the biggest in territory of all Norwegian counties

The county of Finnmark is the biggest in territory of all Norwegian counties, but has the smallest population. The region covers an area of 48,615 square kilometers and has over the last decade had a population of about 75,000.

Finnmark borders on Finnish Lapland in the south and Murmansk Oblast in the east and has developed extensive cross-border relations with both Finnish and Russian partners. The region has always had an economy dependent of fisheries and this industry provides a lion`s share of employment in a number of the coastal settlements. Other industries include reindeer herding, mining, oil and gas, and tourism.

Finnmark county has a population with a significant Sami minority. The indigenous Sami people have political representation concentrated in the Sami Parliament and has in the Finnmark Law of 2006 got considerable powers over regional land issues.

Finnmark has a well-developed infrastructure, based on sea ports and ship transport, roads, and airports. There are as many as 11 regional airports, the biggest ones in Alta and Kirkenes.

The town of Alta has the biggest population and has over many years experienced a positive demographic development, much thanks to the local university college. Other population centers include Hammerfest, Kirkenes and Vadsø, of which the latter is the region`s administrative hub.



Regional stories

Colorful harvests from Arctic Earth
Despite a challenging northern climate, agriculture is rich in the Barents Region
By Birgitte Wisur Olsen, Kirkenes, freelancer/Sør-Varanger Avis

What crops can be grown in the North — where the spring is almost nonexistent, but the midnight sun shines twenty-four hours a day for two months?

"This is not bad," says Tone Aandahl with sheer joy in her voice as she grabs a good handful of potato grass, pulls it up and digs up almond potatoes from the soil. By the middle of August, these potatoes have a size siutable for the dinner table — even after a cold, wet summer.

The production of potatoes and crops for commercial use is almost nonexistent in Finnmark, in the northernmost part of Norway. According to Statistics Norway, Finnmark produced only a meagre two-hundered tons of potatoes in 2013. This figure is very low compared to, for example, Northern Ostrobothnia (Finland), which topped the list for the Barents Region...

Another blow to cross-border traveling
The introduction of biometric visas could lead to a major drop in traveling between Russia and neighboring countries.
By Atle Staalesen, The Independent Barents Observer

From 14th September, Russians will have to personally show up at a Schengen consular station to give finger prints and photo in order to obtain visas. Russia is following suit and will soon introduce similar requirements for Schengen citizens.

That could prove to be another major stubling stone for cooperation between Russia and the neighboring countries, BarentsObserver reports.