Culture on the brink: the Sami of Scandinavia

Culture on the brink: the Sami of Scandinavia
By admin

Best known for their colourful traditional dress, the Sami people have since ancient times inhabited the northern portions of Sweden, Norway and Finland, and eastward over the Russian Kola Peninsula. At present there are approximately 70,000 Sami altogether, spread out over this area commonly known as Lapland. Living within nature and with the help of nature, without upsetting its balance, continues to be their way of life.


Reindeer breeding is a core Sami occupation, but in modern times it has become increasingly challenging for this minority group to make a living on this pursuit alone. There have also been various challenges to their occupation, such as the loss of large tracts of pasture land for reindeer breeding due to various forms of economic encroachment by government agencies.

The Sami have sought to improve the protection of those areas they regard as their own but have often lost their battles in courts of law. In addition, many young Samis have relocated to the large cities of their countries in the hope of better employment prospects. This ongoing rural to urban migration has put some of these small towns at risk of disappearing altogether.

However, these resourceful people are increasingly turning to other options to ensure their future livelihood, with tourism being a key income earner, as well as other sectors such as food production. More tour itineraries are taking travellers to Lapland, where the Sami people are only too happy to share some of their culture and tradition.

"The influx of tourism has definitely helped the Sami continue their local tradition and pass on their traditions and values to the younger generation," said Esbjörn Torstensson, general manager of specialist travel company 50 Degrees North. "Our tourist dollars continue to make a difference Рnorthern Scandinavia is more popular than ever with its unique nature and natural phenomenon of northern lights and midnight sun."

Getting there:

50 Degrees North offers a 10-day Nordic Winter Journey, priced from $4700. For more information, visit

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