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Cornershot: Uncovering the mysteries of Lapland | Entertainment – Roanoke Times

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When I was just a boy, someone told me about Lapland, a mysterious land where it snows all the time, and there are lots of reindeer. I hadn’t thought of Lapland for 50 years, maybe more, when Lapland came back into my head.

Lapland? No, I’m not referring to “that” social club you once visited in Las Vegas. Lapland. The country. But is it a country? Is there really such a place? I couldn’t recall the president of the United States hosting a state dinner at the White House to welcome the president, or king, or emperor, whatever it is… of Lapland. I couldn’t dredge up a memory of a Miss Lapland in the Miss Universe contest, dressed in a fur swimsuit and snowshoes. You don’t see a team from Lapland in the running or swimming events at the Summer Olympics. As I thought about it, you also don’t see a Team Lapland in speed skating, skiing or any of the other Winter Olympics sports.

Does Lapland really exist?

It turns out, there are actually two Laplands. There’s Finnish Lapland, way up north where the Finns deliver mail by dogsled, and there’s Swedish Lapland where even the Volvos don’t venture. They aren’t countries; I couldn’t find any indication of a structured regional government. The capital city, at least of the Finnish portion, is Rovaniemi. Lapland borders the region of North Ostrobothnia in the south. It also borders the Gulf of Bothnia, Norrbotten County in Sweden, Finnmark County and Troms County in Norway, and Murmansk Oblast in Russia, which probably explains why they spend lots of time in their saunas.

Lapland has cities, or at least communities larger than a snow bank, and the names of Lapland’s cities are known for being the final round words in the famous Scripps National Spelling Bee each year. There’s Sodankyla, Ylitornio and Keeminmaa.

The population of Finnish Lapland is 181,815, not counting reindeer. I was unable to find the population of Swedish Lapland.

Attractions in Finnish Lapland include Riisitunturi National Park, Saana Fell in Enontekio, where Lake Kilpisjarvi is located, and Santa Claus Land (I’m not making this up!) in the capital city. I tried to find a picture of how Santa Claus dresses in Lapland, but he is considered a national treasure and photographs aren’t allowed.

— John Ketwig, a reader in Bedford

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