christian IV's voyage as vital in securing Finnmark as Norwegian territory. Without his daring undertaking, Finnmark would today probably have belonged to Sweden.

Finnmark was largely burnt to the ground by German troops fleeing the county in face of advancing Soviet forces in the autumn of 1944. Most of the population was evacuated south, only to return to rebuild Finnmark in 1945.

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